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How to Assess Resident Applicants' Core Competencies

Julie McCoy, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2011

There is no right or wrong way to use the sheet, says Shuman. During the first year she implemented the sheet, she used it to score interviewed candidates and to break ties between them.   

Shuman and Philp agree that the competency score sheet has given them a more well-rounded view of candidates. 

“There are many people who look good on paper, but when they come [in for an interview] it’s a wrong fit for your department’s culture,” Shuman explains.

Additionally, the score sheet has made the selection process more streamlined and objective. 

In the future, Shuman and Philp hope to use the scores generated by the competency score sheet to:

  • Compare applicant scores with the scores of current residents and recent graduates
  • Compare competency scores with satisfaction of and about residents
  • Adjust weight given to competency criteria

By identifying specific items and assigning numeric values to each element of the ERAS application, coordinators have an easier time sorting applications, save time during the busy recruitment season, and are better able to select the best candidates based on their program’s values.

Tips for prescreening applications

Keep the following in mind when reviewing applications:

  • Account for all dates listed. If there is a break, look for the reason.
  • Note the applicants’ interests to get an idea of whether they work well in teams and have manual dexterity and problem-solving skills. Additionally, most physicians work and interact with multiple caregivers. Hobbies or interests involving team sports may indicate the ability of the applicant to work well with others.
  • Read letters of recommendation and MSPEs closely because they give insight into any problems or issues with authority, professionalism, or communication skills. 
  • Pay attention to who the letters are from—there should be letters from the department chair and faculty from the clinical specialty to which the applicant is applying.
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