University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff student Riana Robinson recently completed the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). SHPEP is a free summer enrichment program focused on improving access to information and resources for college students interested in the health professions. The goal of the program is to strengthen the academic proficiency and career development of students underrepresented in the health professions and prepare them for a successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. Participants include, but are not limited to, individuals who identify as African American/Black, American Indian and Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino, and who are from communities of socioeconomic and educational disadvantage. SHPEP, formerly known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), expanded in 2016 to include a broader array of health professions.
Majoring in biology with an emphasis in medicine and a minor in chemistry, Robinson was immersed in a variety of academic and career experiences such as academic enrichment in the basic sciences and quantitative topics, and learning and study skills development, including methods of individual and group learning. She was also exposed to clinical exposure through small-group rotations in health care settings, simulation experiences, and seminars. Career development sessions were also available that directed toward exploration of health professions, the admissions process, and the development of an individualized education plan.
The Pine Bluff, Arkansas native is the daughter of Jeanetta (Chad) Terrell and Roderick Robinson. She is a member of the UAPB pom squad, Carolyn F. Blakely Honors College, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Scholars, and volunteers as a mentor for TOPPS Inc. (Targeting our Peoples Priorities with Service), holding over 200 community service hours.
Robinson said she received the proper information on how to correctly apply for medical school and prepare for the MCAT as a result of the program. She also had the chance to experience three different shadowing opportunities, which helped her realize how the medical field can offer a variety of jobs. While shadowing Dr. Duraid Younan, M.D at UAB Hospital in the Trauma department, she was able to observe a splenectomy surgery and see how organized the operating room was so the procedure could be as safe as possible. She also had the chance to shadow Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Jimmy Hick, M.D at UAB Hospital who showed her different x-rays and made sure she understood the ABC (Adequacy, Alignment, Bones, Cartilage, and Soft Tissue) approach. Her last shadow experience was with Dr. Kathy Monroe M.D at UAB Hospital in the Pediatrics department. During this experience, Robinson recalls a 9-month-old patient that experienced seizures, fever, vomiting and red rashes. Dr. Monroe’s first diagnosis was meningitis, which she proceeded to confirm with a lumbar puncture. When the test results came back positive, they continued with next steps. With the patient being so young, they kept him overnight and provided him with the proper care that he needed.
“My experience at SHPEP was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Robinson said. “It taught me much more about the medical field and other Pre-Health fields. Through this experience, I came to appreciate the medical profession even more.”
SHPEP is a national program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).