A view from the Sacro Monte di Varese, a UNESCO World Culture Heritage site of the city of Varese, Italy (an Atlantis site).
Sacro Monte di Varese, Lombardy, Italy, is a famous crhistian sanctuary and is listed as UNESCO World Culture Heritage site


Lombardy Health Agency Project

$3,999 - $7,999

What Are Service-Research Projects?

Unlike our shadowing programs, which focus on observing healthcare professionals across multiple specialties, Atlantis Service-Research Projects are an opportunity to learn full-time from an Atlantis Project Leader, inside an elite healthcare-related organization, in a real project with members of management and administration, while performing a highly impactful service – a unique mix. Our Varese, Italy program in the Lombardy Region partners with ATS Insubria, which is tasked with identifying and planning for the healthcare-related needs of citizens in its territory. Read more about our Service-Research Projects and explore how we partner with ATS Insubria.

Destination Information

Explore Varese, Italy during Your Program

Varese is located in the Lombardy region, settled in the Alpine foothills near Lake Varese, and only a few kilometers from the Swiss border. The area is often referred to as the “Garden City” due to its beautiful backdrop of the Alps, lakes, valleys and parks.

The UNESCO World Heritage site, Sacro Monte di Varese, is one of nine holy mounts scattered around the region and is the top attraction in the city. The mountainside is adorned with cobblestone paths that link to elaborate chapels.

Varese has a beautiful old town, and the whole area is rich with architecture and art, including Esetence Palace (often described “Little Versailles”), Villa Panza (an impressive villa now home to a large art collection), and the Basilica di San Vittore (a stunning 16th and 17th century church).

All of this natural beauty and historical culture lies just about an hour drive from Milan, making it a great gateway to see other cities.

Dates & Availability

  • Summer Break 2024




June 1, 2024 - June 14, 2024 2 weeks



June 1, 2024 - June 21, 2024 3 weeks



June 15, 2024 - June 21, 2024 1 week



July 6, 2024 - July 13, 2024 1 week



July 6, 2024 - July 19, 2024 2 weeks



You may pay over time, fundraise, consider scholarships, and more. Learn about our significant partial need-based scholarships here.

Dates may be subject to change, in rare cases, depending on partner availability. Students may transfer to another program or receive a refund up until 90 days before the start date. All fees include an initial $900 deposit, which is non-refundable.

What’s Included

Service-Research Project programs include a full-time project, housing, some meals, transportation, health insurance, and more. Airfare is not included but can be very affordable.

Healthcare Partner Overview

As a regional health agency, ATS Insubria is tasked with identifying and planning for the needs of citizens in its territory by fostering the integration of healthcare services into the region. This is done through facilitating contracts with public and private service providers and ensuring achievement of objectives set forth in a socio-health plan. 

ATS carries out functions that have been assigned to them by Regional Law, such as procuring health-related services from accredited facilities, overseeing care paths across health entities, governing primary care agreements, and promoting health education programs, prevention, care and rehabilitation. ATS promotes health and safety across food, medical, and veterinary settings, and monitors expenditures in specific health related areas.

Alumni Favorite

Sacro Monte di Varese

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sacro Monte di Varese, is located in Campo dei Fiori National Park (‘Field of Flowers’) and is about 2 kilometers, or 1.2 miles, of cobblestone paths leading up the mountain with 14 beautiful and elaborate chapels to visit on the way up. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have plenty of time — it may not seem like a long walk — but it has some steep elevation gains!

View of a chapel on the ascent of the Sacro Monte di Varese in Varese, Italy (an Atlantis site).
View of a chapel on the ascent of the Sacro Monte di Varese in Varese, Italy (an Atlantis site).

Service-Research Projects Alumna (D.C. Children’s National Hospital Program) Reflects On Its Likely Impact On Her Med School Applications

Note: All SRP’s follow the same approach regardless of the host healthcare entity the SRP is done with.

Service Opportunity

Participants learn from an Atlantis Project Leader who is in charge of the leadership and educational value of the program. But this learning happens by doing. Specifically, by doing a project that is impactful to the partner host organization. The project scope will vary from partner to partner, but all projects involve data-driven research, developing problem-solving frameworks, and communicating possible answers to high-level questions that the organization is facing. Projects are never focused on questions that leverage subject-matter expertise (i.e., the kind you’d have as an MD or a proven hospital administrator or a Ph.D. in something like Public Health); Service-Research Projects simply leverage smarts and a willingness to contribute to a great team and project, analyzing, researching, and presenting insights to management.

Students sitting around a table having a discussion.
Students coordinating their research with the Project Leader in a similarly-structured project (Europe).

Unique Research Experience

According to the pre-med advising office of Columbia University, an Ivy League Institution, “Medical school admissions deans will often say that they like to see that applicants have ‘exposed themselves to some methodology for producing new knowledge.’ They define this very broadly and thus it is not just limited to wet lab experience.” This is not an endorsement of our programs specifically, of course. Many other pre-med advisors suggest the same idea that Columbia does.

If you’re applying to MD-PhD joint programs, or to the few schools that specifically require academic research, our program’s model won’t meet that requirement (though it will likely contribute in different ways). However, if you are applying to the majority of MD programs, which do not require (but may encourage) research, then our model may contribute to your application as a form of creating new knowledge in healthcare. It will not be the kind of new knowledge creation that a Ph.D. student would produce, but the kind that a consultant advising a hospital non-profit management team on their strategy might use, for example. Think more practical and broad, less narrow and maybe less precise. In the end, only you can tell whether this experience may benefit your own unique circumstances. We encourage you to speak with an Atlantis alum that has participated in one of these programs to find out for yourself.

Students working on their presentations for their projects.
Students coordinating their research with the Project Leader in a similarly-structured project (Europe).

Brand Name Recognition

Atlantis Service-Research Project alumni are in the small minority of applicants and entering med/PA school students, under 10%, who have actually participated in a real project in healthcare at an organizational/administrative level, much less at an elite institution, known for being a leader in its field. They are also some of the few prospective med/PA students who have experienced the type of leadership and management work that will increasingly be asked of them as they advance in their careers. This perspective of Atlantis Service-Research Projects alumni will be a unique contribution to any med/PA school cohort.

Students walking out of the entrance of the hospital.
Atlantis students walking out of the entrance of the hospital (Genoa, Italy).

A Real Project With Real Results

Our programs focus on learning-by-doing, specifically by producing research in the form of a slide deck that is presented to managers of the partner organization.

Sample slides from the internship presentations.
Section from a presentation on the SRP learning model given at the ASPPH conference, March 2021.


Past Project Example

Date: 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

Healthcare Organization: Children’s National Hospital, Washington, D.C., one of the best pediatric hospitals in the U.S.

Context: Preparation for the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment, measuring Childhood Opportunity in D.C. metropolitan neighborhoods and working with other organizations to promote racial equity in healthcare.

Executive Summary: Students measured what were major drivers behind low levels of childhood opportunity (measured by COI, Childhood Opportunity Index). They provided a historical perspective on D.C. neighborhoods, focusing on racial equity, and created community engagement tools.

Deliverables: Interim & Final presentations, Tableau visualizations, manuscript, interview guides including engagement tools (e.g., email & social media templates), focus group templates, stakeholder master list including their contacts, and historical write-up of D.C. neighborhoods.

One Consequence: Atlantis and Children’s National Hospital institutionally co-presented on this model and project at several leading academic conferences, including the ASPPH, in 2021.


Example final presentation slide from Children’s National Hospital.
Example final presentation slide of an Atlantis SRP with Children’s National Hospital, 2021.

How Does Atlantis Partner with Such Elite Host Institutions, when Study Abroad Programs Generally Don’t?

Am I paying to work?

Our programs are fundamentally a learning program and not a work experience per se. The primary focus is students’ learning, guided by a world-class project leader, and the project, done with and for a top institution, is meant to facilitate that learning. It’s a win-win: students are able to learn with elite institutions, and the institutions benefit. Though students aren’t working for the elite host institution, they learn just as much or more than if they were working for them. Moreover, the institution builds extra awareness among future American healthcare leaders.

Is it fair that students can get exposure to these selective institutions by paying rather than applying to an internship there?

That would be unfair if that were the case, however, keep in mind these institutions are not hiring Atlantis students as interns. They partner with Atlantis as a whole, and we bring students together, while making the programs far more achievable to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. We do not pay the organizations, nor do they pay us. We partner with them as part of our mission: to help build a world where doctors love their jobs and their patients can sense that. Through Service-Research Projects, our vision is that society ends up with more globally aware citizens and future healthcare professionals that are passionate and competent.

In the case of nonprofit hosts, how do they benefit from this?

Nonprofit institutions will not only become even more known among future doctors and their university communities, but institutions will also benefit from the actual project done by Atlantis students. And again, keep in mind that these institutions are not hiring Atlantis’ students as interns per se. Note, importantly, that we do not pay the host institutions nor do they pay us. It’s a win-win program since our students learn and the host benefits through the project (and through greater awareness of their institution).

Developing a Strategic Theme for Your Med/PA School Applications

Having an Atlantis Service-Research Project on your resume may help you to strategize a theme for your med/PA school application. Variety and breadth are always important, but if you have a range of specialties in your bank of experience already, it can help to have a central theme. Just make sure you’re passionate about the theme, because it’s not worth it otherwise. And always make sure that your activities don’t come at the expense of your undergraduate GPA, which is crucial; a theme is never worth below-average stats. When you look at the examples below, ask yourself: if you ran a med/PA school, wouldn’t you, all else equal, want more students with unique themes, as long as they’re substantial, relevant, and meaningful themes? Here are just a few high-level examples of how themes could work:


Suppose pediatrics is the medical field you are most passionate about. You shadow in your hometown’s pediatrics unit, complete an Atlantis 360 Shadowing program in several countries (requesting that your rotations include pediatrics), and then participate in an Atlantis Service-Research Project with Children’s National Hospital in D.C., one of the leading pediatric hospitals in the U.S. This theme then informs your med/PA school applications and interviews.

International Cooperation

Suppose that international cooperation in healthcare is the theme of your med/PA applications. With Atlantis, in addition to experiencing healthcare via shadowing in one or multiple countries, you also experience a project that contributes to UNICEF, one of the agencies of the UN. You may then add other elements along this theme, for instance certain college classes on the topic, a senior thesis, or a club on this topic.

Healthcare Policy

Suppose that healthcare policy is the theme you have chosen for your med/PA applications. With Atlantis 360 Shadowing, you see various single-payer universal healthcare European hospitals and systems, and you compare them to what you have seen in the U.S. You may then supplement that with a Service-Research Project with a partner in either side of the Atlantic or even with two partners, one on each side of the Atlantic, since we run multi-country and multi-project programs. This provides a more administrative view into healthcare policy differences, which you can then supplement with clubs, conferences, articles, college courses, and a senior thesis on that topic, ensuring always that this doesn’t hurt your GPA, which is more important than these other things when it comes to applying to med/PA school. As a final note, keep in mind that, as you can see in videos throughout our website, Atlantis alumni are asked about healthcare system differences constantly and at length in their med/PA interviews, and alumni often believe this played a big role in their admission to med/PA school.

Watch the below video, where Atlantis (shadowing) alumni explain how they brought healthcare system differences to their med/PA applications to highlight their cultural competency; the same phenomenon can happen with Service-Research Projects alumni, since they also witness differences in systems in a very unique way.

Business & Healthcare

Suppose that business & healthcare is the strategic theme for approaching your med/PA school applications. After completing a Service-Research Project with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, you also shadow with Atlantis in a private hospital in Spain and a public one in Italy. You combine those experiences with your U.S. experiences, including possibly relevant coursework, a senior thesis, or other elements, and you have a theme that is relevant, timely, and rare.

Learn More about Service-Research Projects


Enjoy Our Program Excursions

Our excursions are designed to offer a deeper look into your host culture, for both the educational benefit and the pure enjoyment of exploring a new place with others who share your interests in travel and medicine. If you happen to make travel plans outside of your city for a weekend, and thus your travel plans conflict with the events your Site Manager has planned, we ask that you notify your Site Manager several days in advance so that they’re able to plan the excursion accordingly. Excursions range from historical tours to culinary and cultural explorations. Your Site Manager will inform you of the different excursions they have planned during your program orientation.

Atlantis students on a program excursion.
Atlantis students on a program excursion (Genoa, Italy).

Language Skills Not Required

Almost all alumni have not spoken the local language. The Project Leader and other key individuals will all speak English.

Funding Your Future

The cost of Atlantis isn’t too dissimilar from the cost of many study abroad programs that you may find. And we’re here to help: from our extensive fundraising guide to flexible payment plans and financing options, we make the process simple and easy, allowing you to focus on what really matters.

An Atlantis student smiling while shadowing abroad.
An Atlantis student on an excursion experiencing culture while shadowing abroad (Athens, Greece).

Bring a Friend

Consider bringing a friend to the same program you’re applying to. Although the vast majority of Atlantis alumni have gone on programs without knowing someone in their cohort, bringing a friend allows your experience to be shared in a unique way, while still allowing you one of the benefits of Atlantis: meeting new pre-health friends from across the country. Consider sharing this idea with your friends.

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students walking and smiling.
Atlantis students exploring together on a program excursion (Athens, Greece).

Med schools really like to see a diverse array of perspectives in their students so that when they do become physicians, they can bring those different perspectives into their practice and with their patients.

A street in Geneva.
A city street in Geneva (an Atlantis site).
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