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Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible students must:

  • Be a freshman or sophomore college student OR a community college student at the time of application
  • Have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5
  • Be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or an individual granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) status by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Not have previously participated in the program

Other factors that will be considered in the application process: 

  • Identification with a group that is racially/ethnically underrepresented in the health professions
  • Comes from an economically or educationally disadvantaged background; and/or
  • Has demonstrated an interest in issues affecting underserved populations
  • Submits a compelling personal statement and a strong letter of recommendation

How to Apply:

  • Visit
  • Choose the University of Alabama at Birmingham as one of the sites when prompted

All applications go through the national website and are then funneled to individual sites. If you have questions about the application, contact the SHPEP National site directly. If you have questions about the SHPEP program at UAB, contact Dawn Fizer at 205-996-2978 or via email at


The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is a free 6-week summer enrichment residential programs for first and second year college students, developed from a partnership between the Heersink School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, School of Optometry, and School of Health Professions, home to the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs. 

The goal of the program is to increase diversity in health professions by recruiting and preparing underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students for successful educational experiences and careers in health care. 

Scholars will be offered educational opportunities in the following areas:

1) Instruction on health science topics, scientific writing and critical reasoning
2) Lectures on health disparities and determinants of health outside of clinical settings
3) Clinical exposure and shadowing
4) Community-based experiences, including primary health care in underserved populations
5) Career development activities with one-on-one sessions and mock interviews
6) Simulated patient care experiences in numerous fields
7) Workshops on study skills, life skills, time management skills, and financial literacy
8) Leadership development exercises and team-building skills

Students will also engage with the rich history of Birmingham to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion. 


Additional Information

  • SHPEP does not provide academic credit 
  • Program stipends of $500 per student will be distributed in 2 installments, one at the completion of week 3, and one at the completion of week 6.SHEP students
  • Travel assistance is provided for participants via a round-trip coach airfare of up to $500, or mileage reimbursement for those who travel by car from a distance of 60 miles or greater. Travel will be reimbursed at the conclusion of the program.
  • All participants will be housed at the UAB dormitories
  • Social and extracurricular activities are planned on the weekends
  • Meal plan allowances of $127 per week (for breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided to participants via a University ID card for the Commons on the Green cafeteria and participating campus restaurants
  • Lunch will be provided twice a week at lunch lectures

Health Insurance

SHPEP studentThe UAB Student and Health Wellness (SHW) Center provides medical and counseling services to all UAB undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of insurance coverage. Student Health Services include primary care, acute and chronic care, women’s health, basic mental health evaluation and treatment, immunizations and treatment of minor emergencies. Additional services include diagnostic lab testing, x-ray services and after hours consultation which is available 24/7. RWJF Scholars will have equitable access to care. Scholars who do not have major medical coverage should visit to search for health insurance options or you may contact student health at your home institution to inquire about summer coverage. 

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the SHPEP team at UAB:

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Office for Diversity and Inclusion Student Affairs
UAB Heersink School of Medicine
109 Volker Hall
1670 University Boulevard
Birmingham, AL 35294

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Other Information for Students Confirmed at UAB SHPEP 2023

Click one of the questions below to learn more.


  • What is the dress code?

    Dress Code

    You will be attending classes and seminars within the professional schools on campus.  Therefore, please follow these guidelines for attire:

    Tattoos: All Tattoos should be covered during all professional lectures/meetings/activities and events.

    Casual Attire: (Guidelines will be strictly enforced!!)

    • You may wear blue jeans, modest-length shorts, sleeveless tops, dresses, skirts, jackets, sweaters – except during Dental School sessions (no jeans or shorts when in the School of Dentistry – see Dental Week Attire below)
    • You may not wear mid-drift tops, muscle shirts with gaping armholes, super-short shorts, etc. Note: Should you raise your hands or touch your toes and bare skin shows; you will need to change your clothes.
    • Do not wear garments displaying offensive images or words.
    • Neither hats nor sunglasses may be worn indoors.
    • Closed-toe shoes must be worn in labs.

    Attire in the School of Dentistry is strictly Business Casual (all participants, regardless of track, will have activities in Dentistry)

    Business Casual:

    • Slacks
    • Skirts or dresses (knee-length or hitting just at the knee)
    • Shirts with a collar
    • Blouses
    • Blazers/jackets
    • No sleeveless shirts or blouses
    • No jeans
    • No shorts
    • No flip flops or open-toe shoes/sandals

    See Business Casual Attire suggestions:

    For Women
    For Men

    Also see page 44 at this link.

  • What is the attire for mock interviews?

    Professional / Business Attire ONLY – suit or suit jacket with dress shirt, necktie or bowtie; professional length skirt or dress; blazer or jacket; professional styled blouse and professional shoes…you will not be expected to purchase a suit, you will have the opportunity to visit the UAB Student Career and Professional Development office where you borrow (similarly to checking out books in a library) professional clothing. 

    Suggestion of items to bring: (Remember, we are in the south. Expect hot and humid temperatures with occasional afternoon rain showers and/or thunderstorms!)

    • Rain gear
    • Sunscreen
    • Sports bottles or cups with tops (It will be very HOT outside; stay hydrated!)
    • Lightweight jacket/sweater (Classrooms are often chilly)
    • Comfortable and cool attire for excursions and leisure time
    • Allergy medicine (if you are prone to seasonal allergies)
    • Back pack or bag for class materials, personal electronic devices, etc.
    • Notebook, binder or other item(s) to store notes and your schedule
  • What are my next steps?

    A web conference will be scheduled via Zoom in mid-April 2023 to explain the required documentation and records needed, provide travel requirements and discuss what to expect when you come to UAB for SHPEP 2023.

  • What should I wear on the first day, Monday, June 5?

     Summer casual or snappy casual attire is acceptable. Business casual is also acceptable.  See examples under the Business Casual Attire Suggestions tab. Athletic wear is not acceptable. No need to dress in Business Professional on day one.

  • Will I have July 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th off?

    July 1st and July 2nd are on the weekend. July 3rd is a workday with classes in the morning. We have reserved the Patio at the Birmingham Baron’s Baseball Park on Monday, July 3rd beginning at 6:00p to enjoy the ballgame together; your dinner meal will be provided. UAB observes as the holiday, Tuesday, July 4th, and we will be closed with no classes. SHPEP resumes, Wednesday, July 5th.

  • Will I have an opportunity to take a photo for my I.D. card once I arrive?

    Yes, it is included in the orientation day schedule.

  • Where can I ship packages?

    You may ship/mail necessary, important packages to our office: UAB Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Volker Hall Suite 109, 1670 University Blvd., Birmingham, AL  35233.

  • What attire is required for shadowing?

    Business Casual is expected. (You may NOT wear athletic wear; especially that which shows lots of skin)

  • Do I need to bring scrubs?

    If you own a pair of scrubs, please bring them; if not, they will NOT be provided; however, you will be given disposable protective cover-ups to wear over your regular clothes where necessary.

  • Do I need to bring a book bag or school supplies?

    A small double-string bag/cinch sack, pen and journal will be provided. However, you may bring your regular backpack as string bags have limited capacity for additional items.

  • May I wear running shorts to class?

    No. However, casual khaki, denim or printed, modest-length shorts may be worn.

  • Should I bring a laptop? What if I don't have one?

    A: Please bring your laptop to class EVERY morning. If you do not have one, we will provide a loaner laptop for your use.

  • Can we go on outings on the weekends? Is the no-athletic-dress code in effect over the weekend?

    You are free to go on weekend outings as long as you are not scheduled for shadowing. You may wear casual, active wear, or other seasonal attire. Remember, you represent the SHPEP program during the 6-weeks you are here in Birmingham.

  • Are there required weekend activities?

    Yes, there are some required events on weekends, interspersed throughout the six weeks. However, they are not scheduled for every weekend. The weekend dates with required events will be on your final schedule.

  • How will I receive my stipend?

    Stipends are distributed via Direct Deposit to a checking account. Each student must set-up Direct Deposit via online banking to a checking account. The direct deposit procedure cannot be completed until after the first day of the program. You must have your bank routing information with you. If you need assistance, the Professional Student Mentors can privately discuss and help you set up your direct deposit.

  • Do I need to have health insurance to participate in SHPEP?

    Yes. However, if you do not have health insurance, you should contact your home institution's student health department to request coverage for Summer 2023 or you may visit to search for health insurance options.  Please check your coverage to ensure you will be insured when out of state.

  • What are Blazer Bucks?

    Blazer Bucks will be your food stipend/spending money to purchase meals that are not provided during official lunch and learns and other meeting events.  Manage your Blazer bucks responsibly!!

  • Where can I use my Blazer Bucks?

    Have a look at the tabs on the UAB Blazer Bucks page.

  • What if I have Blazer Bucks leftover at the end of the program?

    Blazer Bucks do not expire. You may use them to purchase items in the UAB Blazer Bookstore. For example: MCAT prep material, flash cards, UAB merchandise, etc. You may also donate your bucks to a UAB Student or Professional Student Mentor.

  • My campus allows consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking; is this okay at UAB?

    While UAB is not a dry campus, consuming alcohol, smoking and the use of illicit drugs on campus are egregiously prohibited while attending SHPEP UAB! Marijuana is illegal in Alabama.

  • When is checkout?

    Checkout is Friday, July 14 after the conclusion of our Closing Ceremony Program, which typically concludes by 3:00pm.  Parents may attend closing ceremonies and you may leave with them AFTER the completion of the program; but, you must properly check-out of the dorm before departure.  If you are not comfortable traveling home after the conclusion of the Closing Ceremony, you may otherwise check out Saturday, July 15.

    Check-out from UAB Housing will occur similarly as it does at your home institution.  Housing personnel and one of your UAB SHPEP Team Leaders with oversee the check-out process. You will be required to dispose of all perishable and non-perishable food items; remove ALL trash items, and either donate or take with you all personal items.  Failure to adhere to these instructions, could lead to fines charged by UAB Housing and a reduction in your stipend.