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Flaws in the selection process

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As some of you might know, there was an article recently about an incoming McMaster med student secretly recording females changing in the Forever 21 change room. Isn't Casper and MMI supposed to screen people out for this kind of behaviour? 

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46 minutes ago, premed112 said:

As some of you might know, there was an article recently about an incoming McMaster med student secretly recording females changing in the Forever 21 change room. Isn't Casper and MMI supposed to screen people out for this kind of behaviour? 

No, unfortunately that is not the case. CASPer and MMI select for those who either truly have the target attributes or those that are able to convince the system that they have those attributes. Also, the attributes do not necessarily have any relation to whether you are perverted, racist, etc...

I am not surprised by this. After several application cycles, I have learned that getting into med school has a lot to do with conveying the "right" persona. It does not matter so much if you are a homophobic, misogynist, racist asshole; if the interviewer believes you are a wholesome applicant they will admit you. I personally know several people who have these despicable qualities and still got accepted to an Ontario med school because they prepared well for the interview, said the right things at the right time, and portrayed themselves the right way. 

Of course, the interviewers cannot necessarily be blamed for letting these applicants in (after all, they are not all expert psychiatrists), but the selection process is standardized in a sense that it targets very specific attributes that can be learned, faked, and possibly mastered. For example, consider John; he is a perverted asshole who harasses women. He also has prepared well for the MMI with many months of prep. He knows how to approach each station and the kind of reasoning expected of him in his responses. He is also very confident, has a nice smile and articulates himself very well. When MMI comes around, he performs well and gets accepted. Meanwhile, another applicant, Alex, is a very respectable man. He treats others with respect, is a good listener, and an open-minded person in general. But he is not as confident as John, and he doesn't articulate himself very well. He also doesn't prepare well for the MMI. when the day comes, he doesn't consider all sides of the argument to each scenario. He doesn't get accepted. 

I'm not saying that the MMI is completely flawed, and that every asshole gets through the system. There are tons of qualified applicants with amazing personalities who make it in, but the truth is that the system is not perfect and that at the end of the day, getting an acceptance to medical school is in no way a determinant of who is a good person and who is not. It is simply another test that you must pass. 

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You only need to skim through the recent Canadian news (forgery, fake OHIP billing, sexual assault, harassment, horrifying abuse of patient rights) and see that plenty of despicable people are and go on to become doctors. The MMI and CASPER are at heart situational judgement/personality tests and come with a whole lot of biases, validity, and reliability issues. Skimming through academic publications on these tests, the results are mixed and often show a weak correlation (if any) to desirable personal characteristics that you'd expect someone should have as a doctor (conscientiousness, openness, etc). Furthermore, these tests show that they put minorities (including Indigenous groups) and persons of low socioeconomic status at a disadvantage. 

I urge everybody to take these tests with a grain of salt and view the results as NOT a reflection on themselves, realizing that its a mediocre assessment at best provided by people with mediocre training. 

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Also, is anyone concerned that Altus Assessments, which provides CASPER, is a for-profit company founded by former McMaster admissions staff members? By the way, their rationale for implementing this test was based on papers they wrote themselves. Seems like a huge conflict of interest. Apparently the company has around 30 people, and this year they are set to provide over 100,000 tests across North America. At $50 bucks a test, they will be taking in $5 million gross revenue or a cool $167,000 per person. 

Seems like it's a sweet gig using your knowledge/connections in admissions to set up a nice money maker for yourself off of broke students. Not so much ethical.

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Any selection method, no matter its approach, will add human bias. The check-list mentality of schools, works on a cut-off/threshold system. Upon receiving interviews, there are certain traits that must be shown in order to be deemed as a competent aspiring physician. Motives, intentions, and pre-conceived notions of the applicants are not under scrutiny, so as long as one maintains the competitive statistics, they are accepted. I am not advocating for this system as my personal philosophy is not content with this assessment, but this is how it is done and it is likely not going to change in a long time to come. 

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