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Preparing for a Career in the
Health Professions

Practicing medicine engages the mind, body, and heart. To achieve this, the essential components of becoming a strong, well-rounded applicant to medical, dental, veterinary, or other health professions are to:

  • Develop intellectually, which includes improving your critical thinking, problem-solving, and synthesis skills
  • Build a strong foundation in the sciences and expand your worldview through an array of liberal arts courses
  • Explore your motivation and test your interest through related coursework; especially through experiential exposures in clinics, labs, and other health contexts.
  • Develop your empathy, generosity, and compassion through community service and leadership
  • Expand your other interests and personal qualities — they will compliment your health profession-specific training
  • Gain experience beyond the classroom through clubs, sports, internships/jobs, research, shadowing, etc.
  • Develop productive relationships with faculty, mentors, supervisors, or advisors - learn more HERE

The Dartmouth College Health Professions Program (HPP) is here to help every step of the way. HPP exists to guide and prepare pre-health students on their journey to becoming healthcare professionals, from their first steps at Dartmouth College, to their matriculation in a graduate, medical, dental, veterinary, etc. school, and beyond! We can also help you to understand the Application Process to Medical School. It is very different from other graduate programs and takes approximately a year to complete. Meet with a pre-Health advisor one-on-one, and attend application workshops in your junior and senior years to learn how to submit a strong application.

What are the Health Professions?

Health Professions include both clinical and non-clinical paths such as physician (allopathic and osteopathic), veterinary medicine, dentistry, nursing, physician assistant, midwifery, etc. Additionally, health professions can encompass careers in public health, healthcare administration, biomedical research, etc. The journey is rich, fascinating, and complex — involving academic engagement, extracurricular activities, personal growth, and the actual process of applying to graduate school. 

Who is a "Pre-Health" student?

Approximately 1,000 Dartmouth undergraduates and alumni/ae each year have either definite or potential interest in a career in the health professions. Pre-health students come from every background and have a wide variety of majors and academic interests, talents, and skills! Ten percent of Dartmouth students choose to apply to medical school, but we support those who aspire to other health professions. It is not a one size fit's all journey — pre-health students have different timelines, pathways, starting points, and destinations.

Is Medicine the right path for me?

Exploring your interest is an important part of the pre-health journey. The prerequisite coursework is certainly essential, but often it is not what will confirm your interest. Students will often sign up for medical exposure through the Nathan Smith Society Shadowing Program at Dartmouth or volunteer in medical settings locally, at home, or abroad on off-terms. Additionally, students will take courses that explore the nature of medicine and society, upper-level science courses that are especially relevant, and gain experience in scholarly/clinical research and service settings to help confirm that medicine is a path for them!

How to decide which classes to take first and when?

Because there are several prerequisite courses, starting places, and timelines for arranging them, please meet with a pre-Health advisor before signing up for classes or during your first year at Dartmouth. We are here to help individualize your choices and create a plan for your success! Your Undergraduate Dean is another resource for getting feedback early on.

Interested in starting your pre-health journey?

Meet with a Pre-Health advisor! Explore our Tips for Getting Off to a Good Start page!