What Makes a Strong Candidate
For detailed information on specific health care professions and how to prepare for them, please visit our section on Planning for Specific Health Care Professions.
Preparing to attend health care programs goes well beyond taking the “right” classes and doing well on the entry exams. Certainly, an excellent applicant will have a strong overall grade point average in the pre-requisite coursework, as well as competitive test scores.
But beyond these measures, a strong applicant will have a well-rounded set of interests; have a passion for the sciences and field of medicine; have a healthy sense of self; quality volunteer experience (remember quantity does not always equal quality), strong letters of recommendation and a compelling personal statement. As you prepare for this journey we expect that you are doing a lot of reading, self-reflection, and self-assessment to determine if health care is the correct path for you.
As you go into the preparation process, for both two-year and four-year programs, you may find it helpful to keep a journal of your experiences and record how you feel about them. What are you learning and how will you use it? Are you finding fulfillment in your courses and activities or are you feeling drained and overwhelmed? It's important to look at your feelings as you go through the process. Why? Because when you do apply to programs they will want you to have the ability to analyze and reflect on your experiences. They want to be sure you are committed to health care and they will want to know what sparks that commitment. And you want to be as sure as you can that you’re making a good choice.
Find out what it takes to be a strong medical school candidate. Listen to these focus group sessions presented by Dr. Carol Teitz, Associate Dean of Admissions of the UW School of Medicine.
A number of the professions have articulated competencies that are important to their practice and which they are looking for in the admission screening process. For example:
- Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students by the AAMC
- What A Career in Dentistry Demands, by the ADEA
- U of Washington School of Pharmacy Admission, Retention and Graduation Standards, on pages 18 and 19 of the Admissions Guide
- For Physical Therapy, looking at verbs in "The Role of a PT", by the American Physical Therapy Association
- From American Veterinary Medcial Association