2016, in effort to keep apace of the growing importance of team based care and
interprofessional collaboration, RWJF expanded the Summer Medical and Dental
Education Program (SMDEP) to include a range of health professions and changed
the program name to the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP).
In 2011, I
decided to apply to the Summer Medical and Dental
Educational Program (SMDEP).
I was so happy to be accepted to SMDEP at Case Western Reserve University, and
I had no idea I was about to have the best summer of my life. Three years later,
I am actually a dental student. As an SMDEP alumna, I want to share my thoughts
on why you should apply today!
1. It’s a productive use of your summer.
you do during your summertime in undergrad is crucial to making yourself an
attractive dental school applicant. I always made a conscious effort to be
productive and do something worthwhile when I was not in school—summer programs,
traveling, study abroad or working. I wanted to further explore the field of
dentistry, and during school I was constantly bogged down with academics and extracurricular
activities, so the summer was the best time to learn more about dentistry. SMDEP
gave me the opportunity to do something that was within my desired career
during the summer months. Participating in SMDEP was the perfect way to spend
my summer, and I was very pleased
with those six weeks I spent in Cleveland!
2. You get great exposure to the field
you are interested in!
an undergraduate student, I constantly looked for opportunities that would help
me learn more about the dental profession. I was able to shadow various types
of dentists—general dentists, pediatricians, oral surgeons and endodontists at
SMDEP. I even got to be in the operating room, which was really cool!
SMDEP granted me access to pretty much every type of dentistry in one setting. We
got a good feel for the different things we would likely experience as a dental
professional through the rotations we did and the procedures we watched.
is both a medical and dental program,
so I was able to get a feel for the medical field as well. In addition to doing
rotations, we supplemented our knowledge of these fields with discussions of other
professions within the field (such as public health), current issues facing the
health care professions, and personal stories from the physicians, dentists,
students and faculty.3. SMDEP looks great on your application.
is a national program. When you fill in “SMDEP” in the “activities” section of
your dental school application, the admissions officers will instantly recognize
the program and associate its name with the caliber of student that it fosters—it
is an impressive program that selects highly qualified individuals.
4. Your SMDEP classmates will be
friends for life.
don’t know how they choose the people for this program, but my classmates
really enriched the SMDEP experience for me. It’s crazy how close we got after
only six weeks! We knew everything about each other and were always hanging
out. We would stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. (even though we had class) just talking
and getting to know one another. SMDEP has different social activities built into
the program, like ice-skating, amusement park trips and baseball games. Going
on all these adventures with my SMDEP family just made each experience exponentially
better. One day we even took an impromptu trip to Niagara Falls in Canada!
classmates were and still are my family. They motivated me to continue to
pursue dentistry (there were times I was hesitant). They motivated me to keep
on track when I was back in undergrad. We held each other accountable and
always kept track of one another. I was always pleased to hear news of friends
getting into dental or medical school. I actually ended up going to the same
dental school as one my SMDEP friends! Trust me, if you ask anyone the top two reasons
why they loved SMDEP, I guarantee they will say they loved their classmates as
one of those answers!
5. You will learn so much.
took biology, chemistry and other courses that were really beneficial for both
undergrad and in preparation for the DAT/MCAT. The predental students had a
class about some of the basics of dentistry, including dental anatomy and
terminology. We even got some hands-on experience. I remembered that
information I learned in class and used it when I was shadowing dentists and
volunteering. They were impressed!
I came to dental school, I already knew some dental terms, which was surprising
because SMDEP was so long ago for me. Other than science courses, we took some
really interesting classes including how to study, sociology and how to write a
6. It’s basically FREE and you get a stipend!
meals = paid.
= So helpful!
sites even offer help for travel costs. Need I say more?
7. Helpful networking opportunities.
of these program sites are within large medical areas. There are SO many physicians,
surgeons, dentists and pediatricians (and every profession you can think of)
around. I got to meet with the faculty, several dentists and admissions
officers, and I even got a chance to have a mock interview with the Dean of
Admissions! There are plenty of chances for you to network during SMDEP. As an
SMDEP alumna I have attended some alumni events and have been able to network
there as well. The benefits of SMDEP don’t end when the summer does.
8. SMDEP will help you confirm your
desire to pursue your career choice.
cliché as it might sound, I’ve known I wanted to be a dentist for a long time,
but I must admit, when I began undergrad, I started feeling very hesitant. Admissions
officers often came to our Predental Society meetings and their presentations
about acceptance rates and stories about how hard dental school can be really
scared me. I questioned if I had the drive and determination in me to get
accepted to dental school and then endure the rigors of being a dental student.
I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in school another four years, to be
honest. So many of my engineering friends had jobs right out of school, and I thought
I wanted that.
totally put my mind at ease, and my insecurities about pursuing dentistry
vanished. Doing SMDEP helped me confirm that dentistry was the profession I was
going to pursue … no matter what. It was so refreshing to be in an environment
where there were so many people striving for the same goal. The people inspired
me, the staff supported me and the dentists taught me so much. I came back to
Tech with a fire in me and finished my last two and a half years very strong. Then,
I applied to dental school, got accepted—and now I’m here as a UAB dental
other students from SMDEP decided that the medical/dental field wasn’t for
them. That’s okay too! Everyone has his or her own story and own path. Either
way, SMDEP helped bring everyone to their respective conclusions.
9. The one of a kind experience.
could honestly go on about SMDEP forever. I’m a huge advocate for participating
in the program and have encouraged several students to apply. If you ask any of
my SMDEP family or the students I encouraged to go, they will tell you it was
the best summer of their lives. What made it so memorable for me were the
people, being able to experience the field that I wanted to pursue and realizing
how much I wanted to do anything to become a dentist after the program was
over. SMDEP had a huge impact on my life, and I hope you can experience the
same thing. APPLY TODAY!