Professional Education
Preparation Program
Discover Modern Dentistry 

The Professional Education Preparation Program–Discover Modern Dentistry (PEPP-DMD), is a residential summer academic enrichment program. The program seeks to educate rising college juniors and/or seniors who are interested in the field of dentistry and in becoming dentists treating underserved populations in rural or urban areas throughout the Commonwealth. Applicants from medically underserved counties in Kentucky and those from minority populations underrepresented in healthcare are encouraged to apply. 

PEPP-DMD classDentistry requires one to literally "get one’s hands wet," and there is no better way to learn about the profession than by having hands-on experiences. The program aims to achieve this by exposing participants to both general dentistry and dental specialties through shadowing experiences and hands-on projects. The world of dentistry is rapidly changing with advances in digital technology. Participants will be exposed to these state of the art technologies and have a chance to see where the future of dentistry lies. The program will additionally provide participants with resources for networking, volunteering, and shadowing to enhance their application to dental school.

The deadline to apply for this year's program, via online form, is April 30, 2024. Download a PDF version of the application in the application requirements section below for preparation purposes onlyClick on a link below to learn more. 

Program Overview

PEPP-DMD is a one-week residential summer program, June 23-June 28, 2024, administered by the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD). Prior to 2019, this program was funded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In 2018, all Kentucky PEPP programs lost state funding. UKCD appreciates the value of the program's mission to educate students who demonstrate the potential and desire to return to dentally underserved areas of Kentucky to practice. The PEPP-DMD program is now funded by the UKCD Dean’s Office. 

Participants will incur a nominal fee, based on family income. Program materials and dormitory housing are provided by the program. All participants must reside in the PEPP designated dormitory. Three meals per day will be provided, either in the form of a boxed meal or as a meal card. The meal card can be used at a variety of on-campus dining venues. Additional meals and snacks must be covered by the participant. Transportation to scheduled off-campus activities will be provided. Email will be used as the primary mode of communication before and during the program. Therefore, a smartphone and a laptop/tablet will be required for use during the program.


Applicants must be at least 18 years old by the start of the program and Kentucky residents, whose permanent (home) residence is in one of the health professional shortage areas listed below. This program is also open to minority populations underrepresented in healthcare. All applicants must have completed at least two years of college, by the start of the program. No graduates or nontraditional students may apply for this program. It is preferred, but not required, that participants have completed at least two semesters of biology, general chemistry, and physics with labs.

Individuals interested in becoming a physician or dentist to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky who have graduated from high school and been accepted to college may be eligible for PEPP-Scholars. Learn more here.

Attendance to all activities of the PEPP-DMD program is mandatory. Participants will not be permitted to hold a job during the time of the PEPP-DMD program. Additionally, they will not be permitted to take any summer courses. The only exception will be online classes. In this case, PEPP-DMD organizers must be made aware prior to the start of the program and have the right to deny participation in online classes or in PEPP-DMD if the classes are deemed to interfere with the program outcomes. Participants who have events that conflict with the PEPP-DMD schedule, should refrain from applying. Activities such as community service projects and dental office visits may be scheduled during evenings and weekends. Therefore, participants must keep these times free in order to participate in these enriching activities.

Participants must adhere to strict guidelines for protection and minimizing transmission of COVID-19. For those unvaccinated, a negative COVID test taken within 3 days of the program start date will be required. If at any time during the program COVID symptoms present, you will be asked to leave the program. 

Eligible Areas/Counties

  • Applicants from the following counties will be given preference: Adair, Allen, Ballard, Bath, Barren, Bell, Bracken, Breathitt, Bullitt, Butler, Caldwell, Carlisle, Carter, Casey, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Garrard, Graves, Grayson, Green, Greenup, Hardin, Harlan, Harrison, Hart, Hickman, Hopkins, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Larue, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Madison, Magoffin, Marion, Marshall, Martin, Mason, McCreary, McLean, Meade, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Nicholas, Ohio, Owen, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Spencer, Taylor, Todd, Trigg, Trimble, Union, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Whitley, Wolfe
  • Applicants from the following counties will also be considered: Boyd, Clark, Fulton, Gallatin, Henry, Laurel, McCracken, Pendleton, Scott, Warren
  • “Out of county/area” candidates may apply but preference will be given to those residing in the above areas. If accepted, “out of county/area” candidates will be charged a participation fee.

Cost of Participation

There is no application fee for PEPP-DMD. If accepted, participants will be charged a PEPP-DMD program fee based on annual family income as reported on the family’s most recently available IRS Form 1040. Fees must be paid upon check-in on June 23. An additional $100 supply fee will also be added to your cost of participation to cover costs for lab activities.

An “out of county/area” candidate may apply for this program. If accepted, they will be charged $1,500 for participation, regardless of annual family income.

  Family Income Range   Total Cost for Participant
  $75,000+   $500
  $74,999 - $65,000   $450
  $64,999 - $55,000   $400
  $54,999 - $45,000   $350
  $44,999- $35,000   $300
  $34,999 or less   $250


Program Experiences

The PEPP-DMD program is designed to prepare students from areas of Kentucky that experience shortages of dental providers for the profession of dentistry and the admissions process for dental school. Information on a variety of topics such as cariology (the study of dental decay), head and neck anatomy, tooth anatomy, and digital dentistry, among others, will be presented in a lecture format by UKCD faculty or experts in those topics. Participants will spend time in the student dental simulation lab at UKCD where they will have the opportunity to work on dental simulators completing projects such as excavating decay, restoring teeth with composite, placing sealants, and fabricating bleaching trays. Participants will experience first-hand, the handling of dental materials and instruments within a confined space, simulating a patient’s mouth. This is invaluable as there is no better way to learn than by doing. 

Participants will have the chance to meet and visit the offices of PEPP Alumni, who are currently practicing dentistry in the local area, providing an inside look at dentistry in a private office setting.

Good dental practitioners serve not only the patients who visit their offices but also the community at-large. The compassion and empathy that community service develops in an individual is integral to producing high quality dental practitioners. Typically, PEPP-DMD provides the opportunity to participate in a local community service project. 

Participants will also engage in an individual research project during the week, where they will explore a specific topic in dentistry. Participants will have the duration of the program to work on their research, and will present their findings at the end of the week to the group.

The dental application process can be a daunting experience. PEPP-DMD participants will interact with UKCD Office of Admissions staff, who will seek to inform participants on how to: complete a dental application, write a personal statement, and even how to finance the cost of a dental education.

*The final PEPP-DMD 2024 experience schedule is subject to change due to the pandemic.

Selection Process

Acceptance will be based on a review of the application, written statement of purpose, letter of recommendation, transcripts, and standardized scores by a selection committee. There is no set number of acceptances from a particular county or high school. Applicants will be notified via email of their acceptance status by the end of May or sooner. A limited number of alternates will be selected and possibly invited to participate as late as June.

Application Requirements

Completed applications must be submitted via online application by April 30, 2024. A PDF version of the application is available here for preparation purposes only. The application must include:
  1. Fully completed PEPP-DMD 2024 application (incomplete applications will not be considered).
      - Family Information: Family income should use calendar year 2022 or later. 
      - Academic History: Current College/University, include starting status for fall 2024 and courses in which you are enrolled for spring 2024.
     - - Academic History: Current College/University, note any online class for summer 2024.
  2. Completed statement of purpose (details in the application).
  3. College transcripts from all colleges attended through December 2023. Official transcripts are preferred, but unofficial copies will be accepted.
  4. Letter of recommendation from a science teacher or advisor/guidance officer speaking to the applicant's character. Letters from relatives will not be accepted. Letters must be emailed directly from the individual providing the recommendation to Missy Shelton Emailed letters must be received by the deadline of April 30, 2024. 

A PDF version of the application is available here for preparation purposes only. Completed applications must be submitted via the online form.

Click here for the online application

Questions/More Information

Contact: Dr. Allison Wright

PEPP Scholars & PEPP-MD

The University of Kentucky Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP)-Scholars is an academic enrichment program for high school graduates who are interested in becoming physicians and dentists to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Learn more about this program here.

The University of Kentucky Professional Education Preparation Program (PEPP)-MD is an academic enrichment program for rising college sophomores who are interested in becoming physicians  to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Learn more about this program here.

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