by Rhonda Whitmeyer
Eighty undergraduate students from 16 states descended on The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) this summer to participate in the six-week Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP).
The 20 pre-dental and 60 pre-medical students lived in Rice University dormitories, ate with Memorial Hermann Hospital meal tickets and traveled by foot or train to UTHealth School of Dentistry and McGovern Medical School to observe health professionals at work in clinical settings.
The students got mini-courses in anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, statistics, physics and microbiology, as well as coaching on financial management, study skills, cultural awareness, interviewing skills, how to write personal statements and how to apply to professional school. Field trips to Houston museums plus a variety of on-campus social activities helped the students have fun, too.
SMDEP is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students from under-represented minorities and ethnic groups accepted to medical and dental school. More information is available at www.smdep.org.
UTHealth is one of 12 SMDEP sites across the country, and competition for the 2016 program was vigorous, with 560 applicants for the 80 slots. Except for travel costs, the program is free to the students, who received stipends every other week during their stay.
School of Dentistry students Alex Barrera, Eric Phan, Nick Rodriguez and Melba Salazar served as mentors and tutors, as did McGovern Medical School students Bernice Yau, Oluwafunmibi Fashina, Asif Kabani, Jacquelyn Randle and Efrain Rodriguez.
SMDEP directors included Drs. Philip Pierpont, Andrew Harper, and Karen Novak (principal investigator), with support from SMDEP Coordinator Janis Smith and Nicole Chapman. San Jacinto College faculty participants included Curriculum Coordinator and Professor Martha Robertson, Drs. J.P. Anderson and Walter Thompson, and Professors Susan Starr, Frank Richardson and Christopher Wild.
Rhonda Whitmeyer is communications manager at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston.
Contact her at: Rhonda.Whitmeyer@uth.tmc.edu.
UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston Can Help
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The School of Dentistry is a resource for promoting oral health and overall wellness in the aging population. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, the population of Americans older than 65 years is expected to double to about 71 million by 2040.