Personal Development

Advice for Your Pre-Health Journey

Stay Motivated

Stay focused on why your work and goals.  You will face unanticipated challenges and confront vexing questions. It is critically important to incorporate personal reflection and a clear sense of what drives your work.

Continuously Reflect

It is critically important to reflect on your mission and maintain a clear awareness of what guides your work.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Consider the following to help you decide if a health profession is a good fit.

• Have you experienced collaboration or exercised leadership?
• How can you benefit from reaching beyond your comfort zone?
• What inspires you?
• How have you shown initiative?
• Have you interacted with people of various perspectives?
• How have you dealt with vulnerabilities in yourself or others?
• What kind of problem-solving have you done?
• Do you enjoy shouldering challenging responsibilities?
• Obstacles are inevitable – are you learning how to surmount them?
• How do you deal with setbacks?
• How will you stoke enthusiasm in the face of career challenges?

It is enlightening to read the words of clinicians who have grappled with these questions. We hope this reading list helps: Life in Medicine: Suggested Books and Articles

The Importance of Mentors

A strong mentor can help you develop appropriate skills and offer invaluable advice. You can develop a mentor/mentee relationship with a professor, supervisor, a clinician you shadowed, etc. Additionally, if you plan to apply to medical, dental, veterinary, or any other health professions school, making these connections is important, as they can write you an Evaluation Letter. Evaluation letters are crucial to the application process. Those speaking on your behalf will have an influence on your results. Develop cordial and close relationships with faculty, research supervisors, advisors, job supervisors, and others so those who write on your behalf will know you well and appreciate your strengths.

If you think you would benefit from coaching on how to connect with faculty and other mentors, talk to peers, your HPP advisors, Undergraduate Deans, Deans Office Student Consultants (DOSCs) and staff at the Center for Professional Development.

Personal Characteristics and Skills

Below are valued skills and personal traits often exercised by health professionals. These qualities are continuously developed throughout your lifetime, beginning with your undergraduate years.


Personal Traits & Characteristics

  • Active listening
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication (oral, written)
  • Critical thinking
  • Multilingual ability
  • Collaboration
  • Taking Initiative
  • Resilience 
  • Integrity/Judgment
  • Adaptability
  • Responsibility
  • Persistence
  • Motivation
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Altruism