Nursing program eliminates interview from application

By Pat Bowden Reporter

The required interview process that nursing students once had to go through for admittance into the standard nursing program has been removed as of this semester. According to Linda Herrick, associate dean of undergraduate nursing, the interview process wasn’t a high or consistent predictor of successful students.

   “The main reason was that we have found it wasn’t a predictor of student’s success in the program, and we know that from our studies here as well as national studies that the main predictor in student’s success for nursing students is their science grades,” Herrick said. 

   Herrick said that not only did the SDSU nursing department find the interview unnecessary, but national research also correlated to the same conclusion. Herrick said, “Some [students] were not as nervous and very polished and some were extremely nervous … the main factor is that we were putting students through something that we knew wasn’t predictive of success.”

Some nursing students see differently on the removal of the interview process, with some not being relieved that they won’t have to interview for the program. Mariah Kieffer, a second year pre-nursing student who just applied to the program, said she feels this way. Kieffer said she believes the interview acts as a useful screen to find people with poor interpersonal skills early on.

  “I honestly wasn’t the happiest when I found out. Nurses work with patients, doctors and so many other people. They have to have people skills. Some students can have great GPAs but lack the personal and people skills they need to be a great nurse,” Kieffer said.

However, many of the interpersonal skills needed are taught to students in the program, so even someone without communication skills could develop them over the course of the curriculum, Herrick said.

 “They [the students] have to go through a background check to be fully admitted,” said Todd Stricherz, director of nursing student services. 

Herrick followed up with similar facts to Stricherz, and agreed that students don’t need to have that level of people skills right when they get admitted into the program.

 “The few [research] articles that supported interviewing, which there were very few, said that you could screen someone with undesirable characteristics out. Their hearsay said that interviews would work to screen potentially out the ones that were unethical … but the research doesn’t bar that out,” Herrick said. “Those are something that we have in some of our classes, meaning it’s something we’re going to teach them.”

A third view on the removal of the interview process is that it makes it more difficult to get in, versus making it easier, which may make it more competitive.

 “I feel like this is going to make the acceptance process more difficult for students because now being accepted is based on GPA only,” said junior nursing student Callie Zirpel, who once went through the interview process for her admittance.

   For some, the interview process played as a learning opportunity instead of something that was seen as an obstacle.

  “At first, I was a bit disappointed because we had to go through the interview process, but looking back that interview helped me gain confidence and I feel accomplished being accepted into the program,” said junior nursing student Mariah Roth. “I was pretty nervous for the interview because I had to make an impression so the faculty would remember me.”

 While some students felt nervous for the interview into the program, they also knew that personal skills weren’t everything that determined if they were admitted.

 “I would of been nervous, but also confident … the interview could have helped my chances to getting in,” Kieffer said. “ ​I was told that sometimes a GPA of three point five student got in before a three point seven student, because they had a more personal, and friendly attitude. A nurse saves lives, but they are more than just caregivers. They help a patients and are there for the emotional aspect as well.”

 However, according to Stricherz, the interview process never completely determined whether or not someone was admitted or not.

 “The interviews didn’t differentiate between who got in and who didn’t get in … the students weren’t scored on their level of nervousness because we understood they were under a lot of pressure,” Stricherz said. “[Doing interviews] was just the trend at the time.”

  While the grades of an individual student were weighed more heavily than the interview did, both played a role in making sure SDSU admitted well-rounded students.

     “Nursing is not an easy major. You are responsible for someone’s life. This should not be taken lightly; they should be educated and prepared,” Kieffer said. “The program will always be competitive. For some it may seem less competitive, due to no interview. I guess we will see how this truly plays out, and I hope for the best.”

  Stricherz believes that, despite an interview, SDSU will still continue to admit “outstanding students.”

   “All of our pre-nursing students are so good … we admit over 300 students a year into our nursing programs. It’s not going to make it harder and it’s not going to make it easier,” Stricherz said.

  Herrick said that the interview process may not be absent forever, as national research trends change over time.

   “I don’t know if it’s going to have a big effect on success, which is why I say we won’t never implement it back in,” Herrick said.

  While the interview process has been removed from the standard nursing program, the advance undergraduate nursing program still requires an interview.