Characteristics of medical school applicants: A single-institution study

Kendall M. Campbell, Kelly D. Lancaster, Paige E. Averett, Dmitry Tumin, Cedric M. Bright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Medical schools aim to admit talented learners who are honest, patient centered, and caring, in addition to possessing the required cognitive skills. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) describes core competencies for entering medical students in three categories: science, preprofessional, and thinking and reasoning. The authors sought to determine desired characteristics of medical school applicants at a rural, community-based medical school in light of the published core competencies. METHODS: This qualitative study involved an analysis of data from discussion groups, all from a convenience sample of participants. The authors led the discussion groups, and large sticky note pads and pens were provided to scribe responses. Group members were given the prompt, “What do you see as traits or characteristics of your ideal doctor?” We used a content analysis approach to analyze the data. RESULTS: The total number of responses across groups was 243, representing 15 unique characteristics. The 15 characteristics, listed in decreasing or-der of frequency, included good communicator, knowledgeable, dedicated, compassionate, respectful, community oriented, well rounded, patient, team player, available, leader, positive attitude, equal treatment, prevention focused, and urgency when needed for patient care. Of the top characteristics with 20 or more responses, alignment with AAMC competencies was noted, but less so with being community oriented as defined by study participants. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that there are unique characteristics that a rural community and its medical school consider when admitting applicants to their medical program. Further research is needed to explore the need for additional competencies for rural medical schools to consider for entering medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-756
Number of pages5
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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