Medical schools consider more than your grades and scores. There are 15 Core Competencies that demonstrate your preparedness for medical school. To show how successful applicants have demonstrated these competencies in many different ways, we interviewed real medical students, their pre-health advisors, and the admission officers who accepted them.
Compassionate Caregiver to Military Medic: Christiana’s Path to Medical School
“Do not rush the application process. It is okay if you do not follow the traditional application timeline as everyone’s journey is unique. The important thing is having a strong application that highlights your unique path to becoming a physician.”
Passion for Psychology and Service: Micayla’s Path to Medical School
"Long-term goals, including becoming a physician, cannot be achieved without having short-term goals. Prepare for the future, but do not miss out on the joys of life today. Know that if you come from a background with decreased representation in medicine or a low-income family, with perseverance, you can meet your goal to become a medical student!"
Focusing on the Positive: Sara Kennedy's Path to Medical School
"Always keep in mind what the goal of this journey is: to be a physician who serves others. When you're feeling down in the weeds about studying, take time to volunteer or shadow. Connect with patients and bring yourself back to what brought you to this path in the first place."
Fueled by Compassion and Connection: Amanda’s Journey from Ministry to Medicine
"There’s no magic formula for getting into medical school. I pursued a career as a pastor, volunteered internationally, came to love working with people in vulnerable circumstances, worked as an EMT, and drove cross-county; all this helped prepare me to be a driven, authentic medical student."
Bridger Rodoni's Journey to Medicine: How Football Helped Him Tackle It All
“Challenges and setbacks are inevitable, and these are the moments that force us to grow. Reflect on these moments when they have passed and understand perfection is not the expectation. Work hard given the situation that you're in and be the best you can for those around you."
Dominque Tucker's Journey: Finding Resilience Through Lived Experience
"The application cycle can be disillusioning and not without challenges, not unlike medicine, but remember to be ambitious, surround yourself with good people, work hard and enjoy the moment; you really can do anything."
Military Service and Mentorship: Jon's Path
"My personal statement was a winding journey of how I went from being a bewildered high school graduate, unsure of my place in the world, to being certain I wanted a career as a linguist in the Airforce, to ultimately figuring out I belonged in medicine. I highlighted major forks in my journey focusing on different character traits that I developed with each experience."
Adapting to Changing Circumstances: Laura’s Journey
“If you believe you can do it and you are worth it, don't doubt yourself, because if you doubt yourself it will come through. Stay true to who you are. It's OK if you're not an applicant with straight A's or a perfect MCAT score. That's what makes us human.”
Playing to Her Strengths: Ai's Journey
"Lean on your strengths. Everyone had weaknesses, insecurities and flaws that they need to work on. Don't let this intimidating process distract you from the fact that you are capable achieving your dreams of becoming physician."
Committing to Service through Research: Nadia's Journey
"My road to medical school is similar to many others. I participated in research, volunteered, and worked to maintain my grades. So, when I was filling out my application, I asked myself, 'What makes me different? What makes my story unique?' Thinking about why I was a unique applicant helped me distinguish myself from others and increased my confidence."
Seeking Opportunities for Growth: Fiora's Story
"After my service in the military, I struggled to find direction. I thought there was no way I could become a doctor given my background, but after shadowing a few physicians, there was a pivotal moment when I realized I could do the same thing."
Recognizing the Distance Traveled: Erin's Pathway
"Throughout the application process, I was worried that schools would automatically eliminate my application from consideration due to my undergraduate GPA. I was told that to most schools, applicants are merely a number and a GPA below 'x' would automatically throw someone out of the running for acceptance. These worries were unfounded and I ended up landing several interviews and multiple acceptances."
Moving Beyond Self-Doubt: Hannah's Journey
"Please don't become disheartened when the first, or the twentieth, rejection comes. Keep trying until you find your school because you are going to love what comes next. Getting into medical school made the painstaking process of applying , and applying again, worth it."
Overcoming Fear of 'Being the First: Mike's Journey
"I didn't think I could become a physician. I didn't know any Native Hawaiian doctors and didn't think that people from my background could do well in higher education. I proved myself wrong."
Redefining the Need for ‘Perfection’: Deirdre’s Journey
"I wasn't a slam-dunk perfect applicant who was published with a triple major. That person doesn't actually exist, but sometimes it seems like they do. I am a regular person who made choices and took risks. Sometimes I did well, and sometimes I didn't, but ultimately I succeeded in becoming a medical student."
Getting Out of His ‘Comfort Zone’: Daryl’s Path
“Medical training, and medical practice, is extremely humbling. You might do everything right and still not get your desired outcome. Always remember the importance of preparation and perseverance. Preparation will get you ready for the challenges, perseverance will keep you going when preparation isn’t enough.”
From Rejection to Acceptance: Patrick’s Journey
"It can feel as if only those with seemingly perfect applications get accepted and matriculate into medical school – however, once you begin medical school you will meet many individuals with diverse experiences and will realize that your own non-traditional pathway to medicine may be more traditional than you thought. With regards to my own pathway, I consider the adversity I faced a privilege because it has shaped me into the person I am and the person I am growing to be, within and outside of medicine."
Dismantling the Idea of ‘Traditional’: Rose’s Pathway
“Not being perfect is okay. Focus on the strengths you have and take time to appreciate the steps that you take to continue improving yourself.”
Refusing to Give Up: Courtney's Path
"I was nervous that admissions officers would tell me I'd never be a doctor, but that's not what happened at all. I was really happy I pursued the path I did."