Teamwork Makes the (Medical School) Dream Work

With hospitals increasingly moving toward team-based structures, being an effective team member is essential to creating considerate and high-functioning health care teams where physicians work closely with residents, nurses, PA’s and other care team members.
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Teamwork is one of the 15 Core Competencies that medical school admissions committees consider when evaluating an applicant’s preparedness for medical school. When you hear “teamwork” you may initially think about playing on a sports team or collaborating on a group project, but there are many other ways to demonstrate this vital skill. With hospitals increasingly moving toward team-based structures, being an effective team member is essential to creating considerate and high-functioning health care teams where physicians work closely with residents, nurses, PA’s and other care team members.

The Anatomy of an Applicant website describes the teamwork competency as an applicant’s ability to work collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals, share information and knowledge with others and provide feedback, and put team goals ahead of individual goals. Here are a few examples from real medical students who successfully demonstrated teamwork on their medical school applications:

  • Patrick identified teamwork as one of his top competencies based on his experience with the Emory Kidney Mentoring and Assessment Program for Students where he helped organize health fairs to bring kidney disease awareness to medically-underserved communities.
  • Mike demonstrated teamwork through his military service as well as his experience as an emergency medical tecnhician and firefighter.
  • Courtney exhibited teamwork through her nursing career which provided her with a perspective and professional background that will be especially relevant as a practicing physician. 
  • Darryl worked as a fire fighter and emergency medical technician in college. The medical emergencies he encountered in these roles inspired him to go to medical school.

Keep in mind that any activity that successfully demonstrates teamwork is likely to be connected to additional competency areas as well. For example, Patrick’s mentoring work also gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his service orientation – a desire to help others. Mike’s military experience shows his resilience, reliability, and dependability competencies. Courtney’s experience working as a nurse also demonstrated her ethical responsibility to herself and others, her critical thinking, and the living systems competency. And Darryl’s fire fighter and emergency medical technician experiences also developed his social skills which include the ability to effectively adjust to others’ needs, goals, feelings – as well as resilience and adaptability competencies. 

To learn how more students have demonstrated competencies on their applications, check out Anatomy of an Applicant. You can also complete a workbook to determine what experiences represent competencies you are currently demonstrating, why they’re important, what you’re learning, and make a plan for which ones you want to develop, and how.