UNMC Header

Sonja Tutsch named SHPEP program manager

Image with caption: Sonja Tutsch

Sonja Tutsch

Sonja Tutsch, a native of Stuttgart, Germany, has been named program manager for the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) at UNMC. She succeeds LaKaija Johnson, who headed SHPEP the past two years and is now a full-time student seeking her Ph.D. in the UNMC College of Public Health.

Tutsch has worked in the Rural Health Education Network in the College of Public Health for the past 11 years. Her duties have included accounting support, educational outreach, supporting research activities, growing diversity and managing student educational pipeline programs.

Tutsch also is principal investigator of a Rural Futures Teaching and Engagement Award. The collaborative and interdisciplinary mental health forum series is in its last round of implementation at Wayne State College, with plans for traveling to Peru State College next spring.

A first generation American and first in her family to go to college, Tutsch earned her master's degree in public health from UNMC in 2012 and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in health promotion disease prevention. Her research interests focus around resilience and promotion of mental health and well-being among socioeconomically disadvantaged youth.

With 90 students in its program, UNMC has the largest enrollment among the 12 SHPEP sites nationally, Tutsch said. Other universities serving as SHPEP sites include Columbia, UCLA, Florida, Iowa and Washington.


The Summer Health Professions Education Program, previously known as SMDEP (Summer Medical Dental Education Program), became SHPEP in 2016. Since 2005, more than 800 students have come through SMDEP/SHPEP at UNMC. The breakdown for UNMC's 90 students is: 40 medicine; 20 dental; 10 public health; 10 nursing; and 10 physician assistant/physical therapy (PA and PT rotate every other year).

Students around the country apply for consideration to up to three program sites, Tutsch said. UNMC's SHPEP team then reviews the applications and selects 90 students. The 2019 SHPEP class will be at UNMC from June 9 to July 19.

The application cycle opened Saturday, Dec. 1 and will close Feb. 15. Applications can be submitted through the SHPEP National Program Office.

UNMC Wordmark