Health Fellows Program

Launched in 1999, the Health Fellows Program is an innovative academic program offering students exceptional opportunities to explore healthcare and to participate in a wide range of healthcare-related activities.  In addition to their regular coursework, students work 30 hours per week with clinical-care physicians in one-on-one relationships at area medical centers.  

Challenging course work plus rigorous on-site scientific research

The Health Fellows Program is designed for students who want to observe and participate in a variety of health-related activities. These activities include research projects, clinical services, educational seminars, and rounds at Hartford Hospital, the Institute of Living, and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The program provides students with valuable experience in a healthcare setting that may help guide future their career choices.   For students interested in a career in medicine, this relevant experience will be key when applying to medical school.  For students interested in a career in research, this program of intensive participation will make them more attractive to graduate schools. In addition, students will have learned important research skills specific to their placement as well as more general skills such as formulating a hypothesis, methods of data collection, and methods of data analysis.

The Program

Typically, supervisors at the hospitals are physicians. Placements are carefully screened to insure they are rigorous while providing students with a stimulating learning experience. All supervisors are required to provide opportunities to participate in research as well as to observe clinical services. To assure that each student and supervisor are well matched, supervisors complete a questionnaire in advance that describes their requirements and the possible opportunities at their placement.

In addition to working 30 hours per week for a professional in the healthcare setting, each fellow participates in both a weekly seminar and a colloquium series, for which he or she will receive three course credits. The seminar is valued at one course credit and the clinical experience and colloquium combined at two course credits. Separate grades will be given for the seminar and the combination of clinical experience and colloquium. In some cases one of these course credits will count towards a major, but this is decided by the individual major departments. Students also take at least one other course at Trinity.

The weekly seminar covers general topics in health care, including recent advances in research and clinical applications of basic research, and readings are assigned for a weekly class discussion. Students make a class presentation based on one of the topics covered in class that is relevant to their hospital experience. Students also complete a research paper on a topic from the course and complete three exams. For the colloquium series, supervisors of the student fellows are asked to give a talk, and they provide appropriate readings in advance of the talk for follow-up discussion.  As part of the site-based experience, students keep a weekly journal of experiences at the hospital and present on one clinical case, in the format of a Grand Rounds. They are also required to produce a written summary of the research they conducted. As much as possible this takes the form of a scientific journal article. The student’s research is also presented at the Trinity College Science Symposium held each April.

Admission to the Program

The Health Fellows Program is limited to 15 students, and preference is given to juniors and seniors. It is expected that students will have completed two laboratory courses, and some placements carry specific additional prerequisites. It is strongly recommended that "Medical Ethics" be taken either beforehand or concurrent with the internship, and some background in science will be strongly encouraged.

Interested students should contact the Health Fellows coordinator in September. Matches between interested students and supervisors will be completed by November, and students will begin work at the hospital with the start of classes in January. Students who participate in their junior year should bear in mind the option of remaining on site to complete a senior thesis.