Summer Health Professions Education Program

As promised I wanted to write a post about my experience from the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) that I attended while in college, currently known as Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). This is a free enrichment program that focuses on improving access to information and resources for college students who are interested in health professional schools such as medical school, PA school, pharmacy school, and dental school to name just a few.

When I completed the program back in 2008 its focus was mainly just for those interested in medical school and dental school, however it has since expanded to include a broader array of health professions. Its aims to prepare minority groups or those from socioeconomic disadvantage for successful application and matriculation to health professional schools. The idea behind it is that by getting more underrepresented groups involved in health professions we can better serve our communities.

I was a freshman in college when I learned about the program. At the time I was planning to apply to medical school (I did not know what a physician assistant was yet). I applied to my top 3 schools for the program, as there a many different universities that host it. I was accepted to attend Duke University and that’s where I completed the 6-week-long program.

I first learned about the program in a club that I was involved with. I believe it was MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-med Students). A guest speaker told us all about it. I took note, and I immediately began my application.

I was thrilled at my acceptance! This would be my 3rd time getting on an airplane, and I would be all by myself. I remember being on that plane and just feeling overwhelmingly thankful for the opportunity.

I stayed in a dorm at the university. I had a roommate who I immediately became close with. My class consisted of soon-to-be sophomores and soon-to-be juniors, and we all had a similar goal in mind, which was to make the most of it and gain all the information that we can prior to applying to medical or dental school. We had classes specifically tailored to help us succeed at our own universities when it would actually count. This included intro to organic chemistry and physics. Some other courses were a Health Disparities class and a Writing in Medical Education class. When we were not in class we were attending seminars, networking with current medical students and program directors, performing mock-interviews, and shadowing physicians in the hospital. We each had some stipend money, and we had some fun little outings planned as well.

Although at the time it wasn’t specifically geared toward pre-Pas, this program is where I actually learned of the profession. It was through networking with the medical school advisors that I met the PA program director. Did you know that Duke University is actually the birthplace of the physician assistant profession?

The program was incredible. The classes were helpful, the faculty was outstanding, and I made some great friends with similar interests. I did not come from a family of doctors. To see people like me, just trying to figure it all out, was refreshing to say the least. We even had a white coat ceremony- cute, right?

Let me conclude by saying this: The program was nothing short of a blessing. I felt confident and ready to tackle school again come fall. I learned something extra new- PA what?! And here I am now.

Not sure if you’re eligible? Check out the requirements below, taken from the website:

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

·       Be a college freshman or sophomore at the time of application

·       Have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5

·       Be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or an individual granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

·       Not have previously participated in the program.

Other factors for consideration include that a student:

·       Identifies with a group that is racially/ethnically underrepresented in the health professions;

·       Comes from an economically or educationally disadvantaged background; and/or

·       Has demonstrated an interest in issues affecting underserved populations.

·       Submits a compelling personal statement, diversity essay, and a strong letter of recommendation.

I hope this post was helpful for some of you! I think it's such a great opportunity! Check out the website HERE for even more information. Comment your thoughts or your personal experience below!