Learning Beyond the Classroom
Merrimack offers a number of opportunities for experiential learning including internships, co-op placement, independent research, service learning, and seminar. Participation of all students in one or more of these experiences is required as a capstone experience. Many graduate health care programs require such direct clinical or research experience for admission.
Experiential learning is a form of active learning, which specifically places the subject of learning in its broader context, integrating both theory and practice with reflection. It is a learning process through which the learner constructs knowledge, attitudes, skills, competencies and understanding through direct reflective experience. In short, EL is learning by doing!
As majors in the in the Department of Health Sciences, you come together with our faculty and staff to become skilled, professional scientists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and clinicians of the future. In our programs, we place a high value on this kind of experiential learning by doing. We offer many opportunities to take the theory of our disciplines and put it into practice in real world settings. Our strength as a Department of Health Sciences is our commitment to work with you in all of these forms of experiential learning.
What is the value of such experiential learning activities?
Students who participate in these opportunities tend to be more excited, enthusiastic and engaged in their studies, perform better in the classroom, and develop knowledge, skills and abilities that give them a strong competitive edge in obtaining graduate admission and fellowships as well as employment opportunities. Students participating in senior research have received substantial graduate fellowships at prestigious institutions and many former interns and co-op students are hired immediately on the basis of their job experience. Students in these activities develop both competence in the theory and practice of their discipline and confidence in their ability to function as future professionals.
Internships are co-supervised by the Health/Science Internship Coordinator and a mentor in the workplace. Junior/senior students are placed according to interest and career path in a clinical, academic, community or industrial setting to gain hands-on experience in the health care field. The internship offers the possibility of patient contact, broadens student perspectives, and assists students in career planning. Students also provide a public service to the facility or program.
- Hands-on experience is one of the requirements for acceptance into physical therapy and physician assistant graduate programs.
- Internships assist in acquiring the necessary prerequisites for professional programs.
- Exposing students to other aspects of the workplace such as business, legal, insurance, administrative, and personnel issues broadens their perspectives in all facets of health care.
- Recent internship placements include: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Caritas Holy Family Hospital, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Lawrence General Hospital (Surgical Services, Pediatrics, Ambulatory Procedure Center, Surgical Day Center, General Medical Surgical, Dialysis, Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, Pediatrics, Pediatric After Hours Walk In Clinic), Northeast Rehabilitation Network, Northshore Medical Center/Salem Hospital, Abilities Rehab, Andover Eye Associates, Bay State Physical Therapy, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Corso Physical Therapy, DebRA of America, Inc., Dermatological Genetic Disease Foundation, The Dental Group, First Health of Andover, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Harvard University Athletic Department, Harvard University Center for Genomics Research, High Performance Sports, Insight Optical, Kaplan Chiropractic, Lawrence Pain Management and Physical Therapy, Mass Eye Association, Mass General Hospital Center for Human Genetic Research, Merrimack Valley Elder Services, Merrimack Cardiology Associates, Midwives of the Merrimack Valley, Northeast Center for Health Communities, Selective Microtechnologies, Woburn Family Practice
Students are amazed by the growth and development they see in themselves during the course on these experiences. Listen to their thoughts:
“I have become more and more comfortable with the exercises, materials, techniques and questions that are asked by the patients…I find myself answering their questions without hesitation…”
“I absolutely love how much I have grown as a student intern and as a person”
“Thinking back, it is difficult to put into words how much I have learned… I have learned how to think critically,… how to evaluate… and how to interact effectively”
“Another thing that I have noticed over time is that I am more independent…I feel that I have become much more competent”
Download a PDF version of the internship information and registration form by clicking here.
The co-op experience provides an opportunity for students to work part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. Co-op students gain career focus, confidence in their abilities, knowledge of professional and workplace conduct and ethics, state of the art skills and contacts for permanent employment. Co-op work experiences help students integrate classroom theory with practical applications, while helping to finance part of their education. The program is guided and monitored by career counselors in individual meetings, and in group settings. Placements occur in many local academic and industrial settings.
Junior and senior students may participate in an intensive faculty-directed undergraduate research experience during the school year. These experiences provide valuable preparation for graduate and professional school in biomedical sciences. Recent faculty-student projects include cancer biology, autoimmune disease, developmental biology, osteoporosis and bone disease. Directed Research students present their findings at local, regional and national conferences.
Many health science courses include service-learning components, in which students participate in service to the local community, reinforcing particular course content. The Stevens Service Learning Center challenges students to become active participants in their own learning by engaging in service as part of their college experience. The Lawrence Math and Science Partnership connects Merrimack students and faculty with middle school students in after-school programs with hands-on enrichment activities in physical, biological and health sciences and math.