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Vital Signs

New affiliation will bring med students from NYC to DMS

This fall, students from a New York City medical school will be taking a close look at the DMS campus to see if they'd like to spend their third and fourth years in the hills of New Hampshire. At the same time, DMS will be taking a close look at the students—from the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New York.

Ultimately, about five Sophie Davis students will join DMS's third-year class in June 2007 to begin their clinical clerkships. Most of them will likely be from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in medicine—relative to the composition of the general U.S. population—and from economically depressed neighborhoods in New York City. But the Sophie Davis students will bring more than just added ethnic and socioeconomic diversity to DMS.

Fresh infusion: "They're going to bring some different approaches to problems and issues [and] infuse our students in the thirdyear class with some fresh and different ways of thinking about medical problems, especially public-health problems," explains Dr. David Nierenberg, senior associate dean of medical education at DMS.

At Sophie Davis, medical students complete a B.S. degree and the first two years of medical school in five years. They then transfer to one of six four-year medical schools through a process similar to the National Resident Matching Program, which pairs medical school

Stan Roman, former deputy dean of DMS, is now the dean of City College of New York's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, which has forged a new partnership with Dartmouth.

graduates and residency programs in a way that factors in both parties' preferences. Of Sophie Davis's partner schools, DMS is the only one outside New York State.

Feel: Dr. Stanford Roman, dean of Sophie Davis and a 1964 graduate of Dartmouth College, proposed the partnership with Dartmouth in 2003. Roman believed, explains Nierenberg, that some of his students would welcome the opportunity to attend a medical school "in a very different geography and with a very different feel . . . [just] as he really loved going to Dartmouth College." Roman's familiarity with Dartmouth also includes having been deputy dean of DMS in the early 1980s and having served as a Dartmouth College Trustee. After several discussions to work out the details of the matching process, Dr. Stephen Spielberg, DMS's dean, and Roman recently announced the agreement.

Roman was also drawn to DMS for its focus on primary care, which

encompasses internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. Encouraging students to become primary-care physicians in underserved urban communities is a core goal for Sophie Davis; about 80% of its 1,400 graduates in the past 10 years have chosen to practice primary care. Although only 30% of DMS graduates in 2004 went into primary care, Dartmouth was one of the first medical schools in the country to have a community-based primary-care clerkship. Interested: "Anybody who is interested in primary care . . . would find a nurturing environment" at DMS, explains Nierenberg. "That doesn't mean that we try to force all of our graduates to go into primary care. We don't. But for those who want it, we're as strong as anywhere in the country."

When the Sophie Davis students finally arrive at DMS in 2007, they'll face some challenges, such as making the transition "from an urban setting to a rural location—and then there is the weather," says Dr. Lori Alvord, associate dean of student and multicultural affairs. Alvord, a Navajo who grew up on the edge of a reservation in New Mexico and graduated from Dartmouth College and Stanford Medical School, can relate to such challenges. "We'll be working to make the transition as smooth as possible for them," she adds. "We welcome socioeconomic and geographic diversity, as well as cultural diversity."

Jennifer Durgin

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