How UT Health San Antonio’s School of Nursing Is Diversifying Its Student Body with Kira

In the interest of finding the best possible candidates, the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio pursued a more holistic approach to admissions with the help of Kira assessments.

UT Health San Antonio is the only academic health science center in South Texas and its School of Nursing is one of only two public schools in the state offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) program.

With a growing alumni network of more than 11,000 graduates, the School of Nursing aims to develop healthcare professionals that reflect the community they serve.

UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing’s Path to Holistic Admissions

Headshot of Henry Cantu

“When I started in the fall of 2017, one of the nursing school’s goals was to move graduate and undergraduate programs to a more holistic review,” explained Henry Cantu, Director of Admissions and Special Programs at the School of Nursing.

In the past, applicants had to meet very set requirements relating to traditional metrics such as GPAs and test scores. When an applicant applied, the School of Nursing would first check to make sure they had the minimum requirements and then applicants were ranked by GPA, test score, and a limited number of other criteria.

“There was no opportunity to consider other factors in an applicant’s profile,” said Cantu.

In the interest of finding the best possible candidates and building a more diverse student cohort, Cantu pursued a more holistic admissions process with the support of his forward-thinking dean.

Unexpected Barriers In the New Process

As part of the shift to holistic admissions, the School of Nursing introduced an interview component where graduate program applicants were asked to come to campus.

A picture of the Health Center at UT Health San Antonio's School of Nursing
As part of UT Health San Antonio’s shift to holistic admissions, the School of Nursing began inviting candidates to on-campus interviews.

While the admissions committee loved the new insights into their candidates, they realized that many of the applicants, particularly those from outside of the city, were less likely to come for the interview.

Because prospective students were being asked to take time off their jobs and spend their own money on travel and accommodation, the interview process became a deterrent for many qualified candidates.

“We lost out on some very good applicants because of that aspect,” said Cantu.

Cantu, along with Dr. David Byrd, Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Services, began looking for a platform or program that would allow the school to conduct interviews online, finding a solution in Kira Talent.

By adding Kira, students from any location could complete a series of questions from their home and on their own time. No one needed to take time off work or incur expenses to be considered for admission.

UT Health San Antonio Achieves Accessible, Holistic Admissions

Implementing Kira solved for the School of Nursing’s main challenge of creating a more accessible way to conduct interviews – but the results extended beyond that.

Since adding Kira, the School has seen an increase in student diversity, received positive feedback from faculty members and applicants, and expanded their usage into the undergraduate programs.

1. Increase in Diversity Among Incoming Classes

Putting Cantu’s hypothesis to the test, UT Health San Antonio has seen incredible results in increasing their applicant volume and ethnic and cultural diversity.

From 2017 to 2018, the graduate nursing programs saw a 37% increase in Hispanic/Latino students, a key growth area for the school, contributing to an overall 9% increase in non-white students.

2. Positive Faculty & Applicant Feedback

Not only was Kira able to help boost diversity, students and faculty alike enjoy using the platform.

“I had such a positive experience administrating it and our faculty really value the fact that they can score and evaluate applicants on their own time,” said Cantu. “Applicants have also said that it was a much better experience and not as intimidating as an on-campus interview.”

3. Expansion to a School-Wide Implementation

After using Kira at the graduate level, UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing has opted to use timed video assessments for their undergraduate program as well.

“Kira has worked beautifully. It worked so well for us at the graduate level that we use it for the BSN program now as well,” said Cantu. “We’re very excited to use it for all of our interviews”

Thank you to Henry Cantu for taking the time to share your incredible story!


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