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On Choosing a Regional Campus

Hi everyone,

To those of you in the medical school application and interview process, I hope it’s going well!  And congrats on coming to the end of the MCAT-taking, essay-writing, checkbox-ticking grind—it can be long and stressful, but hang in there and know that we IUSMers are pulling for you!  Along the way don’t forget to enjoy the journey; whether you’re finishing college, a gap year, or a career that has given you valuable experience, this is such a great time for self-reflection and development in areas outside of medicine.

For any of you accepted to IUSM already, well done!  I’m going to talk a little about my selecting a regional campus/South Bend versus Indianapolis, which is a difficult choice for many around this time of year and is probably especially daunting for any out-of-staters.  I’ll make it a Q&A format for slightly easier reading, using questions I’ve frequently been asked the past few years.

Did you choose the South Bend campus for the first two years?


Were you considering Indianapolis?

Absolutely.  At first I was a little torn on the decision.  I was very open to being in Indianapolis—it’s a vibrant city with a variety of hospitals offering broad and diverse experiences.  I was also very excited about the possibility of being involved in many of the student groups I was introduced to during Interview Day.  And of course it’s a classic academic medical center, which is what I think most people envision when they think of medical school.

What made you choose a regional campus over Indianapolis, then?

A couple of things:

  1. I really liked the idea of a smaller class size for the first couple of years.

In the past I’ve truly enjoyed the friendships that develop in seminar classes, teams, and group projects, and I was hoping to have this kind of camaraderie among my medical school class.  (Success—we became super close!)  I also have found professors of smaller classes to be particularly available and approachable and desired this of my medical school professors as well.  (They definitely are at South Bend—I feel like I can talk with professors and administrators anytime.)  Finally, I thought a small class would be conducive to extensive hands-on experience, particularly during anatomy and physical diagnosis.  (It certainly was.  We had four people per cadaver in anatomy lab and did the whole dissection.  We also went to the hospital weekly second year and worked with physicians in groups of four, with each of us getting a lot of one-on-one attention as well.)

My lovely IUSM-South Bend entering class. Photo from MS1 year, Fall 2012.

  1. I wanted the earlier location certainty.

I thought that geographic location may come into play in my choosing a medical school and did not want that to be an unknown until the Indianapolis lottery in April, as I was considering interviews or withdrawing applications elsewhere.

Why South Bend?

This was tough as well, since all campuses have their perks.

  1. I wanted to try something different.

I love Bloomington, where I did my undergraduate at Indiana University, but I was ready for a change, to live in a new place, and to grow with the unfamiliar.  (And now I really like South Bend, too!)

  1. I wanted to be closer to home.

My family and some friends live in Northwest Indiana, and I wanted to be able to go home for holidays, special events (lots of weddings at this stage!), and the occasional weekend without driving all the way across the state.  (This flexibility has been wonderful.)

  1. I was attracted to the block scheduling and team-based learning (TBL) at South Bend.

I liked the idea of focusing on one thing at a time during the first year and also of having a group of classmates with whom I consistently collaborated.  (My TBL group and I certainly shared many struggles, aha moments, and laughs.)

  1. I thought it would be nice to be part of Notre Dame and its graduate student community.

(I now have some good friends who are current or former Notre Dame law students or graduate students in various disciplines.  And as advertised, Notre Dame football games are something else!)

For IUSM blogger word limit suggestion reasons, I’ll save further elaboration on this topic (more pros/cons of a regional campus, third year campus choices, etc.) for a future post(s).  But in the meantime, I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!