Holistic Admissions: Changing the Nursing Landscape


With the ever-changing landscape of our American society, it is becoming increasingly imperative to reshape the way that we screen and ultimately hire our workforce. Nursing, in particular, has come to a critical juncture where diversity has become an essential component of the success of the profession. In fact, the nursing profession is currently made up of less than 25% of underrepresented populations- yet in today’s medical climate, diversity has been proven to play an essential role in patient success. Many colleges and universities are turning to a unique application process (Holistic Admissions) to help fill the growing service gap found in the healthcare community.

Currently, the healthcare industry is facing a growing need for more highly skilled and diversified employees. The nursing profession, in particular, has been impacted by the changing healthcare landscape and rapidly diversifying patient population. As such, more and more employers are seeking more highly trained and skilled staff to combat these growing issues. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has called for 80% of nurses to hold a bachelors degree by 2020 (currently, only 50% of nurses hold a BS) and today 79% of employers prefer candidates with a bachelors degree over an associates. The need for a highly trained nursing staff is propelled by recent healthcare changes that have emphasized a need for more cultural sensitivity and skilled expertise. As such, our colleges and universities are responsible for graduating the next class of candidates who are qualified to fulfill these growing requirements.

How can today’s educational facilities prepare to face this growing challenge? Many nursing programs (as well as other medical programs) are shifting their admissions process to a more diversified and all-encompassing application process. Holistic Admissions is a strategy that assesses an applicant’s unique experiences alongside traditional measures of academic achievement such as grades and test scores. This process was designed to cater to a more diverse applicant, and help programs select a more balanced student population. Ideally, this process results in a workforce poised to handle the challenges of today's healthcare environment.

The Holistic Admissions process is broken down into 4 core principles:

  1. Core Principle One: Selection criteria are broad-based, are clearly linked to school mission and goals, and promote diversity as an essential.

  2. Core Principle Two: A balance of applicant experiences, attributes, and academic metrics (E-A-M) is used to assess applicants. This drives both the selection and interview process and was designed to drive the candidate selection process beyond the traditional criteria of grades and test scores.

  3. Core Principle Three: This process gives individualized consideration to how each applicant may contribute to the school’s learning environment and to the profession as a whole.

  4. Core Principle Four: Race and ethnicity are only considerations for applications only when considered within a broader range of factors- including personal attributes.

Many colleges and universities have moved toward a more thorough and diverse application process, such as the Holistic Admissions process, to ensure that a broader range of candidates is considered for their university or program. Through this shift, they are able to hand select individuals that they feel will skillfully fulfill the requirements of the program or profession rather than just excel academically. University admission boards are then able to better prepare their selected students to succeed outside of the classroom and make a marked difference in the profession as a whole.

Well-Run has been helping colleges and universities in their admissions process. During this time, they have created a detailed application process that considers the behavioral style, emotional intelligence, and key motivators of the individuals in question to assess whether or not they will be a good fit for the desired program. For instance, in addition to the typical academic questions, this application asks candidates to think critically about their self-management skills, ability to organize, their empathy levels, and traditional values. The goal of this more thorough application process is to fully assess whether or not the individuals in question have the skills necessary to excel within the nursing profession long-term, based on behaviors that have proven to be successful for this specific field.

If you are considering rising to the challenge of the recent healthcare landscape, Holistic Admissions may be a critical key in your program's future success. For more information on how to implement the Holistic Admissions process into your program, contact Jennifer at jennifer@well-run.com, or call 877-566-2900.

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