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Professional Competencies

To strengthen their holistic approach in the application process, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), with input from medical professionals and educators, developed this set of competencies essential for success in medical and other health professions schoolsThis is great news for students and future applicants. It ensures that admission committees evaluate applicants holistically, not only based on grades and test scores.

As you explore your interests in the health professions, these competencies will help you gauge your interest in your chosen profession better and serve as a roadmap to your self-reflection, academic, clinical, research and other activities. Beginning to plan now to develop qualities, knowledge and skills that address these personal competencies through your self-reflection, courses and co-curricular activities will be most helpful to you as an competitive applicant in the future. 

All details of our website and advising focus on the development of these during your years as an undergraduate student. Use these competencies first to reflect on the career direction you are taking and then to guide your choices of clinical, research, service or other volunteer activities, as well as courses and concentration(s) while at WVU. At a later stage in your studies, you should also work toward developing competencies highlighted by the educational organization for your particular health profession (e.g., Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Allopathic Medicine, Physical Therapy, etc.).


  • Service Orientation:
    • Demonstrates a desire to help others and sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings; demonstrates a desire to alleviate others’ distress. Recognizes and acts on his/her responsibilities to society, locally, nationally, and globally.
  • Social Skills:
    • Demonstrates an awareness of others’ needs, goals, feelings, and the ways that social and behavioral cues affect peoples’ interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; treats others with respect.
  • Cultural Competence:
    • Demonstrates knowledge of social and cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and acts on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment; engages diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work; recognizes and appropriately addresses bias in themselves and others; interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Teamwork:
    • Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; puts team goals ahead of individual goals.
  • Oral Communication:
    • Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; listens effectively; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjust approach or clarifies information as needed.


  • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others:
    • Behaves in an honest manner; cultivates personal and academic integrity; adheres to principles; follows rules and procedures; resists peer pressure to engage in unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways; and develops and demonstrates ethical and moral reasoning.
  • Reliability and Dependability:
    • Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.
  • Resilience and Adaptability:
    • Demonstrates tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under difficult situations; recovers from setbacks.
  • Capacity for Improvement:
    • Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills; engages in reflective practice for improvement; solicits and responds appropriately to feedback. 


  • Critical Thinking:
    • Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Quantitative Reasoning:
    • Applies quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.
  • 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.
  • Written Communication:
    • Effectively conveys information to others using written words and sentences.


  • 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.
  • Human Behavior:
    • Applies knowledge of the self, others, and social systems to solve problems related to the psychological, socio-cultural, and biological factors that influence health and well-being.

The above list of competencies and their descriptions was taken directly from:

Advisors Toolkit

If you are an academic advisor to a student interested in pursuing a healthcare profession, this toolkit is here to assist you in answering questions and getting them on the right track.

View Toolkit

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