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COVID-19 Impacts on Pre-Health

This page is dedicated to impacts on health professional program applications. For current information on Dartmouth-specific policies related to Covid-19, please visit their official page: https://news.dartmouth.edu/covid-19/covid-19-coronavirus-information

Current applicants for all health professional programs, you can find the most up-to-date information from accrediting bodies and common application systems here: https://www.naahp.org/covid-19hplinks/home. Given the rapidly changing landscape, we recommend the following: 

  • Bookmark the page(s) that are most relevant to your chosen health profession
  • Bookmark the NAAHP page
  • Check both pages frequently for updates and new information
  • Be prepared for flexibility
  • Sign up for e-mail updates, if they are offered
  • Contact HPP with questions regarding changing policies

AAMC Advisor Reports made temporarily available to applicants: https://students-residents.aamc.org/advisors/article/medical-school-admission-requirements-advisor-repo/

AAMC Table of Admissions Policies, specifically with Covid-19 edits: https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/91/fb/91fbe4f8-f0b1-436b-9301-7bea4294b683/msar_admission_policies_and_information_2020-21.pdf


  1. Will I be disadvantaged by not having a grade?
  2. Should I avoid prerequisites?
  3. I am still figuring out how to excel in pre-health courses. Should I wait?
  4. Will the online courses prepare me well for my subsequent courses and standardized exams?
  5. What about taking more than one lab course, since there won't be grades?
  6. Will there still be tutors?
  7. What if I don't have great internet at home or a quiet place to study?
  8. How do I adapt to the changes in teaching/learning styles?

1. Will I be disadvantaged by not having a grade?

Most of you will not experience any disadvantages due to the CT/NC option. Health professional programs are prepared to be flexible for this unique term.

  • Work hard to ensure you will get the preparation you need for future courses and to adequately prepare for a health professional program.
  • If you have a unique situation/concern regarding your academic status and the effect of taking a CT/NC class at this time, you may reach out.

2. Should I avoid prerequisites?

This will not be necessary for most of you. Your professors are working overtime to produce these courses for you. They are devoted to making this work well and to ensure you will be well prepared. Consider the following:

  • This is an opportunity to dive into a learning experience to continue mastering the material, strengthen your preparation for future courses, and continue building your own strong foundation.
  • You may have other reasons for waiting on a course, and they may be valid. Reach out if you need to consult.

3. I am still figuring out how to excel in pre-health course. Should I wait?

  • This could be a rare opportunity to take your next prerequisite course and develop greater confidence and mastery of the material and with your study process.
  • Use the opportunity to explore study strategies that work best for you. Give it your best effort to further build your foundation and prepare for your next courses.
  • If you do not have quality access to the internet or study space, this could also be a low-risk way of moving forward.
  • If you feel your current situation would not allow you to keep up with the material and prepare for other subsequent courses, it may be better to take another course at this time.
  • If you change your courses, we can work on new D-plans over the spring term with you.

4. Will the online courses prepare me well for my subsequent courses and standardized exams?

Yes, that is the goal. Your Dartmouth faculty are working overtime to ensure you can be well prepared. There will be adjustments in how you access the material, but they will continue to provide the content you would need to move forward. It is still your responsibility to dedicate sufficient time and energy to learning the material.

5. What about taking more than one lab course since there won't be grades?

We caution against multiple prerequisite courses if they are not already part of a well-reasoned plan. We strongly recommend that you be thoughtful about the choice.

Possible Exceptions:

  • While health professional programs are preparing to be flexible about grade outcomes for this unique term, we would strongly advise not going beyond two pre-requisite courses in most cases. Feel free to discuss it with us.
  • You were already planning to take two prerequisites like Biochemistry and Physics 4. Chances are you had a good reason for this plan and were prepared to do it successfully.
  • You already have a strong showing in your prerequisite science grades, and perhaps some upper-level science courses, so there will be a lot of evidence of your science competencies.
  • You are a first-year student and your prerequisites have been going well. You have ample opportunity and time to demonstrate your scientific competency. In this case, you might build in a little flexibility moving forward.


Reasons to Avoid Loading Extra Prerequisites:

  • You are an upper-class student still working on demonstrating science competency in your grades. It would probably not be an ideal time to take multiple pre-health courses without grades. Instead, use the time to gain more mastery of the classes already planned.
  • You are a first- or second-year student and still developing your skills in these courses. Use the time to work on building a stronger foundation in a single course.
  • You have the desire, but not the means. As an example, perhaps your internet connection or physical space doesn't lend itself to the amount of work you'll need to do with more than one prerequisite course.
  • Based on your previous experience with such courses, you know that it will take significant time and attention to work sufficiently on one prerequisite. The workload will still be substantive. Don't put yourself in a position where you need to drop or have no-credit.

6. Will there still be tutors?

Yes. Check the Academic Skills Center website for details.

7. What if I don't have great internet at home or a quiet place to study?

Communicate clearly with your professors about your situation. They tried to anticipate challenges, but they may not have fully anticipated every scenario. While they may not be able to accommodate everything, most of them are going to do their best. Let them know right away if you are facing issues like:

  • Limited internet bandwidth that doesn't allow you to reliably join in real-time
  • Your time zone makes it prohibitive to participate fully
  • Your family is sharing limited study space
  • Give them time to work out solutions. They are in a big adjustment period as well.
  • If it really doesn't work out in a course, act quickly to find a new one. Consider starting the term with an alternate course already in mind, and start attending on day one.

8. How do I adapt to the changes in teaching/learning styles?

Give it time! Many faculty and students will adjust quickly to using new methods and spending time working together virtually. Some will take longer. Please be patient with yourselves and others.

This is could also be a time to really connect with your classmates as a community. Reach out to each other for help and support. Whether through Canvas forums and messages, or a class GroupMe, share tips and ideas. Offer to share insights into your biology, chemistry, or physics problems if you realize someone needs assistance. Reach out if you need help. You're all in it together!