For the past 8 years I have been a volunteer with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine Admissions program at McMaster University. As a "community member" I have been one of the group of appraisers of auto-biographical submissions, as well as a participant in the Multi-mini interviews (MMI). McMaster is famous for developing problem-based learning, but they also developed the MMI system for choosing candidates in the medical school. This system is widely used around the world, and not only by education systems. I have participated in some of the research studies that attempt to improve the selection of medical students. One was an experiment in online assessing of auto-biographical questions, using video and online submission. I like this system quite a lot. I still don't fully understand the anonymity of the submissions - we never know the names or any other information - only answers to questions. The MMI is different. We see candidates face to face and we know their names and where they are from. It is very interesting to meet these top notch students, if only for the ten minute station we see them, where they are asked to answer a question about ethics, do a small task, or assess some world issue. Mostly we are looking for the kind of communication skills and sense of presence aspiring healthcare leaders might have.
The same process is being applied to the Physician Assistant, the Bachelor of Health Science,and the Arts and Science programs at McMaster - for all of which I have also volunteered as a "community member" assessor.
It is like a lottery - the odds are almost against you from getting accepted unless the stars line-up in your favour. This is only the way it appears to be not what can actually transpire. Of course, the medical schools want to accept the brightest and highest GPA students, but that is not the sole criteria for potential healthcare leaders. More researcher into this process will always be welcome I think, in order to make it less than a lottery and more like the fulfillment of a dream.