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Updated AAMC Competencies

For YEARS, I've used the AAMC Core Competencies to guide my work. I have always found it ironic that people are searching for the answers as to what the med schools are looking for, when there is literally a list created that tells us what they are measuring.

This year, the Competencies have expanded. They've always been the "15 Core Competencies" but like all things in the med school process, the list has expanded. Now there are 17, which doesn't have the same ring to it. But nonetheless, we shall use these competencies.

The changes this year are the inclusion of Cultural Humility, which I've already been talking about for years, and Empathy and Compassion, which I always joked about not being on there. Guess they heard my poking fun at that. Those who have worked with me in the past know that I've always pushed people to talk about cultural humility in their applications, so nothing new there; however, I have always cringed when people outwardly talk about being an empathetic person. My question when folks start talking about empathy is, "What does empathy LOOK like?" What did you do that demonstrated that empathy? Empathy and compassion originate as feelings, and it's difficult to measure feelings, so without demonstrating empathy through action, you have no choice but to declare your empathy. And you all know how I hate when people just declare things about themselves.

When writing all aspects of your application, it's important to be aware and intentional about how you're thinking about how your competencies are coming through. When I talk about writing a competency-based application, all I mean is that you are aware of which competencies you are attempting to highlight in each aspect of your application. Some people write apps to just show the "passion for medicine." That's cool, but what's even cooler is having a passion for medicine AND being competent at things.

Take a moment and read through the competencies. Look at the paragraphs in your personal statement and your experience descriptions (once they're written) and think about what you're showing through your writing.

Commitment to Learning and Growth (Former Capacity for Improvement):

Practices continuous personal and professional growth for improvement, including setting and communicating goals for learning and development; reflects on successes, challenges, and mistakes; pursues opportunities to improve knowledge and understanding; and asks for and incorporates feedback to learn and grow.

Cultural Awareness:

Cultural Humility (NEW!):

Empathy and Compassion (NEW!):

Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others:

Interpersonal Skills:

Oral Communication:

Reliability and Dependability:

Resilience and Adaptability:

Service Orientation:

Teamwork and Collaboration:

Critical Thinking:

Quantitative Reasoning:

Scientific Inquiry:

Written Communication:

Human Behavior:

Living Systems:

Download PDF • 190KB

All of this information can be found on the AAMC's Anatomy of an Applicant website. I highly encourage everyone to use the AAMC website throughout their application process.

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