Health Professions Shadowing Program

Health Professions Shadowing Program (HPSP) is a pre-health student development  program designed to select and nurture students interested in gaining a wide range of shadowing and professional development experience. The core two-week program is offered each summer on the UW-Madison campus, with housing and meals provided. 

HPSP is jointly coordinated and offered by the Center for Pre-Health Advising (CPHA) in partnership with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Office of MD Admissions.

Inequities for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities and rural communities are substantial within the U.S. healthcare system, leading to consequences such as higher risks of illness, lower standards of care, and differential access to healthcare professionals. Fostering diverse public health and healthcare professionals can increase access to and quality of healthcare for vulnerable populations and decrease healthcare disparities. Therefore, the Health Professions Shadowing Program exists to support future health professionals from historically marginalized backgrounds in their personal and professional growth.

HPSP aims to select and nurture students who show an interest in pursuing professional health care programs post-graduation. Students self-identified in racial and ethnic groups defined as underrepresented-in-medicine (URM), first-generation students, and those from rural or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

The core Health Professions Shadowing Program spans two weeks and includes:

  • Healthcare shadowing and enrichment programming on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and surrounding community 
  • Housing and week-day meals provided
  • Health equity seminars and community field trips 
  • Career development workshops
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison professional programs admissions workshops 
  • Advising through the Center for Pre-Health Advising

HPSP alumni will also have access to ongoing mentorship, specialized programming, and continued support from HPSP program staff.

The online application opens in December and is due in early Spring semester each year.

Questions? Please contact Lauren Anderson, HPSP Director, at

See below for a general overview of the program, selections considerations, and other FAQs.

Program Structure

The Health Professions Shadowing Program (HPSP), a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Pre-Health Advising and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Office of MD Admissions, affords selected students the opportunity to:

  • Explore and expand knowledge of careers in healthcare
  • Learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of health professionals from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health physicians, faculty, and medical students
  • Network with a wide range of health care professionals
  • Participate in professional development workshops put on by University of Wisconsin-Madison campus partners
  • Connect with current professional program students (e.g., M.D., PA, MPH, PT, O.T., PharmD) and meet with program admissions representatives
  • Develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes to strengthen application to professional schools
  • Learn about current trends in health care and increase understanding of health disparities of both rural and urban communities in Wisconsin
  • Engage with the Madison community


Typically 15-20 students participate in each HPSP cohort. Over 75 students have participated in the program since its inception in 2015. 

COVID-19 Considerations

HPSP remains flexible to COVID-19 protocols while maintaining the above overall goals and objectives. HPSP 2021 operated in a hybrid but primarily virtual format.

Program Costs

Program costs are fully sponsored by the Center for Pre-Health Advising and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Office of MD Admissions. The program will run differently than in past years, but we will still work with participants to coordinate transportation, tech, or meal needs during the duration of the program.

The only personal costs participants will need to plan for are to purchase business attire (if you do not own any already).

Admission Criteria

Selection for HPSP is competitive. We welcome applicants with a wide range of health care career interests. Students do NOT need previous shadowing experience or current access to health professionals, and priority is placed on students who have navigated limited access to shadowing.

Criteria for selection include:

  • Strong academic performance, including in pre-requisite STEM coursework (we will consider upward grade trends)
  • Interest in pursuing a professional health program post-graduation
  • Demonstrated commitment to community service
  • Participants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients
  • Participants must be an enrolled undergraduate student at UW-Madison and have completed at least two semesters of coursework by the time of the program.

How to Apply

Students are required to submit the following:

  • Qualtrics online application, which includes a personal statement (not to exceed 4500 words) describing: 1. Your interest in a health career 2. Something you have learned or observed about U.S. healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic 3. How participating in this program will help you achieve your goals. 
  • Resume. Include all employment, leadership, and service activities since high school.
  • Big Interview recorded video interview

The online application opens in December and is due early Spring semester each year.


Students who participate in the Health Professions Shadowing program traditionally have the opportunity to shadow a variety of health care professionals at UW Hospital 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?
We’re excited for you to start your time at UW-Madison! However, only currently enrolled students who will have completed two semesters of coursework at UW-Madison (or are a first semester transfer student) are eligible to apply for HPSP. 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 will begin at around 8:00 AM and conclude between 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.

Can I take a summer class?
Participants may be allowed to take up to one online course *by approval* if it is necessary for timely degree progress or a time-sensitive program prerequisite. For example, we are aware that COVID has impacted enrollment/academic experiences and some interested students may need to take organic chemistry. We will work creatively with students in this situation, including on academic support during the summer term finals week which overlaps with HPSP.

If I have an apartment, do I still have to stay in the dorms?
In typical years, participants are required to stay in the provided on-campus housing during the program. However, due to COVID-19 complexities, living in the dorms will not be required in 2021. Pending campus/UW Housing policies, we *may* be able to provide housing to students who would otherwise be unable to participate. Please indicate your housing needs in the application survey.

Will I be shadowing the same provider the whole time?
Shadowing and provider engagement may look very different in 2021. In typical years, 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 – and understanding the diversity of roles in healthcare/how they work together – 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 and a better understanding of how the system operates overall.

Contact Us

Questions? Please reach out to Lauren Anderson, HPSP Director, at

Find a list of coordinators and advisors for the Health Professions Shadowing Program (HPSP) below:

Lauren Anderson
Pre-Health Advisor and HPSP Director
Center for Pre-Health Advising
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(608) 262-6755

Melissa Harrell Robinson
Pathway Programs Director
Office of M.D. Admissions
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
(608) 265-1890

Yer Lee
Pathways Programs Coordinator
Office of M.D. Admissions
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
(608) 265-6344