Mercy partners with Simpson

Mercy partners with Simpson

by Ken Fuson

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. In the past, it has been an informal arrangement that students have made on their own in conjunction with faculty.”

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.”

The potential exists for more internships in the future, including the fields of athletic training, exercise science, sport management and health care management.

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.

Fifteen students applied for the first round of internships, which will begin in the spring of 2012.

Those students chosen for pre-med internships are: Endri Hidri, senior, biology major and biochemistry minor; Brooke Johnson, junior, biology and psychology major, chemistry minor; and Katherine Bird,

senior, biology major and environmental science minor.

Those students chosen for pre-physical therapy internships are: Kate Nielsen, junior, exercise science major, psychology and biology minors; Pat Alt, junior, biology major; and Kara Lovik, junior, athletic training major.