Essentia Health Summer Research Intern Program

Providing mentored clinical research training for students during their premedical training or after their first year of medical school and early exposure to specialty practice in a rural area.

Program Details

The Essentia Health Summer Research Intern program is modeled on clinical experience grounded in patient interaction, problem solving, and access to research that is integrated into clinical experiences. With this experience, the students will better understand the importance of research-based evidence and how it impacts clinical medicine, especially in the rural communities. The goal of the research program is to provide mentored clinical research training for students during their premedical training or after their first year of medical school and train the next generation of cardiovascular disease experts.

This program is structured to provide motivated students mentoring in clinical research, educational experiences in clinical cardiology, and early exposure to medicine in a large healthcare facility that primarily services a rural population. The goal of each project is for the students to have the opportunity to present their research to the community as well as submit their findings as an oral presentation or poster presentation at a local or national conference. Some students may have the opportunity to be an author on a peer-reviewed publication. The program aims to recruit students from rural areas and diverse backgrounds. Students will be selected based on academic merit and a personal statement indicating interest and passion for medicine and research. Students will be paid a weekly stipend for the duration of the program. 

The program is run by cardiologists from the Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center, a tertiary care center serving Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin and staff from the Essentia Institute of Rural Health. Weekly attendance at journal club, multidisciplinary heart team meetings, and valve conference are encouraged, as well as mandatory attendance at summer intern-specific lectures on various topics, such as research study design, quality improvement, cardiac anatomy, electrocardiograms, coronary artery disease, and cardiac imaging. 

Prior medical students have raved about the program stating, “I would suggest this internship to others especially those interested in cardiology. It provides you with valuable exposure to the specialty, you will learn a ton, you will already have research experience with manuscripts and abstracts, and possibly the most important part is you start to make connections and relationships with people who can be valuable mentors in your future career.”


Applications for 2021 are due March 31st. Medical students are expected to work full time for 6 weeks and undergraduate students for 10 weeks during the summer. Orientation is mandatory and dates for 2021 are June 21-23. We also have openings for gap year students who are applying to medical school. View more information about the application process or contact Dr. Catherine Benziger at

Sample Schedule for 6-Week Medical Student Summer Research Program

Week 1 Orientation, project assignments, statistical methodology learned, literature search, clinical experience (cardiac catheterization lab)
Week 2 Literature search, database construction, clinical experience (echocardiogram)
Week 3 Database modification, manual chart review, clinical experience (exercise stress testing laboratory)
Week 4 Data analysis, manual chart review, manuscripts preparation
Week 5 Data analysis, manuscripts revised, and presentation preparation, clinical experience (electrophysiology laboratory)
Week 6 Manuscript revision, oral presentation, exit survey

Sample Summer Intern Program Onboarding and Orientation Training Components

  1. Proof of immunizations to Rubella, Hepatitis B, Rubeola, Mumps, Varicella, Tdap and tuberculosis test
  2. Criminal background study and Minnesota Caregiver background study
  3. Permission from college or university to enroll in program
  4. Funding for students requested and approved by the Essentia Health Foundation
  5. Letter of recommendation from mentor stating student is enrolled and in good standing
  6. Affiliation Agreement between Essentia Health and the student’s college or university
  7. Required online HIPAA and safety training
  8. Required online Epic Chart Review training
  9. Research required training: CITI Good Clinical Practices and Biomedical Research - Basic/Refresher courses
  10. Essentia Health’s Research Conflict of Interest form
  11. Institutional Review Board approval of student as key personnel to the research projects
  12. Training in cardiovascular-specific topics, including guidelines for clinical care and research

Summer Research Intern Program Funding

The Essentia Health Summer Research Intern Program is made possible in-part from funding made available by the Essentia Health Foundation and Duluth Clinic Foundation in support of its mission to make a healthy difference in people’s lives by fostering charitable support for patient care. Please visit the Essentia Health Foundation to learn more.

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See deadlines and application requirements for the Essentia Health Summer Research Intern Program.

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