Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interviewing at Dartmouth Medical School

I interviewed at Dartmouth in the fall. The day was October 16th. I took the Dartmouth Coach bus from downtown Boston where I live to Hanover, NH. I got off the bus on a drizzly afternoon to find myself in the middle of a quaint rural neighborhood which was clearly NOT Dartmouth… There was not a sign to indicate where I was nor was I anywhere near my presumed hotel location. I walked into a different hotel lobby and asked how to get to Dartmouth. I was told I have to take a $60 cab ride to White River Junction, VT -- so much for cheap travel to NH -- but hey, at least I knew where I was! Finding a cab in New Hampshire is not possible. In Boston there are frequent cab stands, but in New Hampshire if you want a cab you have to call in and wait. It took another hour of plowing through rush hour traffic to get to White River Junction. My hotel was a shabby brick building in the middle of a parking lot, but there was a big Wendy’s banner in the middle of it -- so I was happy. You can never be too far from civilization if there’s Wendy’s!

Next morning I had to take a cab to the admissions building, but this time it was only $15. I was greeted by the most incredible, friendly admissions staff! Interviewees were shown into a large antique room with high ceilings and bay windows. We all had a chance to hang out and chat, and have coffee. The official part started at 9am. We met with the dean, and the financial aid director. All struck me as the friendliest people. The atmosphere was incredibly casual and relaxed. Both of my interviews were at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) and both were with medical faculty. To get to DHMC I had to take a free campus shuttle. It took roughly 30 minutes to get to the complex. A student-guided tour was offered, and a lunch at the hospital cafeteria (it really was not bad). To get back to the admissions building was trickier. A number of shuttle buses run from the DHMC and only one takes you back to school. I had to wait for that one for 45 minutes in the rain. I left Dartmouth around 4pm that day on the bus back to Boston. Overall I had the most positive impression of the school!

What did I like about Dartmouth?
I was most impressed by the atmosphere inside the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. It’s a brand new construction and is rather enormous, but inside is designed like a shopping mall. They told us the architect designed the building in a way that would feel friendly and familiar to patients, and I really think they did it right. In the middle of the main hall there was a big concert piano. Doctors would come over and play calming music on it all day long.

I read New England Journal of Medicine and I frequently see articles on public health published by MDs and MD/PhDs from Dartmouth. The school offers a variety of research opportunities to its students in both clinical and basic sciences. There are lots of funding options available to graduate students, although I could not find a similar comprehensive resource for medical students.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center serves New Hampshire, Vermont and parts of Maine. Students have the opportunity to see cases from all three states. Dartmouth is the only medical school of this strength and size in the area, so most difficult cases go to DHMC. When I was waiting for a bus to get back to the admissions office I met a young man with a huge surgical scar on his forehead. He was injured by a bomb in Iraq and was treated at DHMC for injury-related epilepsy.

After I was accepted I received the most personal treatment from the financial aid office. They were helpful, responsive, and very efficient. It was easy to reach a person and get help with filling out forms and supporting documentation. Dartmouth offers generous financial aid and no-interest student loans.

What did I not like about Dartmouth?
The medical center is quite far from the school and even further from residential areas. While free shuttle service is available, it is not efficient enough for a fast-paced life style of a medical student. You really do need to have a car.

New Hampshire is a very rural area – it’s only two hours away from Boston, but it is much less densely populated. You have to drive everywhere to get to a supermarket, go out for dinner, movies, and get coffee in the morning. On the other hand, it’s at the heart of traditional New England recreational activities like hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. In the fall it looks gorgeous.

I was concerned about the conservativism of DMS curriculum. It is heavily lecture-based with little research focus and problem-based learning. While certain aspects of it were attractive – community-based patient interaction programs, mentoring programs – it was not the best fit for my research interests in medicine.

Fun facts about Dartmouth
Dartmouth is a historic place. It was the fourth medical school in the US – way before John’s Hopkins was built as a large medical school. William Osler, Harvey Cushing, and other huge names in medicine all came here to give lectures and seminars.


  1. Interesting and helpful! Thank you!

  2. Hey, just wanted to say good luck in Harvard! I'm doing a program offered through the Office of Diversity and Community Partnership and I heard Harvard Med started classes already, and I've been following your blog for a while, so I hope you do well. Thanks for all the help you're so selflessly dispensing!

  3. Thanks guys!!! I really can't wait to start -- I'm so excited about it.

  4. Your blog is one of the most useful resources I've come across on the web, thank you!! I appreciate your interview tips as I'll be having at least one (hopefully more!) coming up soon.

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  8. Was wondering where the Dartmouth Coach dropped you off since they either drop off in New London, Lebanon, or downtown Hanover. But great blog! Loved it!

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  11. What kind of students do you think fit best at Dartmouth? I'm trying to narrow down my list of schools to apply to. Also, if you want to share, what did Dartmouth like about your application? Thank you!


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