Meet Andrew Saunders, DMS '08
Seeing the Whole Picture 

“As overwhelming as residency will be, we need to remember that we’ve won the lottery in life,” says Andy Saunders, DMS’08. “We’re so incredibly privileged to be where we are. I’m really proud of my classmates and the things that they’re headed toward. Dartmouth seems to end up with graduates who really want to help people and make a difference.”

Saunders, who was chosen by his classmates to give the student Class Day address at DMS graduation on June 7, plans to make good on that commitment by pursuing a career in pediatrics and international medicine.

But the path to becoming a physician began close to home. As a teenager growing up in western New York state, Saunders was deeply affected by the loss of a young cousin to Ewing’s sarcoma. “I was really intrigued with the combination of both science and taking care of people, even through the end of life,” he says. “I wanted to be the doctor that was involved in the whole picture, not just the research science or just the patient care.”

During his undergraduate years at Lafayette College, Saunders began to have second thoughts. “It was all science, with no connection to the patient. I couldn’t imagine a career that just kept me in the lab.”

But the inspiration was rekindled when he took a job with Dr. David Weinstein, a pediatric endocrinologist then at Children’s Hospital in Boston, working on Glycogen Storage Disease “Seeing the combination of high end research he was doing and the profound personal connection he had with his patients and their families – that sealed the deal. That was when I knew for sure that I was supposed to go to medical school.”

Saunders was drawn to DMS by the opportunity to do rotations at a variety of places, including sites overseas. “Dartmouth is much more decentralized than most med schools,” he notes. He has taken full advantage of that, spending a summer in Nicaragua and more recently, completing a two-month elective in international health at the DARDAR project in Tanzania.

Dartmouth really did go above and beyond to make it possible for me to do the international work,” work says Saunders. “I certainly would not have been able to have any of these international experiences without scholarship funding through various Dartmouth programs.”

“I knew after my experience in Nicaragua that international health was something that was important to me, but in Tanzania, it really hit home,” says Saunders. Working in the pediatric HIV clinic at DARDAR, he witnessed first hand “a crisis like I haven’t seen or heard of anywhere else. An entire continent is ill, and there’s a generation of children without parents. We’re not making a lot of headway at the moment.

“After being in Tanzania I don’t know how international medicine would NOT be a major part of my career.”

Andy Saunders will do his residency in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, where he hopes to be accepted to the global health track. Read Andy Saunders' Class Day Address here.