2023 Rockswold Health Scholars pictured below
Front-Lily Bensen, Liam Seaton, Ivy Castillo. Back-Marissa Palermo, Jack Taylor, Dr. Gaylan Rockswold, Elizabeth Murphy, Anna Dasari.
Dr. Gaylan Rockswold ’62 and his wife, Mary Garnaas Rockswold ’63, have established an endowment and created a clinical and research internship program that provides current St. Olaf students an unparalleled hands-on experience at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. HCMC is known for its dedication to providing care to vulnerable, diverse, and underserved populations regardless of their ability to pay for medical services. According to Dr. Rockswold, “students would be exposed to the concept of healthcare as a service and as a calling to be a ‘healer’.” Students will expand their professional networks and improve their knowledge regarding potential paths within the healthcare field. Learn more about HCMC’s mission here.
A unique aspect of this program includes the opportunity for selected participants to live together in the spirit of support and mutuality. Community living is intended to foster supportive relationships in an environment of reflection and intentionality. Students will work together to make decisions about grocery shopping, meals, upkeep of common areas, and social activities. As part of their commitment to learning from and with each other, participants will be expected to take part in a weekly community meal and community conversation. There is a CLEAR expectation that Health Scholars don’t travel elsewhere for the MAJORITY of the weekends during the internship.
The two Health Scholars programs are made possible by the generosity of distinguished alumni. The Rockswold Health Scholars program and the Health Scholars at the Mayo Clinic program are designed to support students in their vocational discernment within healthcare, provide an intensive internship opportunity to enhance their academic profile, and expand their professional network. As a cohort internship program, students will be selected on their ability to contribute positively to the community. Competitive students have demonstrated their commitment to serving others, strong communication and teamwork skills, and the ability to take initiative. Additionally, students will be assessed on their fit with specific research projects, based on coursework, lab, and other experience. Preference is given to students with an academic profile that does not preclude admission to professional school, students who will be rising seniors, and students pursuing medicine. Pictured Above: Elizabeth Murphy & Jack Taylor
2024 Program Details
- Dates: Tuesday, May 28 – Friday, August 2, ten weeks of hands-on experience
- Deadline: Friday, Feb. 9, 2024 at 11:59pm
- Stipend: $4,500 paid to each student
- Housing: Provided at a St. Thomas Residence Hall (Tommie East) (participants will have their own room and will share a kitchen and living room with other participants)
- Final project (paper, poster, presentation) to be determined by student and HCMC faculty mentor
- How to Apply (see below)
Read Dr. Rockswold’s original proposal for a clinical and research experience at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
St. Olaf alumna Allison Christie ’96 describes in a thank-you message how interning with Dr. Rockswold her sophomore year at St. Olaf influenced her future career path.
The goal of the program is to provide students with hands-on experience with research and healthcare in a variety of settings. Some placements may require students to have completed specific coursework and/or laboratory experience. These placements will allow students to be exposed to biomedical and other research directly pertinent to patient care. The students may develop research techniques, be involved in manuscript preparation, and have a general exposure to a research or healthcare unit.
Pictured above: Rockswold Scholar Liam Seaton (right) with their mentor
Projects/mentors for summer 2023 were:
- Fred Apple, PhD – Cardiac Biomarker Trials Laboratory, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation
- Samuel Cramer, MD, PhD and Dr. Walt Galicich, MD – Traumatic Brain Injury Research
- Glenn Paetow MD MACM FACEP – Interdisciplinary Simulation & Education Center
- Kentral Galloway – Next Step
- Jon Snyder, PhD – Chronic Disease Research Group
- Min Jeong Graf, MD – Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
- Ajay Israni, MD – The Role of the Microbiome in Drug Metabolism of Immunosuppressants in Kidney Transplant
Descriptions of Projects from Previous Students and/or Mentors
The research position on the Cardiac Biomarkers project involves working with Dr. Fred Apple on continuing work with troponin, a regulatory protein indicative of some form of myocardial injury. Past health scholars research with Dr. Apple involved exploring the impacts of the implementation of a high-sensitivity cardiac troponin test at HCMC, a new type of test that is more sensitive than the previous testing used for people who may have myocardial injuries. The research involved background reading, sorting and creating data sets, and analyzing data on Excel and R. My summer was spent in the lab, surrounded by kind and supportive individuals who were willing to answer all the questions about the research, medical school, or life as a researcher/healthcare professional. When not in the lab, there was ample opportunity to shadow physicians or any other healthcare workers throughout Hennepin County medical Center. There are also a wide variety of opportunities outside of research that supplemented this internship: weekly seminars from inspiring speakers, meetings with doctors and other participants of the program, STAB conferences, tours of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, procedural practice in the Simulation Center, scrubbing in for surgery (if you can convince them you won’t pass out!), among others.
Traumatic Brain Injury
This project involves work on traumatic brain injury with the neurosurgery team at HCMC. Students will have the opportunity to see some amazing surgeries. Additionally, I spent time attending participant checkups for the E-Stand trial, which looks at how spinal cord stimulators help paraplegic patients regain movement in their legs. We usually had 1 or 2 of these appointments a week. The data from this study is what I used for my research poster. Having a good understanding of R studio was important in creating my poster. Overall, I was able to connect with some amazing professionals this summer. There are two assigned mentors, Dr. Galicich and Dr. Samuel Cramer. This research will especially appeal to students interested in neuroscience and neurosurgery.
Interdisciplinary Simulation and Education Center
As an intern in the simulation center, I was heavily involved with the simulations. I was able to play nurses, patients, and family members as an actor, and after the simulation concluded I sat in on the debriefing sessions. This was an amazing learning opportunity, and over time I got to interact with faculty from many different departments and see many unique medical scenarios play out. I also learned how to “jockey” simulations (running the computer that controls the mannequins), which was an interesting and exciting way of being involved with the simulations. Additionally, I had a project reorganizing some of the medical supply storage cabinets and did some other more hands-on tasks to be a helpful set of hands in the sim center. My day-to-day supervisors were the manager (Mindi) and technician (Russ), but my research mentor was Dr. Paetow. The research I conducted involved analyzing the effectiveness of simulations that were done in the hyperbaric oxygen department, and I worked on my paper and poster with Dr. Paetow. I also shadowed Dr. Paetow in the emergency department a couple times, and shadowed in adult psychiatry and surgery. My schedule was very flexible, which was helpful when I needed to get time-sensitive work done or wanted to shadow for the majority of the day. The simulation center supervisors are incredibly nice and understanding, and they really appreciated the extra help this summer. The sim center has an awesome work environment that is incredibly welcoming to students, and I cannot speak highly enough of my time here.
Chronic Disease Research Group – (Student must have completed STAT 272)
Unlike the other positions in the Rockswold Scholars program, CDRG is primarily data-driven and requires only an interest in the field of health, not a plan to attend medical school. My internship relied heavily on my knowledge of R and allowed me to build on my knowledge of statistical models to create an interactive tool for physicians related to kidney transplant outcomes. It is incredibly valuable to see something that you made have potentially life-changing effects for patients. In addition to my statistical work, I was able to shadow in several different departments and get a feel for how doctors use and have a need for the kind of data analysis that I worked on.
—Written and Contributed by Lily Benson who completed this research in Summer 2023
This summer, I worked with the Next Step team which is a hospital-based violence prevention program that connects survivors of violent injury to resources and support. The goals of the program are to reduce re-injury and re-hospitalization, support positive development and holistic healing, and interrupt the cycle of community violence. I had an amazing time witnessing how different staff members in Next Step advocate for survivors of violence and their support systems. Over the summer, I shadowed hospital responders, case managers, and the community outreach supervisor to understand the thoughtful process of aiding clients. This often led me to spending time in the community connecting with other organizations, attending violence prevention events, and spreading awareness of Next Step. Every day was a bit different, but some of the highlights were redesigning the website, organizing aspects of a walkathon, attending an elementary school event on gun violence, supervising the summer basketball camp, and public speaking at multiple events. This is a wonderful internship if you are interested in learning about community action and the prevalence of gun violence. The Next Step team was amazing to be a part of.
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
—Written and Contributed by Ivy Castillo who completed this research in Summer 2023
PM&R also known as physiatry or rehabilitation medicine, focuses on restoring and improving functional ability and quality of life to individuals with disability from conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. The common conditions encountered include brain injury, stroke, amputation, multiple trauma, burn, concussion, etc. During this rotation, I experienced the interdisciplinary team approach of PM&R while shadowing in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, clinical psychology, neuropsychology and other specialties that focus on improving patient function and quality of life. I also shadowed the outpatient PM&R clinic and the inpatient PM&R consultation service, where I got the chance to connect with PM&R physicians and gain a deeper understanding of their approach. In addition, I spent a few weeks shadowing patients as they progressed through acute inpatient rehabilitation and conducted a case study to illustrate the impact of PM&R’s collaborative, holistic methods on patient recovery. This experience was unique in that it required me to recognize patterns and analyze clinical encounters to understand practitioners’ approaches and goals. Next year, the project may involve a more focused study of specific conditions treated in PM&R.
Role of the Microbiome in Drug Metabolism of Immunosuppressants Used in Kidney Transplant
One student will have the opportunity to work with a research team that is studying the microbiome of the gut looking at how medicine is absorbed and used in the gut. The lab is working with human microbiome samples (stool samples) and studying role of microbiome in drug metabolism of immunosuppressants used in kidney transplant. This is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health. This project is specifically focused on metabolism of a commonly used immunosuppression medication called mycophenolate mofetil. This medication is re-activated in the gastrointestinal tract by the beta-glucuronidase enzyme in the microbes. The student will help us measure beta-glucuronidase activity in stool samples of kidney transplant patients. The student may also help with better understand how microbes metabolize this medication using model organisms in the laboratory. Student will also have the opportunity to shadow a transplant nephrologist in the kidney transplant clinic.
How to Apply
- Current Junior or Sophomore or (Class of 2025 or 2026)
- Good academic standing (minimum GPA of 3.0, not on academic probation or academically dismissed according to the Registrar’s Office and Dean of Students Office)
- Students selected for an interview will be asked to complete the Consent and Disclosure Form
The selection committee will consider the following:
- Ability to represent St. Olaf College in a mature, professional manner
- Positive attitude and outlook, excellent interpersonal skills
- Past related academic, research, and/or internship experience
- Student’s ability to support the mission and values of HCMC and their Commitment to Diversity and a Culturally Competent Workforce
Application Deadline and Process
This program’s application and interview process will be joined with the selection process for the Health Scholars Program at the Mayo Clinic.
Students will apply through a video, Handshake, and a Google Form (see details below) by Friday, Feb. 9 at 11:59 p.m. All three components are required for a complete application.
- Two-Minute Video
- Create a two-minute (or less) video addressing the following questions:
- Tell us more about your interest in your top choice internship placement. Why do you believe this is the best internship placement for you, and how did you go about making that decision? What do you know about your top choice for an internship site and how does that knowledge contribute to your choice?
- Students should consider this a formal video. Students are strongly encouraged to use the Video Recording Room in the DiSCO to create their videos. You can make reservations here. Students may also use their computers or phones, but they should make every effort to present themselves professionally wherever they create their video.
- Upload your video to YouTube. You may make the video Public or Unlisted. If it is Unlisted, only people with the link will be able to view it. In your Google Form Application, we will ask you to provide the link to your video so the selection committee can see it. We will not share your videos with anyone else. For more information on YouTube and privacy settings, please click here.
- Create a two-minute (or less) video addressing the following questions:
- Handshake Application, Resume and Unofficial Transcript
- In Handshake, complete and submit the application AND upload your resume (one page) and your unofficial transcript (access SIS and save as a .pdf) and apply for the position.
- Fill out the Online Application – Google Form
- Complete this online application, which includes essay questions, faculty references, rank ordering of internship positions, and space to provide your YouTube video link.
Selected candidates will be invited to interview. Interviews will be 20 minutes in length.
Note: The St. Olaf orientation session for selected students will take place in April. Selected students will participate in an orientation session at HCMC at the end of April or early May. St. Olaf staff will coordinate transportation for the orientation. Students should plan on 4-5 hours, during which they will travel to and from HCMC, complete paperwork required for HCMC to perform a background check, and meet faculty mentors.
Questions? Contact Mary Walczak (email@example.com), Faculty Supervisor and Professor of Chemistry, RNS 302A, or Dana Rechtzigel (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Director, Piper Center, Career Development and Coaching, TOH 270.