I did the post-bach IRTA from 1998-2000 at NIDCD in Rockville, MD. It was basic science bench work. However, i was given the opportunity to shadow clinicians in Bldg. 10 (bethesda,md). at that time, i was under the impression that if i wanted hands on clinical experience i had to be a med student( or the equiv.) or already have my MD. I did gain a lot from the experience. I was first author on one publ. and received authorship on two other publ.. I am considering doing something similiar during my 1st and 2nd year of med school.
I did an IRTA fellowship for two years and thought it was a great experience. I worked on a basic science project relating to a clinical problem. There were plenty of clinical talks and grand rounds. My boss also let me go to grand rounds with the residents/fellows and I was allowed to see some patients with really obscure problems, which was really interesting. I worked in building 10 on the main campus and I would recommend looking here first. The other campuses are isolated from anything clinical. Building 10 is the largest research hospital in the world, also the largest brick building in the world (interesting fact). I am a total dork so I loved the fact that I could go to talks and lectures all the time. I also loved the fact that on occasion I would see a Nobel laureate or world famous scientist in the halls. Saw somewhere around 5 Nobel laureates speak while I was there. Stood next to Tommy Tompson in an elevator surrounded by Secret Service. I also got to work under two really big scientists, which was amazing becuase they can really show you how to think about a problem. All in all, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I got lucky because I had my choice of positions to go to, others I know were not as happy and didn't like their bosses or projects. As far as research goes I made alot of headway on my project and I should have a paper out in the next year from my work(first author).