All health professions schools look for applicants who are skilled, passionate, and committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others. They will expect a foundation in the sciences and experience in the health field in which you intend to work. Life experiences that come through activities such as community service, volunteering, jobs, internships, study abroad, leadership, etc. are also important in your development. At the time of your application, you will want to show:

  • Academic achievement
  • Experiences where you have engaged with patients and families
  • Experiences where you have shadowed doctors or other health professionals
  • Community service/volunteering
  • Research

These activities will allow you to develop the personal attributes and competencies that schools look for: 

  • Capacity to learn, adapt, and persevere
  • Passion for science and the study of living systems
  • Desire to help others in need, with compassion and empathy
  • Respect for people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles
  • Ability to organize, analyze, and convey your thoughts in written form
  • Behavior that is ethical and responsible, and not affected by peer pressure
  • Critical thinking, logical thought, problem-solving skills and research
  • Understanding cultural, social, and behavioral factors that influence health
  • Exposure to and dedication for the practice of health care

For more information on core competencies for medical schools (these also apply to other health professions), see:

And one last thought. Your time at Duke should not just be preparation for a health professions school. Use these years to test your goals, gain life experiences, and show who you are and what you can achieve. Some of your experiences at Duke may have a profound influence on your life after medical or health professional school.