Medical School competencies

15 core competencies of entering medical students

A competency is an observable behavior that combines knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes related to a specific activity. In order for admission committies to guide prospective students on a successful pathway for medical school, a set of competencies needed to be established and agreed upon between the medical education community. This list does not suggest that other schools will not require other competencies in addition to this set, it suggests that this set is the standard, minimum expectation for all prospective medical students. 

As you pursue your interests throughout your undergraduate career, reflect on how you are developing these competencies. 

As seen on the AAMC website, this list is separated into four categories: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Thinking and Reasoning, and Science


Service Orientation Demonstrates a desire to help others 
Social Skills Demonstrates an awareness 
Cultural Competence Demonstrates knowledge of socio-cultural factors that affect interations and behaviors
Teamwork Works collaboratively to achieve shared goals
Oral Communication  Effectively conveys information to others 


Ethnic Responsibility to Self and Others

Behaves in honest and ethical manner

Reliability and Dependability

Fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner

Resilience and Adaptability Demonstrates tolerance to stressful/changing environments and adapts effectively to them
Capacity for improvement Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills

Thinking and Reasoning 

Critical Thinking Uses logic and reasoning to identify strengths/weaknesses
Quantitative Reasoning Applies quantitative reasoning to explain phenomena in the natural world
Scientific Inquiry Applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information
Written Communication Effectively conveys information to others using written words


Living Systems Applies knowledge in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macro systems
Human Behavior Applies knowledge of the self, others, and social systems to solve problems related to psychological and cultural factors that influence health and well being