Group of medical students reviewing materials with the doctor.

Real Stories Demonstrating Premed Competencies

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We interview medical students, their pre-health advisors, and the admissions officers who accepted them to learn about their path to medicine and how they demonstrated the Premed Competencies for Entering Medical Students through the different parts of their application.

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Anatomy of an Applicant Guide Cover

Anatomy of an Applicant Guide

This guide supplements the Anatomy of an Applicant student profiles featured on the AAMC website that are based on the 17 Premed Competencies for Entering Medical Students. (View the printer-friendly Premed Competencies).

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Learn more about how the premed competencies were updated in 2022-2023.

There are many different components that go into a complete medical school application. Learn what these pieces are, why medical schools ask for them, and what each part says about your qualifications as an applicant.

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Use this worksheet to reflect on each competency area and what experiences have given you an opportunity to learn and develop in the competency.

Use this worksheet to think about which competencies you gained experience in and how you developed or demonstrated these competencies through the experience. 

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Lihlenz headshot

“Scores and grades can only get you so far without a story to sell yourself and the experiences to back it up. Everyone from here on out is very intelligent, but that increase in raw intelligence has diminishing returns. At this point in your career, it matters more who you are as a person and the soft qualities you bring to the table that will help you become a better physician and colleague.” 

headshot of medical student Richard P.

"Never get discouraged. Each person’s path is very different, and the strongest candidates are those that show how they have found their own path headed towards a career in medicine."

Headshot of Idris K.

“Learn to take time off. The process of applying to medical school is just the beginning of a long marathon. Do not burn yourself [out] at the start.”

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Headshot of Jarrett J.

"Don't underestimate the importance of building connections and developing a sustainable network. Sometimes all it takes is one advocate in your corner to get you that secondary, interview, or even an acceptance! Always put your best foot forward!"

Headshot of Christiana O.

“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.”

Headshot of Micayla J.

"Longterm 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!"

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Headshot of Amanda T.

"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."

Headshot of Sara K.

"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."

Headshot of Bridger R.

“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."

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Headshot of Dominique T.

"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."

Headshot of Jon R.

"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 Air Force, 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."

Headshot of Erin V.

"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."

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Headshot of Patrick M.

"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 nontraditional 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."

Headshot of Hannah W.

"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."

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More Real Stories Demonstrating Premed Competencies

Access the Real Stories Demonstrating Premed Competencies archives to read more accounts from successful medical school applications.

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