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Developing and Demonstrating Skill as a Leader

Goal Plan Success

Health care professionals develop and utilize their skills as leaders to foster collaboration, enhance organizations, improve services, and ultimately to serve others, both colleagues and patients.

As a prehealth student, you need to develop your ability to lead and guide others in the achievement of important goals. Although professional schools differ in the emphasis they place on leadership experiences, all applicants will need to demonstrate leadership through experiences, usually more than one.

While most schools simply list leadership as one of the important factors in the assessment of applicants, some schools do make specific recommendations. For example, the University of Utah School of Medicine indicates:

“We require that you have at least 1 leadership experience lasting 3 months within the last 4 years. Competitive applicants will have 3 different leadership experiences each lasting 3 months within the last 4 years”.

You will need to research the specific schools that you intend to apply to in order to evaluate the kinds and amount of leadership experience they prefer.

In addition to leadership, many professional schools value teamwork and collaboration. This is particularly true of schools that employ a Problem Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. Be prepared, especially during your interviews, to show evidence of how you were an effective and contributing member of a team. For example, Roseman University College of Dental Medicine includes the following in a list of competencies for graduates:

“Demonstrate capacity to function productively in collaborative teams for learning and delivery of patient care during dental school”.

As with all experiences necessary to be a competitive applicant, choose to pursue leadership in areas and organizations that you truly care about. You are preparing to become a leader in health care, not simply checking off the boxes to be admitted. Remember the purpose behind these expectations. Learn the skills, lead others, and then you’ll be better prepared to write about and communicate these experiences in your application and during your interviews.

Examples of possible leadership experiences:

  • Church missions (this also includes sister missionaries – trainer, mission leadership council)
  • Employment
  • Being a TA
  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Coaching
  • Tutoring
  • Research lab teams
  • Sports/Athletics
  • Clubs
  • Church callings