This week 92 first-year medical students at Geisel School of Medicine and 88 students in the medical school’s Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Science (MS) hybrid and residential programs at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, spent time getting to know each other during separate orientation sessions before immersing themselves in their medical education.
For the first-year medical students, a brief and enthusiastic welcome on behalf of faculty and staff by Duane Compton, PhD, dean of the medical school, set the tone for the three-day orientation designed to familiarize the Class of 2026 with each other and the Geisel community.
“Everyone who you meet today, and each day hereafter, shares a common purpose—and that is to support your success,” he said. “Medicine is about teamwork, and you are meeting the members of our team who are committed to your learning and to your success. None of you should ever feel alone. We are here by your side to support you.
“Take every opportunity you have during medical school to make something positive happen. Be active. Be engaged. Ask questions. Don’t be a spectator. Make the most of the next four years, because they will go by quickly,” Compton said.
Roshini Pinto-Powell MD, associate dean and chair of admissions and professor of medicine and medical education, sought to soothe students’ anxieties about what lies ahead. “In each of you we see qualities we hope to nurture … your unique contribution to our school, to our community and to the field of medicine.”
She invited everyone to embark on the mission of inclusiveness. “The field of medicine is beautiful and inspiring, but it is not always going to be an easy path. At Geisel we work to foster a true sense of belonging as an antidote to the stressors of the study and practice of medicine.
“Get to know and value every classmate no matter how similar or different from you they seem to be,” she said. “There should be no competition now, just the joy of successfully getting to graduation day together.”
On a final note, she asked the medical students to be kind to themselves. “Medicine needs one’s full attention, and struggles or stumbles are part of this journey,” she said. “Reach out to your Geisel family early in your struggles—your peers, faculty, coaches, and staff.”
Building upon the journey of becoming a competent and caring physician, Sonia Nagy Chimienti, MD, senior associate dean for medical education and professor of medicine, reiterated the need to embrace and learn from the stumbles and the challenges along the way. “This is how we improve for the benefit of our patients,” she noted. But “do not worry alone, do not struggle in silence, speak up and ask for help—I have followed that advice myself so many times when struggling with an issue. Let us nurture a culture of support not only here at Geisel, but in medicine.”
Then offering a bit of advice, Chimienti added, “As you develop your career, I encourage you to create your own unique pathway—be true to yourself and your aspirations; nurture what you love and align it with your career interests.”
In addition to overviews of the curriculum and Geisel’s signature preclinical On Doctoring course, of which Pinto-Powell is co-director, students were introduced to the school’s counseling and wellness resources.
Geisel’s newest class of 92 medical students was selected from a pool of 7,773 applicants and is nearly equal in its representation of women and men, though skews slightly female.
Welcoming the MPH and MS students during their orientation sparked memories for Amber Barnato, MD, MPH, MS, the John E. Wennberg Distinguished Professor in Health Policy and Clinical Practice and director of The Dartmouth Institute. She recalled what she learned during the first weeks of her MPH program and offered gratitude to the students for their commitment to public health.
“Faced with the trifecta of global climate change, epidemic levels of gun violence, and sustained disruptions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I offer my appreciation to you for joining our public health programs to learn the skills that will support your work in advancing meaningful change,” Barnato said.
Courtney Theroux, director of admissions and operations, noted the students’ passion for transforming health and healthcare saying, they will be an important contribution to The Dartmouth Institute’s network of healthcare innovators.
This year, for the first time, MPH and MS students joined the medical school community for its annual welcome picnic—a casual get-together for students, faculty, and staff where everyone enjoyed the balmy summer evening.
“It’s wonderful that all Geisel students have an opportunity to meet on campus during the first days of orientation,” she said. “It’s a great way to build excitement as we head into a new academic year.”