Non-Clinical Altruistic/Service Work

While all successful applicants to medical school and other graduate programs in the health professions should explore clinical experiences, it is important to deepen other interests as well. Beyond clinical exposure, service is a core motivation for, and aspect of, the health professions, something we advise you to engage with early on. Medical schools look for evidence that an applicant was not just "checking" off a list of requirements, but was truly engaged with experiences with a sincere interest.

Medical and Other Health Professions Schools Look For:

An Altruistic Perspective

It is essential for a future clinician to know that they genuinely want be in a profession that involves service to others, and to develop and engage with humanistic and altruistic perspectives and qualities.


Engaging in an interesting service project that is off-the-beaten-path can be a great way to differentiate yourself and to obtain formative experiences that demonstrate your individuality at the same time. Beyond service work with a direct medical angle, students have explored service through music or theater, athletics, activism, the arts, research, or even working to support your family.

Stepping Out of One's Comfort Zone

There are many ways to serve others, be outside of one's comfort zone, grow and learn from people who may live in different settings or circumstances, etc.

Commitment & Leadership

It is also important for medical, veterinary, dental, or other health professions school to see that you have demonstrated commitment, responsibility, leadership* and collaboration.

*Not all leadership is about stepping out in front, or having an executive position, though it can be that. For instance, someone who shifts from only attending a group's meeting to helping to shape the group's mission and actions, can be a strong leader. Taking personal ownership and responsibility for something is one of the aspects of leadership, no matter the title.

Service Work through Dartmouth

  • Dartmouth Center for Service: is a great place to get involved with service opportunities at Dartmouth and around the Upper Valley. A few examples (there are many more) include:
    • Haven Shelter Cooking Program: Volunteers cook and serve healthy meals every Saturday evening at the Hixon House adult shelter at the Upper Valley Haven.
    • Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring (DREAM): Mentors work in the broader Upper Valley community and with their mentees' parents, hosting neighborhood dinners, holding homework help sessions, planning special trips, and visiting mentees at home.
    • America Reads: America Reads allows Dartmouth students in the Federal Work-Study Program to be employed as in-school tutors and after-school program aides in the Rivendell, Hartford, and Lebanon school districts
    • Many more service programs!