5 years ago
Samantha Lim
Mercury Staff

Pre-med and pre-dental students have the opportunity to attend the six-week Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, application and program free of charge, at universities across the nation upon completion of their freshman or sophomore years.

Neuroscience sophomore Aaron Dotson attended the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, or SMDEP, in summer 2012. He heard about the program through a fellow pre-med student. Dotson said that before the program, he was considering the pre-pharmacy route. After attending SMDEP, he changed his mind.

“I really used the program for a definite answer,” Dotson said. “After the program, I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”

Dotson said pre-nursing and pre-pharmacy students also attend this program. Some of them change their minds and decide to aim for medical school. Dotson also said some pre-med students change their minds, although they usually choose to stay in the health profession.

During the program, Dotson was also given the opportunity to attend a medical school recruitment fair.

“SMDEP opened the door for me to meet and network with important people, because to this day I still keep in contact with them,” Dotson said. “Once this semester is over, I plan to give them an update to show them where I am now and how much SMDEP has helped me.”

When students apply for SMDEP, they can choose three of 12 different university sites, including Columbia University, Yale University and Duke University. Dotson, who went to Yale University for the program, said the experience was similar for him and two other friends who also attended the program at different sites.

“Overall, the three of us found that the program was significantly beneficial because all three of us have pretty much the same improvement from before the program and after the program when it comes to school and interaction,” he said.

While SMDEP is a nationwide program, Dotson said it is not widely known on the UTD campus.

“I feel like more people should know about (the program),” he said. “A lot of universities do stress for freshmen and sophomores to apply and attend SMDEP.”

Applications for SMDEP can be found at smdep.org and need to be completed by March 1. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Information on how transcripts and the two letters of recommendation should be sent can also be found on the website. One letter must be from either a pre-health advisor or college professor and the other must be related to the applicant’s major field of study.