University of Pikeville hosts PEPP Program

This year’s Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP) at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) featured 36 high school students from 15 different counties.

PIKEVILLE – Thirty-six Kentucky high school students from 15 counties across the region recently completed the annual Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP) at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM). The two-week residential program provides high school students with an opportunity to learn about the medical profession. More than 800 students have participated in the university’s program since its inception in 1999.

Students spent two weeks on campus studying anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology of the 10 major human organ systems through presentations provided by KYCOM faculty and second-year medical students. PEPP students participated in gross anatomy and functional anatomy labs and engaged in clinical observations at Pikeville Medical Center.

The exposure to different facets of medical school and the medical profession, in both the classroom and clinical settings, left a lasting impression.

“This was my first experience seeing (what happens) behind-the-scenes of the medical field. I was surprised by the fast-pace,” said Halsey Page of Walden. “Now, I’m more interested in medicine. It’s neat learning about the human body and all it’s functions. The program was definitely worth the two-week investment.”

UPIKE’s PEPP program is designed to provide a better understanding of rural medicine, what it takes to get into a medical education program and the dedication needed to succeed in the medical profession. It also helps to build confidence and self-esteem and provides students with the encouragement to seek challenging course work as they prepare for higher education.

As a second-year medical student, Ashley Wright knows first-hand the benefits of PEPP. Wright completed the program at KYCOM as a 15-year-old high school student. After earning an undergraduate degree in biology, she returned to KYCOM as a medical school student feeling confident about her decision to become an osteopathic physician.

“After I participated in the PEPP program it solidified my decision to go into medicine, and more specifically, osteopathic medicine. I loved the experiences it provided,” said Wright of Greenup. “My favorite was my time in the cardiac cath lab. I passed up the helicopter ride at the end of the program to go back to the lab to watch angiograms for hours.”

Wright served as both mentor and resident assistant during this year’s PEPP program and also assisted with osteopathic lectures and labs.

“I wanted to interact with students and have a positive impact on their experience in the program. Being exposed to different fields of medicine, as well as different careers, the PEPP students are able to decide if the medical field is a good fit for them,” said Wright. “During my time in PEPP, I learned what it meant to be an osteopathic physician.”

Participants in the program included: Pike County: Hannah Huffman of Elkhorn City, Whitney Helton of Huddy, Kaitlin Johnson of Jonancy, Rebecca Clark, MaKayla Hess, Sydney May, Lauren McCoy and Bailey Tackett of Pikeville, Alexis Coleman and Elijah Purvis of Shelbiana, and Destiny Hampton of Virgie. Boone County: Samuel Forlenza of Union, and Halsey Page of Walton. Breathitt County: Sheyanne Trent of Jackson. Clark County: Noah Shadburne of Winchester. Floyd County: Sylvia Justice of Stanville. Greenup County: Warren Lewis and Jasmine Roman of Greenup. Jefferson County: Malia Latimer of Louisville. Johnson County: Brent Bartley and Brett Bartley of Hager Hill, Parisa Shamaei Zadeh of Paintsville, and Cody Meade of Staffordsville. Lawrence County: Olivia Jackson of Louisa, and Shelby Alger of Catlettsburg. Letcher County: Cydney Roberts of Jenkins, Courtney Jackson of Jeremiah and Ted Allen of Whitesburg. Lewis County: Lanita Hall of Garrison, Katelyn Kamer of Tollesboro, and Kendra Cornette of Vanceburg. Magoffin County: Amanda Craft and Abby Swiney of Salyersville. Rockcastle County: Mahala Saylor of Brodhead. Rowan County: Nina LaBarbera of Morehead. Whitley County: Makayla Mack of Williamsburg.

Medicine in the Mountains … Keeping the Promise: Since its inception in 1997, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine has played an important role in preparing physicians to serve the healthcare needs of underserved populations in Kentucky and other Appalachian Regions. Of the approximately 1,000 graduates since the first class of physicians in 2001, nearly 70 percent of these physicians are serving in primary care.

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