Bulletin of Dental Education

The University of New England College of Dental Medicine Implements Innovative Interview Process for Prospective Students

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The University of New England College of Dental Medicine (UNE-CDM) recently implemented the multiple mini interview (MMI) format during its fall 2015 admissions process to help identify students who exemplify the College’s core values, including social responsibility, professionalism, patient-centered care, leadership, diversity, scholarship and excellence. 

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The MMI format is an innovative method to evaluate prospective students using a series of six short, structured interview stations. At each station, candidates spend two minutes reading a standardized question (e.g., an ethical dilemma or patient scenario) and seven minutes presenting their response to an interviewer. Interviewers, comprised of local community dentists, faculty, staff and current students, are provided with prompting questions to pose if candidates request further guidance. The interviewer must ask the same questions to all candidates to ensure consistency and fairness in the evaluation process. MMIs require that candidates articulate their reasoning and beliefs extemporaneously, and the resulting responses provide insights into candidates’ personalities and values. 

MMIs reflect the way UNE-CDM students will engage with patients at the UNE Oral Health Center, a state-of-the-art clinical education center offering a full range of comprehensive care to patients at affordable costs. The UNE Oral Health Center allows students to gain hands-on experience and develop interpersonal skills while providing an essential service to the community. 

This new interview format also allows prospective students to experience the UNE-CDM’s interprofessional approach. In addition to dental medicine, UNE offers a full complement of allied health professions programs, allowing UNE-CDM students to participate in interprofessional clinical cases, simulations and clinical care experiences during their first three years of study. This Interprofessional Education Collaborative fosters a more global understanding of patient-centered care and enables UNE-CDM students to be transformative members of the health care team. UNE’s osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nurse anesthesia, social work, public health, dental hygiene and nursing programs contributed to MMI question design. 

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As of November 2015, Class of 2020 candidates have voiced overwhelming support for the MMI format. In an anonymous survey sent to the candidates interviewed thus far, 95% of the 181 respondents indicated that their MMI experience was positive. One applicant wrote, “I felt as though being able to speak to six interviewers individually granted me the opportunity to get a feel for what the culture of the UNE College of Dental Medicine is really like. I greatly enjoyed being able to interact with a broad range of interviewers and to present my opinion on the various topics.” 

By continuing with the MMI method, UNE-CDM aims to enroll students who are likely to return to the rural, underserved communities of northern New England to practice after graduation and who will carry out the College’s mission to improve the health of northern New England residents and shape the future of dentistry through excellence in education, discovery and service.

Courtesy of Isaac Stickney, M.Ed., Educational Support Coordinator for UNE’s College of Dental Medicine and Stacey Dubois, M.S., M.F.A., Assistant Director of Academic Affairs

Published on December 9, 2015.

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