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Explore the Health Professions With the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)

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The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is a free academic and career enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions. This six-week opportunity is offered at 12 program sites across the country. Although curriculum details and dates vary by program site, each program participant will have the opportunity to spend the summer exploring a range of health careers, including dentistry, medicine, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and public health.

SHPEP offers students a variety of academic and career experiences, including:

  • Academic enrichment in the basic sciences and quantitative topics.
  • Learning and study skills development, including methods of individual and group learning.
  • Clinical exposure through small-group rotations in health care settings, simulation experiences, and seminars. 
  • Career development sessions directed toward exploration of the health professions, the health professions school admissions process, and the development of an individualized education plan.
  • A financial literacy and planning workshop that teaches financial principles and management strategies.
  • A health policy seminar series, exposing scholars to current health policy issues, the policymaking process and analysis, health care financing, and the social determinants of health.
  • An introduction to interprofessional education that addresses effective collaboration across health professions.

Since 1989, SHPEP has implemented its targeted outreach and recruitment efforts with the objective of increasing the health professions school acceptance rates for applicants from underrepresented populations, including African American/Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino, as well as applicants who are from or committed to serve communities of socioeconomic and educational disadvantage. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the AAMC and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), the SHPEP National Program Office and 12 program sites work together to coordinate program activities nationwide.

While SHPEP made the decision to forgo in-person programming in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, physical distancing recommendations, and the closure of some campuses, the program successfully delivered a virtual SHPEP experience to over 930 scholars this summer.

To be eligible for SHPEP, students:

  • Must be a high school graduate and currently enrolled as a freshman or sophomore in college.
  • Have a minimum overall college GPA of 2.5.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or an individual in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
  • Must not have previously participated in the program.

“As our program sites review applications, they employ a holistic approach and genuinely care to learn more about each student’s story. They take into consideration whether a student identifies with a group that is racially or ethnically underrepresented in the health professions or comes from an economically or educationally disadvantaged background,” says Tony Mancuso, AAMC communications and outreach senior specialist. “One of SHPEP’s recruitment and outreach goals is to engage potential applicants who have demonstrated an interest in issues affecting underserved populations.” As a result, Mancuso advises that submitting a compelling personal statement and a strong letter of recommendation can improve an applicant’s chances of being selected.

If you are interested in applying for SHPEP, the application instructions offer clear guidelines and a helpful checklist. The 2021 SHPEP application opens Nov. 1 and the deadline is Feb. 5. For more details, programming updates, and information about participating colleges and universities, visit shpep.org.

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