“How can I build my qualifications for professional school?”
The answer is not one-size-fits-all. There is no checklist of specific experiences. Instead, professional schools will look to assess certain personal qualities, skills, and knowledge sets that can be built in a number of different ways:
- A clear understanding of the profession you hope to enter
- Experience with the patients with whom you hope to work (human or animal)
- The desire, motivation, and ability to serve others with empathy and compassion
- Ability to interact effectively with people from diverse backgrounds
- Ethical behavior and decision-making
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Resilience & maturity
Critically, professional schools also want to get to know you through the application process. Let them. Follow your passions over time so that when you apply, your personal interests within health and medicine are clear.
Assess your qualifications
Ongoing self assessment is an important element of your preparations.
For first-years: This initial self-assessment is a great way to begin thinking about your interests and building qualifications. You may wish to complete this before an early meeting with a pre-health advisor.
Pre-health self-assessment: This detailed tool is designed for anyone who is at least a sophomore in college. Even if you are new to pre-health, you have likely already built valuable skills and experiences. Use this tool to help you think about your growing strengths as a future applicant and to better understand the areas in which you need to improve.
Anatomy of an Applicant: From the Association of American Medical Colleges, this web page and assessment tool is a comprehensive resource for pre-medical students to understand medical school qualifications and assess their own readiness.
Journaling: A great way to keep track of your experiences over time is to write about them. Include details about your questions and your reflections. Over time, you will begin to see how your skills and perspectives are growing and changing.