lysa-85This summer I participated in SMDEP (Summer Medical Dental Education Program) at Duke University School of Medicine. SMDEP is a free six week summer academic enrichment program for rising sophomore and junior college students who are interested in a career in medicine or dentistry. If interested, an applicant applies to SMDEP during their freshman or sophomore year of college. SMDEP is hosted at 12 different Universities/Colleges across the nation and all programs “provide a basic science curriculum, career development activities, clinical exposure and financial planning and health policy workshops.” SMDEP scholars also shadow physicians in clinical rotations throughout the summer. The application opens up in a few months: November 1st, and has a deadline of March 1st. Although I completed SMDEP at Duke this summer, there are many other campuses that host the program as well. If you are looking for motivation, to truly discover why you want to be a physician, and get a glimpse of what medical school will be like, then SMDEP would be a great opportunity for you!

During my time in the program, I placed into two science courses: Calculus based physics and Physiology, and Linear Algebra. My Physiology course was even taught by the dean of admission for Duke College of Medicine, and our lectures were given by various doctors at the Duke Med Research Hospital. We learned at the pace of a first year medical school course and were tested at that very same level. While the coursework was very difficult, we proved to ourselves that we could handle it. I also took courses in medicine and ethics, health disparities, medical school interview prep/practice, standardized patient modules, and a writing class in which we drafted our personal statement for medical school admission. Overall, it was the most useful way possible to have spent my summer: as I seriously considered “why I want to become a doctor,” was taught by leading physicians, learned about MCAT prep, medical school admissions, interviews, and how to interact with patients in a clinical setting.

Please do consider SMDEP and definitely google the website, so that you can consider for yourself if the program would be beneficial to you. Having successfully completed the program, I am guaranteed an interview when I apply to Duke for medical school. This is significant, since they only offer 800 interviews, but nearly 6,000 students apply! Many colleges associated with SMDEP, offer such benefits upon completion of their programs.

My journey to SMDEP was a bit atypical however, but I thought that maybe some of you could relate. I had a stumbling point my freshman year as a pre-med, and applied to SMDEP, I was accepted to the program site at Columbia University, but after much contemplation ended up turning my acceptance down. I had a rough semester and didn’t think that I had what it takes to become a doctor. That summer following my freshman year, enabled me to truly consider why I was studying science and considering medicine and if in the end it would all be worth it, and truly what I love. I realized that I did want to be a doctor, grew from the hiccup in my academics and reconsidered pre-med. I also reapplied to SMDEP for the second time, but chose different site locations. I was accepted to the program at Duke University College of Medicine and spent my past summer there, thankful that I had attended the program. It’s easy as a pre-med to doubt that you will succeed in becoming a doctor and question your decision to do so. SMDEP helped me prove to myself that I do have what it takes and I will be a doctor someday!

If you are considering applying to SMDEP, would like more information, or have any other questions about being pre-med please feel free to comment on my blog. Having applied to SMDEP twice and gotten accepted to multiple university/ college sites that host the program, I have somewhat of an idea what they are looking for in an applicant and would definitely be willing to help you apply!