Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Questions about PEPP

Who is eligible for PEPP?
Any graduating Kentucky high school senior may apply for the PEPP program (applications available at http://louisville.edu/medschool/diversity/pre-college). Preference is given to students from medically underserved counties and/or students who are members of ethnic/minority groups underrepresented in medicine (see application for details). The majority of selected participants are from an underserved area or underrepresented group. Please note that students who participate in the program go to a wide variety of undergraduate institutions both in Kentucky and out-of-state. You do not have to attend UofL for undergrad to participate in the program.

What are you looking for in applicants?
We determine admission based on the following criteria: Personal Statement Essay, Letter of Recommendation, unweighted high school GPA, ACT scores, and courses completed in high school. Above all, we are looking for a strong interest in medicine or dentistry. It is critically important that you take the time to write a thoughtful essay for your personal statement. It should be unique to you and provide a clear explanation of why you want to be a physician or dentist (i.e. give us more than "I want to help people").

Your letter of recommendation is also important, it must come from a math or science teacher. Choose one who knows you well and can provide more information than "he/she received an A in my course". It is best practice to sit down with your teacher and explain the program and why you want to participate in it before they write your recommendation. Even better, provide them with a copy of the PEPP application (with program description), a copy of your Personal Statement, and a copy of your resume or list of extracurricular activities. This will provide them with a lot more information to base your recommendation on and lead to a better letter.

Academics are also important. We are looking for a minimum of a 3.0 unweighted GPA and an ACT composite of 20. Keep in mind that the average for accepted students is much higher than these minimums. If you are near this minimum, that is even more reason to you to focus on your personal statement and recommendation letter. We also look at the courses students take in high school. We like to see students who challenge themselves in science and math courses beyond the required high school curriculum.

How many students do you take?
Each summer, UofL PEPP takes 20-25 students. The program is small by design. Students get individualized attention in the classroom and in advising. This small number allows for 4-5 shadowing rotations for each student and the ability to make better connections with program contacts and presenters. In addition, the small number allows for great group cohesion among all program participants. We also have Student Development Assistants (medical and dental students) who live in the dorms, provide supervision, assist in program facilitation, and serve as mentors to the students.

What does the program cost?
Due to increased budget cuts, in 2010 PEPP instituted a fee schedule based on the student's taxable family income (after all allowable deductions). The fee schedule is further explained on the application. If the fee would prohibit you from participating in the program, simply complete a fee waiver request. We will seriously consider each request for a waiver or reduction to the PEPP fee (instuctions are in the application).

Meals are not regularly provided at PEPP, but a number of meals (around 5) will be covered during the program. Regardless of if the student is a "payer" or not, every student will receive an $80/wk stipend ($320 total) to go toward the cost of food. In addition, all program materials are provided: housing, local transportation, books, notebooks, pens, paper, etc.

What will we be doing at PEPP?
A lot! Our program is comprised of the following components: academic enrichment in freshman level math and sciences, career exploration in the health sciences, clinical observations, personal development, professional development, and hands-on experiences. Every day at PEPP is different.

Will we have free time?
Yes! While we do keep a busy schedule, there will be some downtime during the program. We will have some program organized extracurricular activities, and allow for students to do their own thing at other times.We recognize that you will be attending college in the fall and provide you with more freedom that other summer programs you may have been a part of in the past. We do allow students to leave campus and explore Louisville. You may bring a car if you wish. However, this is not an invitation for you to "sew your wild oats". We do have a very reasonable set of rules to follow for the safety of our participants and the program. We also have a curfew of midnight Sunday- Thursday, and 1:30am on Friday and Saturday.

Other questions?
Contact Katie Leslie, Program Director.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Information on the 2015 MCAT

The "new" MCAT exam has been somewhat shrouded in mystery, which is quite frustrating for current college pre-med freshmen since they will be the first cohort of students to take the new 7.5 hour exam. While attending the Kentucky Premedical Advisors meeting over the weekend, I received a little more information on the 2015 MCAT. While there are still many unanswered questions, I'm sharing with you all that I know and hope that this provides some guidance. Here is what I know:

  • January 2015 will be the last administration of the current MCAT exam. The new exam will launch spring 2015. If you plan to take the current MCAT, you should anticipate a high demand for the late 2014 and January 2015 exam dates and plan to register EARLY.
  • The new exam has 4 sections: 1) Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; 2) Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; 3) Psychological , Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior; and 4) Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills.
  • We heard from all 3 Kentucky medical schools and it does not appear that the required prerequisite courses will change for medical school. HOWEVER, I do not believe you will be successful on the new MCAT just taking the basic pre-med courses.
  • Current require pre-requisite courses are: 2 semesters of English; 1 semester of Calculus OR 2 semesters of other college Math; 2 semesters of Biology with Lab; 2 semesters of Inorganic Chemistry with Lab; 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry with Lab; 2 Semesters of Physics with Lab. You can read this in detail from the ULSOM website.
  • With the new MCAT, you should have all of these completed along with the following HIGHLY RECOMMENDED COURSES (the exam will cover content in these courses) before you take the exam: 1 semester of Cellular Biology; 1 semester of Biochemistry; 1 semester of Psychology; 1 semester of Sociology.
  • Questions from the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section do not require specific coursework. However, the passages will come from humanities and social sciences including: ethics, philosophy, cross-cultural studies, and population health. Students should try to read more in these areas.
  • AAMC has  put out the "MCAT 2015 Preview Guide" which describes the 4 sections of the new MCAT. This will give you a better idea on the content covered and the level of knowledge they will be looking for on these concepts. There are also videos that explain the new MCAT.
  • Although we do not know the cost of the new MCAT, it is anticipated that the testing fee will increase (current cost of MCAT exam is $235). The Fee Assistance Program (FAP) will still be available for those who qualify.
  • Test preparation for the new exam. As of today, there is very little information regarding exam preparation for the 2015 MCAT. AAMC has indicated that by 2014 there will be one free online practice test (but it will not be scored). By 2015, there will be a second practice test and possibly additional sets of items and a question bank.
While I understand that this information is still quite limited, this is all we know so far. If you are a program alumni and have questions about this, please contact the Office of Minority and Rural Affairs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PEPP 2012

Whew! What a great summer. Here's a video the 2012 students put together regarding their PEPP experience!

Monday, June 18, 2012

PEPP 2012 up and running!

We've made it through the first weekend of the summer! Twenty-four students from across the state arrived on Friday for what will surely be a life-changing four weeks. The students were at University Hospital first thing Saturday morning receiving shadowing orientation and participating in the first Health Care 101 seminar (the students will be BLS certified by the end of this course). Our wonderful SDA's planned some exciting activities for the students over the weekend. Today is our first "full" day. So far, the students have completed their math and biology pre-tests, had their first 2 hour math lecture, learned about professionalism, and took care of other orientation business. But the day isn't over just yet! Later this afternoon we will hear from Dr. Frank Miller on his experiences working as a physician internationally in undeveloped areas. Finally, this evening we will meet with the 15 PEPP alumni who are on campus in other summer programs sponsored by the Office of Minority and Rural Affairs. This will provide students an opportunity to learn from others just how important the PEPP experience can be as well as tips for success during the freshman year of college. PEPP students will then have the opportunity to connect with PEPP alumni who are attending their respective undergraduate institutions. All in all, we're very busy in Louisville!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Word About Finances

During a conversation with a student yesterday, I was reminded how the financial burdens of medical and dental school are sometimes quickly brushed over when presented to pre-health students. Let me first clearly state that ANYONE can meet the financial obligations to go to medical, dental, or another health profession school if that is their dream. However, it helps to understand what the costs are and how to plan for this.

Medical and dental schools are expensive, as it takes a lot of resources to train the future health care workforce. In-state tuition, fees, and living expenses generally total above $50,000 per year of professional school. This is a lot of money, but you must remember that you are investing in a future career that will provide a high level of income. Most students (~90%) receive some form of financial aid (mostly loans) to finance their education (there are very few scholarships for professional school and those that exist are generally in small amounts). While this may seem like you are entering into an insurmountable amount of debt, you will make enough money as a doctor to make your loan payments (trust us!!).

However, it is important to plan for this debt while in undergrad. If you can avoid taking out student loans (and other loans) while in college please do so. You do not want to go into professional school already thousands of dollars in debt. In addition, when you take out loans for professional school, they will be in your name (and under your credit). Be responsible during college and do not rack up credit card debt!

One area that you should save for is the application process. Yes, it is also expensive to apply to medical and dental school. You will have to take an entrance exam (generally sometime during your junior year) in order to apply. These exams are difficult and expensive. First, you must prepare for the exam. The Office of Minority and Rural Affairs offers a FREE MCAT-DAT Review Summer Workshop. A free program would be my recommendation, but there is limited space in the review (apply early). Other formal reviews include Kaplan, Princeton, and ExamKrackers, which all cost around $2,000. You can also purchase books (~$200) for you to review on  your own, but a formal program is recommended for these exams- you want to adequately prepare and only take them once if possible.

Also, the exams are quite expensive as well. The MCAT currently costs $235 and the DAT $360. Medical school applicants may apply for AAMC's fee assistance program which, if granted will reduce the price of the MCAT to $85 and will allow you to apply to up to 14 medical schools for free. Without fee assistance, AMCAS (medical school) application service processing fee is $160 and includes one (1) medical school designation. Additional school designations are $34 each.

Partial fee waivers for the DAT are available to examinees in cases of severe financial hardship. The waiver is 50% of the DAT fee and includes the fee for the test and the official score reports requested at the time of application. Fee waivers must be requested in writing by the examinee using a financial information form and paper application. You may request the forms at datexam@ada.org or by calling DTS (800.232.2162). Submit the financial information form, the paper application, and your educational institution financial aid award letter. The DTS will review all fee waiver requests and make the final decision regarding the fee waiver. There are only a limited number of DAT fee waivers, so apply very early (practically a year before you plan to take the exam). The cost of the AADSAS (dental school application service) is $235 for the first school and $75 for each additional school. AADSAS does offer a fee assistance program which includes a fee waiver for the first dental school designation (there is no assistance for additional school designations).

After applying through the application services, your applications will be sent to the schools you designated. Almost all schools require a secondary application. Those fees typically range from $25 to $100, so you will need to save for that as well.  In addition, it is important to consider the costs associated with interviewing at schools. If you are selected for an interview you are typically responsible for all associated costs (travel, lodging, food, etc). You will also need to have a suit for your interview. Purchase this ahead of time so that you may find something that fits well (and look for sales!).

While this may seem overwhelming, remember that all pre-health students face these financial burdens. Give yourself an advantage by planning!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summer 2012 Connections to PEPP Alumni

It's been said that PEPP is much more that just a 4 week summer program. As a participant in the program, you become a part of the "PEPP family". We continue to work with our alumni throughout undergrad and even into professional school. Brandon McGeorge (PEPP 2009) shares his PEPP story and how the program impacted his life (below). He spent the past three summers in ULSOM Minority and Rural Affairs Programs (SMDEP 2010; MCAT-DAT 2011). When it came time to decide what to do during break this year, he chose to come back to Louisville and serve as a Student Development Assistant for the 2012 PEPP program.  

Speaking of family, we often have siblings participate in PEPP across the years. Last summer, PEPP 2007 alumni Ben Cocanougher served as a Student Development Assistant. This summer we're glad to have his sister Sarah as a participant in the program! Ben is finishing his first year of medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Here's Ben's story below.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 PEPP Schedule (tentative)

Want to know just what we will be doing this summer? Here is the (tentative) schedule for summer 2012!