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.
On this page: Allied Health Career Spotlights, Careers in Allied Health, and Allied Health Career Resources
Allied Health Career Spotlights
We feature an allied health career in every CPHA newsletter we send out. Not getting the CPHA newsletter? Sign up to be on our email list and learn more about allied health careers there and back here. We’ll keep the information coming.
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- Anesthesiologist Assistants work in partnership with anesthesiologists and other medical professionals to care for patients in the operating room under anesthesia.
- 12 schools in the US offer this 2 year master’s program and participate in the CASAA application. Check out the Master of Science (MSA) program at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).
- The professional responsibilities and pay of Anesthesiologist Assistants are similar to those of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). However, CRNAs are trained as nurses first and are licensed to practice in more states.
- Visit the American Academy for Anesthesiologist Assistants or learn more at explorehealthcareers.org.
- Reach out to Arianna Berry, UW-Madison alum and current Anesthesiologist Assistant student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, at email@example.com to learn more about the profession and her experience in the master’s program. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Athletic Trainers (ATs) are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. (Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education)
- Become an athletic trainer by graduating from an accredited master’s program and passing a certification exam
- Work settings include hospitals and clinics, sports & performing arts, educational settings and more
- Athletic trainers may specialize in Injury and Illness Prevention/Wellness Promotion; Examination, Assessment and Diagnosis; Immediate and Emergency Care; Therapeutic Intervention; or Healthcare Administration and Professional Responsibility. Learn more from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
- To learn more about UW-Madison’s AT program, visit the MSAT website, follow the program on Instagram, or reach out to Program Director Andrew Winterstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Audiologists are the primary healthcare professionals who provide services in the prevention, diagnosis, and evidenced-based treatment of hearing and balance disorders for people of all ages.
- Audiologists specialize in identifying and assessing hearing and balance problems, rehabilitating persons with hearing and balance disorders, and preventing hearing loss. To view a helpful infographic about audiology, click here or visit here or here to learn more about the profession.
- Audiologists work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, private practice, ENT offices, universities, K-12 schools, government, military, and Veterans’ Administration (VA) hospitals.
- Helpful skills include data analysis, using technology, interacting with patients, and communicating and collaborating with other professionals.
- As an undergraduate, interested students may choose to major in Communication, Sciences and Disorders if the program is offered by their college, but this is not required as long as students complete some prerequisites before applying to graduate school.
- Audiologists must earn a doctoral degree (an AuD) from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation and get a passing score on a national examination. To explore accredited programs, visit here.
- To get involved with audiology on campus, visit the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association at UW-Madison.
- Watch recordings from the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic Health Symposium put together by current UW AuD students!
- Peter Shireman (email@example.com), a UW-Madison alumni and current audiology student, made a helpful and informative intro to audiology video for interested students. Click here to view.
- Learn more about UW-Madison’s AuD program and reach out to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders undergraduate advisor Katie Christenson ( firstname.lastname@example.org), clinical professor Amy Hartman (email@example.com) and grad student Emily Roznowski ( firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Biostatisticians use mathematical methods to analyze biological data. For example, they may help determine a new drug’s effectiveness and risk. Learn more here or from the International Biometric Society.
- Helpful skills include analytical reasoning, organization, drawing conclusions, and computer skills.
- A bachelor’s degree in math or statistics is recommended before applying to a graduate program. Search accredited graduate programs and learn more about UW-Madison’s Department of Biostatistics & Medical Informatics.
- Biostatisticians are employed with the federal government, pharmaceutical companies, academia, and hospitals
- Make an appointment with a Statistics advisor. Or, reach out to Tedward Erker (email@example.com), a graduate-level statistics professor with an MS in Biometry.
- Connect with Jen Birstler (firstname.lastname@example.org), a biostatistician on campus. Use CPHA’s guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Perfusionists are trained members of surgical teams who temporarily perform the heart’s job during open-heart surgeries and other major procedures by operating circulation equipment such as a heart-lung machine.
- They monitor and manage a patient’s blood flow, body temperature, and other respiratory functions during operations.
- They must have a great knowledge of anatomy and physiology, be detail oriented, and have mental and physical endurance for long surgeries
- Become a Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CPP) by:
- Find a Perfusionist to shadow or (or set up a safe informational interview) HERE!
- Watch a video of a perfusionist in action HERE and learn more HERE and HERE.
Certified Child Life Specialist
Certified Child Life Specialist
- According to the Association of Child Life Professionals, Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, and loss through therapeutic play and other techniques.
- A CCLS also works to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in health care settings and other challenging environments. To learn more about the profession, visit here.
- Child life specialists provide services in a variety of health care settings, including inpatient units, surgery areas, intensive care units, as well as providing services in other settings such as dental offices, community organizations, special needs camps.
- Helpful skills include interpersonal, research, administration and leadership skills and knowledge of techniques and coping mechanisms to help children and families deal with difficult situations.
- In order to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, there are two academic paths a student can take: a student can either earn a Bachelor’s degree in any field of study and take the required child life coursework, or a student can earn a degree from an ACLP-endorsed academic program . To view a list of ACLP-endorsed programs, visit here and learn more about academic and additional requirements here and here.
- Connect with Child Life Program Director at Edgewood College Dr. Katie Glass (email@example.com) to learn more about the ACLP endorsed Master of Science in Child Life Program.
- Reach out to Tara Loether (firstname.lastname@example.org), UW-Madison alumni and current Child Life Specialist at American Family Children’s Hospital or Amanda Lockett (email@example.com) a CCLS and current Human Development & Family Studies Graduate Student at UW-Madison to learn more about a career as a Child Life Specialist. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
The above picture is a squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of cancer of the cervix, caused by human papillomavirus infection (HPV). (UW Cytotechnology webpage)
- Cytotechnologists are medical laboratory professionals who prepare and analyze cellular material under a microscope.
- They most often work in hospital laboratories but can also work in research or in corporate laboratories.
- They also typically work behind the scenes, but may interact with patients if assisting with biopsies.
- Learn more about UW-Madison’s Cytotechnology Program.
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- Sonography is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to produce dynamic visual images of organs, tissues, or blood flow inside the body.
- Doctors use scans obtained by a medical sonographer to gain advanced insights into the inner workings of the body while limiting invasive procedures. To learn more about the profession, visit the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and explore professional organizations for echocardiography and vascular sonographers here and here.
- Most diagnostic medical sonographers are employed in hospitals, physicians’ offices or medical and diagnostic laboratories.
- Helpful skills include knowledge of human anatomy, an understanding of physics, hand-eye coordination, being detail-oriented, and having interpersonal skills, physical stamina and technical skills.
- In order to become a diagnostic medical sonographer, students can earn a degree and certification by graduating from a CAAHEP accredited program. To view the list of CAAHEP-endorsed programs, visit here and learn more about the credentialing agency here.
- The School of Diagnostic Medical Sonography at UW-Health is affiliated with Carroll College, Edgewood College, Marian University and UW-Milwaukee, Oshkosh, and LaCrosse to offer a bachelor’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. For the most up-to-date information on the application requirements and curriculum, visit here.
- Reach out to Mark Ahrens (firstname.lastname@example.org), program director for the UW-Health program and Michelle Cordio (email@example.com), manager for the UW-Health program to learn more about how to earn a bachelor’s degree and certification in medical sonography. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
Doctor of Optometry
Doctor of Optometry Overview
- Doctors of Optometry (ODs) examine and diagnose eye injuries, diseases, and vision problems.
- They provide treatment through corrective lenses, medications, vision therapy, and some surgical procedures. Learn more here and here!
- Become a licensed Optometrist by:
(1) Completing the required pre-requisite coursework with your bachelor’s degree
(2) Taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and applying to Optometry school
(3) Attending a 4-year Doctor of Optometry program
(4) Passing a National Board Licensure Exam
- Work in hospitals, clinics, academia, and retail optical settings
- Don’t confuse Optometrists with Ophthalmologists, Opticians, and Orthoptists! Click on the previous links to learn more about these related professions.
Conversations about race in optometry:
Part 1: A panel of Black ODs addressed how race impacted training and practice
Part 2: A panel of Black ODs talk about DEI and mentorship in optometric education
Part 3: A panel of Black ODs in the private sector and academic discuss diversity and leadership on the profession
Part 4: Accountability – One Year Later. How is ASCO doing toward creating a more inclusive educational and professional climate?
Want to learn more?
Reach out to Dr. Aaron Busenbark (firstname.lastname@example.org), a specialist in eye care, and a current Optometrist at Essentia Health to learn more about a career as an Optometrist. Listen as Dr. Busenbark describes his scope of optometry practice here!
Connect with Badger alumni and current optometry students Alex Pitts (email@example.com) and Samantha Blanke (firstname.lastname@example.org) to hear their stories. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversations.
Make an appointment with CPHA for more information!
What is this Job?
- Doulas provide support related to emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being to clients going through a range of life transitions.
- Doulas often work with families seeking reproductive support (birth, miscarriage, fertility, abortion, postpartum period, etc.) to provide emotional reassurance, comfort, and information. Learn more about birth and postpartum doulas here and find full-spectrum doula info here.
- In addition to reproductive support, doulas support folks through death/grief (for people and pets), gender transition, and more. Click here to learn more about the support different types of doulas can provide, and read more about death doulas here.
- Doulas do NOT provide medical care. They don’t diagnose, prescribe, or give medical advice.
- Doulas facilitate communication between clients and other medical professionals. They help clients navigate medical systems and ask for what they need.
- Interpersonal communication
- Critical thinking
- While laws, regulation, and insurance coverage vary by state and certification isn’t necessary to work as a doula, there are different trainings available to build skills helpful for the profession.
- See below for training examples.
- Reach out to UW-Madison alum, medical student, and doula Ms. Obie Oniah (email@example.com) or contact full-spectrum doula, Ashley Hartman Annis (www.ashleyhartmanannis.com) to learn more about their experience as doulas. Use CPHA’s guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversations.
- Check out a few local doula groups to learn more about the breadth of transitions doulas help pregnant people and families through: Harambee Village, Roots4Change, Madison Doula Collective, and Seasons of Life.
- Make an appointment with CPHA to talk more about your interests. Learn about other members of the healthcare team such as midwives in our Healthcare Career Spotlight archive.
Environmental Health Practitioner
Environmental Health Practitioner
- Environmental Health Practitioners collect, analyze, and present data on contaminants in air, water, and soil. They work to protect public health by reducing pollution.
- Some might focus on air quality, soil, hazardous and solid waste, noise abatement, or radiation specialties
- Many work in offices or laboratories, but some do fieldwork. They may work with government agencies, consulting firms, or in industry.
- A bachelor’s degree in a science field is recommended. A master’s degree in environmental science can help with career advancement. Some positions will require a certification. Learn more here.
Image caption: UW-Madison Master of Genetic Counselor Studies students are involved in clinical practicums, research, and coursework throughout the 21 month program.
What is this profession?
- Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in medical genetics and counseling. The National Society of Genetic Counselors put together this video that helps explain more about the profession.
- Genetic counselors work with members of a healthcare team to help patients and families with or at risk for genetic disorders. They provide education about genetic disorders, analyzing inheritance patterns and risk of recurrence, facilitate genetic testing and interpretation, and provide care coordination for further medical needs.
- They support the patient and the family through counseling, serving as patient advocates, and identifying community, state, and national support services and resources.
Where do genetic counselors work?
- Genetic counselors are employed in many settings such as medical centers, physician offices, health maintenance organizations, clinical research, advocacy organizations, governmental agencies, public health departments and biotechnology companies.
- Those in clinical practice provide education and counseling in areas such as reproductive genetics, infertility and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, pediatric genetics, newborn screening follow-up, cancer genetics, neurogenetics, and cardiovascular genetics.
What are helpful skills for this profession?
- Advanced knowledge of medical genetics, statistics, and counseling theory
- Strong interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills
- Passionate advocacy skills
- Strong interprofessional team work
How does someone become a genetic counselor?
- According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), applicants to a graduate school program must have at least a Bachelor’s degree and have completed coursework in genetics, biochemistry, psychology, and statistics. They also need to gain experience related to patient advocacy or counseling, and it is helpful to have exposure to work in research or a healthcare setting.
- The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) is the accreditation board for graduate school and they maintain a list of all accredited programs.
- The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) provides information, including admission guidelines and how to put together a strong application. The Wisconsin Genetic Counselors Association (WIGCA) has a helpful student page, too.
- To become a certified genetic counselor, students must obtain a Master’s degree in genetic counseling from an accredited program and then pass the national certification exam offered by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) after completing graduate school.
- Consider connecting with a genetic counselor for an informational interview. The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) lists genetic counselors that are open to student interaction. Do not limit yourself by geography; try to interview genetic counselors in different specialties.
- The UW-Madison Master of Genetic Counselor Studies is a 21-month long program that hosts various information sessions and virtual office hours throughout the year to help prospective applicants learn more about the profession. Several graduates of UW-Madison’s GC program have graciously shared their contact info for further questions: Kendall Annable (firstname.lastname@example.org, Prenatal GC), Jessica Bortnova (email@example.com, Hematopathology GC), and Katie Tobik (Katie.Tobik@atriumhealth.org, Oncology GC).
- The profession is actively working on increasing diversity so as to better serve all communities. Explore the Minority Genetics Professionals Network to learn more about DEI resources and initiatives within the profession.
- The Master Genetic Counselor Series, a national resource that was created at UW-Madison, features simulated genetic counseling sessions from three different speciality areas: cardiovascular, cancer and prenatal. There are associated resources to help prospective applicants “think like a GC”. The goal of this series is to help emulate live observation, which all training programs recognize as a limited resource and barrier for prospective applicants.
- Discover exciting advances in genetic counseling and current events related to the field at The DNA Exchange, Maps & Genes, and in the My Gene Counsel toolkit.
- Explore podcasts and videos. For example, Katie Lee CGC is a genetic counselor focused on providing proactive applicants with insight about the profession and the process to apply. The podcasts, The Beagle Has Landed and DNA Today, cover a wide range of topics of interest to genetic counselors.
- Make an appointment with CPHA to talk more about your interests.
- Healthcare Administrators are organizational leaders and professionals who are on the business side of healthcare. They can work as medical staff directors, financial managers, emergency preparedness specialists, and in community health, senior care, and more. Learn more about the profession from explorehealthcareers.org and Public Health Online.
- Even though Healthcare Administrators do not directly care for patients, their expertise in communication, strategizing, policy, and finances indirectly benefit patients
- Work environments include large hospital systems to small medical practices. Learn about the variety of paths available here .
- Some positions are available in healthcare administration with a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is recommended for advanced positions. Search accredited master’s programs here.
- Learn more about the healthcare industry from these resources: Modern Healthcare & Healthcare Executive Podcast .
- Consider reaching out to UW-Madison alums and MHA graduate students Marissa Sandkuhler (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Louis Monette (email@example.com ). Both attend the University of Minnesota’s MHA program. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Make an appointment with CPHA to further explore this career. Students in the College of Letters & Science can also get great support from Maureen Muldoon, a Career Advisor with SuccessWorks.
- Histotechnologists prepare thin tissue slices (from patients, animals, or plants) that are later affixed to a slide, stained, and examined under a microscope.
- A pathologist (a specialized physician) reviews the slide and communicates with a patient’s care team to come to a diagnosis.
- Most work in hospitals, clinics, or pathology or research labs.
- Helpful skills include precision, patience, and attention to detail.
- How do you become a histotechnologist? Complete an associates degree (to become a histology technician) or an undergraduate or capstone program in histotechnology (to become a histotechnologist). A national certification exam is required as well. Read more about programs here.
- Learn more about the field from the National Society for Histotechnology and check out a video spotlighting the profession. And of course reach out to CPHA with any questions you have!
- “Lactation consultants are the primary members of the healthcare team to advocate for breastfeeding families with a focus on preventing, recognizing, and solving breastfeeding difficulties. Most lactation consultants have educational and clinical backgrounds in the health professions or mother-to-mother support.” (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) To learn more about the profession, visit here.
- Lactation consultants work in a variety of settings including hospitals, public health clinics, maternal and child health services, private medical practices, home health agencies, community and workplace settings, and in private practice.
- Helpful skills include critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, knowledge of health sciences and public health issues, and patient-care experience.
- Lactation consultants can pursue training through three distinctive pathways: trade school or undergraduate certificate programs, bachelor’s degree programs in nursing, health sciences, or public health with a lactation consultant certificate, or a master’s degree programs in nursing, health sciences, or public health with a lactation consultant certificate.
- All of the above pathways enable aspiring lactation consultants to pursue board-certification through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) and earn the title of Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC). To learn more about preparing for the IBLCE, visit here.
- To learn more about the lactation field, consider attending an outpatient breastfeeding champion course.
- Listen to a Breastfeeding Medicine Podcast and subscribe to the lactation clinical question of the week.
- Reach out to UW-Madison alumni and lactation consultant Kelly Sijapati (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about a career as a lactation consultant. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Medical Illustrators are extensively trained in both art and science to create images or animations that depict complex scientific content. Learn more here.
- They may collaborate with physicians or researchers and observe medical or laboratory procedures in the process of creating their illustration
- Most are self-employed; and some may work in hospitals, medical schools, law firms, web/animation firms, or publishing companies
- Artistic skills, attention to detail, and clear communication are required skills
- Become a medical illustrator by taking college level coursework in both science and art. Most medical illustrators attend a master’s level program in medical illustration. Learn more about the four accredited North American programs here.
- Learn about one medical illustrator’s path here.
- And come talk with CPHA to discuss what your next steps might be!
- Midwives are healthcare professionals who provide primary OB-GYN care to people from young adult years through menopause. They specialize in work with expectant individuals from before birth through the postpartum period and provide newborn care, birth control, and family planning. They also provide primary care during labor and birth.
- There are three credentialing paths to become a midwife: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM), or a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Each has a different range of care they provide, different settings they practice in, and legal status. A nursing degree and a graduate degree are required to become a CNM. Learn more here!
- Practice in hospitals, private homes, birth centers, or offices
- Helpful skills: critical-thinking, compassion, collaboration, advocacy, leadership
- While both midwives and doulas work with mothers from before birth through the postpartum period, and they often work together, their roles differ. Midwives provide medical care for the mother and baby whereas doulas provide nonmedical care such as support related to emotional, physical, and social well being. To learn more about the role of a professional doula, click here.
- Learn more about the Midwifery Model of Care
- Want to explore more? Check out this website, these FAQs, or listen to this podcast!
Orthotist and Prosthetist
What is this job?
Orthotists and prosthetists are practitioners who design, fabricate, and build orthotic and prosthetic devices for their patients. Orthotists create orthopedic braces that externally support a patient’s musculoskeletal system, while prosthetists create custom artificial limbs for patients. Learn more at opcareers.org.
Orthotists and prosthetists have unique expertise in patient assessment as well as device materials and design. Their skills allow their patients to have increased independence and mobility. These practitioners work in a multitude of settings, some of which are veteran affairs, rehabilitation, and long-term care facilities, along with hospitals and patients’ homes.
What are the skill sets/education needed for this job?
(1) Complete an undergraduate degree and take additional pre-req classes. Some programs (ex. Loma Linda University) offer entry-level master’s degrees in orthotics. This does not require a bachelor’s degree, but it does require the completion of significant undergraduate coursework.
(2) Complete a master’s degree program,
(3) Complete a residency in orthotics, prosthetics, or both.
(4) Pass a certification exam in orthotics, prosthetics, or both from the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics (ABC), the Board of Certification/Accreditation, International (BOC), or both.
Helpful Skills: Communication skills, detail oriented, patience, problem-solving skills, physical dexterity, physical stamina, organizational skills
Want to learn more?
Connect with Kimberly Gorbutt (KGorbutt@uwhealth.org), CPO, a Certified Prosthetist Orthotist at UW Health to learn more about the profession. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversations.
Watch this short video from the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists to learn more about Orthotists and Prosthetists!
- Are you fascinated by anatomy? Are you detail oriented? Organized? Compassionate? Do you want to have a “behind the scenes” impact on patients?
- Pathologist Assistants examine and prepare tissue and surgical specimens submitted to a laboratory. They work under the supervision of a Pathologist who will make an ultimate diagnosis.
- Complete a two year Pathologist Assistant master’s program before taking a certification exam. Learn more here!
- Work environments include hospitals, pathology labs, reference labs, forensic labs, morgues and academic settings.
- Learn more here and here! And, read about a day in the life of a Pathologists’ Assistant here.
Public Health Professional Spotlight
Public health is a broad field that focuses on preventative care for populations. Learn more at thisispublichealth.org and keep reading for one alum’s career path.
What is your role in public health, and what does a typical day look like?
Currently, I am a second year Fellow with the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship. This Fellowship is for early career public health professionals (who have a master’s degree) that has a strong emphasis on health equity. A big part of the Fellowship is being matched with the placement site(s), which is where you work for the two years while in the Fellowship. I am a dually placed fellow, so I split my time between two sites, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources and Centro Hispano of Dane County. At each placement site, I have a portfolio of projects I work on, which range from data analysis to working on re-writing an evaluation plan. Each day looks slightly different, but I meet with my preceptors weekly and once a month the entire Fellowship community gathers for our Learning Community Meetings. There is a lot of independent work in my current role, but my independent work plays a role in the greater team I am part of. For example, I conducted stakeholder interviews at my non-profit to help inform a group evaluation report that I will write with two other people.
What educational and experiential steps did you take to get where you are today?
As far as educational steps I took, I made sure to get my certificate in global health as an undergraduate. When I was an undergraduate student at UW- Madison, that was the closest I could get to public health academically. When possible, I approached guest speakers after lectures to connect and learn more about their work. I took classes in a variety of subject areas, such as environmental sciences, sociology, history, and anthropology. I went to lectures around campus, read books and articles, and listened to podcasts about public health to keep learning even if I wasn’t getting the content I wanted from my courses.
One experiential step I took that was extremely formative to get me where I am today was my internship in the summer before my senior year of undergrad. I interned with the Chicago Department of Public Health in their Immunizations Program. In my internship, I got to experience what we call “boots on the ground” public health and was working in direct service immunization clinics. I was able to interact directly with families utilizing public health immunizations clinics and gain perspective on how policies and funding impact communities directly. The following summer, after I had committed to my MPH program, I found two positions at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that I maintained while going through my MPH program (and the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic). One of my positions was in the state’s Immunizations Program, where I worked as an Office Associate. In this position, I worked on a lot of different projects, from helping build a flu vaccine communications toolkit to assisting with the annual school vaccination rate reporting. My other position was as a Research Analyst in the Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Section, where I worked on a team on four graduate students that interviewed and helped investigate foodborne illnesses across the state. Our team helped local health departments when they were low on capacity to talk with patients about food history and precautions they needed to take after testing positive for pathogens such as E.coli or Salmonella. This is another type of “boots on the ground” public health and taught me a lot about how to engage with the public over the phone and how to talk about public health with people who didn’t know a lot about it. This position also had me working with a lot of data and I was able to do data quality projects.
To me, public health means that everyone, no matter who you are or where you live, has the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible. A healthy life isn’t only about diet and exercise, but also the social and mental well-being, such as the neighborhood you live in and what your social network support looks like.
What resources or next steps would you suggest to people who want to learn more about public health careers?
If you have interest in learning more about public health, I’d recommend visiting the CDC website, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ website, or other even your local health department’s website. The UW-Madison Population Health Institute pioneered County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, and they have a fantastic interactive website that anyone can access. If you have interest in a Master of Public Health degree, reaching out to admission representatives or student services coordinators is always beneficial. Some programs (such as the UW-Madison MPH program) have a “Connect with Current Students” tab that can be a valuable resource. Finally, if you enjoy podcasts, I would highly recommend “America Dissected” from Crooked Media. The first ten episodes that were released back in 2019 are a great stepping stone to learning more about how public health is everywhere.
How have you seen public health advance over your career and/or how do you envision it changing in the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the public health community, and it has been both a good and a bad thing. It has been encouraging to see the increase in funding and staffing, as many health departments have experienced drastic funding cuts over the years. There have been a lot of shifts in the frameworks that guide public health work and policy in the last few years, especially the widespread recognition of the prevalence of racism in the systems we work in and I hope that the future of public health continues to recognize and work towards eliminating the oppressive systems and moving towards a more equitable society.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
- Food and nutrition professionals specializing in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and treatment of disease through the integration of biochemical, physiological, social, and managerial concepts within the science and art of food and nutrition.
- Work in hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, athletics, research, industry, and public health
- Strong written and verbal communication skills, counseling and active listening skills, and a science and disease prevention interest
- Become registered by (1) completing required coursework (2) earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree (master’s degree required by 2024) (3) completing a dietetic internship (4) passing a national exam
- The term “nutritionist” is not synonymous with RDN, the RDN credential signifies completion of the credentialing pathway listed above.
- Learn about the work Diversify Dietetics is doing to create community around increasing racial and ethnic representation in the field.
- Learn more about UW-Madison’s Didactic Program in Dietetics.
- Make an appointment with Sarah Golla, Advisor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences to learn more.
- “Respiratory Therapy is a specialized health care field where practitioners are trained in pulmonary medicine in order to work therapeutically with people suffering from pulmonary disease.” (American Association for Respiratory Care)
- Respiratory therapists are responsible for conducting diagnostic tests for persons with breathing disorders and recommending treatment methods, interviewing patients and doing chest physical exams, and responding to Code Blue or other urgent calls for care. To learn more about the profession, visit here and read some interesting articles about respiratory therapists’ outreach efforts, roles during the Covid-19 pandemic here and here, and here to learn about the urgent need for more respiratory therapists.
- Respiratory therapists work in almost all healthcare career settings, including, but not limited to hospitals, intensive care units, sleep laboratories, pediatric units, asthma education programs, and case management programs.
- Helpful skills include knowledge of the scientific principles underlying cardiopulmonary physiology and pathophysiology, critical thinking, patient/environment assessment skills and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
- Respiratory therapists must have a minimum of an associate degree from an accredited respiratory therapy education program. However, many students get a bachelor’s degree and some enter the profession with a graduate degree if they wish to pursue leadership roles.
- After graduation, respiratory therapists are eligible to take two national examinations to earn the Registered Respiratory Therapist credential.
- To inquire about job shadowing opportunities at Rush University, email Priscilla Alvarez (Priscilla_Alvarez@rush.edu) or email Paula Breihan (email@example.com) to inquire about job shadowing opportunities at UW Health.
- Reach out to admission specialist Shelley Jackson (Shelley_Jackson@rush.edu) or faculty Ellen Becker (Ellen_Becker@rush.edu) with Rush University’s MS in Respiratory Care to learn more about their program.
- Contact alumni Sarah Brundidge (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about a career as a respiratory therapist. Use CPHA’s guide to informational interviewing to prepare for the conversation.
- Social work is “a profession devoted to helping people function the best they can in their environment” by providing individuals with the necessary tools and resources to cope with problems in their everyday lives. Learn more about the profession here or at the National Association of Social Workers website.
- The three types of social work practices are: Micro-level practice (social workers work directly with clients and help them cope with particular situations, Mezzo-level practice (social workers work with groups of people rather than with a single person), and Macro-level practice (social workers establish social change on a larger scale which is achieved by organizing, establishing policy change, and serving an administrative role).
- Social workers are found in every facet of community life, including schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected offices, private practices, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies.
- Helpful skills include interpersonal skills, problem solving, understanding of human development and behavior, and the ability to help people of all backgrounds overcome challenges.
- A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is required for any entry level position(s). In order to become a licensed clinical social worker, a person must get a master of social work (MSW), complete two years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting, and be licensed in the state in which they practice. To explore accredited programs, visit here.
- Learn more about UW-Madison’s MSW program and reach out to Cindy Waldeck (email@example.com ) with questions or to get connected to a current student.
- Watch the Exploring Careers in Social Work Info Session from this Spring’s Health Professions Expo.
- Reach out to Laura Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bethany Doherty (email@example.com), both alums and current medical social workers. Use CPHAs guide on informational interviewing to plan for your conversation.
- Speech-language pathologists work with patients seeking treatment in areas of speech, vocal disorders, communication, and swallowing.
- They develop long-term relationships with kids and adults.
- They often work in schools, clinics, nursing homes, or hospitals.
- A graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology is required. Check out the MS in Speech-Language Pathology at UW-Madison.
- Make an appointment with CPHA or see Katie Christenson, UW-Madison Undergraduate Advisor for Communication Sciences and Disorders, for more information.
Careers in Allied Health
Everyone has a different path! Find examples of allied health training options below and to the right. While more schooling can often lead to more opportunities for things like leadership or research, master’s and doctoral level degrees are not required for every healthcare profession.
Careers that require a Certificate or Associate’s Degree:
Advanced Cardiovascular Sonographer, Anesthesia Technologist/Technician, Cardiovascular Technician, Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Emergency Medicine Technician/Paramedic, Hospital Administrator, Lactation Consultant, Massage Therapist, Medical Administrative Specialist, Medical Assistant, Medical Interpreter, Medical Laboratory Technician, Medical Scribe Specialist, Midwife, Neurodiagnostic Technician, Nursing Assistant, Paramedic Technician, Perfusionist (B.S. & M.S. also), Polysomnographic Technician, Radiation Therapist, Recreational Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, Surgical Assistant
Careers that require a Bachelor’s Degree:
Careers that require a Master’s degree or Above:
Anesthesiology Assistant, Athletic Training, Audiology, Dietetics, (note: effective January 1, 2024, a master’s degree is required to take the registration examination to become an RDN), Exercise Physiology, Genetic Counselor, Medical Illustration, Medical Social Work, Nutrition (M.S./Ph.D.), Orthotics/Prosthetics, Radiography, Speech-Language Pathology