Health Professions Competencies

Health Professions Competencies


As you explore your interest in the health professions, guidelines help you gauge your interest in your chosen profession and serve as a roadmap to your self-reflection, academic, clinical, research, service, and other activities. To strengthen their holistic approach to the application process, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), with input from medical professionals and educators, developed a set of core competencies essential for success in medical and other health professions schoolsThis is great news for students and applicants. It ensures that admission committees evaluate applicants holistically, considering not only their grades and test scores, but also their broader experiences, skills and characteristics. The MCAT takes an integrative approach to the sciences and incorporates knowledge in the social and behavioral sciences to reflect the same holistic approach. This list of competencies also provides clear guidelines to the types of knowledge and personal qualities that would be helpful as you explore your interest in health and medicine. 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 Brown.   

Allopathic (M.D.) schools consider applications holistically in the context of their own missions as well as in the spirit of the competencies. Osteopathic (D.O.) and other health professions schools similarly look for such qualities, knoweldge and skills although they have not articulated them specifically in this way. At a later stage in your studies, while enrolled in a health professions program, you would also work toward developing competencies defined by the educational organization for your particular health profession (e.g., Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Allopathic Medicine, etc.). Beginning to plan now to develop and demonstrate qualities, knowledge and skills that address these  competencies through your self-reflection, courses and co-curricular activities will be most helpful to you as an applicant. All details of our website and advising focus on the development of these during your years at Brown. 





  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.  

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.




  • 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.

  • 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.




  • 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.


External Information & Preparation Resources

To learn more about competency-based medical education explore: