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. A mentorship can occur with a clinician you shadow, a senior researcher, or a professor. Find more information on our Building Relationships with Professors and Mentors page.

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
  • Collaborating
  • Taking Initiative
  • Resiliency
  • Integrity/Judgment
  • Adaptability
  • Responsibility
  • Persistence
  • Motivation
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Altruism