Formerly known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, SHPEP expanded in 2016 to include a broader array of health professions and now has 13 program sites nationwide as part of the RWJF’s mission to build a national culture of health.
Four main career pathways formed the interdisciplinary, interprofessional curriculum at UF’s SHPEP site: dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and public health and health professions. There also were closer-look segments in nursing, physician assistant studies and veterinary medicine.
The big-picture emphasis was interprofessional education and an understanding of how each profession fits into the health care field globally, said Amy Blue, Ph.D., associate dean for educational affairs at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, and associate vice president for interprofessional education at UF Health.
Patty Probert, Ph.D., assistant dean for the Office of Student Advocacy & Inclusion in the UF College of Dentistry, was the principal investigator on the RWJF grant. She led a diverse group of around 20 faculty and staff members representing all six UF Health colleges that formed in October 2016 after UF received the RWJF grant. Like the SHPEP students, the team gelled throughout the program.
“Working with faculty and staff from all of the UF Health academic colleges was life-changing,” Probert reflected. “We are all in our own silos, but this collaboration made the University of Florida a better institution, and as a byproduct will positively influence our interdisciplinary and interprofessional relations.”
The team developed the admissions process, the curriculum components, programming, operational details and much more. With a total operating budget of $905,000, the UF SHPEP program covered travel, transportation, food and on-campus room and board for all participants, who were selected by the faculty and staff admissions subcommittee through an application process in spring 2017.
The 80 students, known as scholars, got intense exposure to academic health, but SHPEP offered much more. They learned about health care opportunities in the Air Force, Army and Navy; they attended a college stress and coping workshop; and they learned about community outreach with HealthStreet, a College of Medicine, College of Public Health and Health Professions and UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute community-engagement program.
SHPEP even provided modules in career and study skill development, leadership and communication skills, health policy education, financial literacy and civil rights. Mock admissions interviews and essays, hands-on clinical experiences, and didactic and clinical interaction with faculty from the six health colleges empowered students to believe they can accomplish goals they didn’t know were possible.
The curriculum included participation in dentistry’s Impressions Program, a chance to shadow physicians in an operating room, a toxicology and poison control workshop, and listening to heartbeats on simulation mannequins in the Nursing Resource Center. Scholars also practiced surgical techniques at the veterinary college and learned the many roles of a pharmacist, prescription-writing specifics, the science behind drugs and the rigor of being a physician assistant.