Religious Studies Internships

A woman in a blue t-shirt stands in front of a sign inlayed in brick that says Streets Ministries

The department sponsors internships in the Memphis area with religious, social, and health agencies. For a description see Religious Studies 460 and 461.


Did you know that

•   Low income Americans experience much higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and stroke than their more affluent neighbors?

•   African-Americans at all income and education levels experience much higher rates of infant mortality than their white peers?

•   The Institutes of Medicine has identified unconscious bias on the part of healthcare workers as the leading cause of lower quality care offered to racial and ethnic minority patients? 

The health equity internship explores how and why social differences become health disparities and helps students become effective advocates for health equity. 

The internship program incorporates field work in community agencies with academic content that engages students in open dialogue about the complex relationships between race and social class, access to healthcare, religious faith, and health outcomes. The academic component of the course also incorporates a workshop designed to teach empathy as a skill that can contribute to health equity. Students work in many contexts, including clinics and hospitals, educational settings, urban development agencies, or neighborhood organizations. 

Interns typically work in their settings for eight hours per week and meet as a class on a weekly basis. The internship must be taken for a letter grade for four credit hours unless the student is repeating the course and has the permission of the instructor.

Rhodes/Methodist Hospital Internship

For more than 30 years, Rhodes College has partnered with Methodist Healthcare to offer the Hospital Internship course. This course is designed to assist students in experiential learning about patient care and interpersonal pre-professional relationships.  Each year, during the Spring Semester, a group of students works with a Chaplain at the Methodist Healthcare System to learn the basic skills of human interaction with patients and family members.  Students are assigned to a specific clinical area at either Methodist North or Methodist University Hospital, with the assignment of visiting patients for 3 hours per week.  In addition to close chaplain supervision, students gain from peer learning opportunities through small group seminars focused on patient care issues and needs.  Interns work alongside Methodist nurses, therapists, and technicians.  Where possible, the program is tailored to the individual learning interests of students.

Due to the “close supervision” component of the course, the maximum enrollment is limited to 12 students.  Due to the “peer group learning” component of the course, the required minimum enrollment is 3 students.  

Any student with interest in the Internship is welcomed to attend informational meetings, to speak with faculty members, or to contact one of the Internship’s Instructors/Supervisors to learn more about the course.  A student must have completed a minimum of two semesters’ work at Rhodes prior to enrolling in the course.  In the event that more than 12 students express interest in the course, preference is given to Seniors.

Each year, during the Fall Semester, an informational session is offered to help students discern whether one of the Religious Studies Department’s Internships might be a good “fit” for the student’s interests and gifts.  The date, time, and place for this session will be announced early in the Fall Semester. 

An interview is required before a student may register for the Hospital Internship.  The prospective student is encouraged to attend the informational session, and then to contact one of the Instructors to schedule an interview.

Any student wishing to learn more about the course, or any student wishing to schedule an interview, may contact Chaplain Dennis McDuffie at Methodist North Hospital or Chaplain Jonathan Lewis at Methodist University Hospital.  Interested students may contact the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies to answer general questions about the course.  

Dennis McDuffie, Chaplain
Methodist North Hospital
3960 New Covington Pike
Memphis, TN  38128
(901) 516-5005
Jonathan Lewis, Chaplain
Methodist University Hospital
1265 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN  38104
(901) 516-0990


Students Reflect on the Hospital Internship

Tyler D. Harvey ('17)

My internship through Dr. Hotz's class stretched me to continuously seek and gain knowledge that was formative to my Rhodes experience, has pushed me to pursue an international fellowship after graduation, and has motivated me to commit myself and life work to underserved communities and places around the globe.

Natey Kinzounza (’17)

If you're wanting a semester of simultaneous service and self-growth, the Methodist Hospital Chaplaincy Internship must be a part of your Rhodes experience. The greatest gift this internship brought me was the realization that we live a most uncertain life. Allow yourself to be stretched, to listen, to be still. Every day is a good day, simply because we are of sound body and sound mind. This internship teaches just that!

Andy Nguyen  (’18)

The Rhodes-Methodist Hospital Chaplaincy is an internship experience that I would recommend to anyone—not only to those persons who are aspiring to work in the medical field.  Yes, the internship did give me exposure to the clinical setting; however, it more importantly gave me exposure to the unique lives of patients. Visiting patients was not an easy task. Indeed, it is difficult to carry conversations with people you do not even know. It is even more difficult to communicate with and relate to those who are facing illness. Ultimately, the internship gave me a firsthand glimpse of suffering, grief, pain, and loss. Through this internship, I learned that helping someone does not require too much. Sometimes, help can simply consist of being present. If you are looking for an internship experience that will challenge the way you see the world, others, and yourself, I highly recommend taking this class.

Sylvia Sontheimer (’17)

The Health Equity Internship had an enormous impact on both my education at Rhodes and my plans after college. Working alongside Le Bonheur researchers to develop and implement a youth diabetes prevention program sparked my interest in medicine, specifically primary care, as I learned about health disparities and the complexities of treating chronic conditions that are prevalent in our society today. I spent an additional semester interning at Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, where I had the opportunity to help in grant writing initiatives to fund the creation of the Choices Birth & Family Center, the first Center in Memphis to provide a space for women to give birth attended by midwives, doulas, and physicians. These two experiences solidified my decision to pursue a career in medicine and gave me valuable experience and insight regarding the psychological and sociological components of medicine. They were two of my three "Most Significant Experiences" while I was applying for medical school, and were major talking points during my interviews. In addition to the knowledge I gained from my two semesters engaged in Health Equity Internships, they undoubtedly made me a more competitive applicant and I am certain I will apply what I have learned as I begin my journey to becoming a physician.

Olivia Lee ('18)

I would say the simplest yet most profound way in which my internship experience affected me is that it was by nature an out of the classroom, off-campus, outside of the "Rhodes bubble" experience. It developed me beyond book knowledge (though we did of course have readings), and even beyond practical know-how (though I did develop working skills). Having this internship developed me emotionally and relationally. I am a more understanding and empathetic, as well as knowledgeable person because of it. If you have the chance to participate in an academic internship, take it. You will find that what you gain could not have been manufactured in the classroom, and you will be surprised to what extent your experience continues to affect and inform your life even after much time has passed.