SMDEP: Celebrating 25 Years
SMDEP’s roots go back 25 years, to 1989 when it accepted its first cohort of scholars. Experts had been documenting declines in medical school applicants from diverse backgrounds starting in 1977, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiated a study in 1984 to identify strategies to reverse those trends. Findings contributed to the development of the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP), which aimed to increase the acceptance rates of medical school applicants from racial and ethnic groups who were underrepresented in medicine—African Americans, Mexican Americans, mainland Puerto Ricans, and American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Over the years, MMEP’s intensive academic preparation program expanded to 11 medical school campuses. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) assumed the role of National Program Office in 1993.
In 2003, the program changed its name to the Summer Medical Education Program (SMEP), reflecting the inclusion of students representing a range of economic, cultural and geographic diversity. The program expanded to include dentistry in 2005, and was renamed the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). Today, both the AAMC and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) serve as the National Program Office, providing technical assistance and direction for the program.