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Celebrating 30 Years of the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)

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During the past 30 years, the SHPEP program has introduced nearly 30,000 college students to careers in medicine, dentistry, and other health professions. Learn more about SHPEP and consider applying for summer 2020.

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Photo courtesy of SHPEP University of Iowa.

Celebrating 30 Years of SHPEP

We often hear from students who are interested in getting medically-related experience or learning more about what medical school is like. The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) offers opportunities for both!

SHPEP is a free, six-week summer enrichment program for college students that  focuses on improving access to information and resources about the health professions. Over the past 30 years, the program has introduced nearly 30,000 college students to careers in medicine, dentistry, and other health professions. In recent years, the program has expanded to also highlight career paths in optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and public health. And, according to AAMC data, about 66% of SHPEP participants apply to medical school, with nearly the same rate accepted.

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of SHPEP (previously known as MMEP, SMEP, and SMDEP). Last August, to celebrate this milestone,the SHPEP National Program Office (NPO) hosted the National Alumni Conference at the AAMC headquarters. More than 50 program alumni from across the country attended and had the opportunity to get free CV or resume headshots from a professional photographer, network, and attend breakout sessions related to preparing for and financing graduate education in the health professions. Alumni also participated in speed mentoring sessions and, heard from Dr. Karen Morris Priester who shared her compelling story of indomitable will, courage and resilience.

Here’s what some recent alumni had to say about the SHPEP program:

“A typical day included case-based learning and other professional experiences from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And we sometimes had clinical experiences not only in our focused pathway, but also in other health care professions to attain a more rounded view about interprofessionalism. I had the chance to make some really good memories with my peers whom I’m still in contact with today. The biggest thing I learned was that each and every person has their own race to run, and there’s no specific route to becoming a doctor. Each doctor and medical student I met and heard from had unique paths to their current destinations. It taught me to appreciate where I’m at now and strive to pursue my goal of becoming a doctor no matter the setbacks I face. SHPEP gave me the opportunity to solidify my desire to be a doctor in the future.”
—Nada Ali, SHPEP at University of Florida, 2017

“We began by going through premed required courses in the morning (i.e., biochemistry, physics, biology). These courses were not graded but we did get a feel for what was expected from a medical school course. About once a week or so, we met in smaller groups to learn how to effectively write our personal statements. There were days in which we rotated in groups to visit different wings of the hospital. I would say that without participating in this program, I would not be as outgoing or forward-thinking as I am today. This program taught me the true values of cooperating with peers, and when you spend a summer with these classmates they will truly become your friends. To this day, our class continues to chat with each other through the group message that we set up at the beginning of the program.”
—Charbel Aoun, SMDEP at University of Virginia, 2016

Want to learn more about the opportunities SHPEP has to offer? College freshmen and sophomores visit ( SHPEP is currently accepting applications for the 30th summer program in 2020.

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