The Premed Competencies for Entering Medical Students

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Medical students must possess a broad range of competencies to successfully learn and develop in medical school and become effective physicians. The premed competency model includes professional, thinking and reasoning, and science competencies, and serves as a roadmap for students as they prepare to succeed in medical school.

The premed competencies, formerly core competencies for entering medical students (view previous competencies), were updated in 2023 to reflect expectations for medical students. Medical schools will begin using these competencies in the 2024-2025 application cycle to evaluate applicants’ readiness for medical school. (View the printer-friendly Premed Competencies.)

To learn how the premed competencies were updated in 2022-2023, read Refreshing the Premed Competencies: The Process Used to Update the Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students.

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Professional Competencies
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Commitment to Learning and Growth

Practices continuous personal and professional growth for improvement, including setting and communicating goals for learning and development; reflects on successes, challenges, and mistakes; pursues opportunities to improve knowledge and understanding; and asks for and incorporates feedback to learn and grow.

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Cultural Awareness

Appreciates how historical, sociocultural, political, and economic factors affect others’ interactions, behaviors, and well-being; values diversity; and demonstrates a desire to learn about different cultures, beliefs, and values.

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Cultural Humility

Seeks out and engages diverse and divergent perspectives with a desire to understand and willingness to adjust one’s mindset; understands a situation or idea from alternative viewpoints; reflects on one’s values, beliefs, and identities and how they may affect others; reflects on and addresses bias in oneself and others; and fosters a supportive environment that values inclusivity.

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Empathy and Compassion
Recognizes, understands, and acknowledges others’ experiences, feelings, perspectives, and reactions to situations; is sensitive to others’ needs and feelings; and demonstrates a desire to help others and alleviate others’ distress.
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Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
Behaves with honesty and integrity; considers multiple and/or conflicting principles and values to inform decisions; adheres to ethical principles when carrying out professional obligations; resists pressure to engage in unethical behavior; and encourages others to behave honestly and ethically.
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Interpersonal Skills
Demonstrates an awareness of how social and behavioral cues affect people’s interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; recognizes and manages one’s emotions and understands how emotions impact others or a situation; and treats others with dignity, courtesy, and respect.
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Oral Communication

Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; actively listens to understand the meaning and intent behind what others say; and recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies information as needed.

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Reliability and Dependability

Demonstrates accountability for performance and responsibilities to self and others; prioritizes and fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; and understands consequences of not fulfilling one’s responsibilities to self and others.

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Resilience and Adaptability
Perseveres in challenging, stressful, or ambiguous environments or situations by adjusting behavior or approach in response to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles, and recognizes and seeks help and support when needed; recovers from and reflects on setbacks; and balances personal well-being with responsibilities.
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Service Orientation

Shows a commitment to something larger than oneself; demonstrates dedication to service and a commitment to making meaningful contributions that meet the needs of communities.

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Teamwork and Collaboration
Collaborates with others to achieve shared goals and prioritizes shared goals; adjusts role between team member and leader based on one’s own and others’ expertise and experience; shares information with team members and encourages this behavior in others; and gives and accepts feedback to improve team performance.
Science Competencies
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Human Behavior

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

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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.

Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
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Critical Thinking

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

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Quantitative Reasoning

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

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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.

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Written Communication

Effectively conveys information to others by using written words and sentences.

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Originally created in 2011, the premed competencies were updated in 2023 through a joint effort between the AAMC and members of the academic medicine community to reflect current and future expectations for new medical students. Medical school representatives across MD- and DO-granting schools from admissions, student affairs, diversity affairs, faculty, and students, as well as prehealth advisors and competency experts contributed. The 17 premed competencies highlight essential knowledge, abilities, and skills that medical schools consider to be important for entering medical students and evaluate in each applicant through a holistic review of the application.