Students Set Sights on Medical Careers Through MedStar Health Internships

August 3, 2018

15 High School Students in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Participate in Rx for Success Program

COLUMBIA, Md. – Katora Upchurch, a rising senior at Eastern Senior High School in the District of Columbia, is getting a jump start on her goal of becoming a doctor by working this summer as an intern at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Katora is one of 15 students participating in MedStar Health’s Rx for Success summer internship program this year at MedStar sites in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. More than 120 students have completed the eight-week program since it launched over a decade ago.

The program operates at six of MedStar’s hospitals, and there are plans to expand the program systemwide next year.

Rx for Success is the region’s most comprehensive allied health program, aligning a network of corporate and civic partners to benefit public education. It’s designed to prepare students for collegiate studies and careers in health and science through an industry-connected pipeline program that helps students prepare for careers in health care.

“MedStar Health is committed to building the next generation of healthcare professionals and providing internship opportunities to expose inner-city youth across the region to potential careers in health care,” said Emeobong E. “Eme” Martin, MPH, regional director of Community Health for MedStar Health.

Rx for Success began in 2008 in partnership with Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy and Baltimore City Public Schools. In 2016, the program expanded to Eastern Senior High School in D.C.

“The partnership with MedStar provides Eastern Senior High School students extremely valuable opportunities, allowing them to see the connection between their classes and the workplace,” said Joe Weedon, executive director of Companies for Causes, a nonprofit that supports Rx for Success and is dedicated to helping at-risk youth graduate and enter college or the workforce. “Being in a professional workplace is critical to their success going forward.”

Katora, who is spending her second summer as an Rx for Success intern, says she would like to be an Ob/Gyn. So far this summer, she has filed paperwork, assisted MedStar associates with daily duties and watched a surgery first-hand.

Katora says the biggest lesson she has learned so far is to, “always put the patient first.”

Paris Wheaton, another returning student to the internship program who graduated this year from Eastern Senior High in June, says she plans to enroll in Montgomery College and transfer to the University of Maryland, College Park and major in nursing.

Paris, who also is interning at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, says she has shadowed doctors and nurses on their rounds and helped a nurse take patients’ blood sugar readings.

“This internship is a great opportunity for anyone interested in a career in health care,” she said.

Crystal Tillery, 16, is in her first year of the Rx for Success program. Crystal, a junior at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy in Baltimore, is spending the summer working at the MedStar Simulation Training & Education Lab’s Baltimore location.

Crystal says she is assisting MedStar associates and sitting in on training classes for healthcare professionals.

While observing these classes, Crystal, who wants to be a cardiologist, says she thought, “That is the profession for me.”

The student interns are paid an hourly wage — often the minimum wage for Maryland or the District — and typically work about 30 hours per week.

On Fridays, the students take part in a professional learning opportunity outside of a MedStar site or do community service. Students also learn skills they’ll need after high school, such as financial responsibility and strategies to help them in job interviews.

The Rx for Success Program selection process is competitive. Students must be enrolled in their school’s health sciences academy, be able to commit for the full internship, be in good academic standing and participate in professional development activities leading up to the application and interview process.

On average about 50 percent of applicants are accepted.


About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

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