Defining what constitutes a “good doctor” can be subjective. But medical organizations have become more aware of the importance of personal qualities, and not just grades, in assessing an applicant’s potential.

Those of you who despair that medical school admissions is too heavily driven by “numbers” may welcome the American Medical Association’s work towards identifying personal qualities necessary for medical school and practice while finding ways to recognize them in the admissions process.  In recent times medical school interviews also reflects this trend that drive to find out more about the person behind the application.

In 2009, the American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a survey of 131 U.S. medical schools , which found the following:

• Sixty-five percent of medical schools named at least one personal quality desired of applicants, including motivation, maturity, compassion, leadership, and integrity.

• A majority of schools (60 percent) used the personal statement to evaluate whether applicants possessed these qualities.

• Of those that assessed behavioral competencies, only 35 percent of medical schools relied solely on the interview to conduct an assessment.

Given this , we recommend students to consider the following while making application to a medical school in the US.

• Write a strong personal statement: Many applicants fall into a trap of thinking this is an afterthought; however, the personal statement is much more important in the admissions process. Personal statements that are creative or show candor are more memorable to busy admissions committee members.

• Letters of recommendations: Encourage those writing a letter of recommendation on your behalf to not only discuss your strengths as a student or relevant experience and accomplishments, but to also mention what personal qualities you possess that they believe will make you a good doctor.

There is momentum toward incorporating (and evaluating) more personal factors than in the past. Depending on your situation, the admissions scales could tip either way. Staying on top of trends in medical school admissions is important in helping you prepare for this difficult process.