Summer Assistantships

Summer Assistantships (SAs) are available to medical students between their first and second years for intensive 8- to 10-week summer projects taking place under the mentorship of a Brown faculty member. Projects appropriate for SA funding range from traditional bench research, to advocacy work, to the creative arts. All projects must be related in some way to health and medicine. All students who are awarded an SA will receive $3,500.

The SA stipends are non taxable in that this type of fellowship funding is not reportable by the University to the IRS, and students will not receive a W2 for these payments. According to the IRS, these funds are not taxable as long as they are used for "qualified tuition and related expenses" (tuition, books, fees, required supplies and equipment) associated with enrollment for degree seeking candidates. The SA program expects students to use their discretion in determining if this is taxable income to him/her based on personal circumstances.

SAs are the primary source of funding for medical students who are completing a summer project as part of their scholarly concentration.  However, it is not necessary to participate in the Scholarly Concentrations Program to apply for an SA.
It is strongly suggested that:

  • you meet with your potential mentor to begin planning as early in Year I as possible, and definitely prior to the Winter Holiday break in December;
  • you review your application and project overview with your mentor prior to submission.

Application Review

Applications for SAs will be reviewed by a faculty panel and awarded based on the merit of the proposed project. Visit this page for examples of high quality funded applications. Applications will be rated on the following criteria:

  • the extent to which the proposal is clear and well organized.
  • the extent to which the proposed work is educationally important and valuable to the student.
  • the extent to which the proposed work is important and valuable to the community at large.
  • the extent to which the proposed work involves creative and/or rigorous thought on the part of the student.
  • the extent to which the proposed work is reasonable and achievable within the 8- to 10-week period.
  • The extent to which adequate faculty supervision, mentoring and support appear to be in place.

The committee will look for the following in student applications:

  • organized, clear and detailed explanation of the proposed project and the student's specific role in it;
  • clearly stated project goals;
  • evidence of faculty-student collaboration and appropriate mentorship; and
  • evidence of higher order thinking and creative problem solving appropriate to medical student level of training.

Applications tend not to be as highly rated if they:

  • are unclear, unorganized or poorly written;
  • do not indicate that the student has taken steps to meet with appropriate faculty members and plan the summer experience prior to the application deadline;
  • involve only basic processes such as data collection or data coding without any analysis, synthesis or creative process such as study design, survey development, etc.
  • involve scholarly work at another established institution of higher education that should be able to provide the student with funding.

Previously funded projects include:

  • "Perceived healthcare needs in the community for incarcerated men in Rhode Island"
  • "Assessing the RI Healthcare System's response against select biological agents"
  • "Study of the potential multiple benefits of Praziquantel - Improvement in Infant Nutritional Status and in Treatment of Hookworm Infections"
  • "Advancing Neural Prosthetics: Neural Decoding of the Cortical Control of Primate Hand Motion"
  • "Medical Poetics: William Carlos Williams and the Art of Becoming a Doctor"
  • "Women and Infants Sexual Assault Handbook"

SA Letters of Support

One letter of support is required for most SAs. This letter must be from a Brown faculty mentor who will supervise your work.
If your summer project includes travel to a foreign country, you must submit two letters of support. One of your letters must be from your contact at that site, the other must be from a Brown faculty member who is involved enough with the project to attest to its feasibility and to monitor your progress from off-site.

Letters of support should highlight the following:

  • a brief overview of the proposed project and the student's role;
  • the faculty member's goals for the student's learning;
  • the extent to which appropriate mentoring and support is in place (including information regarding the faculty member's relationship with the student, the extent to which the faculty and student have collaborated on a summer plan, the frequency of meetings planned for the summer, etc.); and
  • the extent to which the faculty member supports the proposed project and believes it to be of educational value.

Faculty Conflict of Interest Form

Alpert Medical School (AMS) is committed to pursuing its mission and conducting its affairs in accordance with the highest professional and ethical standards. This commitment includes the avoidance and management of potential conflicts of interest. This policy applies to all persons who serve as a mentor to a medical student as part of the Summer Assistantship Program.

Policy: Persons who agree to serve as a mentor to an AMS student under the auspices of the Summer Assistantship Program should not use their positions, or the work of the medical student mentee, for personal gain or for the benefit of an entity in which the faculty member has a financial interest.

It is the policy of AMS to require that mentors disclose business practices or conduct that could constitute a conflict between their research interests and the interests of the medical student mentee and AMS. As part of the Summer Assistantship application, faculty must complete and submit a Faculty Conflict of Interest form.

IRB Approval

If your summer project involves human subjects or animal subjects, you must provide documentation that you have begun the approval process of the Brown University IRB or IACUC with your application. For human subjects, this includes data collection from living individuals through interaction or intervention, or data collection of identifiable, private information through secondary data analysis. Alternatively, you must provide documentation that verifies approval by the respective IRB of the institution where the research will be carried out, if other than Brown University. Final approval must be in place prior to the commencement of your summer project.

Progress Reports

All students receiving a SA must submit a one-page report on their summer work by the first day of fall classes.

Additionally, all recipients must enter their summer work into the Portfolio section of their Electronic Medical Student Record (EMSR). This entry must be completed by the first day of fall classes.

In December 2013 there will also be the opportunity to present your summer work in a poster session at the Summer Showcase. Prizes will be given to the best posters.

Application Deadline

In AY14, Summer Assistantship Applications, and all accompanying materials, are due on February 20, 2014 at noon. For more information please contact:

Emily Green, MA
emily_green@brown.edu
Tel: (401) 863-9139
Fax: (401) 863-3801