With a student-centred curriculum and intimate class size that stands in contrast to the typical large-scale, lecture-based education model of other Veterinary Medicine programs, the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Arizona offers students a brand new way to study veterinary medicine. Enrolling their inaugural class in 2020, the University of Arizona’s unique three-year program runs year-round, offering students a condensed schedule that saves them an extra year of tuition costs.
And where most Veterinary Colleges boast an on-campus hospital where upper-year students can complete their in-clinic rotations, Arizona offers something a little bit different. Connected to more than 250 clinical partners, the College places final-year students in rotational positions at real clinics across the country.
“By sending them to different areas and clinics, we aim to give our students a better perspective on what it actually looks like in a veterinarian’s office,” shared Katie Beringson, Director of Student Affairs and Admissions at Arizona’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s a more interactive way of learning about different offices, people, and personalities, rather than just going to a hospital filled with students.”
“It helps our students prepare for the real world of being a veterinarian.”
To ensure their applicants were well suited to this unique learning environment, Arizona Veterinary Medicine knew they needed to assess soft skills and traits as well as cognitive abilities within their admissions process. To do so, they enlisted the help of Kira Talent.
Reviving an MMI that fell flat on Zoom
Designing an application for a brand new program, Arizona Veterinary Medicine had the opportunity to start fresh with their admissions process. Knowing that the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process – long selected by medical schools around the world – would provide a reliable method of assessing aptitude, Arizona decided to build it online.
“Last year, we tried to conduct our Multiple Mini Interviews through Zoom,” explained Beringson. “We had three different questions and since we didn’t want to be dealing with multiple links and all the potential mishaps that that entails, applicants simply stayed with the same interviewer for all three questions.”
“It was fine, but it didn’t really deliver what we needed,” she continued. “It was more like a traditional interview rather than an MMI.”
“With Zoom, we were missing the bias mitigating factors and validity that the MMI process brings to the interviews.”
Building an effective experience with Kira
“With Kira’s Live Interviewing, we are able to run a true MMI with six separate stations, all online,” shared Beringson. “Applicants see six different evaluators and are automatically moved through the stations, so the experience truly mirrors the traditional MMI process.”
By meeting multiple interviewers, Arizona’s applicants have the opportunity to acquire a broader understanding of the school and its community. And for Beringson and her team, the multiple-reviewer process helps build confidence in the fact that they’re helping mitigate the potential for bias.
“With Zoom we were missing the bias mitigating factors and validity that the MMI process brings to the interviews,” she explained. “Having the applicants meet multiple interviewers, and getting multiple, independent evaluations on each applicant helps ensure that the reviewing stays consistent across applicants.”
In addition to the live MMI, Arizona Veterinary Medicine uses the asynchronous component of Kira’s platform to conduct a pre-interview assessment. By having them complete an on-demand timed-video assessment, Arizona enables applicants to demonstrate their passions and soft skills earlier in the admissions process.
“Having the video component of the assessment is so helpful,” she continued. “As a veterinarian, you have to be able to talk, communicate with clients, and be personable. The video component enables us to gauge that much more accurately than an essay would.”
As the school receives applications, Beringson and her team review applicants’ GPAs to ensure that they meet the academic requirements and then invite them to complete an asynchronous assessment in Kira. The assessment gives the team a more holistic view of the applicant’s soft skills and traits, which helps them determine if the applicant is going to be compatible with the school’s community and values prior to the live interview.
The efficiency of the process has helped Arizona’s small admissions team manage a 300% increase in applications while ensuring that they’re investing their time in the right applicants.
“In our first year, we had 500 applicants. For the 2020/21 cycle, we had 1500 applications,” shared Beringson. “We’re an office of 3 people, so we needed a process which would enable us to get to know the applicant beyond their paper application, but wouldn’t overwhelm our small team. With Kira, we were able to efficiently assess all the applicants who met our minimum cognitive thresholds so we could select the 300 applicants who demonstrated the right personality traits and soft skills to succeed in our program. Those were the applicants we invited to a live interview.”
“Kira helped us figure out if the applicant would be a good fit for our school, in an efficient way."
The flexibility to do rolling interviews
In addition to the efficiency that Kira brings to Arizona’s process, the flexibility of the platform allows the school to conduct their interviews on a rolling basis. Rather than managing a flood of submissions all at once, Arizona Veterinary Medicine allows applicants to submit their application at any time.
“A lot of applicants submit earlier because they want to know earlier, and those are the keen applicants that you want to keep engaged,” explained Beringson. “On the admin side, it’s also a lot more manageable to review small batches of assessments, rather than having to evaluate 1500 applicants all at once.”
“Without the rolling assessments, we wouldn’t be able to engage those eager applicants as early as we do.”
Supporting a seamless process
“Kira’s client service has been amazing,” Beringson shared. “They are so hands-on and helpful, going the extra mile to make sure that we’re up to speed and comfortable with all aspects of the process.”
Kira helped Beringson and her team build a custom assessment and MMI that introduced a new level of ease to their administrative work and helped them make more defensible admissions decisions.
“We were given a well-thought-out schedule, and our Kira Success Manager took us step by step, week by week, helping us get everything done on schedule in a way that was manageable for our small team,” shared Beringson.
“We sent her a list of attributes that we were looking for in applicants and she helped us craft questions,” Beringson explained. “It wasn’t just ‘here’s a platform, you guys figure it out’, instead we had a dedicated point of contact to provide us with extremely valuable insight and guidance in building our questions and rubrics. It made the transition so much easier for us, especially as a new school."
“For something that could be very difficult to do and very time-consuming, Kira made it easy.”
“When we did the MMIs through Zoom, it was a mess and I was responsible for sorting it out,” Beringson explained. “With Kira, I have someone who I can go to with any question I may have.”
“When choosing an external platform vendor to work with, you want to know that the customer service is solid and that there is someone dedicated to helping when needed. With Kira, we feel confident that there will always be someone ready to help us and our applicants.”
Building a first-class experience
Arizona Veterinary Medicine was thrilled to find that the reviewer and applicant experience with Kira was just as well-received as the experience behind the scenes.
“The platform is so intuitive, and the Kira team was just as attentive in assisting our applicants and reviewers as they were helping our admissions team,” Beringson shared.
“I have a wide range of reviewers, from veterinarians, doctors, and MDs, to staff from our office,” she continued. “Everyone thought that the platform was extremely easy to use, and if they did have a question, they used the chat function on the Kira platform to get assistance. I didn’t have to worry about being on-hand to problem solve or clarify.”
“It was the same for our applicants,” Beringson added. “I didn’t have a single applicant reach out to me asking how to complete their Kira assessment, which is a great sign of how well the platform works.”
“I would do nothing but recommend Kira, without a doubt. It’s been so helpful. Kira has made our process 110x easier.”