An excellent academic record will get your application considered by a medical admissions committee, but you will not likely be accepted without showing a number of nonacademic qualifications as well, particularly having a significant amount of time spent in a health care setting.  The following are some tips that pre-medical students need to consider well before actually applying to medical school, to ensure that you have the appropriate level of nonacademic qualifications to be competitive.


Admissions committees are looking for something that sets you apart:

  • health care experience and understanding
  • community service
  • extracurricular activities
  • research
  • what you have done in life

They are looking for committed, motivated, articulate people.

Health care experience is essential to acceptance, particularly at OHSU

What have you learned from your health care experience? Articulate your response.

How long did you spend (nature of commitment) i.e., one year or one time?

Shadowing is a start; watch the patient-doctor interaction.

So many applicants are alike. What have you done that sets you apart? e.g., work in Rwanda with the NW medical team, serve as a paramedic for several years, NASA engineer, other experience that demonstrates excellent people skills?

Show commitment and the ability to bring projects to completetion.

Do you have a sense of social obligation? How can you demonstrate it?

It is important to have experience working with groups of people.

No loners, need to be a joiner.

Make the best of activities given; don't make excuses.

An M.D. is an independent learner. Demonstrate this.

If you are forced to volunteer, why do you want to do this for a living?


It is reasonable to take a year or two after college to get health care experience. Get away from the safety of the academic environment; don't hang out in college just waiting

Average age of entrants 26