UF Health Receives Grant for Pilot Summer Health Professions Education Program

The six health colleges associated with University of Florida Health have received a $415,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help develop a pilot project for the 2017 Summer Health Professions Education Program, or SHPEP. The program will enable 80 underrepresented and minority students to take part in the free six-week summer residential program at UF designed to facilitate interest in, successful application to and matriculation into health professions education.


  • Students in the program will explore four main career pathways — medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and public health — with extensive exposure to nursing, physician assistant studies and veterinary medicine. The grant, plus in-kind contributions from each of the six colleges, will pay for the development and implementation of the pilot program.

Florida was selected as one of four new SHPEP sites this year, joining nine other sites across the U.S.

The Summer Health Professions Education program is intended for underrepresented students and those from communities of socioeconomic and educational disadvantage who are interested in careers in health care. The program will pay for transportation, food and on-campus room and board while providing access to information and resources that will strengthen their knowledge and understanding of each field.

“The opportunity for all six of our colleges to collaborate on a multidisciplinary Summer Health Professions Education Program is so valuable, not only to UF Health, but to students across the country who, because of various socioeconomic factors, have not previously had the privilege of being exposed to health professions,” said Tom Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for research and education at UF Health. “We are thrilled to participate in this program and look forward to hosting students passionate about health professions in an extraordinary environment here at UF Health. We have the full range of health professions on a contiguous campus at UF and the best supporting cast in training and practice to lead SHPEP at the University of Florida.”

The expanded summer enrichment program will expose students to a multitude of areas, including academic enrichment, learning and study skill development, leadership and communication skill development, clinical exposure and career development. The curriculum will include health policy education, financial literacy and a civil rights workshop.

“The Summer Health Professions Education Program is meant to open health care professions to a more diverse student audience,” said Patty Probert, Ph.D., assistant dean for student and multicultural affairs at UF’s College of Dentistry and principal investigator on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant. “We are excited to host this pilot and are proud of everything the University of Florida has to offer program participants, from a variety of campus life initiatives to state-of-the-art technology and admissions resources, as well as academic and athletic excellence on campus. “This program’s purpose is to open doors and serve as a pathway to success for students. We encourage both in-state and out-of-state applicants and look forward to hosting SHPEP at UF in Gainesville this summer.”

SHPEP at UF begins May 22 and runs through June 30. Applications for the program are now open and will close March 1. Potential SHPEP scholars are encouraged to apply early with a Feb. 1 early admissions deadline. A total of 80 students from across the country will be selected for the UF site. Students must be freshmen or sophomores, with no more than 60 credit hours at the time of application, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5.

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. Since 1972, the foundation has supported research and programs targeting some of America’s most pressing health issues, from substance abuse to improving access to quality health care, with an overall mission of helping to build a national culture of health.