Dell Medical School launches health care internship program

Areeba Khwaja

Dell Medical School is now offering a new opportunity for UT students of all majors to participate in the health care field.

This past summer, Dell Medical School launched its first formalized internship program for UT-Austin undergraduate and graduate students called the Health Leadership Apprentice Program. For 10 weeks this summer, 11 interns listened to speakers, attended workshops, worked in clinics and pursued their own self-initiative projects at Dell.

“When I was in undergrad, I struggled with finding opportunities to be involved in the cross sections of business and health care,” said Dana Le, UT alumna and program founder. “This apprenticeship program was created to provide students with an experience they would not get anywhere else, where they can create and gain value.” 

With the support of her mentor, Dr. Steve Steffensen, the program sponsor and an associate professor of medicine at Dell, Le began working on the internship program earlier this year. 

“One of the goals of the program was … to convey how we are redefining value in health with a primary focus on measuring health outcomes that matter to patients,” Steffensen said. “We believe that the future of improving health delivery will be dependent on investing in careers not associated with traditional healthcare delivery.”

The program encompasses aspects of health care that are not always addressed in similar programs including economics, management systems and design, according to Le. 

“My favorite part about the program was the school itself. Working at (Dell) is like working at a startup,” said biomedical engineering senior Swetha Maddipudi. “Everyone’s ideas, thoughts and passions are bundled together to create these incredibly impactful initiatives.”

Each intern attended a lecture series covering topics from a variety of departments. These lectures showed interns how the school is working to bring healthcare to more Austin residents, according to Maddipudi. 

“I’m even more solidified in my desire to be a physician,” said biochemistry junior Alice Sanchez. “Dell Med has such a different, innovative way of looking at the world and that really shines through the program’s activities.”

Sanchez said she enjoyed working in the clinic the most, especially when she earned patients’ trust by translating for Spanish-only patients.

“It is a testament to the talent at UT-Austin that we had such an amazing applicant pool from all of these diverse areas across campus,” Steffensen said. “We were blown away by the passion and commitment that this group of students exhibited toward tackling the issues facing health care today.”

In the future, the program is looking to open up the Austin community and possibly add a course focusing on other roles of the healthcare system, according to Le. 

Le and Steffensen said the program was so successful that they have already launched the second round of the program and there have been twice as many applicants this time around. 

“(The program) has made me a better future doctor and a better person,” Sanchez said. “To the incoming class: Attend everything you can, work hard, and always be willing to learn something from every person that crosses your path on this journey.”