Student Leadership Advisory Board Spotlight: Ana Torres, UVA '19

Ana Torres is a 3rd year Kinesiology major interested in pursuing a career in medicine. In this post, she will discuss her involvement with summer education programs from the application process to the actual experience. 
What is SHPEP & H-PREP? 
Summer Health Professional Education Program (SHPEP), formerly known as Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) is a free six-week summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for underrepresented college students interested in the health professions.

Health Professions Readiness & Enrichment Program (H-PREP) is a 4-day interdisciplinary, preparatory, and professional development program for prospective students interested in pharmacy, osteopathic medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant, pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research, and/or public health.

How did you learn about SHPEP and HPREP? 
I learned about SHPEP at a Daniel Hale Williams Pre-Medical Honor Society (DHW) meeting my first year. To learn more about SHPEP, go to

I learned about HPREP at the Campbell University table at a Graduate School Fair. To learn more about HPREP, go to

 As a first year, I started talking to different pre-health advisors and found these programs were a good fit for me. I also looked for different club opportunities to join that provided information about different opportunities. DHW Pre-Medical Honor Society is a great resource because it presents different opportunities geared towards minority pre-medical students. Even though you might be past first year, it's never too late to start making these connections. You are guaranteed to find great opportunities / resources that fit you by doing so! 
What made you apply to SHPEP & HPREP? 

There were many factors that went into my decision to apply to SHPEP. The main reasons were it was a free summer program, it focused on prep for the pre-med courses I was planning on taking, gave some shadowing opportunities, and had additional workshops for networking. Another plus was the fact that there are 13 locations available and you could apply to 3 locations with slightly different goals all in one application. The three locations I applied to were UCLA, Columbia University, and Howard University (which is the one I attended).

I decided to apply to HPREP because at the time I really wasn’t certain of which health profession (medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy) I really wanted to go into and also was interested in learning more about osteopathic medicine. Since HPREP is only 4 days and at the end of May, it didn’t interfere with any of the other summer programs I was looking at and made it easy to do both.

How are the application processes?
Both processes are very straightforward. SHPEP has a lengthy application process: 2 recommendation letters (1 from a professor and 1 from an advisor), 1 personal statement, 1 short essay, official transcript, and resume. One thing to note is that this this program is geared towards rising 2ndand 3rd years. So if you are a first year interested in applying to this program you can ask a high school teacher to write one of these recommendation letters. HPREP’s application process is very simple. You fill out basic contact information, upload a resume, and an unofficial transcript, and answer 2 short essay questions.
Can you describe a typical day?
Both programs had very packed schedules. For SHPEP, we started classes at 9am. We would have a health disparities class together from 9-10am, and then we would break up into our morning science classes (either physics, human anatomy, or cell biology). After that we would have lunch and start classes again at 2:30pm with either (biochem or organic chemistry). Throughout the course of the program some days rather than having classes we went on trips or had panels. Every site was slightly different but some of the things we did at the Howard University site were go to the NIH, go to the AAMC headquarters, have military doctors come talk, and have student panels.  We also had almost all the weekends free to go around D.C.
HPREP was a little busier day by day since it was only four days. There was an optional free fitness class in the morning at 7am and then we would start the day at 8:50am. There were a series of workshops. Then we had team meetings where you reflect on the day around 9pm. The workshops consisted of visiting the simulation lab, learning about the different health professions, personal statement work, and also one-on-one time with an advisor.
How did this experience help to prepare you for your next step? 
SHPEP was very helpful for preparing for my remaining pre-med courses. There were helpful workshops that discussed things such as paying for medical school, finding mentors, and panels that illustrated different paths for getting to medical schools. We also got the opportunity to shadow twice in the Howard University Hospital with different specialties. I was able to make great connections at Howard University with other speakers that came to talk to us specifically with the NIH and Navy physicians. It also helped to enforce my passion for going into medicine. Another major component of the program is inter-professional education which is when different health professions work together to learn together. We also did case studies together and navigate how each profession will play a role in caring for the patient.
HPREP was a great experience that help me feel more strongly about going into medicine over the other health professions and I got a better understanding of osteopathic medicine.  Since we were able to talk to different health professionals and see what they do I was able to see what “fit” well with me. Additionally, we got to learn some of the practices osteopathic physicians utilize.  
Another great part of all of these programs is that you get to meet and spend time with other peers that have similar goals. Both are residential programs where you are living with other pre-health students. You spend every day with these people and are able to bond over the things you’re learning and your common interests. After the program I still communicate regularly with the people I met, so it’s a great place to make new friends from different places!
How do I know if these programs are right for me?
Both programs allow you to explore different health professions such as nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, osteopathic medicine, allopathic medicine, dentistry and physician assistant. Therefore, if you ever had an interest in any other profession or would like to learn more about them these are great opportunities! Additionally, even if you are already sure about what you want to do these are also great programs because you will eventually work with all these professions during your career and it’s important to learn and respect the other health professions. SHPEP specifically is great for 1stand 2nd year minority students while HPREP is great for any pre-health student (one of the participants when I was there was in his 50’s).
Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you’re interested in doing a summer program apply to a couple of different ones! Regardless of what you choose you’ll have a good time, have meaningful experiences, and meet great people along the way. There really isn’t any “bad choice” when it comes to doing internships so make sure to pick one you’re excited about and that fits your preparation and applications needs at the time.
If you want to ask more specific questions about these programs you can contact me directly at
Interested in SHPEP or HPREP for Summer 2018? 
SHPEP: Apply!
Applications open -- 1.1.17
Deadline -- 2.15.17
HPREP: Apply!
Applications now available
Deadline -- 1.15.18