Participating in research programs during high school can be a transformative experience for you. If you pick the right program, you’ll learn things beyond the confines of the classroom, build meaningful networks, and make a significantly more informed decision about future academic and career prospects. If you are thinking of a career in medicine and healthcare, a research program can be a pivotal stepping stone to figuring out the various moving parts. From the hands-on work and critical thinking skills to essential laboratory practices — you get a glimpse of it all through the right program.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the Houston Methodist High School Research Internship, examining its structure, benefits, and the valuable experiences it has to offer.
What is Houston Methodist’s Summer High School Research Internship?
The Houston Methodist’s Summer High School Research Internship offers high-achieving high school students an opportunity to engage with medical research and healthcare. It takes place at the Houston Methodist, a leading medical center in Houston, Texas. This paid internship is a research-focused program tailored for students with strong academic backgrounds who are interested in developing a scientific research project.
As a high school intern, you will work alongside undergraduate students and learn about translational research as they work on an independent project.
Through practical lab experience and guided mentorship, you will develop your own project within a specific area of research. You will then have the chance to present your findings at a symposium while also benefiting from sessions that focus on personal and professional growth.
Note: What is translational research? It is the process of taking scientific discoveries made in a laboratory and applying them to patient care and public health.
Who is eligible to participate in the Houston Methodist Internship?
Houston Methodist’s High School Research Internship has specific eligibility criteria for prospective candidates. To apply to the internship, you must:
Be currently completing your junior or senior year
Be at least 16 years of age by the start of the program
Have a record of high academic achievement and proven interest in medical research
Foreign nationals can apply if they already hold a legal visa status.
MERLIN application: You will find the link to this application on the internship’s website once applications open.
Essays (250-word limit): The application requires two essays (one justifying yourself as a candidate for the program and another describing your previous research/lab experience). There is one optional essay question where you must expand on any academic challenges you have faced.
Letters of recommendation: The application requires two letters of recommendation. They should be from someone who can speak to your academic strength while also being aware of your characteristics as a person.
Transcript (Official or Unofficial): There is no cut-off level of GPA but high grades in STEM courses are expected.
Resume: Make sure you include science/health-related extra-curricular activities as well as volunteer service since the selection committee will look for a well-rounded candidate.
Important dates and deadlines
For competitive programs like these, it’s important that you have your application ready in time. Here are all the important dates you need to keep in mind:
Applications open: December 1, 2023
Application deadline: February 2, 2024
Application decisions: Sent by the end of March
Program starts: May 28, 2024
Program ends: August 2, 2024
This is a commuter program for which you will be expected to commit the full 10 weeks. You will spend 8 hours at the main Houston Methodist Hospital campus, from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.
How much does the program cost?
This program is entirely free of cost. As an intern, you will receive a stipend. Depending on the program, the stipend amount will vary from $2,500 – $6,000. You will be notified of the stipend amount in your acceptance email.
The internship does not offer housing but will suggest some options for you to find a place to stay. You will receive travel compensation either in the form of a Smithlands parking pass or a paid QCard for the Houston Metro service.
Is the research internship prestigious?
Houston Methodist consists of an academic center and six hospitals. Houston Methodist Hospital, the flagship center, has been consistently ranked among the country’s leading hospitals. In August 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked it as the number one hospital in Texas and also included it in the report’s Honor Roll (best hospitals in the country).
Considering the reputed standing of the institution and the generous stipend, this research internship is a fairly prestigious opportunity. Moreover, it is a selective program and only a handful of the applicants are accepted as interns. That said, there are other prestigious programs in the field of medical research that you might want to consider as well. Like the Stanford Institutes of Medicine Research (SIMR) Program, which has an acceptance rate of approximately 3%.
What can you expect as an intern?
As a research internship, the focus of this program is on developing a scientific research project from start to finish. During the application process, you will be asked to list your preference of research areas and be assigned to one, although this will depend on lab capacity. The program has a number of different research areas, a few of which are cancer, imaging and radiology, heart and vascular, orthopedics and sports medicine, nanomedicine, and neuroscience.
You will then be assigned a mentor from the faculty who will guide your project work through the summer. Participants receive comprehensive training in laboratory techniques, research methodologies, and scientific processes. The program culminates in a symposium where you will have the opportunity to present your findings.
Beyond lab work, the program includes professional development sessions that cover skills like scientific writing, which are valuable for aspiring researchers. Additionally, you will be able to engage in events such as seminars, guest lectures, and sporting activities, fostering personal and professional development.
Pros and cons of the internship
Financial accessibility: This internship is not only free of cost but also offers a stipend to all interns, highlighting the program’s accessibility as well as its level of prestige.
Hands-on experience: You will gain hands-on experience that allows you to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. Your project can fall into one of several research areas, like cancer, neuroscience, nanomedicine, and more. This is a significant asset for students considering careers in medicine and healthcare.
Mentorship: You will have the opportunity to work closely with an experienced and highly qualified mentor, receiving personalized guidance and support throughout your research project.
Well-rounded learning: Beyond academic research, you will develop essential professional skills and gain insights into potential career pathways in medicine. You will also build a network of valuable connections with peers and professionals that will aid you in pursuing medicine in the future.
Competitive selection process: The program's selectivity means you'll face stiff competition for limited spots. Consider that the application goes beyond grades, requiring you to demonstrate a genuine interest in the field.
Niche focus on medicine: You will be immersing yourself in a specific area of medicine for the entire program, which may not suit those who are looking for a broader exploration of subjects or multiple facets of medicine.
Intensive time commitment: Expect a rigorous schedule during the internship. You will dedicate a full workday, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, for the entire 10-week program.
Figuring out your own place of stay and other logistics: Since this is a commuter program with no housing provided, it's best suited to those who already reside in the area. If you live outside the region, you will need to make housing arrangements and relocate from your home for the entire program.
The Houston Methodist Summer High School Research Internship offers a unique opportunity for high school students interested in medicine and research. With its cost-free nature and stipend provision, it ensures financial accessibility while highlighting the program’s prestige. The hands-on experience, mentorship, and comprehensive learning equip students with valuable skills.
However, its selectivity and niche focus may not suit everyone. Ultimately, this program is best suited for those who want to work on an independent research project in the field of medicine and healthcare. Having a completed research project under your belt can bolster your college application, even more so if you are able to get your work published. If you are determined to pursue a career in this field and looking to do in-depth research in a specific domain, this is a good fit for you.
If you are indeed keen on doing research in medicine, you can also have a look at this list of medical research opportunities before you make a final decision.
One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about research in medicine and healthcare, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.
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