Bridging the Gaps Internship

Providing community service.
Promoting public health in underserved communities.
Training community-responsive health and social service professionals.

2024 program dates: June 10 - August 3

For Students 

This summer you could...

  • Impact underserved communities in a hands-on way
  • Understand how social and structural determinants of health impact health equity
  • Learn about at-risk populations through experiential learning with community-based organizations
  • Collaborate with other health professional students in weekly reflective and didactic sessions
  • Enjoy faculty and community mentoring
  • Earn $3,500-$3,600 for an intensive, eight-week experience

Deadline Extended! Apply by February 12, 2024

Applicants must complete the Pittsburgh application and submit via email. Pittsburgh medical student applications are eligible for early acceptance.

For Community Organizations

Community site application 2024 (MS Word)

This summer you could...

  • Benefit from the combined skills of a team of health professional students - from nursing, public health, medicine, pharmacy, or social work - to develop criteria, workshops, health materials, etc. that your organization needs to better serve your populations
  • Mentor, guide, and impact the education and awareness of future health professionals, exposing them to the realities of the populations you serve every day, so that they will be better serve those populations in the future
Program Details

Bridging the Gaps gives students the opportunity to work directly with underserved populations of all kinds to better understand their health needs. The internship also provides invaluable community outreach to organizations that are on the front lines of health care. Interns are paired with other health science students to provide the maximum benefits of interdisciplinary learning.

We offer interns the opportunity to work with any one of a range of different underserved populations in Pittsburgh, including people in recovery, children, homeless women, and many other at-risk populations. Past projects have included:

  • Developing and delivering health education curricula
  • Developing resource guides and informational brochures Internal surveys and needs assessments to improve program quality

Interns must complete a project that they chose in coordination with their community mentor that leaves the host organization with a tangible product. Interns' faculty mentors are available to provide feedback on project design and resources. The project may tie into work already going on in a program or be entirely different in focus. Three pairs of interns are peer-jury selected to present posters at a formal symposium in August, with community and faculty mentors and health professionals in attendance. 

Once a week, interns attend a variety of reflective sessions here on campus instead of visiting their sites. These include speakers from community-based organizations and discussions about issues that come up throughout the internship, lending an additional multidisciplinary approach. Interns also discuss weekly required readings during reflexive sessions, or may be assigned to respond to them in a journal.

Interns are required to maintain a journal to record their activities and reflections and responses to discussion and required readings. Students receive weekly feedback on their journals. We also use this time to assist interns with their projects as needed.

We are proud of this growing tradition of serving our students and surrounding communities and welcome your participation!

View 2023 Symposium program 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an application fee to apply?

Yes. When submitting your application, there is a $15 application fee. Application fees are accepted by checks and money orders. Cash cannot be accepted by the University. Checks and money orders should be made out to: University of Pittsburgh, Bridging the Gaps. Please be sure to put your name in the memo line.

Checks can be delivered in-person or mailed to: BCHS Department, c/o Kathleen Ali, Pitt Public Health, Suite 6127, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261.

If this fee presents a hardship, reach out to Brandi Boak at

Are there information sessions held to learn more about the program?

Yes. After applying to the program, all applicants will be contacted to sign up for one of our four mandatory information sessions held early in the spring semester. Applicants will learn in detail about the interview and placement processes, site selection, intern requirements, specific program components, and what to expect over the summer if you are an intern with the program. Before applying to the program, students are welcome to (after reviewing the FAQs) contact us with any questions at

How are applicants selected?

BTG-Pittsburgh looks for applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences - there is no one right profile of a qualified candidate. Enthusiasm, experience or need for experience, flexibility, and expectations of applicants are all considered. How competitive the application process is for any one applicant depends in part on the number of applicants from each school, as we try to maintain a balance of the different health and social science programs. Due to the volume of applications, we regret that not all applicants can be interviewed.

How are community sites selected?

BTG-Pittsburgh has many long-time community partners and every year welcomes new ones! Organizations that are interested in being considered to host BTG interns should complete the Community Site Application (MS Word file), in which details and expectations are outlined. We will arrange a phone interview and site visit for all appropriate applicants.

What is the timing of the interview process?

Applicants are interviewed throughout the second half of February and first half of March. The initial round of offers is usually made by mid-March. Because we are lucky to have such an outstanding pool of applicants each year, and because we sometimes identify additional funds, at times we are able to make a second round of offers before the end of March. Accepted applicants are required to sign a placement agreement within a week of the offer (although many students return it the same day!) to secure their spot.

Will I be notified if I am not chosen to be a BTG-Pittsburgh intern?

Yes, we will e-mail all applicants with their status by the end of March.

Can I choose what population or site I work with?

While interns cannot choose their site, students are given multiple opportunities to express their preferences of populations, preferences which are honored when students are matched with a site. The essay and the interview both offer applicants the chance to share populations of interest and accepted applicants provide a ranking which is used to determine placements.

How are students matched with their internship partner?

We ensure that students from the same discipline are not paired together. Beyond this, it is largely the shared interest of specific populations that determine how students are paired at a site.

What kind of projects and products are students required to develop?

There are a broad variety of projects and products that students may develop in response to community organizational needs and priorities. The primary criteria are that projects be developed for the organization within the organization, not for research purposes. This is a collaborative process with site mentors and is an organic process that evolves over the first couple of weeks at a site. Examples and further details will be shared during the interview process.

Is there support for project development?

Yes! Each student pair has a community preceptor at their site with who they will meet weekly, and each pair chooses an academic preceptor from a BTG list in order to gain additional insight and expertise as their project develops. The specific roles of mentors will be fully explained during interviews.

Are reflective sessions mandatory?

Yes! No exceptions!

May I take summer classes?

The BTG-Pittsburgh summer is an intense one, and we have found it does not work well for students to take more than one class. Classes that end before BTG begins, or that only overlap by one week, and that are scheduled in the evening will be more likely to work.

May I work in addition to BTG-Pittsburgh? May I work at the University in addition to BTG-Pittsburgh?

Due to the rigors of BTG, we recommend against trying to work during the eight week program. A few students in the past, with flexible evening jobs, were able to maintain a part-time position, but it was a significant challenge that we don’t recommend.

Students being paid by the University in any other capacity during the eight weeks cannot do BTG-Pittsburgh as a paid intern (they may, however, apply for an unfunded slot).

May I use this as a launching point for my Scholarly Project (School of Medicine) or for the Schweitzer Fellowship?

Absolutely. Talk with the program coordinator about your specifics.

Medical students will need to identify an advisor for the scholarly project, and we have several faculty at the SOM who are well-acquainted with BTG and community based project opportunities.

Do I need clearances to do BTG-Pittsburgh?

Yes. All students will be required to provide valid Act 33 and 34 Clearances (criminal background check, child abuse) and FBI fingerprint clearance results before the internship begins. BTG staff will provide clearance guidance in early spring to any students in need of clearances.