Worrying about your accommodation should be the last thing on your mind going into med. Getting in is the hardest part!
Still, if you’re wondering if med schools have dorms (or if they might be a good fit), this is the article for you.
Here you’ll learn:
- What a medical school dorm looks like
- Examples of schools with dorms
- Other accommodation options
- The pros and cons of each
We’ll look at some important questions to think about when choosing accommodation too.
Let’s take a look.
Do Medical Schools Have Dorms?
Many med school have dorms (or dormitories). They are a cheaper accommodation type that can be single, shared or sometimes even family rooms. They’re common in big cities or places where private accommodation costs are typically expensive.
Other reasons some med schools have dorms include:
- Difficulties finding private accommodation in the area
- Close to teaching hospitals (great for emergency staff cover)
But it’s important to know that not all dorms are on campus. There may be dedicated dorm buildings in other parts of a city too.
As for who stays in them? Younger (possibly more attractive?) medical students mainly (yep, not me). While older ones – those in relationships or with families etc – prefer other alternatives.
They’re also included, along with other basic living costs, as part of a typical US-based students’ “cost of attendance”. Meaning they can get a loan to pay for it.
How Do Medical School Dorms Look?
The look of a dorm depends on the med school and possibly how modern or old it is. Generally they’re small though. And very basic in terms of decor and furniture.
Here’s an example of a dorm room from a University of Cambridge medic…
And here’s one from a student of St George’s, Grenada
You’ll see they’re essentially pretty similar. Comfortable enough for some but maybe a little too crammed or basic for others.
I’d also show you mine if I didn’t live in a private apartment!
Medical Schools With Dorms
It’s hard to say just how many med schools have traditional dorms. As a general rule though, it’s the older ones that are probably the most likely.
Here are four examples of US med schools that have them:
- Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University, New York: some of the best dorms according to my research
- Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, New Jersey: dorms are located across the street from the main campus
- John Hopkins Medical School: the Reed dorm is situated between the hospital, Cooley Gym and Armstrong Medical Education Building
- Harvard Medical School Vanderbilt Hall: here’s a video of how they look (pretty nice!)
Curious if the med school you’re interested in has them? Check out the housing or accommodation sections of their website. Or drop an email to someone at the admissions team.
Can You Live On Campus in Medical School?
Many med schools have some form (not just dorms) of on campus accommodation. So yes it is possible. But to be sure you’ll need to check with the med school to which you’re applying.
The real question is; is living on campus the right thing for you?
Pros and Cons of On-Campus Living
- Living closer to class: enables you to save time commuting and maybe lay around in med a little while longer?
- Less expensive: on campus accommodation is usually cheaper than private or city living options.
- Shared space: no guarantee you’ll fit well with others living in the same space or building.
- Stuck in the med school “bubble”: might not be great for helping to relieve overwhelm or anxiety in med school.
Pros and Cons of Off-Campus Living
- Own space: great for avoiding the infectious anxiety of other students around you come exam time.
- Less distraction: no noisy dorm room or apartment mates to bother you (perfect for building a business).
- Expense: off-campus accommodations carry a bigger rent.
- Commute: might be a pain getting to class or the hospital if you can’t easily walk it.
So there are a lot of things to consider!
Where Do You Live During Medical School?
The main options include:
- University owned apartments: like those at UT-Southwestern or Rush University Medical College in Chicago.
- University owned housing: E.g. University of Minnesota’s Family Housing Cooperative (a good option for med students with kids).
- Private rentals: using estate agents (or useful University student social media pages – Facebook etc) to help you find nearby apartments or houses.
And if you’re feeling really exotic there’s even the option of living in an RV! Don’t believe me? That’s what these Michigan med students did.
Some med students even buy property in their first couple years of med school. Renting out rooms to help ease some of the financial cost of making it through school, they sometimes even sell it on later for profit.
So it could be an idea!
Is It Better Living Alone in Medical School?
Obviously this is a personal decision. It could be a good one though if you have the finances and really like the idea of having some personal space.
You’ll be spending a lot of time with colleagues in med school anyway. So maybe it can be a good idea to have some kind of safe haven to retreat to now and again.
Other things to consider:
- Are you in a relationship and want your partner to stay over regularly?
- Are you independent and used to living on your own?
- Do you tend not to get lonely or need someone to talk to at the end of a stressful day?
If you said no to most of these living alone could be best.
One last thing to consider though is what year you are in med school. M2’s (second years) in the US will be gearing up to take the USMLE Step 1. Do you really want to be living with someone else in the lead up to such a crucial time?
How Close Should I Live to Medical School?
This depends on how you like to study. If you’re the type that likes to skip lectures and avoid class then it doesn’t really matter. As long as you live close enough to make it into hospital during your rotation years then it’s all good.
You’ll also want to think about your schedule, social needs and the transport infrastructure (do you have a car?) of the place you live in too.
Many med schools have dorms. But just because they have them doesn’t mean you should live in them. Even though they are cheap!
Focus instead on figuring out what’s right for you.
- How do you study?
- Do you like your own space?
- How social do you really want to be?
It’s no crime wanting to be a bit of a hermit in med school. It’s one of the major stereotypes for a reason!
Either way, now you know dorms can be an option.
Image Credit – @markusloke at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.