Pre-Health Candidacy Assessment

Interest combined with academics, career, and personal development will build strong candidacy for health professional program admissions

The Pre-Health Pillars candidacy assessment incorporates three essential components of preparation to be successful in the application process to a health professional program. Let this model serve as a guide to understanding how to build a solid foundation for your development and growth as a pre-health student.

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Your academic performance at the undergraduate level demonstrates your capability to handle the rigor and demands of coursework and licensing exams required to practice in your health profession of interest.

Pre-requisite Coursework

Most programs require pre-requisite coursework, but they will vary from school to school. Some schools have very specific course requirements and others have no course requirements at all. As you begin to explore health professional programs, remember to pay attention to the pre-requisite coursework for the programs to which you are applying.

As always, when it comes to course registration and timelines for completion of pre-requisite courses, your major and graduation requirements should be the priority.

Requirements by Health Profession

Overall and Science GPA

Overall and science GPA highlight your academic performance over a period of time. Programs are generally most interested in the science or pre-requisite GPA. Programs calculate science GPA in different ways, so make sure to consult the centralized application service for your health profession. Common classifications include BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) and BCP (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics). Check out more information on the Calculating Science GPA page.

Entrance Exam

All programs require applicants to take an entrance exam. This is an important predictor for future licensing exams required for health professional practice.

Entrance Exams by Health Profession

Academic Trends

Trends and patterns in your academic record are important. Health professional programs are interested in seeing if your record displays positive, stable, and consistent performance throughout your undergraduate years. Ideally, you want to have a few solid academic years with consistently strong grades before applying to a professional program.


Career exploration is essential in making an informed decision about your future career in healthcare. Your participation in clinical experiences in healthcare settings shows your commitment to the profession. Students who are dedicated to pursuing a health professional career will likely have hundreds of hours of experience devoted to career exploration. Journaling during your clinical and observational experiences is valuable as these experiences are likely to become a part of your personal statement and secondary application essays.

Required clinical hours can vary by program. Be sure to do your research!



Direct Patient Interaction (paid or unpaid)

Find out if you enjoy and are comfortable being around patients in a healthcare setting.

Athletic Trainer Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Clinical Research Assistant
Dental Assistant
Free Clinic Volunteer
Hospice Volunteer
Hospital Volunteer
Medical Mission Trip Participant
Medical/Clinical Assistant
Patient Transporter
Peer Health Educator
Pharmacy Technician
Physical Therapy Assistant
Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant
Rescue Squad / Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Veterinary Technician

Seek Clinical Opportunities

Observation of Health Professional(s)

See what a healthcare practitioners' day-to-day life looks like.


Seek Shadowing Opportunities




Develop the technical and analytical skills that cannot be gained in the academic classroom or through extracurricular activities.

Clinical research with patient contact
Bench research

Seek Research Opportunities

Personal or Family

Contribute to a greater understanding of the patient experience.

Personal experience as a patient
Observer of family member's medical condition or procedure
Caregiver for family member

While these situations contribute to a better understanding of the patient experience and are an important piece of your
background, you should not rely heavily on these events to demonstrate your understanding of the career field.



Life experience and personal growth are important in the preparation process. This includes any aspect of you that contributes to your interest and fit for a clinical career in healthcare. Examples may include passions, extracurricular experiences, and skills beyond those directly relevant to the health professions.


An observable behavior that captures your knowledge, skills, 
values, or attitudes.

Interpersonal Competencies
Service Orientation
Social Skills
Cultural Competence
Oral Communication

Intrapersonal Competencies
Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
Reliability and Dependability
Capacity for Improvement

Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
Critical Thinking
Quantiative Reasoning
Scientific Inquiry
Written Communication

Scientific Competencies
Living Systems
Human Behavior

Non-Clinical Extracurricular Activities

Activities you choose to participate in outside of your academic and clinical preparation that highlight you as a person and how that person is suited for a career in the health professions.

Participation in a Student Organization
Study Abroad
Athletic Pursuits
Artistic Pursuits
Leadership Roles
Work or Internship in Professional Setting
Community Volunteer

Questions for Consideration and Reflection

Reflect upon these questions and discuss with a Pre-Health Advisor or conduct a mock interview to practice communicating your experiences.

How has your upbringing and personal background influenced who you are today?

How have you demonstrated maturity and strong decision-making skills?

How would you present yourself in an interview? How comfortable are you presenting your strengths and areas of growth in an interview setting?

More to Explore

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