Gaining Experience

In light of holistic review, health professional schools seek well-rounded applicants with a variety of interests and skill sets. As you explore your passion for health profession, we encourage you to engage in activities and experiences that allow you to develop and strengthen the knowledge, qualities and skills that will prepare you for a successful career in the health professions. This includes academic preparation through science, social science and humanities coursework, medically related experiences, research and/or scholarly work, community service and engagements, and leadership opportunities. We also strongly encourage you to explore all of your interests regardless of whether they are specifically related to the health field, such as athletics, the performing arts, music, dance, special talents, etc.
Health professional schools expect applicants to have a solid grasp of the roles and responsibilities of medical professionals and an understanding of the healthcare environment. In order to gain this knowledge and demonstrate your commitment to and passion for the health field, students should seek opportunities to volunteer or work in  clinical setting(s), such as hospitals, community clinics or medical offices, where she has the opportunity to actively engage with patients and health care professionals. Students are encouraged to Start Early!
See our Available Resources page to search for opportunitities and experiences. We also encourage you to follow our pre-health blog to learn of new opportunities.

What is Holistic Review?

In recent years, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) launched an admissions initiative that promotes and supports evaluating applicants in a holistic manner.  In an effort to define holistic review, the AAMC developed a list of 15 core competencies. These 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students fall into four categories that are listed below.

Competencies are defined as observable behavior that combines knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes related to a specific activity. Barnard's Health Professions Advising embraces these core competencies to inform and guide our advising, particularly as we discuss successful preparation and application to health professional schools. We strongly encourage you to review them at each stage in your preparation process. 

15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students

  • Pre-Professional Competencies
    • Service Orientation
    • Social Skills
    • Cultural Competence
    • Teamwork
    • Oral Communication
    • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
    • Reliability and Dependability
    • Resilience and Adaptability
    • Capacity for Improvement
  • Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
    • Critical Thinking
    • Quantitative Reasoning
    • Scientific Inquiry
    • Written Communication
  •  Science Competencies
    • Living Systems
    • Human Behavior