Summer Health Professions Education Program expands

UAB is one of 13 universities participating in a summer learning experience in health care for students underrepresented in the health professions.

shp education programThe Summer Health Professions Education Program, a project of the Association of the American Medical Colleges and the American Dental Education Association, features a new name and an expanded focus. The summer learning program, previously called the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, has now expanded to incorporate learning opportunities for students interested in careers across the health professions, including nursing, pharmacy, physician assistants and public health.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of 13 institutions involved in the program, which involves a collaboration between the UAB schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Professions. The program continues to be supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Since 1989, this program has provided opportunities for thousands of college students interested in a career in medicine and dentistry,” said Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president and CEO of the AAMC. “By expanding to additional health professions, this unique enrichment program will strengthen academic proficiency and career development opportunities for students underrepresented in the health professions, and prepare them for a successful future in health professions schools.”

SHPEP is a free, six-week summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students from communities underrepresented in the health professions, including, but not limited to, individuals who identify as African-American/Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino, and who are from socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged communities. SHPEP offers students a number of academic and career experiences, including an introduction to interprofessional education that addresses effective collaboration across health professions.

Program leadership at UAB is shared by Marquita Hicks, M.D., director of Community Engagement, School of Medicine; Michelle Robinson, DMD, associate dean for Health Information and Business Systems, School of Dentistry; and Tracee Synco, Ph.D., assistant dean for Student Recruitment, Engagement and Success, School of Health Professions.

Since the program was established in 1989, more than 20,000 students have participated, receiving academic enrichment in the basic sciences and math, clinical experiences, career development activities, learning and study skills seminars, and a financial planning workshop. Funding from RWJF covers all costs of student housing, meals, and travel to and from the program site. Rising college sophomores and juniors who are U.S. citizens, are permanent residents or have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status are eligible to apply.

“For over 25 years, this program has opened up avenues to the health professions that, without the leadership of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, would have remained very narrow,” said Richard W. Valachovic, DMD, MPH, president and CEO of ADEA. “It is very exciting to be involved in the next iteration of the Summer Health Professions Education Program, where we are living the promise of true interprofessional education and practice.” 

In 2017, SHPEP will take place at UAB and 12 other program sites across the nation: Columbia University; Howard University; Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of California – LA/Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science; University of Florida; University of Iowa; University of Louisville; University of Nebraska Medical Center; University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; University of Washington; and Western University of Health Sciences. Each site will accept 80 students.

Information about SHPEP and the application process is available at www.shpep.org. Applications for the 2017 summer season will be accepted from Nov. 1, 2016, through March 1, 2017.

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