In 1988, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established
the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP) to increase the number of highly
qualified medical school applicants from minority groups that were underrepresented
in medicine—primarily African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians.
MMEP supported six medical schools in offering a free, six-week medical school
preparatory program. The Association of American Medical Colleges assumed the
role of National Program Office for MMEP in 1993.
Over the years, MMEP's intensive academic preparation
program expanded to 11 campuses. In addition, the program broadened its initial
focus on specific minority groups to include students who were from rural areas,
economically disadvantaged, and came from groups that have historically received
substandard health care regardless of their racial or ethnic background.
In 2003, the program changed its name to the Summer Medical Education
Program (SMEP), reflecting the inclusion of students representing
a wide range of economic, cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity.
The Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) builds on
the lessons learned from those earlier programs. It expanded to
include pre-dental students who face challenges similar to those
of pre-medical students, and it focuses on students in the first
two years of their college education because the experience of previous
programs indicates that this is when students derive the most benefit.