Summer in the City: Premed Students Work in Health Clinics

In 2000, Duke University supported four premedical students to work as summer interns in community-based health clinics across the country. The summer internships are a feature of the school's Health Action Project, an intensive 12-month leadership program for premedical students.

The Health Action Project, in turn, is part of the Service Opportunities Leadership initiative, a 12-month, university-wide program that combines academic study, community service, mentoring, leadership training and summer internships for undergraduate students.)

During summer 2000, 29 undergraduates completed internships in a diverse group of nonprofit and nongovernmental agencies in five U.S. and two foreign cities. The program is sponsored by Duke's Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

Key Results

Organizations in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Albuquerque provided the four premedical Health Action Project students with clinical health placements during the nine-week program. The organizations included:

  • Community Health, a nonprofit health care clinic that provides primary care to a predominantly Latino, uninsured population in Chicago.
  • The Howard Brown Health Center, a primary care clinic that treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in Chicago.
  • The East Liberty Family Health Care Center, a health care clinic that serves a predominantly African-American clientele in the Pittsburgh area.
  • Health Care for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that serves the uninsured homeless in Albuquerque.

In addition to providing clinical and other services, each student completed on-site research on a health policy issue. The Health Action Project students, along with all the other Service Opportunities Leadership students, presented their research projects at a dinner for 30 people in December 2000. They also completed essays describing their experiences.

Students also joined with other Service Opportunities Leadership students at each site to produce two newsletters during the summer, which were mailed to parents and others. Student essays and a sample newsletter can be found at the SOL Web page.

Staff at the Health Action Project also produced a 20-minute video, SOL 2000: A Documentary Film,which details the experiences of four Service Opportunities Leadership interns, including two of the premedical students.

Project personnel hope to expand the number of premedical Health Action Project participants in the program and are pursuing long-term funding to do so.