Friday, November 6, 2009

So you want to be pre-med?

When talking to prospective students and parents, we field a lot of questions about how Dartmouth prepares students for medical school. Our Admissions staff met with Dartmouth’s pre-health advisors earlier this fall, and below are some key points from our discussion.

Many Dartmouth students are interested in medical careers. Typically, about 1100 students – a quarter of the student body – follow the Nathan Smith Premedical Society email list. About 180 to 200 students per year apply to Medical, Dental, or Vet programs. Learn more about the Nathan Smith Society.

Dartmouth has fantastic resources for pre-med students. Chief among them:
  • Dartmouth Medical School (DMS). The medical school is on campus and many professors have dual tenure with DMS and Dartmouth College. Undergrads can collaborate on research projects with med school faculty and students.
  • Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). One of New England’s best hospitals is located just one mile from campus, providing incredible research and internship opportunities for undergrads.
At Dartmouth, students do not “major” in pre-med, but they CAN take all the courses they need to be ready for medical school. Their major can be in a related area, like Biology, or in a completely different subject like Anthropology, International Relations, you name it. In fact, less than half of our medical school applicants are science majors – and this can be a real asset in the medical school admissions process.

Support for students interested in health professions abounds! Our Health Professions Program assists students applying to Medical, Dental, and Vet schools. Open office hours are available 4 days per week to assist students with course planning, internships, and applications.

Unique advantages to Dartmouth’s pre-med program:
  • The advising system lasts 4+ years – we continue to work with students through graduation and beyond.
  • Because of Dartmouth’s small size, the advising and letter-writing processes are very personal. Most universities have a pre-health committee that writes letters of recommendation. At Dartmouth, students select who writes the summary letter on their behalf (a faculty member, dean, etc.) This creates a much more personal letter than what typically comes from a committee.
  • Dartmouth has very strong extracurricular programs that allow students to test their interests before they make a commitment to pursue this as a career.
  • We have about 300 Dartmouth alumni in medical school, who have specifically agreed to assist students interested in pursuing medical school. (For example, they often host Dartmouth students visiting for interviews.) Students can also draw on the overall strength of our alumni network.
  • We offer excellent support in the medical school admissions process, and the Dartmouth Medical School Admissions Office also offers guidance.
What is your medical school acceptance rate? This question comes up time and again. Here is the short answer: If a student comes to Dartmouth, works hard, utilizes pre-health resources, and has an average GPA and MCAT score, they are VERY likely to be accepted to medical school.
  • Nationally, the medical school acceptance is about 45%, and Dartmouth’s is far higher (approaching twice) that average.
  • 11 of 85 students in this year’s Dartmouth Medical School incoming class are Dartmouth College graduates.
More resources for our pre-med students:
  • 80 Medical School Faculty members offer shadowing opportunities in a wide range of medical specialties. We also have community vet and dental shadowing programs.
  • The Health Professions Program maintains a research opportunities directory, and students engage in a wide variety of medical research projects.
  • Women In Science Project (WISP) connects students in their first or second year with paid part-time research internships with science faculty members (or researchers in nearby industrial or government laboratories).
In short, if you decide the medical field is for you, Dartmouth will provide the support and opportunities to make you successful!

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