Medical School Admissions Core Competencies: What you need to Demonstrate

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Medical School Core Competencies

AAMC Core Competencies

When applying to medical school, all medical school admissions officers are seeking applicants who possess 15 medical school core competencies regardless of the medical school’s mission. It is important to be aware of the medical school core competencies before you compose your medical school admissions materials and go on medical school interviews. In this article we will outline all of the core competencies and the categories under which they fall.

1) Interpersonal Medical School Core Competencies

Interpersonal competencies relate to how you work with and relate to others. Medical school admissions committees can fairly easily assess your interpersonal competencies in your written work and letters of recommendation.

However, they will also assess your interpersonal skills during the medical school interview process. Therefore, it is important to be aware of what they are looking for and how you can demonstrate these qualities.

A. Service Orientation

This competency is about more than just volunteering. It is about your motivation for wanting to help others and your ability to actually do so.

Service orientation requires both an understanding of the needs of others as well as the ability to empathize with them. It also requires a desire to help meet those needs in a way that benefits both the person being served as well as the greater good.

There are many ways to demonstrate service orientation, both in your medical school admissions materials and during the interview process. Describing how you have helped others, either through formal volunteer work or informally, is one way to do this.

Another way to demonstrate service orientation is to discuss a time when you have gone above and beyond to help someone, even if it was not part of your job or volunteer role.

Finally, you can also talk about a time when you have advocated for someone or something, whether it was speaking up for a friend or working to raise awareness about an important issue.

B. Social Skills

Medical school is a very social environment, both in terms of the professional relationships you will have with your colleagues and the patient interactions you will have on a daily basis.

Therefore, it is important that you demonstrate that you have the social skills necessary to be successful in this type of environment.

There are many ways to demonstrate social skills, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of social skills include:

– teamwork

– communication

– negotiation

– conflict resolution

If you have experience working in a team setting, whether it was on a sports team, in an academic setting, or in another type of organization, this is a great way to demonstrate your social skills.

You can also talk about a time when you had to communicate effectively, whether it was in a difficult situation or with someone who had different communication style than you.

Finally, if you have experience resolving conflict, either between two people or within a larger group, this is also a great way to demonstrate your social skills.

C. Cultural Competency

With the increasing diversity of the population, it is important that all medical professionals be aware of and sensitive to the needs of people from different cultures.

This competency is about more than just being familiar with different cultures; it is about understanding and respecting the differences between them. It also requires an ability to work effectively with people from different cultures.

There are many ways to demonstrate cultural competency, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of cultural competency include:

– knowledge of different cultures

– sensitivity to cultural differences

– ability to work with people from different cultures

If you have experience working with people from different cultures, whether it was in a professional or volunteer capacity, this is a great way to demonstrate your cultural competency.

You can also talk about a time when you had to be sensitive to cultural differences, either in your personal life or in a professional setting.

Finally, if you have experience working effectively with people from different cultures, whether it was in a team setting or in another type of environment, this is also a great way to demonstrate your cultural competency.

D. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make sound judgments. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as it allows you to effectively diagnose and treat patients.

Examples of critical thinking include:

– analyzing information

– making sound judgments

– problem solving

If you have experience analyzing information, whether it was for a school project or in a professional or research setting, this is a great way to demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

You can also talk about a time when you had to make a sound judgment during interviews. Finally, if you have experience solving problems, either on your own or as part of a team, this is also a great way to demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

E. Teamwork

Teamwork is the ability to work effectively with others in a group setting. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be working with a variety of colleagues on a daily basis.

There are many ways to demonstrate teamwork, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of teamwork include:

– working effectively with others

– cooperating

– compromising

If you have experience working effectively with others, whether it was in a school setting or in a professional environment, this is a great way to demonstrate your teamwork skills.

You can also talk about a time when you had to cooperate with someone, either in a personal or professional setting.

Finally, if you have experience compromising, either on your own or as part of a team, this is also a great way to demonstrate your teamwork skills.

F. Oral Communication

Oral communication is the ability to communicate effectively verbally. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be communicating with patients, families, and colleagues on a daily basis.

There are many ways to demonstrate oral communication, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of oral communication include:

– speaking clearly and concisely

– listening attentively

– asking questions

If you have experience speaking clearly and concisely, whether it was in a school setting or in a professional environment, this is a great way to demonstrate your oral communication skills.

You can also talk about a time when you had to listen attentively, either in a personal or professional setting.

Finally, if you have experience asking questions, either on your own or as part of a team, this is also a great way to demonstrate your oral communication skills.

3) Thinking and Reasoning Competencies

These competencies will largely be demonstrated through your coursework and letters of recommendation.

A. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and to make sound decisions based on that analysis. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be constantly making decisions, both big and small, in your career.

There are many ways to demonstrate critical thinking, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of critical thinking include:

– analyzing information

– making sound decisions

– solving problems

B. Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning is the ability to understand and use mathematical concepts. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be working with numbers on a daily basis.

There are many ways to demonstrate quantitative reasoning, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of quantitative reasoning include:

– understanding mathematical concepts

– using mathematical concepts

– working with numbers

C. Scientific Inquiry

Scientific inquiry is the ability to understand and use scientific concepts. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be working with science on a daily basis.

Examples of scientific inquiry and reasoning include:

– understanding scientific concepts

– using scientific concepts

– research work

D. Written Communication

Written communication is the ability to communicate effectively in writing. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be communicating in writing on a daily basis.

There are many ways to demonstrate written communication, both in your written materials and during the interview process. Examples of written communication include:

– writing clearly and concisely

– using proper grammar and punctuation

– communicating effectively in writing

4) Science Competencies

These competencies will be demonstrated in your course work and any related research.

A. Living Systems

Living systems is the ability to understand and use concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be working with living systems on a daily basis.

Examples of demonstrating knowledge of living systems include:

– understanding concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics

– using concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics

– working with living systems on a daily basis.

B. Human Behavior

Human behavior is the ability to understand and use concepts in psychology and sociology. It is an important skill for all medical professionals, as you will be working with people on a daily basis.

Examples of demonstrating knowledge of human behavior include:

– understanding concepts in psychology and sociology

– using concepts in psychology and sociology

– working

Final Thoughts

We discourage applicants from trying to systematically demonstrate all of the medical school core competencies. For the vast majority of applicants, you will demonstrate most core competencies in your written work by writing in an authentic and natural manner. The interview is also an important opportunity to demonstrate many of the core competencies. Just be yourself, and the rest will fall into place!

We hope this article was helpful in outlining the core competencies for medical school. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@mededits.com We wish you the best!

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD
JESSICA FREEDMAN, M.D. is a medical school admissions expert, former medical school and residency admissions officer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the founder and chair of MedEdits Medical Admissions and author of three top-selling books about the medical admissions process that you can find on Amazon.

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