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Frequently Asked Questions

What prompted AACN's engagement to holistic review?

Two workshops were hosted at the 2016 AACN Spring Annual Meeting entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Holistic Admission in Nursing” at which AACN deans and faculty were invited to learn, share, and grow their holistic review. An expert panel that included Urban Universities for Health Equity through Alignment, Leadership, and Transformation of the Health Workforce (HEALTH), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Institutes of Health, and the Association of American Medical Colleges recently conducted a study to assess the use of holistic admissions in the health professions schools. The aim of this study was to improve the evidence regarding the preparation of a culturally sensitive, diverse, and more prepared health care workforce. The research team examined the feasibility of implementing holistic reviews in schools of nursing as identified by nursing deans. These workshops offered recommendations for troubleshooting potential barriers impeding the successful implementation of holistic reviews when making admission decisions for schools of nursing. One of outcome of these sessions is a knowledge base resource for Holistic Admissions in nursing schools. See below for resources on how to successfully implement holistic reviews at your nursing school.

How much does it cost to do holistic review? What resources are required?

According to a recent study by Urban Universities for HEALTH, one-third of health profession schools surveyed that use holistic review did not require any additional resources or funding. Two-thirds of schools required additional resources, which included:

  • Adding additional faculty, staff, or students to the admissions committee (faculty/staff already employees of the university); 
  • Hiring additional faculty and/or staff; 
  • Faculty and staff devoting more of their time/FTE to admissions-related activities; 
  • Increased student support services; 
  • Increased scholarships available; 
  • Implemented a new electronic system to process admissions information; 
  • Provided additional training/training resources to faculty; 
  • Participate/plan to participate in an AAMC-led holistic review workshop; and
  • Expanding recruitment efforts and pipeline programs.

Forty-seven percent of those that required additional resources reported that those resources were ongoing (not limited to the implementation period).


How long does it take to review applications under a holistic admissions process?

The length of time needed to review an application in a holistic admissions process varies widely by school. Determining factors include: number of individuals available to review applications, number of additional criteria to be screened, number and length of essays to be reviewed, whether or not the school uses an interview and type of interview (e.g., MMI, individual in-person interview, group interview, Skype/telephone interview), type of software used to collect and review applications, and availability of staff support.

In general, holistic admission is a labor-intensive process and it will take longer for a school to review applications via holistic admission than if only GPA and test scores are considered. However, we believe that holistic review is well worth the effort, and the amount of time and labor needed to review applications can be greatly reduced by using screening software, including students and community members on admissions committees, and using an efficient interview process such as the MMI.