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Our History


SDN: We help students become doctors.

Founded in 1999 by medical students and residents, the Student Doctor Network is a non-profit educational website with a single mission: help students become doctors… from high-school to practice.

Who are we and why do we do this all for free?

Physician co-founder and volunteer director, Lee Burnett, summarizes our vision,  “We founded the site to provide free, independent, and unbiased information to students.  When SDN was created, there was no such thing as social media – no Facebook, no Twitter.  Applying to schools, residencies or fellowships was essentially a solo effort and you simply hoped for the best.  Not all colleges offered pre-health advisors and even they were limited in their ability to gather and share information.  SDN was created to fill that need.”

Dr. Burnett continues, “Over the years, we’ve increasingly seen sites providing advertising hidden as content and student information exploited for tracking and marketing.  That’s why our moderators carefully monitor for Spam and ‘stealth marketing’ and why we maintain a strict firewall between content and sponsors.  It’s also why we believe strongly in our privacy policy.  Student information is never shared with other organizations or sold for marketing purposes.”

“We’re able to offer the site at no cost to students thanks to donations from members, sponsorships, and through Google Adwords.  From test prep to traveling, students have a lot of expenses during their application cycle – we don’t need to add to that expense.  Everything we do, we offer for free or at cost. That will never change, in fact, it can’t change … SDN is a nonprofit, providing these services is our mission.”

Who Runs SDN?

SDN is managed by a small group of volunteers and part-time staff.  All directors, forum moderators, and admins are volunteers.  Part-time staff help SDN with coordination of IT management, programming, and sponsorships.

Our volunteers feel an obligation to serve and help those who come after us.  Being a doctor is a great profession, we want to help as many students as possible become fellow healthcare providers.

How Can You Help?

You can help by volunteering.

To volunteer, please contact a current moderator.  We generally look for volunteers that are students that are already in professional school (medical, dental, etc) or practicing doctors.

SDN Members and Communities

SDN members have created one of the most active and supportive communities on the Internet with members often making lifelong friendships. Many of our members started as undergraduates and are now practicing doctors in every field of medicine and healthcare.

With tens of thousands of active members and millions of posts, our members can answer practically any question you may have, from college through advanced practice.

Our community includes most doctoral-level health fields:

  1. Audiology (AuD)
  2. Dental (DDS and DMD)
  3. Medical (MD and DO – Allopathic and Osteopathic)
  4. Optometry (OD)
  5. Pharmacy (PharmD)
  6. Podiatry (DPM)
  7. Psychology (PsyD and PhD)
  8. Rehabilitation Sciences (DPT, ODT)
  9. Veterinary (DVM)


The Original Core SDN Sites

Since its founding in 1999, SDN has emerged as one of the most comprehensive and useful student-driven resources on the Internet.  The Student Doctor Network originally consisted of multiple websites brought together in 1999. Over the years the sites were integrated under the SDN banner with the support of our dedicated members and volunteers.  Additional sites have joined the SDN family and all offer the same vision to provide free and unbiased information and strict privacy protection.

Interactive Medical Student Lounge

In the fall of 1994, the University of Kansas School of Medicine (Kansas City) began offering email and on-campus Internet access for students, plus lunch hour web page training for faculty and staff. Some of the campus community, including Lee Hancock, originator of the “Medical Matrix” index, had posted medical information online. Nancy Sween, in the registrar’s office, could not find a site specifically for medical students. She learned HTML and the “Interactive Medical Student Lounge”, consisting of useful links for medical students, went online December 12, 1994. It was the first medical student website on the Internet.

Originally hosted by the University of Kansas (12/12/94 through 2/22/97), the IMSLounge moved to GeoCities and AOL in early 1997, and then to (11/98). In 1999, the IMSLounge became a charter member of the Student Doctor Network. was created in 1995 by Lee Burnett during medical school. It was originally known as “The Osteopathic Source” and was an offshoot of the Osteopathic medical student newspaper The Osteopathic Pulse. The Osteopathic Source was the first Osteopathic medical student website and the first osteopathic website on the Internet.

The SDN forums were originally hosted as the student forums.

The BIG Guide to Med School

In 1994, Jim Henderson (then a medical student) wrote a popular electronic book entitled The Pre-Med Companion. As the Internet flourished, so did the book. By 1997, it was a resource for pre-meds, medical students, and those seeking residency positions. That same year. Jim used the resources of that book to co-create and develop an online guide for medical students and premeds in the United States. In 1999, became SDN’s Big Guide to Medical School.

Additions to the SDN Family

Daniel Lee Imler and Brian James Hartman founded this unique site in 2000 and it quickly grew to become the most popular medical student diary site in the world. joined SDN in 2001. In 2007, Medschooldiary was replaced with a blog feature on the SDN forums, which has since been discontinued. The old diaries can still be found in our electronic archive.

MedSchoolReady (

MedSchoolReady was founded by Christian Becker and complemented the Student Doctor Network medical school admissions guide.  The site contains student profiles and perspectives on their application process for medical school.  MedSchoolReady is archived at

The website joined SDN in 2013.  It offers a dashboard for students to plan their MCAT studies, school applications, and more. was created and launched the same year as SDN.  Over the years it amassed a large collection of residency program reviews.  It became part of SDN in 2015.  The site will be revamped and upgraded through 2016.

SDN Page Evolution

Want to see what SDN looked like back when we launched? How about in 2003? We’ve changed the site design over the years to meet new browser standards, improve page-loading speed, or just because we got bored with the old design! Some of these designs don’t quite look right thanks to changes in our CSS files. Special thanks to the Internet Archive.

Conflict of Interest Statement

Because SDN is a free and independent resource, all partners, advertisers, sponsors and underwriters have no editorial input or oversight of SDN members, content or materials.

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