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Pre-Health and Pre-Physical Therapy Internships: Partnership with Mercy Clinics

Simpson College students hoping to pursue careers in the medical field will have the opportunity to work with professionals in Mercy Clinics throughout the Greater Des Moines area.  The partnership between Simpson and Mercy Clinics Inc. will initially provide internships for three students in pre-physical therapy and three students majoring in pre-health professions.

“Our students and faculty are very excited about this opportunity,” said Jackie Brittingham, chair of Simpson’s department of biology. “This is the first time we’ve had a formal relationship with a health organization.”  Students could work in any of Mercy’s network of clinics, including the new facility that has opened in Indianola. Mike LaVelle, director of physical therapy services for Mercy Clinics, said, “The pre-health internship is a unique opportunity for students to see and experience what clinical care is all about. Mercy is proud to partner with Simpson to offer this real-life internship for pre-health students.”

For Simpson students, the internships in pre-physical therapy and pre-health offer multiple advantages, Brittingham said. First, and most important, will be the opportunity to observe health-care professionals in a real-life setting, including patient examinations and diagnosis. “Our medical schools, professional schools and graduate schools want students in their programs who have a realistic view of what their profession will be like,” she said. Students will then meet with Simpson faculty to process and reflect on what they have observed. That will help them identify personal strengths as well as areas they need to work on, Brittingham said. “That’s definitely a strength that we have, that close-knit relationship with the faculty,” she said. In addition, the internships could represent a Capstone Experience for Simpson biology majors, in which they share what they have learned with faculty and peers. Those students who successfully complete a Mercy Clinic internship could well enjoy an advantage when it’s time to apply to graduate or medical school. “We can make it clear to an admissions committee how formal this was and how significant it was to a student,” Brittingham said.


I came to Simpson with an interest in Biology but no idea how to shape my interest into a career. A semester doing an independent research project with my advisor, Dr. Brittingham and Dr. Cornell from University of Iowa gave me a competitive edge when I applied for a summer internship at NIH (National Institutes of Health) and I was placed in a prominent development lab studying Xenopus laevis. I'm now working with Dr. Dave McClay studying the development of sea urchins and using cutting edge research technologies. I am having a wonderful time here at Duke but I always think fondly of Simpson for getting me here.

        -Lindsay Saunders ’06, Grad Student, Duke University

Recent Internships:
Recent jobs and internships include the Science Center of Iowa, Pioneer Hi-bred International, Inc., John Stoddard Cancer Research Center, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, the Blank Park Zoo, John Hopkins University Research Lab, Integrated DNA Technologies