2020 Fall: Admissions During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Navigating an Altered Landscape for Successful Selection of Future Health Care Providers

Social distancing, travel bans, closed labs, closed testing centers, virtual meetings, and PPE. All of these factors quickly come to mind when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, amid the changed landscape brought on by the pandemic, health professions programs across the United States and the world have to continue with the admissions and selection processes in order to carefully select the next group of individuals who will be trained as health care providers for our diverse communities. How will the different health professions programs make informed decisions about whom to admit in the face of the challenges brought on by SARS-CoV-2? To address this question at the beginning of the admissions cycle, the International Association of Medical Science Educators will host a three-part webinar series starting on September 3. The series will begin with Drs. Christina Grabowski and Lelia Harrison providing information on changes to medical school admissions. They will present data from the AAMC on how medical schools across the US are adapting their admissions requirements and admissions format to the current environment as well as discuss strategies to conduct multiple mini-interviews virtually. On September 10 we will hear how admissions to both the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant programs are navigating restrictions brought about by the pandemic. Jeremy Turkall will discuss adjustments made across DPT programs and PTCAS. Erika Brooks will provide insight into adjustments made to the Physician Assistant application process from a national perspective including CASPA. Dr. Thomas O’Shea will discuss these adjustments from a PA program perspective. The series will conclude on September 17 with a presentation by Maya Hammoud and Versha Pleasant discussing the impact of the pandemic on residency interviews and resident selection both from the perspective of faculty as well as that of residents. This session will discuss the challenges when transitioning to virtual interviews and clarify the impact of COVID-19 related interruptions in USMLE testing on selecting the next class of PGY-1s including potential effects on selecting diverse applicants.  The overall goal of this series is to provide faculty involved in admissions with hands-on tips as well as insight into the strategies developed to ensure the continuity of a rigorous admissions process.

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September 3, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Medical School Admissions in the Time of COVID-19: Maintaining the Integrity of Holistic Review

Presenter: Christina Grabowsi, PhD and Leila Harrison, PhD

Christina Grabowski is the Associate Dean for Admissions and Enrollment Management, and Assistant Professor of Medical Education, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Prior to joining UAB, Dr. Grabowski served as founding admissions dean at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine from 2009 to 2017. Before her role at the medical school, she held progressive admissions leadership roles at Oakland University since 1993.

Dr. Grabowski currently serves as the Chair-Elect for the Southern Region Group on Student Affairs (SGSA) of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), as student affairs representative on the AAMC Student Surveys Advisory Committee and as a member of the AAMC Situational Judgment Test Pilot Study. Previous experiences include the AAMC National Committee on Admissions, virtual classroom facilitator for the GSA Professional Development Initiative, and workshop facilitator for the Advancing Holistic Review Initiative. Dr. Grabowski holds a PhD in Education from Oakland University.

Dr. Leila Harrison is the Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. She has held leadership roles at the regional and national levels for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in both the Southern and Western regions through the Committee on Admissions and Enrollment Management Workgroup. She also served as an AAMC Holistic Review facilitator training other medical schools’ admissions committee and GME selection committees on including holistic review in their processes. She leads the participation for the WSU College of Medicine within the national AAMC Situational Judgement Test (SJT) study. Dr. Harrison has been involved in medical education since 2002 within three public medical schools with experiences in diversity and inclusion and student affairs.

The COVID pandemic is not only impacting educational delivery, it is also impacting how we select future physicians. This webinar will include an overview of changes to medical school application screening and interview processes. Social distancing and safety concerns are pushing interviews to virtual forums which accommodates changing economic circumstances of applicants, while also highlighting concerns about disparities in access to needed technology and interview-ready environments. Presenters will discuss unique considerations along with potential unintended consequences on holistic review and, therefore, diversity in the physician workforce.

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September 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm

PA and PT Admissions in the Time of COVID-19: A Panel Discussion

Presenter: Jeremy Turkall, MS, Erika Brooks, CSPO, and Thomas O'Shea, PhD, MEd

Jeremy Turkall has over 13+ years’ experience working in higher education, primarily in admissions and enrollment management. He has also worked in student affairs, orientation, career services, and alumni relations. His early career began at the University of Akron, and has since worked for Education Management Corporation, Chancellor University, and The Cleveland Institute of Art in a variety of roles and responsibilities. Then in 2015 he started working at University of South Florida (USF) Health College of Pharmacy as the Admissions Advisor and Interim Director of Admissions responsible for advising, recruitment, marketing, social media, and interviews. Then in 2017 he transferred to the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences as the Academic Services Administrator for admissions, alumni, and community engagement. His current duties entail oversight of the enrollment process, recruitment, marketing, social media, alumni relations, career services, and community engagement for the School. Jeremy currently holds a Master’s degree in higher education administration, and is pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership at the University of South Florida.

Erika Brooks is the current Application Services Manager at PAEA. In this role, she oversees the CASPA application experience and CASPA data analysis to ensure that health professions advisors have the necessary resources to assist their students on their journey to becoming a matriculating PA student.

Before joining PAEA, Erika worked at the American Medical College Application Service with the Association of American Medical Colleges for eight years. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she attended the University of Cincinnati and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health promotion and education, with a concentration in community health.

Thomas M. O’Shea, PhD, Med is the Director of Administrative and Students Services for the University of Iowa PA Program and Adjunct Faculty Member in the University College Division at the University of Iowa. Dr. O’Shea has worked in higher education for almost 20 years and his main focus is on recruitment, admission, transitional programming and student success. Dr. O’Shea is an active member of PAEA, Central Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (CAAHP) and the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) which allows him to work with health-advisors across the country to provide insight into what students can do to be successful in their healthcare journey.

This session will cover the changes to Physical Therapy Centralizes Application System (PTCAS) and Physical Therapy Admissions due to Covid19, and also updates made to better accommodate prospective students and DPT programs.

During this time the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) has provided recourses to our member programs to ensure they have the ability to conduct an admission cycle as close to normal as possible during COVID? PAEA also facilitate conversations about the immediate and long-term effects of any changes to the admissions process.

The global COVID Pandemic has changed the daily lives of individuals across the globe. One area that has been greatly affected has be the healthcare industry. As PA Programs across the country begin to recruit, assess and select individuals to start in their PA Programs since COVID, it is important to realize that the “academic landscape” has changed. Come learn about how the University of Iowa PA Program has repurposed their recruitment, assessment and selection process for applicants since the global pandemic.

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September 17, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Navigating the Effects of COVID-19 on the 20-2021 Residency Application Cycle

Presenter: Maya Hammoud, MD, MBA, Versha Pleasant, MD, MPH, and Keli Santos-Parker, PhD

Dr. Hammoud completed her MD and MBA degrees and residency training at the University of Michigan. She has had many leadership roles in the past including Assistant and Associate Deans at Michigan and Senior Associate Dean at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. Her research is in medical education with a special focus on the use of technology in education and the role of academic coaching in learner’s development.




Versha Pleasant was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia and received a BA in French, followed by an MPH at Yale University. She completed an HIV/AIDS Program Management Fellowship for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Rwanda and was later recruited to the CDC in Cote d’Ivoire to continue her work in HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations such as commercial sex workers. After deciding to pursue a medical degree, she returned to the USA and continued health-consulting work while applying to medical school. She was accepted to the Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies Program, and subsequently matriculated to Georgetown School of Medicine where she graduated in 2016. She matched at the University of Michigan in Ob/GYN. She completed residency in 2020 and is currently a Cancer Genetics and Breast Health Fellow. She is deeply interested in health disparities, particularly in breast cancer and genetic testing barriers facing Black women.

Keli Santos-Parker is a mathematician and fourth year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. He will be applying to general surgery as a couple with his wife Jessica in the 2020-2021 residency application cycle. He serves as student representative to the Virtual Interviewing Task force, co-director of the surgery student interest group SCRUBS, and member of the Admissions Committee for undergraduate medical education at the University of Michigan. Keli completed his PhD in mathematics with a focus on algebraic geometry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His current research includes mathematical modeling with collaborations in medical education, proteomics, metabolomics, morphomics, and transplant surgery.

The 20-2021 residency application cycle will be distinctly different due to the effects of COVID-19 on medical education. The availability of typical application metrics might be compromised, and cancellation of away electives and implementation of virtual interviews will hinder the ability of applicants and programs to get to know each other well. This may lead to disenfranchising certain groups of applicants and may result in a suboptimal match. This session will discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the residency cycle and outline some actions applicants and programs can take to mitigate harmful effects. A student applicant and an URM house officer will be participating in the session to present their perspectives.

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