The Geisel School of Medicine is the medical school of Dartmouth College, an Ivy League research university located in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. The fourth-oldest medical school in the United States, it was founded in 1797 by New Englandphysician Nathan Smith and grew steadily over the course of the 19th century. Several milestones in medical care and research have taken place at Dartmouth, including the first clinical X-ray (1896), the first intensive care unit in the United States (1955), and the Brattleboro rat (1961).
Today, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine continues to grant the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, as well as a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees. The school has a student body of about 700 students and more than 2,300 faculty members and researchers. Geisel organizes research through over a dozen research centers and institutes, receiving more than $140 million in grants annually. The Geisel School of Medicine is one of seven Ivy League medical schools and is ranked as a “top medical school” by U.S. News & World Report for both primary care and biomedical research. Dartmouth’s medical school has numerous clinical partners, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, White River Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, and Manchester Veterans Administration Medical Center.
For much of its early life, the school consisted only of Nathan Smith and a small class of students, operating in borrowed space at Dartmouth College. Students of Smith were educated as apprentices, and received a Bachelor of Medicine degree upon graduation. Like Dartmouth College as a whole, the medical school had continual funding shortages. As time passed, however, the popularity of both the medical instruction and the basic sciences taught at the school drew undergraduates and training physicians alike. Soliciting funds from the state of New Hampshire, Smith was able to obtain medical equipment and, by 1811, a dedicated physical plant for the school.
Smith’s departure provided for a period of expansion, both among the faculty and the student body. Former students of Nathan Smith’s replaced him on the faculty, drawing medical professionals in the northeast such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. to join them. The first hospital at the school was founded by DMS alumnus Dixi Crosby in 1838, which used it to integrate academic instruction with hands-on patient care. In 1870, Carlton Pennington Frost, DMS ’57, replaced Crosby as Dean of the school. Under Frost, the curriculum sustained another revamping, this time into a four-year program that included clinical and academic training. Frost also presided over the establishment of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in 1893, built to replace Crosby’s defunct hospital.
The Geisel School of Medicine has facilities on the campus of Dartmouth College, which is situated in the rural, Upper Valley town of Hanover, New Hampshire as well as at its Lebanon, NH campus at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC).
The medical school facilities at Dartmouth College sit in a complex on the north side of Dartmouth’s campus and includes academic, administrative, research, and presentation facilities. Dartmouth Medical School is served by two libraries, the Dana Biomedical Library and the Matthews-Fuller Health Sciences Library, which together offer over 240,000 volumes. Off-campus housing is available through Dartmouth College. In addition, the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center was completed in August 2011 at a cost of $92 million, and as part of its design a central lawn is surrounded by the Remsen and Vail Laboratories and Dana.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, centered in nearby Lebanon, New Hampshire, is a main affiliated teaching hospital of the Geisel School of Medicine. Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, DHMC’s 396-bed inpatient facility, acts as the medical school’s teaching hospital and “primary teaching site”. DHMC’s other constituent elements include the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic (a network of physicians in Vermont and New Hampshire) and a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont. In total, DHMC serves an area with a population of 1.6 million.
The curriculum for the Doctor of Medicine degree spans four years, combining required courses with electives. First-year students learn human anatomy and basic biomedical science in classes offered by the basic science departments, while beginning a two-year course of study in clinical studies. Second-year students study pathophysiology and take courses from almost every clinical and basic science department in the school. In their third year, M.D. candidates are required to participate in six eight-week Medical clerkships with area medical institutions, covering both ambulatory clinics and hospitals. The final year is spent on additional clerkships, the designation of an area of focus, and preparation for a post-graduation residency. In addition to imparting medical and clinical knowledge, the M.D. program is designed to teach “interpersonal and communications skills”, “professionalism”, and other practical skills for a medical career.
The Geisel School of Medicine’s enrollment as of October 2013 totaled 700 students: 360 M.D. candidates and 340 graduate students. In addition to the student body, over 350 resident physicians and research fellows were on campus as of July 2007. The student population is split approximately evenly between men and women, while about 25 percent of the student body is made up of international or minority students. From an average class size of 75, over 60 undergraduate institutions and most of the U.S. states are represented. According to The Princeton Review, the small class size at Geisel helps to establish “a strong sense of community and collaborative spirit”. The school offers dozens of community service, recreational, professional, and other student groups.
As of June 2013, the Geisel School of Medicine claims 4,891 living graduates active in medicine around the world. Geisel cites its required clerkships as a mechanism for allowing students to make connections and obtain real-world experience. Fourth-year students are prepared for residency with counseling classes; recent graduates have most commonly taken their residencies at Geisel itself, Harvard Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine, and Brown Medical School. Alumni of Geisel/Dartmouth Medical School who have become notable medical practitioners, educators and researchers include physician and freethinker Charles Knowlton, physician Robert O. Blood, ophthalmologist and epidemiologist John D. Bullock, and attending physician at the United States Capitol John Francis Eisold. Alumni in other fields include U.S. Representatives Richard S. Molony and Robert Burns,Governor of New Hampshire Noah Martin, and television personality Ian Smith.