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welcome to the center for pre-health advising!

The Center for Pre-Health Advising (CPHA) is operating remotely through Summer 2021. We are 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 scroll down to learn more about what we do and for information on pathways to health professions
(i.e., information about courses, applications, and careers).

The Center for Pre-Health Advising sends a bimonthly newsletter to pre-health students. Get information about pre-health events, opportunities, resources, and recommended reading. Look for it the second and fourth Thursday every month during fall and spring semesters and once a month during winter and summer breaks.

  • Please sign-up to receive the CPHA newsletter here.
  • And check out our latest newsletter here.

“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 first year students! And 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, participates in the UW Major Discovery Week, and runs Four Year (and More!) Planning workshops for first year students.

Please use all the resources 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! 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 we reach capacity before the end of the session. 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! Note: in May 2021, Friday morning drop-ins are for applicants only. If you have questions in May, please email us at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu!
  • 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. Learn more.
  • Major Discovery Week: Pre-health@UW-MadisonLearn more.
  • Quick question? Please email us at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu!

First year student? Please see the First Year Advising tab for advising options.

Note: in May 2021, all CPHA appointments are for applicants only. If you are not an applicant, please email us quick questions at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu in May 2021 — and look for appointments with us beginning again in June 2021.

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. And please monitor your email as you wait for your appointment to begin. All appointments are 45 minutes.

Applying to health professional programs this summer? Please see our Applicant Advising information.

If you are an alum, please email us at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu, and we will help you arrange an appointment. We look forward to meeting with you remotely (by phone, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet/Hangouts, or Skype). Please also continue to remember that there is no time limit in our services to you. We will be here to support you for as long as you want to work with us.

If you want to talk with us about your application to health professional programs, please read all the information below.

First, if you are planning to apply to dental, medical, physical therapy, or physician assistant programs, please sign up for a CPHA Application Course. These are Canvas courses that serve as resource libraries. Each one introduces you to the ins-and-outs of applying to these programs. We hope to add to this list of application courses in coming years. Please stay tuned!

Extra Applicant Advising in April and May: All CPHA appointments and drop-ins in May are for applicants only.

  • Applicant-only drop-ins beginning April 19:
    • Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm)
    • Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Thursdays (1 to 3:30 pm)
  • Applicant-only drop-ins in May:
    • Mondays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Tuesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 1 to 3:30 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Wednesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 1 to 3:30 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Thursdays (1 to 3:30 pm)
    • Fridays (9 am to 12 pm)

Common Applicant Advising Conversations:

  • We will help you plan the timing of your application and reflect on what experiences you need to build before you apply.
  • Application Statements
    • We will meet with applicants two times to talk about your personal statement, two times to talk about work/activity statements, and two times to talk about secondaries. Please do not schedule more than two appointments with us about any one of these kinds of statements. We need to distribute our time to advisees as equally as we can. See below for opportunities to work with other writing specialists on your application statements.
    • Please send us the statement(s) you want to work on at least 24 hours before your appointment.
    • If you want to talk about work/activity/experience statements or school-specific secondaries/supplemental essays, please choose three to five that you want to work on and send us only those essays at least 24 hours before your appointment.
  • Mock Interviews
    • We offer applicants two mock interviews — one for you to practice the traditional interview format and a second for you to practice the multi-mini interview format.
    • Please only make mock interview appointments after you have been invited to interview at a health professional program. When you make a mock interview appointment, please specify in your appointment note the school(s) for which you want to practice.
    • If you are applying to medical school and want to practice the new VITA interview, AAMC gives you unlimited opportunities to practice. Please learn more. We are also happy to talk with you about preparing for the VITA.

 

Other application statement writing specialists: 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 alumniMadison Writing Assistance offers individual remote appointments for you to work on your personal statement with a writing specialist.

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!

  • For first year students: FIRST YEAR FRIDAYS — Fridays, 9 am to 12 pm (through the end of April 2021 and resuming again in September 2021)
  • For second year (including transfer) students and up: (in May 2021, all CPHA drop-ins will be applicants only)
    • Tuesdays, 1-3:30 pm
    • Wednesdays, 1-3:30 pm
  • Applicant-only drop-ins beginning April 19:
    • Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm)
    • Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Thursdays (1 to 3:30 pm)
  • Applicant-only drop-ins in May:
    • Mondays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Tuesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 1 to 3:30 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Wednesdays (9:30 am to 12 pm, 1 to 3:30 pm, 4:30 to 6:30 pm)
    • Thursdays (1 to 3:30 pm)
    • Fridays (9 am to 12 pm)

Pass/Fail Policies & Considerations for Pre-Health Advisees

On Tuesday, April 5, 2021, the UW-Madison Provost released a decision to allow for alternative grading (SD/UD) for spring 2021. See HERE for information on the policy and FAQs. Please read the FAQs and the guidance below thoroughly prior to seeking CPHA advising for SD/UD related topics. Thank you!

Due to heavy appointment and drop-in advising traffic during the April enrollment period followed by applicant advising in Mayduring which drop-ins and appointments are restricted to CURRENT PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM APPLICANTS ONLY – the Center for Pre-Health Advising will best be able to address questions about SD/UD decisions via email at Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu. This will be particularly true after grades come out in May. In these circumstances, we will do our best to provide written guidance within 3 business days (Mon-Friday) and, in unique circumstances, will arrange for a brief 1:1 consultation if necessary.

You are of course also welcome to bring up SD/UD questions during scheduled appointments or drop-in hours in April and during May Applicant Advising. If you are unable to schedule an appointment or drop-in times do not work in your schedule, please plan to utilize Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu.

Due to advising volume, it is possible that CPHA will not be able to provide individual advising (via email or in person) to all pre-health students making SD/UD decisions prior to the deadline. Please use your best judgment and contact your School/College Dean’s Office or academic/major advisor if you have questions about the full policy, deadlines, etc.

Some guidance to help you make your decisions:

Step One: Take a deep breath. These are alternative grading options. Not all students will choose to take an alternative grade. The alternative grades are meant to alleviate the impact of extenuating circumstances, provide a cushion against substantial negative GPA impacts, and support timely progress to graduation. Alternative grades were not created with the intention that they would replace all grades for all students (if that were the case, the university would have shifted *all* grades to pass/fail).

If you believe an alternative grade is best in your situation, you are empowered to make that decision!

Step Two: Before contacting an advisor, please read the policy details thoroughly. Then, carefully consider your grades; review your Degree Audit Report (DARS); and reflect on your future course enrollment and/or graduation timeline. Do you have questions about potential impacts related to degree, major, or certificate progress? If so, contact your Academic/Major Advisor or your School/College Dean’s office.

The Center for Pre-Health Advising does not advise on degree, major, or certificate progress.

Step Three: Are you planning to pursue a graduate-level Health Profession in the future, i.e. are you a Pre-Health student? If so, here is a list of questions to consider as you make your decisions. While some of these questions likely overlap with questions you are considering from a broader degree, major, certificate progression standpoint, the guidance below is coming from a Pre-Health lens. 

  1. Do you have Bs or better? If so, we strongly advise you to keep your traditional letter grades.
  2. Do you have Cs? This is the only case in which CPHA will generally advise considering an SD.
    1. NOTE: An SD counts for full credit. However, if this course is a prerequisite for a health professions program and/or contains foundational concepts for other further coursework, we strongly advise you to consider whether you have the knowledge and skills to move immediately forward in the curriculum. In other words, what knowledge and skills may you need to build/refresh/review to be more successful in future coursework? We would recommend these considerations with a C letter grade as well.
    2. Please email CPHA at Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu if you have questions or bring them up during an appointment or drop-in.
  3. Do you have BCs? This is a bit more case-by-case, though Pre-Health students are encouraged to consider keeping BC letter grades in prerequisite courses in spring 2021 (an SD may very well be viewed as a “C” by programs anyway). Please consider your overall circumstances, e.g. grades in similar courses, GPA impact, what you hope to achieve or communicate to programs by taking an SD or keeping a letter grade, etc. If you would like support to reflect on your decision related to the pursuit of health professional programs, please email CPHA at Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu or discuss during an appointment or drop-in.
  4. Do you have Ds? Depending on the reason you are taking the course and the number of credits (i.e. impact to your GPA), consider a UD if you do not immediately need the course for graduation in May 2021 (a D counts for degree credit, a UD does not). If the course is a graduation requirement or a program prerequisite, choosing a UD means you will need to consider when you will retake. Speak with your academic/major advisor regarding degree completion considerations. For guidance on how a D or UD relates to Pre-Health, please email CPHA at Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu or discuss during an appointment or drop-in.
  5. Do you have Fs? If so, we advise you to take a UD and consider when or if you will retake this specific course in the future. An F or a UD will not prevent you from reaching your goals! We are here to help you plan for your next steps. For support, please email us CPHA at Questions@prehealth.wisc.edu or discuss during an appointment or drop-in.

We understand that you may be wondering whether professional programs will accept alternative grades for coursework taken in spring 2021 and how admissions committees may view spring 2021 alternative grades in the future.

Undergraduate institutions across the country have had varied academic policies related to alternative grading, as have graduate health professional programs themselves. While CPHA has been informed that the MD, PA, and PT programs at UW SMPH as well as the UW Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, and Vet Med Programs will be accepting (though not encouraging) alternative grades for spring 2021, it is not yet clear how other health professional programs across the country will treat alternative grades for this semester. Indications are that if alternative grades are accepted, traditional letter grades will be preferred if possible. This remains an evolving situation, and more comprehensive information may not be available before your decision deadline.

From a Pre-Health standpoint, it is highly advisable to keep all letter grades of B and above and to consider keeping BCs and above.

Please make the decision you believe is right for your circumstances after reflecting on the above questions and, if needed, consulting with your academic/major advisor or with CPHA. Rest assured that when you are in the Program application process, CPHA will be here to assist you with crafting application statements to convey what happened for you during a particular semester and/or your reasons for selecting alternative grades during COVID operations.

Best wishes as you wrap up spring 2021!

The Center for Pre-Health Advising Team

 

Health is more than the absence of disease.
Health is about jobs and unemployment, education, the environment,
and all of those things that go into making us healthy.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders

Pathways to Health Professions

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Allied Health

Most allied health professionals work collaboratively with physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and others to provide quality care for patients. Some allied health professionals 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

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Dentistry

Dentistry is devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the mouth and adjacent structures.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Medicine

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Nursing

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.

Coursework
Accelerated Degree Options
Application Process
Career Resources

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 Therapy

Occupational therapists help people of all ages do everyday activities (occupations) in all the settings they inhabit (home, work, school, community).

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

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)!

Optometry

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Pharmacy

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

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 Therapy

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

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.

Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of a physician. They have considerable autonomy and may specialize in a specific field of medicine.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Podiatry

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Public Health

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.

Coursework
Application Process
Career Resources

Veterinary Medicine

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.

Coursework
Get Involved
Application Process
Career Resources

Pre-Health advisors, Mike Hill, PhD, and Dija Selimi, PhD, talking with students at the second annual Health Professions Expo (Spring 2020).

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 missions of increasing access and equity in healthcare and law careers. Want to learn more? Please have a look at this overview of Pre-Professional Advising at UW-Madison and meet our very own Molly Reinhard.

Molly Reinhard, Director of Pre-Professional Advising at UW-Madison, talking with an advising intern at CPHA.