The SHPEP application deadline is Feb. 5. Use these tips to prepare now.
In a recent webinar, representatives from two SHPEP program sites and SHPEP staff shared tips students can use to stand out in their application. Read these five key takeaways from the webinar below or watch the entire recording here.
1. It’s not all about your grades— applications are reviewed holistically.
If your GPA is not quite where you want it to be or you’ve had a difficult time academically transitioning to college, don’t automatically assume you are not a candidate for the SHPEP. While your GPA is a factor in the selection process, program sites will review your application holistically and will take a balanced review of your metrics alongside your experiences and attributes. For example, reviewers will also look closely at your extracurricular activities, your letter of recommendation, any volunteer or health care experiences you’ve had, and information from your personal statement. Program reviewers understand that your GPA is just one metric and doesn’t paint a complete picture of what you can bring to the program and how you can benefit from the SHPEP.
In addition, note that a blemish on your academic record is not as concerning if you have an upward trajectory. For example, suppose you initially didn’t do well in a class but then retook it and improved your grade. In that case, you’ve demonstrated resiliency and a willingness to adjust and try new study strategies — two skills that will serve you well in your future as a health professions student.
2. Think carefully about who will provide your letter of recommendation and remember to ask them early in the process.
Although the SHPEP application only requires one letter of recommendation, it is important to think carefully about who you ask to write it. Consider requesting a letter from a professor you've been working with for a long time who can speak to your strengths. Remember to provide them with some information about yourself upfront, ask them in advance, and provide friendly follow-ups.
Please note, if you’re applying as a college freshman and feel that you haven’t developed strong relationships with your professors yet, don’t worry. In this case, reviewers will understand, and it is ultimately OK to ask an employer or a STEM teacher from high school. However, if you are a second-year student, you’re highly encouraged to use a professor from your current institution.
3. Use the personal statement to showcase attributes that aren’t mentioned elsewhere in your application.
The personal statement is an opportunity for you to highlight your background, interests, and experiences that have influenced your decision to pursue a health professions career. Applicants are also encouraged to share details around which specific health profession they are interested in. Watch the personal statement segment from the webinar to see an example of a personal statement from a previous applicant and more in-depth details and tips.
4. Program sites will understand If your health care experiences were limited due to the pandemic.
The program representatives understand that volunteer health care experiences were limited during the pandemic for many students. However, if you were involved in other activities such as babysitting, taking care of elderly family members, or working a part-time job, these experiences can often provide many transferrable skills that apply to working in the health professions. Also, it’s appropriate to include other hobbies or skills that were meaningful to you during this time. You are more than just an aspiring doctor; you’re a human with diverse interests and passions that will ultimately help you relate to your future patients.
5. Have you experienced significant hardships or obstacles while preparing for a career in the health professions? You’re encouraged to share this in the “distance traveled” question on your application.
Use this question to succinctly describe any obstacles relevant to your journey that did not fit into your personal statement narrative. Some examples may include difficulty accessing medical care, struggles related to being a first-generation college student, or other challenges unique to your journey. However, answering this question should not feel like you're writing an additional essay in support of your application. Instead, the SHPEP program sites recommend that your response be provided in a bullet point format that speaks to your distance traveled and accentuates themes you've included in your personal statement.
Below are a few resources that will help you learn more about the program:
The application deadline for SHPEP 2023 is Feb. 5.