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Dartmouth Students... need you to brag about your school.

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Super Rob, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. Super Rob

    Super Rob Senior Member
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    Ok, I've got LOADS of questions about Dartmouth. My interview seemed like it was soooo long ago (actually, it was!)

    I did a few searches on your school and came up with squat, so it's time to get some information on the board for prospective students! THANK YOU for your help.

    Why did you pick Dartmouth?

    How is life in Hanover? Does student government organize class socials and activities? What's there to do at night? Free time?

    Do you associate much with the college proper, since it's so close to the medical school? (use their gyms and libraries, watch the teams compete, mingle with non-medical students)?

    Do you serve all of your required rotations at either the Hitch or the VA? What opportunities do you have for away rotations? One student mentioned going out to Los Angeles. Are away rotations common?

    What sort of interest clubs are you involved with?

    What sort of opportunities are available for students the summer BEFORE their first year and the summer between their first and second years? Any summer fellowships available?

    Where do students typically live and how's the rent?

    Is Dartmouth a bad idea for someone interested in specialty XYZ? For instance, they haven't matched many for derm in these passed few years. Does that mean they haven't had many people interested in derm, or that the school simply doesn't have many research/clinical opportunities available for derm wannabes (using derm as an example. not a personal interest). Obviously, it's a rural school so it's ideal for someone thinking about rural medicine, but it doesn't seem to rule out urban med as I see a lot of their grads matching in Boston, NYC, and Los Angeles.

    How is Dartmouth with financial aid? (PM me if you don't feel like answering this one on the board).

    Do computers find their way into the curriculum? How manageable is the curriculum? Faculty-student relationships? Camaraderie between students?

    Well, I'm fresh out of questions and I have a million thanks for anyone who takes a stab at any of the ones I've listed.
     
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  3. ND Gas

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    I'm currently on my way out as a 4th year at Dartmouth so I can give you the skinny on what to expect at DMS.

    So, in answer to your questions:
    1. I picked Dartmouth primarily because I wanted to see another part of the country, since I had lived in the Midwest all my life. I also liked outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, etc., and knew that Dartmouth is known for those types of activities. Plus, I wanted to be at a school with a small class size and one that was non-competitive, which Dartmouth suprisingly is!

    2. What life is in Hanover depends on who you ask. Myself, I'm from the city and a city boy and thought that it might be nice to live in a rural setting - boy was I wrong. Don't kid yourself - we're in the middle of nowhere. And, as such, there is really NOTHING to do around here, except outdoor activities. Since I don't know how to ski, winters pretty much SUCK because there is absolutely nothing to do. At least in the summer I can bike and hike and go camping, but, still, there isn't nearly as much to do as there is in the city. Student Government does arrange a few dances and social outings throughout the year, but basically you're on your own to find things to do at night. Most of the time, we either go out to a bar or over to someone's house and hang out. Once in a while, we'll go to the movies at the run-down theaters in Hanover or Lebanon, but there isn't much of a night life here. THe only dance club in Lebanon - if clubbing is your thing - is very laughable and actually quite pitiful.

    3. Although DMS doesn't mention this, and rightfully so, DMS is basically the red-headed stepchild of Dartmouth. Throughout my 4 years here and my 4 years on being on Student Government, this has become very apparant to me. NOw, don't get me wrong, we still have access to all the student services at Dartmouth (gyms, libraries, etc.). However, we are shunned by the rest of the college community: we are placed on the outskirts of campus, we have some of the ugliest buildings on campus, student housing is really NOT provided for med students (although there are about 10 rooms for first years), and priority for building more lab space and classrooms is not high for the medical school. Reasons for this ostracisim include the fact that Dartmouth prides itself and holds true to its claim as being primarily an undergraduate institution, and, the fact that the medical school doesn't bring in as much money to the institution as, say, the business school. Just my observations.

    4. As far as rotations are concerned, you must do surgery and medicine at the Hitch and VA. Otherwise, you are free to do the rest of your rotations either in New Hampshire or at away sites. SInce Dartmouth is in rural New Hampshire, which doesn't have the greatest racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, DMS does have a cultural exposure requirement, which basically requires you to do one of your rotations at a culturally diverse site, which means an away site. So, expect to do one rotation at an away site, but, on the average, most students do 2-3 away rotations. Myself, I did pediatrics at a Navajo reservation in Gallup, NM, surgery in Cooperstown, NY (this has since been discontinued), and Family Medicine in Miami, FL (definitely recommend this rotation!). Other rotations occur at CHOP in California for Peds, Alaska for Family Medicine, another Navajo Reservation in Tuba City, AZ for Family Med, OB/GYN in Hartford, CT, and Neurology in New Zealand. Plus, we have an established elective over in Kosovo. Housing is provided at all away rotations, and all you're responsible for is transportation.

    5. Summer fellowships/research between 1st and 2nd year are HIGHLY overrated for residency, unless you do something that will end up getting published in your field of interest (e.g. neurosurg, derm, optho). Otherwise, I would recommend that you do something that you are interested in - if research is that, then do it. If you just want to relax during the summer, that's cool to. Residency programs don't really look at what you did over that summer, unless it was something really extraordinary. Dartmouth will help you schedule something, but you have to make the effort in setting it up and showing interest - e.g., contacting the professor for research. I do know that each summer, a bunch of first years go to Central America, I think Guatemala, to do service work and learn Spanish.

    6. Students typically live in Lebanon, NH, Wilder,VT, or Norwich,VT in apartments. A few live in Hanover, but rent in Hanover is a lot more than in these other areas. There are a group of apartments near the Hitch that are really popular places to live, because they are so close to the hospital. Rent varies, but usually runs somewhere between $300-600 a month. There are also some unique housing options. I, myself, currently live in a barn that has been converted into a house, with 4 other roommates.

    7. You can go into any specialty you wish, but, remember, that Dartmouth has a primary care focus. That doesn't mean, however, that you will be at a disadvantage if you pursue a non-primary care field - this 's match had the most number of people going into surgery. The reason we didn't have anybody match in Derm this year is because nobody was interested in it. Ophtho also didn't have anybody match because the students who were interested in it decided, before the match, to split their fourth year to do research, and are going to apply for it next year. So, I definitely wouldn't say that you would be at a disadvantage coming here if you wanted to pursue some of the more competetive specialties. Heck, we had 2 people match in neurosurgery this year. Plus, there are MANY, MANY research opportunities here. In fact, we just opened up a new 4 story cancer research lab, and are in the midst of planning for more research space in the future.

    8. Financial aid is, in my opinion, excellent at Dartmouth. IN fact, one of the reasons why I chose Dartmouth was because I received such a great financial aid packet. THe paperwork is a bit of a pain, though. But, the people in the financial aid office are great and extremely nice and are more than willing to try to help you in whatever way they can.

    9. Computers have become a vital part of the curriculum. Each student is highly advised to purchase a computer during their first year. IN fact, I think that we are now factoring in the price of a computer into each first year student's budget. Third and fourth year, Palm Pilots are extensively used both for personal references, as well as keeping track of patients and pathologies seen.

    That's a lot of info, but, if you need to, I'd be more than willing to answer any more questions. Personally, I think that I got an excellent education at Dartmouth and I'm going into anesthesiology for residency at a great program (Northwestern). There are somethings and people that I don't like about the school, but, overall, it was a great school to go to. HOpe this helps.
     
  4. Super Rob

    Super Rob Senior Member
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    Wow, thank you for your response! I take it there's not a heck of a lot to do indoors!

    Got a few more:

    How consistent is Dartmouth with financial aid from year to year? Some schools tend to give their nicest looking awards first year and then cut back once you're stuck there.

    I'm a bit concerned when you say that DMS is shunned by the rest of campus. Is the medical school within walking distance of campus and town? Is there ANY chance to meet and interact with graduate students (I was unaware of Dartmouth's rep as being primarily an UG institution).

    Are there a lot of opportunities to get involved with clubs, med interest groups, and activities? It seems like a larger school would lend itself more to those options.

    I get the impression that the financial aid office is great. How are the rest of staff and how about faculty?

    What sort of generalizations can be made of Dartmouth students that wouldn't necessarily apply to med students in general?

    thanks for your help and congratulations on your match!
     
  5. ND Gas

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    No problem.

    As far as financial aid is concerned, they are VERY consistent from year to year, unless, of course, your financial situation changes - like you win the lottery or inherit a million bucks. So, no, for the most part, they won't give you an awesome financial aid package your first year and then stick it to you for the rest of the three years. The financial aid department here at DMS is one of the school's high points.

    As far as DMS's relationship with the rest of the school, we do have regular interactions with the grad students. Almost nobody has interactions with the undergrads, but the grad schools do get together one night a week at a local bar for socialization. We also do several dances and partys together. So, I'd say that the relationship between the grad schools is much stronger than that with the undergrads. And, even though we are on the outskirts of campus, the med school is only 5 minutes walking distance from downtown Hanover and right across the street from the undergrad buildings.

    Extracurricular activities are quite numerous here. We have tons of clubs, national organizations, and interest groups. If you don't see a club here that you would want, you can basically start up your own club or interest group without any problem. One area where DMS is particularly strong and interested in is community service, so we have many organizations which volunteer in various services throughout the Upper Valley.

    Which brings me to my next point - Dartmouth Medical Students are, on the most part, extremely involved individuals in their community. I think this sets us apart from other med schools, and I know this is something that the admissions committee looks for in applicants. DMS students are also very non competitive in nature. We absolutely do not have the cut throat environment of other medical schools, and this made going to school hear much more enjoyable. Your classmates are usually more than willing to help you out and we share notes and old exams and what not. Of course, as I'm sure there is in any med school class, there are 1 or 2 gunners, but these are the exception rather than the rule. On the wards, there is great commeraderie and cooperation between med students - no stealing patients, rounding on other people's patients, etc. Finally, Dartmouth tends to have a good number of people in each class be those who have been out in the world either teaching, in business, lawyers, financial analysts, etc. - essentially non-traditional students.

    The faculty here at Dartmouth are awesome. Of course, there are a few bad apples, particularly in the administration, who can make you life a living hell, but, for the most part, the faculty are excellent. The faculty who teach on the wards are especially great - most have a true dedication to teaching and are excellent teachers. Many faculty members have students over to there house for dinner or get togethers. Also, the administration is constantly re-evaluating the curriculum in order to make changes and improve it.

    I think the education I received here at Dartmouth is among the tops in the nation. You will definitely get your money's worth if you go here and you will be extremely well trained when you enter residency.
     
  6. TheRussian

    TheRussian Life Size Mirror
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    Thanks a lot for taking the time to answering these questions. I found a thread on the pre-allo forum that lists what the "important" questions to ask are. I would really appreciate if you take the time to answer them. Thanks in advance.

    1) What is third year like and how is it structured?
    How are the rotations structured? What is the role of the med student during the rotations? Is there a lot of hands on stuff or is it mostly shadowing?

    2) How are med students protected from scut?

    3) How receptive is the administation to fixing problems and/or disciplining out of line behavior, espcially from residents?

    4) How good is the school on focusing on "the bread and butter"?
    In other words do most of the people focus on things like A) study esoteric diseases, B) specialize in highly uncommon or speciallized surgeries or diagnostic tests, or C) only doing big commando surgeries on cases people in the community looked at and said no way im touching that. Or are they good at making sure you know all the common stuff and not necessarily the specifics of rare disorders?

    5) You mentioned that the school is primarily focused on primary care. What does that mean? Do you have to do more time in primary care rotations, or that the faculty encourages the students to go into primary care? and if so, how much pressure do they put on you to get you to go into primary care?

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  7. Super Rob

    Super Rob Senior Member
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    ND Gas, you rule (upping your karma points... I think that does something good).

    I'm BUMPING The Russian's questions (ABOVE) to the top and adding two more (really working you!):

    6) You just interviewed and subsequently matched. What sort of a reception did your receive from residency directors, coming from Dartmouth? Was it a big deal? The US News "assessment score" was pretty high, but I personally feel that US News is garbage and need to hear it from someone who's been through it :)

    7) Is there a disadvantage of going to Dartmouth if you're looking to match in an urban program? I personally believe there's a difference between where you want to learn medicine and where you want to practice medicine. Do residency directors buy this? :)

    Thanks a ton!
     
  8. ND Gas

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    Russian - in reponse to your questions:

    1. Third year consists of 6 basic "core" rotations, lasting 7 weeks each: psych, OB/GYN, medicine, peds, surgery, and family medicine. One week after each rotation, the entire class comes back to Dartmouth for about 3 days of didactics, called "ICE" - or "Integrated Clinical Experience". Here, they present various topics, such as diagnosis and managment of HIV patients, pain medicine, procedures (arterial lines, NG tubes, etc.), alternative medicine, sexual health, palliative care - just to name a few. However, a third year student can "bump" one of these core rotations to the fourth year, freeing up a slot to do research or an elective. The elective option is especially appealing to those students interested in an early match specialty, such as neurosurgery, urology, optho, etc.

    2. Scut work is basically non-existent here at Dartmouth. Yes, there are a few bad apples who will scut students out, but, I would say >95% of the residents here do not scut out students. I don't know why students aren't scutted here. I know, for the most part, the residents and students here get along extremely well. We socialize often outside of the hospital at bars, partys, etc. and even get together to play intramural sports at the college. Particularly, the surgery residents here at Dartmouth are especially great - both as people and at teaching. Some of the medicine residents are also awesome at teaching. Overall - an awesome place to do you 3rd and 4th years.

    3. The medical school administration is extremely receptive to student input and, like I said earlier, is continuously tweaking and fixing the curriculum to make it more appealing to students. For example, if there was a particualrly bad lecturer during year 1 or 2, and the majority of the students commented on this on the course evaluation forms, the administration will have somebody better come back next year to lecture on that topic. Another example is the change in the first year quizzes. My first year, we had tests in all of our subjects every 2 weeks throughout the entire year, which pretty much made life a pain in the a$$. However, since then they have changed this to where there are quizzes every 2 weeks for the first term and, then, I think every month after that, which ends up letting you have more of a life your first year. Yes, there still are parts of the medical school curriculum that are boring and make you wonder why the heck you're learning this, but I know that this is the same at any school you go to.
    As far as residents are concerned, I'm really not sure as to what happens for reporting poor resident behavior. Sorry :(

    4. Since we are the main tertiary care center for Vt, NH, and ME, we see a variety of different cases - from the bread and butter to the really esoteric diseases. During your clerkships, your main focus is on seeing and learning the bread and butter cases - cholecystectomy, CHF, RSV, depression, pneumonia, colonic resections, bipolar disorder, otitis media, etc. However, you also get to see some awesome cases as well, which will be sprinkled throughout each of your rotations. Now, you won't see EVERYTHING - that would be impossible during any rotation at any hospital in the world. But, you do learn the basic pathologies, as well as the esoteric "zebras".

    5. WHen I said the school has a primary care focus, I meant that we do get more exposure to primary care specialties. Take, for instance, that we have to do 7 weeks of family medicine in addition to 4 weeks of outpatient medicine during our 4th year. That being the case, there is no pressure from the administration to go into primary care. In fact, most of the 2004 class isn't going into a primary care field (14/47 graduates). So, I hope that answered that question.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions - I'd be more than happy to answer them.
     
  9. ND Gas

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    Super Rob - thanks for the props, man - appreciate it. But, it's my pleasure to help you guys out however I can :D .

    Anyway, in response:

    1. When I did my away elective in Chicago and also when I interviewed for residency at all of the programs, people where generally very impressed by the Dartmouth name. Now, without starting any pissing wars here, I will say that Dartmouth has the Ivy League name, which does go far. In fact, from most of my classmates, they said that all over the country at programs that they interviewed at, that the Dartmouth name meant something. However, there are a few programs - I won't say who except that they are in Boston - that look down on Dartmouth, but these are the exception. So, in general, the Dartmouth name will open doors for you when you are applying for residency.

    2. The only disadvantge that Dartmouth has by being in a rural environment is that there isn't as much trauma, especially gun and knife injuries. Now, having said that, we still do get trauma, primarily in the form of MVAs and industrial accidents - these are quite frequent, unfortuntately :scared: . Other than that, there is no disadvantage. We are a tertiary care center and we do see a TON of patients and pathologies, extremely comparable to a busy urban hospital.
     
  10. TheRussian

    TheRussian Life Size Mirror
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    Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate it.

    I have another question. During the rotations, do you get a lot of hands-on experience or is it mostly shadowing?


    Also you said some programs in Boston look down on Dartmouth? Will that make it much harder to get a residency in Boston considering that's where I want to do my residency? The three programs I'm most interested in is MGH, BI, and B & W. Okay, I know nothing about residency programs, but I would really love to work at one of those hospitals. Are you saying I will be looked down by the residency directors at these hospitals?
     

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