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10 Medical Competitions for High School Students

Are you in high school and looking to participate in a medical competition? Check out this curated list below of opportunities from across the country!

Participating in a competition in a medically-related field helps in indicating your passion for medicine to potential colleges! Competitions also grant the opportunity to improve one’s skills in writing, public speaking, or debate, for example.

Below are 10 medical competitions to consider, some of which are offered in the summer and others during the school year. The programs range from research competitions to essay competitions to Olympiads, so there is something for everyone!

Note: We’ve covered a few other biology competitions in detail here, as well as a list of research opportunities in medicine here!

One of the most renowned competitions at the high school level, HOSA is an international career and technical student organization for students interested in the health industry. It is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as several federal and state agencies. HOSA provides a variety of competitive events that are designed to improve student knowledge and skills. Through your school’s chapter, you can qualify and compete to participate in these competitions. HOSA offers hands-on competitions in the following 6 categories: health science, health professions, emergency preparedness, leadership, teamwork, and recognition. There are so many to choose from, so please consult the event’s website to find competitions that you would be interested in!

Application Deadline: Varying, Main competition in June

Location: TBD, 2023’s competition took place in Dallas, Texas

Prizes: Prizes vary by rank and competition

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible through membership in a HOSA-affiliated organization– ask if your school has one!

The US Medicine and Disease Olympiad is a competition testing students’ knowledge of human biology, medicine, health, and disease. The Olympiad’s competition itself is a two-hour, multiple-choice exam that is to be completed on the day of the competition, likely around the end of July. It tests knowledge on: 1) Cell Biology and Genetics, 2) Human Physiology, and 3) Human Disease. Hundreds of students participate in this Olympiad a year as it is a great way to demonstrate your passion for human health while learning more about the field of medicine.

Note: If you perform well in the USMDO, you are eligible to represent the United States at the IMDO: the International Medicine and Disease Olympiad!

Application Deadline: July 2024

Location: Virtual

Prizes: TBA

Eligibility: All high school students in the United States

If you are interested in becoming a doctor, dentist, or veterinarian, this competition is an excellent opportunity for you! This essay competition requires a 1500-word essay that is written from the perspective of a health professional. Beyond content, this is a wonderful way to practice college-level writing and think critically about your motivations for pursuing a medical career.

Prompts vary based on the subfield of healthcare that is of interest to the student. The prompts for the 2023 competition were as follows:

Medicine: What is the role of psychology in modern medicine?

Dental: To what extent is caring for a patient's emotional needs and mental health important in dentistry?

Veterinary: How can we help improve the stigma associated with veterinary professionals suffering from mental health conditions?

Allied Health: How closely do mental and physical health link together?

Application Deadline: August 2024

Location: Virtual

Prizes: A certificate and $250

Eligibility: All high school students

Offered by The Siemens Foundation, an organization working to advance health equity initiatives, this competition invites students to submit and present projects in a scientific research field. It is the nation’s premier science research competition for high school students and encourages intensive research. Scientific importance, field knowledge, comprehensiveness, and quality of literature review are all important criteria used to evaluate student submissions. This is a great opportunity to strengthen one’s ability to conduct research and synthesize biomedical information, which are important skills in the medical field. Past submissions in the contest have included research topics in bioengineering and other biomedical research.

Application Deadline: TBA

Location: Virtual

Prizes: Varying cash prizes for semifinalists and regional winners with a $100,000 grand prize

Eligibility: All high school students who are citizens/ permanent residents of the United States

This national competition, hosted by the American Academy of Neurology, is designed to encourage high school students to explore the world of the brain and nervous system through research. The components of the application include the submission of original research in the field of neuroscience. All submissions will be assessed by physicians and scientists members of the Academy. The following criteria will be used to judge submissions: relevance to neuroscience, creativity of the problem-solving approach, interpretation of data, and organization of the report.

Do note that the applications do not need to include research from formal/traditional lab settings. The competition only requires that the research is the work of an individual student, rather than a group.

Note: We’ve covered this competition in detail here!

Application Deadline: TBA

Location: Virtual

Prizes: Various awards

Eligibility: Students in 9th-12th grade in the United States, regardless of age

The Genes in Space Competition invites students (up to 2) to design a DNA experiment that addresses challenges in space travel and deep space exploration. After choosing a topic that is of interest to them, students must define a hypothesis, choose a creative approach, and present their case for why the ISS is a facility that could carry out this experiment. Many awards are available for creativity and feasibility– as a finalist, you’d receive mentorship from Harvard and MIT scientists on your work! Furthermore, if you perform well in the competition, you’ll have the opportunity to present your research at the ISS Research and Development Conference in Seattle! To present your work at a conference of this caliber while in high school is an impressive feat that is sure to impress colleges.

Application Deadline: April 2024

Location: Virtual/Seattle, WA

Prizes: Prizes vary by rank

Eligibility: All high school students in the United States

This is one of the most prestigious and difficult competitions, not just in biology, but in all high school sciences. If you’re interested in medicine, a deep understanding of human biology is critical, and demonstrating mastery of this subject area in high school is impressive. The USABO consists of a 50-minute, online nationwide multiple-choice exam that is administered at an authorized USABO Center. Depending on the outcome of that exam, only 10% of students will then move on to compete in an online semifinal exam, and then the USABO National Finals! Students who are successful in the examination will compete in further competitions, representing the United States at the International Biology Olympiad.

We’ve covered the USABO in detail here!

Application Deadline: November 2023

Location: Virtual

Prizes: TBA

Eligibility: All high school students, citizens, or legal permanent residents of the U.S

EWH is an American nonprofit organization that engages the skills and passions of students and professionals from around the world to improve healthcare delivery in communities in need.” Their biomedical engineering challenge is a design competition that spans over two months. During that time, students will lead a self-designed project, learning how low-resource engineering can work to develop solutions to improve healthcare delivery around the world. At the time, students will be mentored by experts in the field through online sessions and submit a 3-5 minute presentation outlining their solution. This is also a great opportunity for students interested in biomedical engineering or related fields.

Application Deadline: March-May 2024

Location: Virtual

Prizes: Cash prizes, various

Eligibility: Students in 9th-12th grade, groups up to 6 allowed

Vision Global Health is sponsored by the Global Health and Leadership Conference at Harvard. The goal of the competition is to empower young students and inspire interest in global health. Their Community Pitch Competition asks high school students to create proposals to solve health-related issues in their local communities. In addition, students will develop important research skills by writing reports and presenting their research findings at the Conference. Furthermore, participants can network with peers from across the country while presenting research at Harvard University.

Application Deadline: May 2024

Location: Virtual, 2023 was an online format

Prizes: TBD

Eligibility: Teens in high school living in the United States

Eye on the Future is a video contest presented by the National Institute of Health that asks students to communicate scientific information in an understandable way. There are three categories that students can choose from regarding science in the field, lab, world, or future. Please consult the website for specific details about each category. Given the NIH’s status as one of the most esteemed and prestigious research institutions in the country, participation in a contest like this one is a great opportunity. The judges for the videos are from the National Eye Institute and will assess based on scientific context/accuracy, relevance, and creativity among others.

Although the competition’s premise is a bit unconventional for a medical competition, this contest offers students a unique opportunity to channel their creativity through the lens of an important academic subject. This will prove very beneficial when writing applications to colleges, or other writing endeavors at large.

Application Deadline: Submissions are open from January to April

Location: Virtual/ Bethesda, Maryland

Prizes: Cash award of $2,000 for the first-place winner

Eligibility: Teens in high school living in the United States

If you are interested in doing university-level research in medicine and biomedical science, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for high school students. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Aisha is a student at Princeton University, studying Anthropology and Global Health. On campus, she is involved with student groups centered around health equity and cultural affinity. In her free time, she enjoys podcasting, learning languages, and trying new recipes.

Image Source: USABO logo


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