Health Professions Shadowing Program

HPSP 2021: Monday, July 26 – Friday, August 6

The 2021 HPSP Application is now CLOSED.

Questions? Please contact Molly Reinhard, Director of Pre-Professional Advising, at

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

The Health Professions Shadowing Program (HPSP) is jointly coordinated and offered through direct partnership between the Center for Pre-Health Advising (CPHA) and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health Office of MD Admissions. We welcome applicants with a wide range of health care career interests! First held in 2016, HPSP is a two-week shadowing and professional development experience. The program is designed to support the professional development of students who lack connections to health professionals and who are from backgrounds/communities underrepresented and underserved in healthcare, e.g. first-generation college students, underrepresented students of color, and those from rural areas or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In typical years, students accepted into HPSP live in Dejope residence hall and spend over 30 hours shadowing providers at UW Hospital and affiliated area clinics. Participants also connect with current professional program students (e.g. MD, OT, PA, PT, PharmD), meet with program admissions representatives, network with a wide range of health care professionals, learn about current trends in health care, and engage with the Madison community.

Due to the realities of COVID-19 and the nature of life and work during the pandemic, HPSP 2021 will be a hybrid program – a mix of virtual and in-person experiences. Living in the campus residence hall is not required in 2021, but all participants must plan to reside in or near the city of Madison during the program.

Program Fees

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).

Selections Considerations & Participation Requirements

  • Students must be available to participate in the entire two week program (Monday-Friday, no required weekend programming). The only exception will be students who are approved to take an online course and who must attend synchronous course components. In previous years, taking a course has not been allowed. However, due to the extenuating circumstances of COVID-19 and its impact on students’ academic experiences, we will consider approving up to one online course while HPSP is in session. See the application for more details and to submit your request to take a course.
  • Priority will be given to candidates who lack connections to health professionals AND have little to no informational interviewing or shadowing experience due to lack of access.
  • Priority will be given to candidates from groups historically underserved and underrepresented in the health professions, including, but not limited to first-generation college students, students of color, students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and students from rural areas (if it is an underserved area or the student also meets other priority criteria).
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled UW-Madison students in good academic standing.
  • Priority will be given to students who have displayed academic success, including in prerequisite STEM coursework (upward grade trends will be considered)
  • Unless transferring to UW-Madison as a senior in January 2021, applicants must have completed at least two semesters of coursework on the UW-Madison campus by the start of the program.
  • In 2021: New this year, we will consider applications from graduating seniors who match HPSP priority populations and who have very limited health care connections/experiences. Depending on your interests and career development needs, alternative programs or experiences may be a better fit for graduating seniors. We will reach out to you to discuss further if you are not admitted. Remember: CPHA serves UW Alumni – NO TIME LIMIT!
  • Due to partnership and funding restrictions, participants must be US citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients.
  • Selected participants must provide proof of immunizations*, complete a background check, and complete an online UW Health orientation prior to the end of spring semester 2021. *COVID vaccination policies and procedures are still unknown at this time and your vaccination status will not be considered in the application process.
Note: Students may not apply if they will be applying to a professional program in 2021 (medical school, PA school, etc.). Incoming freshmen will not be selected



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.

Program Sponsors