Professionalism: Open Houses & You

Learner Series:

Open Houses

Table of Contents

Why This Talk is Important

Open Houses are incredibly important opportunities to physically or virtually visit a location that you're interested in. You can meet key people, get your face known to the school, learn about the institution, meet the students, and so on.

Most students never fully take advantage of open houses, thinking of them as information opportunities. And let’s be honest, while open houses are often exciting, they’re kind of a pain. You have to travel, dress up, be ‘on’, think of smart questions, make sure you get yourself some time with the right people… and so on. Most people don't recognize that their energy will drop during the day. Plan accordingly!

We hope that our lecture will give you some insight, tips, and tricks that you can use to make the most of your next open house.


Before we go any further talking about open houses, let's review Yale Medicine's definition of professionalism.

“Professionalism implies that students serve the interests of patients above self-interest. Professionalism includes honesty, respect for colleagues, faculty, staff and peers and behavior in public that is not embarrassing to the ideal of the physician. Continual self-reflection about one’s attitudes and behaviors must occur as one strives to be a better physician.”

The Future Perception Test

You may be thinking, I’m just a premedical student - how does all this talk about ‘ideal of a physician’ relate to me? But it does!

The Future Perception Test: Don’t judge your behaviors in the now. Take your behavior today, fast-forward 30 years and ask yourself if I did that same thing, how would others judge me?

Would people think your posts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, or mannerisms are unbecoming of a physician?

Whoa whoa whoa

One minute we're talking about open houses and the next the definition of professionalism and the future perception test. How are these all related??

Because at open houses you’ll be leaving an impression and you want that impression to come across as professional.

Consider The Typical Open House Schedule 


  1. You check-in during the morning and eat some breakfast.

  2. You listen to presentations until lunch.

  3. At lunch you may get a chance to talk to admissions. 

  4. You go on a tour after lunch.

  5. You come back for more presentations and panels.

  6. Then finally you get another chance to talk to admissions.

This entire process presents a number of opportunities for you to leave a lasting impression on the hosts. At check-in you can impress the hosts by being on time, being professional-appearing and looking engaged. During the presentations you can leave a good impression by asking questions, paying attention, taking notes. Later at lunch you can meet and network with fellow participants and admissions. Then, during the tour, make sure you take advantage of further networking opportunities. Finally, as the day nears its end you can do further networking, give thank-you notes to key people, and leave a great lasting impression with your hosts.


As the day drags on, there are plenty of opportunities for fatigue to derail how you are presenting yourself. Yet, a brief interaction may be all you get with admissions and other key people at the school. You absolutely don’t want to your only impression to be a bad impression. Be sure that you have snacks, caffeine, and that you maintain your focus, especially at critical times. Below we’ll go over some pitfalls to avoid and tips to capitalize upon when you attend an open house.


We’ve mentioned this a few times before, but one of the biggest benefits to open houses is networking. I’d recommend first reaching out to medical students on our site here and seeing if they will be in attendance and / or can introduce you to other medical students in attendance while at the open house. Utilize these connections in order to learn more about the school, if it’s a good fit for you, and if you can see yourself there for the next four years. Then later, when you decide that this is the school for you, bring up your connections and what you learned from them when you are on the interview cycle at the school.

Some Pitfalls You Need to Avoid

02. DON'T

Zone Out On Your Phone or computer

Quickly checking your phone is one thing. Extensively typing, surfing, streaming, etc will be noticed and gives the impression you’re not interested. Likewise, Be careful with computer use. It’s ok to take notes, but be mindful of what you’re doing and who is behind you. Taking notes is ok, watching sports or netflix is not!

01. DON'T

Be Disruptive by Talking With Friends

Talking during presentations is disruptive and can leave a very poor impression. Don’t put yourself, or others around you, in that position!

03. DON'T

Monopolize the Conversation

I know you’re all eager to ask the adcom questions, but be mindful of monopolizing all their time.

04. DON'T

Ask Random Questions

I know we say there are no bad questions and that's true! However, some questions are naturally better then others. Don't lose your opportunity by asking questions that were already answered by the panels. Follow-up and clarification questions are great though!

Advice for Open Houses

02. DO

Write Thank-You Notes

Bring a couple of blank notes with you. Then fill them out during the open house and hand them out afterwards. Read our post on professionalism in correspondence for more info on letter writing!

04. DO

Bring a Snack or Caffeine if Your Energy Wanes

As we said above, open houses can be long affairs. Make sure you are prepared to keep your energy high enough to stay engaged throughout the entire event!

01. DO

Be One of The First People to Ask A Question

It's a great way to leave a good impression and show you're engaged during panels. Start thinking of that question at the very start of the panel so it's a good one and doesn't backfire!

03. DO

Invite Key People to Your School

If you are in the position to via your club or organization, try to invite the adcom to your school. This is a great way to start building a strong relationship with them. Leave them your contact info and get their info in return. This also demonstrates leadership!

05. DO

Dress Professionally

Dress professionally (at least business casual, but strive for business formal), get photos with the Adcom and let them know you’re posting them on your club’s Instagram or other social media. This is another great way to make connections.

Final Advice

Pretend that you are the ONLY person at that Open House and that all eyes are on you. This is your moment to shine! 

Good Luck!

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