Health Professions Shadowing Program

We are in the process of planning for HPSP 2021! In light of continued challenges related to COVID-19, HPSP will operate differently than in past years. However, we are excited for many virtual experiential opportunities and are also cautiously optimistic about the potential for some in-person programming by August. More information will be available in January 2021. If you have pressing questions now, please email Molly Reinhard at

HPSP is a structured, two-week residential summer program for students from populations who are underrepresented in healthcare and who lack connections to healthcare professionals. Students accepted into this program spend over 30 hours shadowing providers at UW Health and affiliated area clinics, visiting health care facilities and learning about current trends in health care from providers in the Madison community. The program particularly supports first-generation college students, underrepresented students of color, and those from rural areas or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. This program is housed in the Center for Pre-Health Advising in direct partnership with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Program Fees

Program costs are fully sponsored by UW – Madison, UW School of Medicine and Public Health Office of MD Admissions, the Office of Undergraduate Advising, and CPHA. There is no cost to participate in HPSP. We also offer our participants free housing and meals during scheduled programming. The only costs you want to plan for are to purchase business attire (if you do not own any already) and meals over the weekend.

Requirements for Participation

  1. HPSP is a full-day program that begins each day in the early morning and wraps up between 5-7pm. Participants are expected to participate in all scheduled programming. If coming in from out of town, students must arrange travels to arrive on Sunday July 26th. No exceptions will be made.
  2. Priority will be given to candidates who lack connections to health professionals AND must have little to no shadowing experience due to lack of access.
  3. Priority will be given to candidates from groups historically under-served and underrepresented in the health professions, including, but not limited to first-generation college students, students of color, students from rural areas, and students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  4. Applicants must lack connections to health care professionals and must have minimal to no shadowing experience.
  5. Applicants must be in good academic standing with their school or college.
  6. Priority will be given to students who have displayed academic success. (grade trends will be considered)
  7. Only currently enrolled UW-Madison students are eligible to apply.
  8. Incoming freshman will not be selected, nor will seniors who have graduated before the start of the program.
  9. Applicants must have completed at least two semesters of coursework on the UW-Madison campus by the start of the program (unless transferring to UW-Madison as a junior in January 2020).
  10. Due to partnership and funding restrictions, applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.
  11. Applicants must be from groups underrepresented in the health professions, including, but not limited to: first-generation college students, students of color, students from rural areas, and students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  12. Students may not apply if they are in the process of applying to a professional program (medical school, PA school, etc.).
  13. Selected participants must provide proof of immunizations, complete a background check, and attend a hospital orientation prior to the end of spring semester 2020.
  14. Selected participants must be available to attend the entire program and stay in provided housing throughout the program.
  15. Students are required to wear business casual dress with comfortable shoes (no tennis shoes or open toed shoes) while shadowing.


Students who participate in the Health Professions Shadowing program have the opportunity to shadow a variety of health care professionals at UW Health and other area affiliated hospitals and clinics: 

Along with daily clinical observation, the program features interactive workshops about topics such as:

  • Barriers to Access and Affordability in Dane County
  • Building Your Network
  • Global Health and Pharmacy
  • Healthcare Advocacy
  • Health Barriers among Native American Tribes in Wisconsin
  • Personal Experiences as Professionals of Color in Medicine
  • Improv Workshops to Strengthen Communication Skills among Peers and Patients
  • Opioid Dependent Newborns
  • Preparing for a Career in Medicine as a Pre-Health Student

Other activities include:

  • Visiting a charitable pharmacy
  • Participating in a medical simulation lab
  • Volunteering with local community organizations
  • Admissions panel with admissions directors from UW School of Medicine and Public Health programs
  • Panel with current enrolled in UW professional programs
  • Social events (Skyzone, group lunches, ice cream social, volleyball game, movie screenings).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can international students apply to HPSP?
Unfortunately HPSP is unable to consider international students at this time. We welcome international students to use all other resources from the Center for Pre-Health Advising.

If I am an incoming freshman, may I apply?
The program eligibility specifies that only currently enrolled students who have completed two semesters of coursework at UW-Madison (or a first semester transfer student)  are eligible to apply for HPSP. But please consider applying next year!

Can I continue working at my job during the program?
Students are required to participate in all scheduled programming during the two weeks of the program. Activities begin at 8:00 AM and conclude at 4:00 – 7:00 PM each weekday. Students spend their evenings completing their required writing assignments and working on their final projects. Since we do not have scheduled programming on weekends, you are free to do whatever you want, including working.

If I have an apartment, do I still have to stay in the dorms?
Participants are required to stay in the provided on-campus housing during the program. One of the goals of this program is to help students build a strong network of professionals, peers, faculty and staff. Staying in the dorms is a key step in building your network. Many of our previous students have remained connected beyond the scope of the program. Some have formed study groups, tutor each other, and take classes together.

Will I be shadowing the same provider the whole time?
Each student is paired with a different provider each day and will gain over 30 hours of shadowing experience over the course of 8 days. We ask for students’ preferences and do our best to pair students with providers they are interested in, but our hospital partner cannot guarantee placement. Intentional exploration of health careers is an essential step in preparing students for their future. We believe that exploring professions outside of your interests helps you gain a better understanding of career options in health care.

Program History

The Health Professions Shadowing Program (HPSP) was established in 2015 by the program directors, Lindsey DeCarlo, former advisor in the UW Center for Pre-Health Advising, and Chican@ and Latin@ Studies advisor Rachelle Eilers, upon recognizing that students who lacked connections to health care providers in their social networks were consistently less prepared for medical school than their counterparts. Ms. DeCarlo and Mrs. Eilers built a strong partnership with UW Health to offer students a variety of shadowing experiences and interactive workshops with a range of providers in the Madison Community. We are excited to expand and continue the tradition of HPSP!

Program Sponsors