Request for Funding
Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2011
All descriptions must contain enough detail to permit an assessment of the problem that is to be addressed and the methodologies that are to be employed. Please be careful to outline the role that the student will play in the project that is described. Please ensure that all relevant approval numbers (IRB, IACUC) are provided.
Mentor: Dr. George Buchanan
Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Children’s Medical Center Dallas and
Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Project title: SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM FOR PRE-MEDICAL AND MEDICAL STUDENTS – 2011
Twenty years ago the pediatric hematology-oncology program at Children’s and UT Southwestern in Dallas began a program for selected undergraduate pre-medical students and medical students to spend the summer in our unit working on a research project and attending conferences, seminars, and rounds. This program has grown in recent years so that we now take on two or three students each summer. Their projects generally involve a detailed review of records, charts, or databases and is guided by a formal written protocol containing hypotheses, background, methods, and projected analytical techniques. A project is chosen for each intern that can be expected to be undertaken within a two- to three-month period (see below) with mentorship by an identified faculty member who has the time and interest.
Since these internship experiences usually take place at Children’s rather than UT Southwestern, they usually do not entail work in a research laboratory. Many of the projects performed by our summer interns during the past 15 years have been successfully completed, and abstracts summarizing the work have been submitted to major scientific meetings, affording the intern the opportunity to attend and present his or her work. There has been uniform agreement that the summer internship program offers an excellent inside look at the world of academic medicine in general and pediatric hematology-oncology in particular. It also provides an opportunity to interact with chronically-ill children both in the clinic/hospital environment as well as at summer camp.
Eligibility and Application Process:
We desire our interns to be undergraduate students or medical students with excellent grades and recommendations who have interest in conducting clinical research and participating in the varied activities of a major academic children’s medical center. Undergraduates should have completed at least two (and ideally three) years of college at the start of the internship. Medical students either before their first year or between their first and second years are also invited to apply. Interested individuals should send a letter describing their background and why they desire a summer internship position, along with a curriculum vitae or resume, to George R. Buchanan, M.D., Director of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Applicants should indicate their GPA, MCAT scores, and/or other evidence of excellent academic standing. Several references should also be listed. Applications from students who are members of underrepresented minority groups are particularly encouraged to apply.
Applications are accepted between January 1 and approximately March 15 each year for internships beginning that summer.
Successful summer intern candidates will be selected by a committee consisting of Dr. George R. Buchanan and potential mentors. This process begins in March, preceding the summer of the internship. Final decisions will be made by early April, with the expectation that the interns would begin work sometime in late May or early June.
Depending on funding sources summer interns are full-time employees of either Children’s Medical Center Dallas or UT Southwestern. Individuals selected for an internship as Children’s employees must promptly apply to Children’s Human Resources office and complete a formal application, including a drug-screening test. The contact person for these arrangements is Genetta Beasley at 214-456-6131, GENETTA.BEASLEY@childrens.com.
Dates and Times:
A minimum of two, and ideally up to three, months must be devoted to the internship to make the experience worthwhile. This usually means beginning soon after classes are over in the spring and working until shortly before school resumes in the fall. Certainly a week or so of vacation or personal time at the beginning and/or end of the summer is permissible. At the time of application candidates should indicate the dates that they are available. Taking a long weekend or a few days off during the summer is acceptable, but lengthy summer vacations during the internship period are not allowed.
Working hours are generally 8:00 a.m. until around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nights and weekends are not required. However, summer interns are invited to attend weekend rounds or to observe surgical procedures that might not be performed during standard working hours.
Prior to beginning the internship, successful applicants will need to undertake formal training regarding HIPAA and conduct of clinical research. This can be arranged by contacting the manager of the hematology research program at Children’s, Leah Adix (email@example.com).
Work Location and Working Conditions:
Summer interns generally conduct their work in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, one of the leading institutions of its type in the United States. The CCBD is described along with other features of the program on Children’s website www.childrens.com and then clicking on “specialties”.
Each intern is provided with a workstation, generally consisting of a small desk, chair, and computer access. The hematology-oncology unit at Children’s unfortunately has limited space and can be congested and noisy. Therefore, the work environment is not always ideal, since many CCBD staff members and other trainees (medical students, residents, hematology-oncology fellows, research personnel, etc.) are also carrying out their duties in the area.
Salary will be approximately $8.00 per hour. This generally amounts to $3,000 to $4,000 for the typical summer intern. The salary or stipend may be derived from one or a combination of sources, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, American Society of Hematology, and private foundations.
Summer interns will have a brief orientation session with Dr. Buchanan or his designee on their first day and will be introduced to the other relevant staff members in the hematology-oncology program as well as other personnel in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
The internship experience varies depending upon the specific project and faculty mentor. In general, approximately two-thirds of the time is devoted to conduct of the clinical research project. In addition to periodic meetings with the mentor, other staff members (especially hematology-oncology fellows, clinical research associates, and clinical and research nurses) are available to provide assistance and advice. Instruction in research methods is also offered. At the end of the summer the intern is expected to make a brief presentation and to write a research report.
The other one-third of the time is devoted primarily to educational experiences. These generally involve attending conferences, lectures, and seminars, including a series of orientation lectures given to the new fellows each July and August. Interns may also attend clinic one or two half days each week and occasionally attend inpatient rounds as well. This permits opportunities to “shadow” the medical team as they conduct their medical histories, physical examinations, diagnostic assessments, and treatments. Arrangements can also be made to observe surgical procedures.
A small percentage of time (generally less than 10 to 15%) may be devoted to helping the hematology-oncology physicians, nurses, and administrative staff with the carrying out of existing projects. This may involve rather routine data accession, filing, delivering messages, etc.
Finally, summer interns have the opportunity to apply to attend one of three week-long summer camps in July for children with sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and cancer. Each of the camps is at Camp John Marc Myers, near Meridian, Texas, about ninety miles southwest of Dallas. Serving as a volunteer camp counselor is an extremely rewarding experience and is encouraged of all summer interns. Application to become a counselor is usually necessary before the start of the internship.
During the application process you may meet or speak with potential faculty mentors. Before you are accepted for an internship position, a specific mentor and project type will be identified. Potential mentors are extremely busy with diverse responsibilities, so the amount of time they will personally spend with you may be limited, especially on certain days of the week and/or weeks of the month. However, if they have made a commitment to you, they will abide by it.
Possible Research Projects:
It helps if the intern applicant has some type of research disease area that he or she wishes to focus on. However, if that is not the case a suitable project (often a choice is provided) is offered. The project often depends upon the availability of a mentor and available space to conduct the research. Research projects for summer student interns would likely focus on an area of investigation in which one or more of our faculty members have expertise and interest. Sickle cell disease has historically been one of the most popular research subjects.
Laboratory Research Internships:
Most of this document refers to summer internships at Children’s Medical Center Dallas with focus on clinical research. Laboratory research opportunities with selected faculty members are also available in certain circumstances. In such cases the students will be employed at UT Southwestern.
If questions arise or further information is desired, please contact Dr. Buchanan at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.