"Why Vanderbilt?" is a question I get asked a lot being from Connecticut with no ties to the South. I first moved here in 2008 to go to Vanderbilt for my undergraduate degree, choosing Vanderbilt because of its perfect mix of city living and idyllic campus life and its well-known "work hard, play hard" attitude. I wanted a school where I would be surrounded by bright, passionate people who enjoy learning but who also realize that life is too short to always be buried in a textbook! I chose Vanderbilt University School of Medicine for many of the same reasons I came for undergrad, as well as some very important medical-school specific reasons.
First, the culture of the undergraduate campus really does carry over very well to the medical school. To put it bluntly, many of my friends at other medical schools complain that they have not really made close friends, or that people never want to do anything other than study. While studying will be a HUGE part of your life in medical school, and you will undoubtedly make sacrifices in your personal lives for this career path, the students at Vanderbilt take opportunities whenever they can to take a break and be "normal people". This could be having an informal wine night with some friends, or going to a School of Medicine Wellness Event such as a fully paid for night at the movies/ice skating/rock climbing/Big Little ice cream night/I could go on and on. There are also tons of student groups like the Wilderness Medicine, Couples in Medicine, Vanderbilt Brew Club where you can find your niche. I like to highlight these experiences in addition to activities that Admissions always focuses on such as College Cup, because while College Cup is amazing, it is unfortunately not every weekend! Luckily while we anticipate the weeks of rivalry surrounding College Cup each year, we seem to get a handful of e-mails every day from some organization with a fun event coming up.
Now onto the actual substance of medical school (I guess that's important, right?) A lot of people say that medical school curricula are all the same and you should just choose based on the culture, but at Vanderbilt we have both a unique culture and curriculum! In addition to the above, one of the reasons I chose Vanderbilt was because we have so much more clinical time to actually decide what we want to do with our lives! There are some shocking statistics out there on the percentages of physicians in a given specialty who would choose a different specialty if they could, so I truly think a very important part of medical school is getting to sample many different areas to make an informed choice of your future career path. The idea of going through five or six core clinical rotations in my third year at most schools and then suddenly having to pick what I want to do for the next 35-40 years seemed terrifying! Here at Vanderbilt I get to sample many subspecialties within the core rotations of Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics, OB GYN, Neurology, and Psychiatry during my second year, followed by another entire year to do a mix of clinical electives, research, and other integrated science courses to learn realistically about the daily life of different specialties.
I could go on and on about the accessibility of faculty, the endless research opportunities, etc., but I will leave it at these practical, daily life reasons why I love Vanderbilt. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more specific questions!