April 11, 2022

Breaking Down the AAMC Core Competencies - Oral Communication

If you’re applying to medical school, you must understand that admissions committees want well-rounded candidates. Statistics are not everything. In your application, you should try to display the 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students | AAMC.

Throughout this series, we have been exploring many core competencies, but in this article we will explore Oral Communication. We will examine the common ways of satisfying this core competency versus how to stand out from other applicants. 

What is ‘Oral Communication?’

Oral Communication is the ability to provide information clearly and concisely. It also means being able to listen and adjust your wording in order for the person in need to understand what you are relaying to them. 


How Do Most Pre-Meds Build and Display Their Oral Communication?


Joining Clubs 

Participating in clubs while in university is a great opportunity to meet others in the same major as you, but this is a very common activity among applicants.


Class/Research Presentations

Being able to stand in front of peers and present your information clearly is an excellent skill. But you are still in your comfort zone (the classroom).

A way to elevate your Oral Communication is to present your findings at a conference or a different university, especially in a room full of researchers or experts in the field you are speaking about. 


How Should YOU Build and Display Oral Communication?


Learning to Be Fluent in a Different Language

13% of the United States population speaks Spanish. This skill is valuable when you are in a situation where there’s no interpreter nearby.

You might hold a position where you interview/screen patients for new medicine/procedure trials. It’s essential to phrase questions to their understanding. 


At times, students don’t know what they don’t understand, and this is a great opportunity for you to ask questions to figure out exactly what they need assistance in. It is important to show that you are able to come up with different ways to best convey the information to the student. This will mimic asking patients questions to establish what their main complaint is and how you will be able to assist them. 


Working as a crisis counselor puts you in a position where you will talk to people in high-stress situations. It is a way to express sympathy and understand the caller’s circumstances. Also, you are able to provide advice and helpful resources.


Teaching Assistant or Supplemental Instructor 

These roles deliver a great opportunity for you to lecture students and make executive decisions when the professor is not present. When you write about this position, make sure to include how you went beyond what you are supposed to do to aid both the professor and students. 

Motivational Speaker

This might mean speaking at your elementary or high school about pursuing a career in the STEM field or pursuing an athletic career. This allows you to talk about your personal journey, what struggles you faced, and the obstacles you were not expecting to face. You answer any questions the young students may have and significantly impact a future generation.


TED Talks 

If you ever get the opportunity to speak at a TED Talk, it is an excellent way to broadcast the topic you are lecturing about and hone your Oral Communication.


Leadership Positions

This will likely involve running board meetings, leading discussions, organizing sororities and fraternities, or coordinating a collaborative research effort. 

All of these roles allow you to practice your Oral Communication skills to ensure everyone understands what is going on and what is expected. 

Resident Assistant, Orientation Leader, or Tour Guide

You will be in a position where you are representing your university. You will meet many individuals who are eager to start their academic careers but are nervous at the same time. You get to help students ease their worries by answering their questions and making their experience during orientation a memorable one. 

Audio Content 

Whether it’s working at a campus radio station or a personal podcast, this will allow you to convey information to a wide audience and bolster your Oral Communication.


Customer Service

Many pre-meds work during their undergraduate career. Working in customer service, whether it is in retail or in a restaurant, you get to practice your Oral Communication skills each shift.

When applying to medical school, you can potentially discuss your transition from being shy and reserved to talkative and training new employees. 

Health Fairs 

At these events, you can run a table where you are educating the public about a variety of topics. Also, figuring out what people need and leading them to the correct resources are other ways to present your elevated Oral Communication skills.  

Any future physician needs to have stellar Oral Communication. You will interact with many patients from all over the world and of different educational backgrounds. Your job is not to just treat the patient, but also to build rapport and ensure that they truly understand their health and how to properly manage it.

About the Author:

Badyah Senussi is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, with a B.S. in Biomedical Science. During her time at university, she was a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Facilitator, where she ran a classroom of students, helped them complete worksheets (specifically in physiology), and held office hours. Her ambition is to become a physician with a focus on mental health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking, and writing jokes in hopes of doing stand-up comedy someday.

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