Exciting Changes to the Summer Health Professions Education Program

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SHPEP participants pictured over a mannequin while taking heartbeat

As the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP and its former iterations MMEP, SMEP, and SMDEP) prepare to welcome its 33rd cohort in 2023, the SHPEP National Program Office has proudly launched the revamped SHPEP.org. The website’s new features go beyond those previously seen before. Additionally, with consideration of the economic burden that the COVID-19 pandemic and record inflation have had on students, SHPEP will permanently increase the allotted stipend per scholar to $1,000. In this way, the program hopes to attract more students to apply to the program while decreasing any financial concerns associated with having a transformative summer experience.

What is SHPEP?

SHPEP is a free six-week summer enrichment program that prepares college freshman and sophomore students to matriculate successfully into health professional schools. With a focus on increasing diversity within the health professions, SHPEP has provided fundamental tools and inspired many practicing professionals from underrepresented and marginalized communities for over 30 years. Students who identify with a racially or ethnically underrepresented group, come from an economically or educationally disadvantaged background, or have demonstrated an interest in issues affecting underserved populations are strongly encouraged to apply. 

SHPEP goes beyond the pathway programming for aspiring medical, dental, and nursing students. In addition to those program tracks, SHPEP actively recruits students pursuing optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician associate, public health, and other pathways. Regardless of where a scholar attends SHPEP, each host institution follows the same essential core components of the program and then tailors the summer according to the health career options available at their particular school. Details on which health career program tracks are offered at a specific institution can be found at SHPEP.org.

Updated SHPEP.org website

In September 2022, the SHPEP National Program Office launched the new and improved SHPEP.org website. Shifting from its formerly antiquated aesthetics to a clean, modern look, the new SHPEP.org now serves as an online hub of resources for program applicants, all 30,000-plus alums, prehealth advisors, and all prehealth students. Most notably, under the "Learn About Your Pathway" tab, students will find links to health professions organizations that can help further guide their journey into their respective careers. This invaluable and centralized resource allows students to quickly navigate to the information they need.

While applying to SHPEP is competitive, the new SHPEP.org website is an applicant’s one-stop shop for the latest and most accurate information on preparing a successful application. Students interested in applying to the program can review the eligibility requirements for further details and find videos from program site staff, alums, and SHPEP ambassadors with application tips. Additionally, for any student who is not eligible for the program, the National Program Office encourages those students to check out the “Other Opportunities tab for similar enrichment programs they could potentially qualify to attend.

The website upgrade was made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, many individuals at the National Program Office, and their partners at the AAMC and the American Dental Education Association. With the intention of creating a website that could meet students where they are, feedback was sought from recent program participants who regularly promote SHPEP. Read two testimonials below from Alessio Barca and Jasmine Lopez whose contributions assisted in developing the revamped SHPEP.org resource for all students.

"As a thought partner for the new SHPEP website, I'm thrilled to see what it'll do for future scholars and alumni. From the moment I hopped off the call with the developers, I could already tell it would provide all who navigate to it with a more elaborate and user-friendly experience that better captivates its target audiences. The development stage was a collaborative effort where all participants voiced their ideas and visions for the website in an open forum discussion. This approach enabled various perspectives to be taken into account — including those of scholars, alumni, parents, and even undergraduate prehealth advisors. We strongly believe the new SHPEP website will grant future applicants with greater insight into the program, its mission, and ways for them to stay connected past the six weeks." — Alessio Barca

"The SHPEP website has the potential to become a main source of information for prehealth students, made up of a plethora of resources to reference along our journeys through college and beyond. We can look towards SHPEP for inspiration from amazingly successful students who identify as minorities, for scholarships to support our education financially, mentors, and organizations with similar goals to create change in medicine. If you ever feel alone in your prehealth journey, you can look towards SHPEP to help you along the way. You're never alone on this journey; you have a whole village of SHPEP scholars, ambassadors, alumni, National Program Office staff, and National Alumni Advisory Board members that are thinking of you, supporting you, rooting for you, and working day in and day out to provide what you need on this journey." – Jasmine Lopez

Financial Impact on Students

As previously mentioned, the COVID-19 pandemic and record levels of inflation over the past few years have affected families, students, and other individuals in many unfortunate ways. This is especially true for communities of color. In order to help alleviate some financial concerns that students may face when considering applying to SHPEP, the National Program Office is excited to announce a permanent increase to the allotted stipend each student receives as a participant in the program.

Since the program's inception in 1989, each scholar has received a $600 stipend. Given the effect inflation has had on underrepresented and marginalized communities, SHPEP has raised its stipend from $600 to $1000, beginning with the 2023 cohort. The National Program Office hopes the stipend increase will make SHPEP more appealing to students. This news is an incredible development for the program and future scholars alike. It is important to recall, too, that SHPEP is, and will always be, a free program for college students to attend.

How can I apply?

The application for summer 2023 will open on Nov. 1. The deadline is Feb. 5, 2023. The application requires a personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and an official transcript from each postsecondary institution a student has attended, regardless of whether credit was earned.

Visit SHPEP.org for more information about the Summer Health Professions Education Program and to apply. We are excited for the next cohort of SHPEP scholars to join our growing alumni community and engage in a summer that will be remembered for a lifetime.

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