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Vital Signs

Granite State premeds try DMS on for size

By Katherine Dawson

The 16 participants in last November's Medical Student for a Day event got their picture snapped in DMS's Faculty Conference Room—next to the current dean, Chip Souba (in the red tie), and in front of imposing oil portraits of two long-ago deans.

Taking the plunge into medical school can be challenging, especially for students from rural areas. But that's just the kind of student medical schools are trying to attract, to increase the nation's pool of primary-care physicians likely to practice in underserved rural areas.

To address that dilemma, DMS offers premedical students from New Hampshire colleges a peek inside the process through its Medical Student for a Day program. The event, run by the Rural Health Scholars program, is in its sixth year and has proven so popular that it's now offered twice a year. Last November, 16 students from the University of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Plymouth State University, and Colby Sawyer College attended.

Day: Their day started at 7:30 a.m. sharp, at a first-year anatomy lecture. Many of the premeds had spent the previous night at the home of a current DMS Rural Health Scholar. Next came a tour of the School's labs, auditoriums, and library.

Over coffee, the students were then given a chance to introduce themselves and their interest in medicine. Many had been instrumental in setting up or participating in premed societies at their respective colleges, and they compared their experiences volunteering both in local emergency rooms and farther afield in places such as China and South America.

Next was a talk, given by Sally Redman, associate director of admissions, on how to prepare a good medical school application and to stand out in an interview. Redman stressed that DMS values applicants with varied interests and with both practical and research experience.

Dr. David Nierenberg, senior associate dean for medical education, then explained the courses that medical students can expect to take and how they build on each other to help students acquire the skills they'll need to practice medicine.

Pose: During both talks, the premeds were able to pose questions, such as "Should I attempt humor in my application?" (The answer: No!)

Over lunch, the premeds were introduced to the current Dartmouth Rural Health Scholars and to DMS's dean, Dr. Wiley "Chip" Souba.

The event has proven so popular that it's now offered twice a year.

Next, Sally Kelley, assistant director of financial aid, talked about applying for support for medical school—both loans and scholarships.

Train: The group then got a tour of the vast labyrinth of DHMC, including the Simulation Center, where they saw medical scenarios recreated using lifelike human models and scripted volunteers—a sophisticated yet risk-free environment in which to train.

After a debriefing, this whistle-stop tour of the medical education experience concluded with an expression of hope that some of the premeds in attendance might meet again as Dartmouth medical students in coming years.

The event is a great opportunity for premeds to become "immersed in the Dartmouth culture," says Inger Imset, coordinator of the program. "It is a feel-good event."


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