UAH biology major and studio art minor Sarah Mowery, who was selected to participate in the Summer Health Professions Education Program, spent six weeks as an intern at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry.

Aspiring dentist Sarah Mowery got a sneak peek of what to expect once she graduates from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and heads to dental school in the spring of 2019. After being selected to participate in the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), the junior biology major and Honors College student spent six weeks over this past summer as an intern with The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Dentistry.

"I think this definitely helped me to solidify my decision to go to dental school after seeing what they did and experiencing the kind of the atmosphere of where we were," says Mowery, who serves as president of UAH’s Medical Careers Club and as a Lancer. "One day we shadowed third-year dental students, and that was really nice because we were able to see what it was like to see patients while in dental school."

Founded more than 25 years ago by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to increase the acceptance rate of underrepresented medical school applicants, SHPEP now comprises 13 university-based program sites across the U.S. that offer aspiring health professionals academic enrichment, learning and study skills development, clinical exposure, financial literacy and planning assistance, health policy seminars, and career development sessions.

This definitely helped me to solidify my decision to go to dental school.

Sarah Mowery
UAH student

Mowery learned of the program through UAH’s Office of Pre-Professional Advising, where she serves as a both a peer adviser and a pre-health ambassador. After completing and submitting the SHPEP application last spring, she was selected to participate and matched with UAB – her top choice given that she plans to apply there this spring. When she arrived on campus in June, however, she soon learned just how far many others had traveled to take part. "There were people from all over, not just Alabama," she says. "California, Puerto Rico, Chicago, New York, Maryland – everywhere!"

Over the course of the six-week program, Mowery and her fellow interns attended classes, lectures, and workshops; shadowed dental students and clinicians; completed a shift in the university’s emergency room; and earned their CPR certifications. They also got hands-on experience – albeit simulated – during "Dental Week," which allowed them to practice drilling teeth, making impressions, doing fillings, taking X-rays, and interacting with patients.

For Mowery, though, the real takeaway from her participation in the internship wasn’t just the insight she received or the expanded skill set she returned home with; it was the connections she was able to make – ones that are sure to serve her well as she looks ahead to establishing both her academic and professional careers in dentistry. "The best part of the program was definitely the people I got to spend it with," she says. "Just networking with them and learning about their professions, what their background was, and why my peers wanted to do what they wanted to do."


Department of Biological Sciences

Office of Pre-Professional Advising

Honors College