In addition to academic achievement and entrance exam scores, it is important to remember you are preparing for a career in the health professions. When thinking about your activities and experiences, you must go beyond what “looks good” on an application. A truly prepared applicant is one who has demonstrated the qualities, characteristics, and core competencies of a successful healthcare professional through participation in meaningful experiences.


Professional schools in health and medicine expect applicants to demonstrate growth and experience in four areas:

  • Academics
  • Clinical
  • Service
  • Research (not required, though it provides helpful experience)

These four key areas of preparation are critical to a successful application process. There is no checklist of activities required in each of these categories. Your experiences in the areas will depend on your own personal interests and passions. 


The medical school admission process utilizes a Holistic Review which entails the 15 core competencies. While these 15 core competencies have been endorsed by the AAMC Group on Student Affairs Committee on Admissions to indicate a student’s preparedness for medical school, it is helpful to applicants in all health professions. Developing these characteristics takes time and effort. Students should explore campus and community involvement opportunities to gain valuable leadership and interpersonal experiences. Explore your interests — not all of your activities need to be health-related!


Service Orientation: Demonstrates a desire to help others and sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings; demonstrates a desire to alleviate others’ distress; recognizes and acts on his/her responsibilities to society; locally, nationally, and globally.

Social Skills: Demonstrates an awareness of others’ needs, goals, feelings, and the ways that social and behavioral cues affect peoples’ interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; treats others with respect.

Cultural Competence: Demonstrates knowledge of socio-cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and acts on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment; engages diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work; recognizes and appropriately addresses bias in themselves and others; interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.

Teamwork: Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; puts team goals ahead of individual goals.

Oral Communication: Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; listens effectively; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies information as needed.


Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others: Behaves in an honest and ethical manner; cultivates personal and academic integrity; adheres to ethical principles and follows rules and procedures; resists peer pressure to engage in unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways; develops and demonstrates ethical and moral reasoning.

Reliability and Dependability: Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.

Resilience and Adaptability: Demonstrates tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under difficult situations; recovers from setbacks.

Capacity for Improvement: Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills; engages in reflective practice for improvement; solicits and responds appropriately to feedback.

Thinking & Reasoning

Critical Thinking: Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Quantitative Reasoning: Applies quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.

Scientific Inquiry: Applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is facile in the language of the sciences and uses it to participate in the discourse of science and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.

Written Communication: Effectively conveys information to others using written words and sentences.


Living Systems: Applies knowledge and skill in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macro systems including biomolecules, molecules, cells, and organs.

Human Behavior: Applies knowledge of the self, others, and social systems to solve problems related to the psychological, socio-cultural, and biological factors that influence health and well- being.



When considering candidates for admission, health and medicine professional schools consider applicants holistically. Admissions decisions may be based upon their assessment of you in various areas of competency, one of which is academic performance.


Clinical experience can help you learn more about careers in the health and medicine professions, determine whether healthcare is the right fit, and demonstrate your commitment to pursing a particular profession. It is critical that you learn as early as possible about today’s health care delivery system through continuous exposure to the clinical setting.


Involvement in community service experiences is an important factor considered by admissions committees. The health profession is a helping industry, and participating in volunteer experiences shows your initiative and commitment to your community.


All health and medicine students should consider exploring research opportunities. Research requirements vary depending on the health and medical profession and professional school you are interested in. Experiences in research can vary in setting and topic. K has many opportunities to be involved in meaningful research on campus.