ORIGINAL ARTICLE – Toronto Star, March 21, 2022
“When we think about patient outcomes, they depend on so much more than a physician being an incredibly bright person. So how do we make the statement that skills like communication and compassion are very, very important to being a good health care provider?” – Kelly Dore, associate professor in the departments of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at Hamilton’s McMaster University.
Dore and oncology professor Harold Reiter founded Altus Assessments in 2014 to both make that statement and actually measure those skills. There is ample research that suggests the better a physician’s communication and interpersonal capabilities, the better a patient’s outcomes: the patient is more likely to share relevant information about their health problems, leading to a more accurate diagnosis, more appropriate treatment, and better adherence to whatever medical plan is put in place. As the pandemic continues to heap greater demands on the health care system and its doctors, these outcomes are even more essential.
Drawing upon her background in cognitive psychology and health education, as well as research in professionalism and situational judgment, Dore helped create a test for social intelligence called Casper. Video-based scenarios might delve into work-life balance or personal sacrifice or an ill-advised social media post. Each of the 15 scenarios brings with it three questions, which applicants have just five minutes to answer.
“Because medical schools have to cut down a massive number of applicants, they end up prioritizing academic metrics and success on standardized tests,” Dore says. “But we know those tests have biases in them, whether they’re racial or socio-economic or demographic. That’s why we can’t just be reliant on academic metrics.”
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