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Holistic Review

What is holistic review?

Holistic review is a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic metrics and, when considered in combination, how the individual might contribute value as a medical student and physician.

Advancing Holistic Review Initiative Purpose

The purpose of the Advancing Holistic Review Initiative has evolved to focus on the constellation of issues associated with admitting and enhancing the education of a diverse student body. These issues include process elements (e.g., pipeline, recruitment, admissions, and financial assistance) and the institutional policies and practices that sustain inclusive and collaborative learning and working environments that lead to high quality, equitable health care. This also means exploring complementary changes in residency selection and training.

We encourage you to read the Advancing Holistic Review Initiative brochure  to learn more.


The Advancing Holistic Review Initiative, established in 2007, was originally designed to develop mission-centered, admissions-related tools and resources that medical schools can use to create and sustain diversity. Guided by a constituent advisory committee and in close collaboration with many others in the field, the initiative has evolved into a catalyst for thinking about and conducting admissions differently. It is clear, however, that attaining the full educational and workforce promise of holistic admissions requires expanding the initiative’s focus and aligning its admissions work with key points along the medical education (undergraduate medical education and graduate medical education) and career development continuums.

Though situated primarily in admissions, the Advancing Holistic Review Initiative is fundamentally about institutional change. Taking a systems perspective enables constituents and the AAMC to:

  • assess the alignment between an institution’s mission and goals, the criteria used to evaluate and select applicants, and the attributes, attitudes, and skills fostered and rewarded in students, faculty, and staff, and
  • identify potential leverage points for enacting change, including healthcare and biomedical research workforce needs, institutional mission and goals, and stakeholder communities.

Understanding that the expertise lies in the field, the only way we can hope to accomplish that goal is by deepening and expanding our collaboration with constituents.

Resources for Admissions Staff

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Admissions officers are at the forefront of changing the way medical schools select and train students, cultivating physicians of the future. The AAMC offers a variety of tools and resources to help you along the way.

Webinar Recording: Mapping Your Route

This webinar translates core education and legal principles into operational and viable admissions and enrollment-related policies, practices and procedures.

Holistic Review in Admissions Workshop

Are your school's diversity and admissions efforts aligned with its mission?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Workshop cycle.

Featured Resources

Recommended Reading