The Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP) was established to assist students from medically under-served areas of the commonwealth of Kentucky who plan to pursue a career as a physician or dentist and who hope to return to their home community or similar area to practice.
The program offers a unique and exciting opportunity to experience a college environment, clinical and hospital activities and an exploration of careers in medicine and dentistry. PEPP programs are currently offered at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and the University of Pikeville – Kentucky Osteopathic Medical School.
“I had several students who applied. Very few of our area schools have a student selected for any of the PEPP programs, so I was very proud to see two of our students were chosen. They are both phenomenal science students,” Cindy Collier, science teacher at Greenup High School, said. “I think they speak volumes for the science aptitude here at Greenup. We have a lot of talented students studying science here and a lot of them show interest in the medical field.”
Approximately 40 Kentucky high school students complete the annual PEPP at the University of Pikeville’s Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine each summer during the month of June. The two-week residential program provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about the medical profession.
Students spend two weeks on campus learning anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, and pharmacology of the ten major human organ systems through presentations by medical school faculty and second-year medical students. PEPP students also participate in gross anatomy and functional anatomy labs and engage in clinical observations at Pikeville Medical Center.
Eric Collinsworth, Greenup County High School sophomore, was chosen for the 2014 program. Eric is the son of the late Jeff Collinsworth of South Shore. Eric, an honors student with a high aptitude in math and science, attributes much of his interest in medicine to his late father, a paramedic.
“Though only a paramedic, my father was often recognized for his knowledge in the medical field. He inspired and even advised me to think about a medical career. He always loved his job as a paramedic but recommended that I delve further into the field of medicine,” Collinsworth said. “After Dad passed away in October, I thought a lot about the career path I wanted to pursue. With Dad having heart disease and my little sister experiencing a mitral valve prolapse at 3 months of age, cardiology stood out. I want nothing more than to honor my father and maybe save a family from going through the same medical issues my family has faced.”
Sydney Shoemaker, GCHS senior, participated in the Pikeville program the summer following her sophomore year of high school. She was recently accepted into the University of Kentucky (UK) PEPP Scholars four-week summer program. UK PEPP Scholars participate in a variety of activities at the UK Chandler Medical Center, UK Hospital, UK College of Medicine, and the UK College of Dentistry. UK PEPP Scholars study chemistry and biology, along with completing rotations in the labor and delivery and operating room at UK Medical Center, as well as participating in clinical site visits in such areas as the UK College of Medicine Human Gross Anatomy Lab and the UK Pathology Lab.
“Ms. Collier convinced me to apply for UPike’s PEPP my sophomore year of high school. She knew I was a good biology student, but I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to study medicine after graduating,” Shoemaker said. “After participating in PEPP the following summer, there was no doubt in my mind it was the field for me. Ms. Collier’s anatomy class further reinforced that idea. I am so incredibly honored to be accepted into the program that inspired my career path and I have Ms. Collier to thank for that.”
Shoemaker, a GCHS senior graduating with highest distinction, is the daughter of Jared and Scarlet Shoemaker. Sydney attributes her interest in medicine to her sophomore biology and junior anatomy classes taught by Ms. Cindy Collier, along with her experience at the Pikeville PEPP program. This is the second time Shoemaker will attend a PEPP program.
“Not many students get the opportunity to see, first-hand, if the medical field is something they are interested in at such a young age. This will give both students a chance to do so, while being mentored by medical students and taking courses by instructors. I think this opportunity will really cement any ideas the students have about going into a medical profession,” Collier said.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.