Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Tony W Cawthon, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Michelle L Boettcher

Committee Member

Frederick C Buskey

Committee Member

Cynthia M Deaton

Committee Member

Pamela A Havice


Using a conceptual framework concerning core competencies for entering medical students, the researcher examined how the core competencies were displayed in the medical school applications for students who completed a healthcare pipeline program. The researcher completed a descriptive qualitative study and examined medical school application materials that were submitted by applicants and external individuals. The researcher used framework analysis to understand how the competencies were displayed within the admissions materials. The researcher examined personal statements, letters of recommendation, secondary applications, individual interview comments, and multiple mini interview comments.

After completing framework analysis, the results indicated a strong presence of core competencies within the letters of recommendation and personal statement data materials. Core competencies observed included critical thinking, oral communication, resilience and adaptability, reliability and dependability, social skills, cultural competence, and capacity for improvement. Key themes emerged from the presence of the core competencies: academic performance and excellence, connecting through communication skills, fostering relationships through service and leadership, and personal experiences in medicine. Of the three themes, connecting through communication skills contained the most core competencies and served as a connector between the other three themes.

The examination of application materials submitted by applicants and external individuals provided greater insight into the core competencies exhibited in the medical school admissions process. This research study established a baseline for future research studies. More in-depth study is needed to determine whether the presence of core competencies may affect admissions decisions or success in medical school.