welcome to the center for pre-health advising!
The Center for Pre-Health Advising (CPHA) is a resource for UW-Madison students and alumni who are exploring, preparing, and applying to health professional programs. We are here to support you — wherever you are on your path to serving others in health care. We have the most expertise in advising toward dental, medical, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant careers. We also advise toward careers in allied health professions, chiropractic medicine, optometry, podiatry, public health, and veterinary medicine.
Please make use of everything we offer: sign up for our pre-health orientation, ask to receive our newsletter, join a book club, come to a workshop, meet with us in drop-ins and appointments, and when you are applying to a health professional program, enroll in one of our application courses. Information about all of these resources is available on this website. Please learn more about what we do!
SCROLL DOWN FOR INFORMATION REGARDING PATHWAYS TO HEALTH PROFESSIONS
(e.g., prerequisite courses, involvement, application processes).
And please be aware of how we offer advising during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CPHA is one of two pre-professional advising offices at UW-Madison. The Center for Pre-Law Advising (CPLA) is the other. We share a director (Molly Reinhard), office space, pre-professional expertise, and the mission of increasing equity and representation in healthcare and law careers.
Health is more than the absence of disease.Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Health is about jobs and unemployment, education, the environment,
and all of those things that go into making us healthy.
“Preparing for Professional Programs in Health Care” is a great place to begin learning about all things pre-health. It is the most common way that CPHA “meets” with first year students. This online orientation (available to you as a Canvas course) introduces you to exploring healthcare careers, pre-health coursework, building experience outside the classroom, and possible timelines to health professional school exams and applications.
We designed the pre-health orientation with first year students in mind, but we encourage anyone with interest in a health profession to enroll at any point in your preparation. It is a great resource for everyone. Look for it in your Canvas course library after you sign up, which you can do here.
We are committed to providing excellent support to first year students. Mike Hill is our first year student specialist. He writes and runs the online pre-health student orientation (“Preparing for Professional Programs in Health Care”), offers virtual drop-in advising for first year students every Friday during fall and spring semesters, and also runs Four Year (and More!) Planning workshops for first year students.
Please continue to use all of the resources that we offer first year students:
- Preparing for Professional Programs in Health Care (sign up here). This orientation is a great introduction to all things pre-health.
- First Year Fridays are drop-in hours dedicated entirely to first year students. Come and talk with Mike and other pre-health advisors 9 am to 12 pm every Friday morning during fall and spring semesters!
- Four Year (and More!) Planning Workshops are offered fall and spring semesters as well. This is a time for you to begin planning your pre-health coursework and co-curricular experiences with the direct support of Mike and other pre-health advisors.
- Quick question? Please email us at email@example.com!
The support we offer is not interrupted by the pandemic. CPHA Advisors are here to meet with you in drop-ins and appointments. We will also respond to emails you send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many are asking how to be involved and use time well during the pandemic. Please find our suggestions here.
The CPHA Drop-In Advising Sign-Up form will open 10-15 minutes before each drop-in session begins, and it will close at the end of the session. The form may close prior to the very end of the session, if the number students and alumni waiting in the queue require until the end of the session to be seen.
Please read the instructions in the form carefully, keep your email open, and have a great conversation with an advisor when it is your turn to talk!
- Mondays, 9 am to 12 pm
- Tuesdays, 1-3:30 pm
- Wednesdays, 1-3:30 pm
- Thursdays, 1-3:30 pm
First year student? Please see the First Year Advising tab for advising options.
If you are a second year, third year, fourth year, fifth year and or transfer student, please make an appointment to talk with us about your pre-health interests and plans using Starfish.
In the interest of public health, we will continue to meet with you remotely until it is safe to do otherwise. Please provide the following information in your appointment note:
- Please indicate the type of remote appointment you want.
- Please also provide two ways that your advisor can reach you (e.g., phone number, email address, Skype ID), in case there are any technical difficulties.
- And please monitor your email as you wait for your appointment to begin.
If you are an alum, please email us at email@example.com, and we will help you arrange an appointment. We look forward to meeting with you remotely (by phone, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype). Please also continue to remember that there is no time limit to our services to you. We will be here to support you for as long as you want to work with us.
- We will meet with you up to two times in appointments to work on your personal statement. Please do not schedule more than two personal statement appointments total, whether with one advisor or multiple advisors. If you no longer need an appointment, please cancel. Think of your peers who need our time as well.
- Make an hour-long OR 45 minute appointment to work on your personal statement with us (not 30 minutes). You can schedule back-to-back 30-minute appointments, if you do not see where to toggle to a 60-minute appointment in Starfish.
- Send your personal statement to the advisor you are meeting with (not the Questions Box) at least 24 hours before your appointment.
- If you are an alum without access to Starfish, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you find a time to meet with us!
With the UW-Madison Writing Center
- In lieu of an in-person workshop, the Writing Center has made their Personal Statements for Graduate Health Professions Programs workshop (with attendant materials) available online.
- The Writing Center also offers peer feedback groups for current students and alumni. Please sign up here.
- In addition, the Writing Center offers 45-minute appointments for current UW-Madison students for you to work on your personal statement with them. This may be done via email or video chat. Please learn more and sign up here.
- The Writing Center also offers a list of proofreaders and editors who are all graduate students or recent PhDs. They charge very low rates for their service. Check them out.
- And for alumni, Madison Writing Assistance offers individual remote appointments for you to work on your personal statement with a writing specialist.
Choosing a career in healthcare is committing to a life serving others. Many students want to serve in other countries before beginning a health professional program in the US. It is important to understand concerns that revolve around serving abroad, particularly in health care settings. Providing care or services in other countries that you are not trained and/or licensed to provide in the United States is a cause for great concern. It is unethical to work with patients in other countries in ways that you are not licensed for in the US. In addition, serving in cultures with which you are not familiar requires cultural learning, humility, and sensitivity. If you choose to serve abroad, you have the responsibility to ensure that any service you provide in another country is ethical, responsible, culturally informed, humble, and sensitive. A group of UW-Madison undergraduate students developed a set of Ethical Considerations for health-related service abroad in collaboration with the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, Center for Pre-Health Advising, and School of Medicine and Public Health. Please find these considerations on our website. In addition, the student leaders of this group wrote an article about their efforts and reasons for them which has been published in Harvard University’s Health and Human Rights Journal. Have a look at the article. And please learn more.
We know this time brings questions and uncertainties, including what decisions to make regarding COVID-related pass/fail policies and online coursework.
Please find our current recommendations here. We can also share what we know about WISCONSIN PROGRAMS’ COVID RESPONSE POLICIES. Please keep in mind that this is a working document. We will edit and add to it as we learn more. Keep working hard and accessing academic support resources!
Also, many are asking about how to be involved and use time in productive ways during the pandemic. See our suggestions here.
All of us need to be mindful. Everything that each one of us does has an impact. Please stay up-to-date on information that UW-Madison and public health agencies are sharing out about campus operations and the spread of the virus:
- UW-Madison Student Information for COVID-19 remote operations
- Advising and Career Services during COVID-19
- UW-Madison COVID-19 website
- UHS COVID-19 FAQs
- Public Health Madison & Dane County
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Centers for Disease Control
You are a unique group on campus — one that is made up of students and alumni who want to go into health professions. We encourage you to approach the current situation as you can imagine yourself responding as a credentialed health professional in the future. With the proliferation of COVID-19, we are seeing public health in action. We all need to know how to protect ourselves and others. Many of you work with vulnerable individuals, and we all interact with others in the commitments we keep in “normal” life. Right now, we all need to practice physical distancing. This is for the sake of people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. And as always, we all need to:
- wash our hands often;
- refrain from touching our faces;
- sneeze and cough into our elbows;
- limit the time we spend around others who are sick; and most importantly,
- stay home when we are sick.
The Center for Pre-Health Advising is committed to Creating Inclusion and Overcoming Bias.
Pathways to Health Professions
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Allied health professionals may work collaboratively with physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and others to provide quality care for patients, or they may work independently. According to the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions: Allied health encompasses a broad group of health professionals who use scientific principles and evidence-based practice for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic diseases; promote disease prevention and wellness for optimum health, and apply administration and management skills to support health care systems in a variety of settings. Learn More.
Chiropractic is based on the principle that spinal joint misaligments interfere with the nervous system and can result in different conditions of diminished health. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, nonsurgical health treatments, relying on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities.
Physicians may be allopathic (MD) or osteopathic (DO) practitioners. There are many career paths within both. Most physicians work full-time. Many also teach, engage in research, work in administration, and contribute to health care policy.
Nurses provide direct patient care and need to be both detail-oriented and strong team players. Nurses can also specialize in a specific area of patient care (surgery, trauma, etc.) and be accredited in specialties such as ambulatory care, pediatrics, and many others.
Note: The information on these pages is for students seeking admissions to accelerated nursing programs. If you would like to complete a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) here at UW-Madison, please reach out to the School of Nursing directly. They have an amazing team of advisors who will support you on your journey to becoming a nurse!
Occupational therapists help people of all ages do everyday activities (occupations) in all the settings they inhabit (home, work, school, community).
Common occupational therapy interventions include: helping children who are differently-abled to develop social skills and participate in school, helping people recovering from injury regain function through retraining and/or adaptations, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Learn more from AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association)!
Doctors of optometry (ODs/optometrists) are primary care specialists in eye care. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. They also identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.
Pharmacists work in a range of settings: community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, the pharmaceutical industry, mail service, managed care, and government. They also frequently counsel patients in planning therapy regiments.
The information on these pages is for people who plan to apply to PharmD schools after graduating from UW-Madison. Some pharmacy programs do not require applicants to complete a bachelor’s degree, including the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy. However, they all require different prerequisite courses that applicants must complete at a college or university. For information on admissions at the UW School of Pharmacy, please visit their website.
Physical therapists diagnose and treat people of all ages who experience limited ability to move and perform daily function due to illness and/or injury.
PTs develop treatment plans to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. PTs also help prevent the loss of mobility through fitness- and wellness-oriented programs. They provide care in a range of settings: hospitals, private clinics, out-patient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and older adult care facilities.
Podiatrists are doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). They diagnose and treat conditions of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists can specialize in many fields, including surgery, sports medicine, wound care, pediatrics, and diabetic care.
Public health focuses on preventative care for populations rather than curative care for individuals. There are five core areas of public health: Behavioral and Social Science, Biostatistics, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, and Health Policy and Management. In addition to these core areas, many public health professionals concentrate on specific areas, such as Community Health, Maternal and Child Health, Health Communication and Promotion, Health Disparities, Health of Minoritized Populations, and Global Health.
Veterinarians provide medical care for large and small animals, including farm animals, domestic animals, exotic animals, and working animals (e.g., those in the equine industry). They often take a holistic approach to animal welfare and human wellbeing and provide care for companion animals through private medical practices.
CPHA advisor Alexis Steinbach (above)
Director of Pre-Professional Advising at UW-Madison (the Centers for Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising) Molly Reinhard (right)