How do you decide which program to pursue?
If you think you are interested in a career in the health sciences, but are not sure of what kind of career, you need to consider the following factors:
Are you interested in direct patient care?
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, prosthetists, physician assistants and medical doctors have a lot of patient contact. Most medical technologists work in hospital laboratories and have little patient contact.
Do you enjoy and do well in challenging math and science courses?
Many of these programs require years of difficult college coursework, including calculus and 2-3 years of chemistry. You must achieve high grades for admission to the degree programs.
How much time are you willing to invest in preparing for a health career?
The bachelor degree programs take at least four years to complete. If you don't start the program prerequisites in your freshman year and complete them in your sophomore year, a program might take five or six years to complete. The master's degree programs generally take two years to complete after a bachelor's degree. The professional degree programs require a minimum of 3-4 years following a bachelor degree plus several more years of additional training. If you are looking for a health profession with a shorter training program, you might consider the one- and two-year programs offered by community colleges.
Have you had any experience delivering healthcare or working in a healthcare setting?
One of the best ways to decide where you might fit in to the healthcare field is to gain some experience working in a healthcare setting, either as a volunteer or as a paid employee. Volunteer experience is readily available at most large hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. Some students make arrangements to be an observer at a private practice. Other related volunteer experiences can also help you make decisions about your future, such as work in classrooms, homeless shelters, consumer advocacy groups, etc.
Have you considered other alternatives in healthcare?
There are many other health professions in addition to the ones offered by the UW. A librarian could help you locate books about health careers, or look in the self-help section of a bookstore. Community colleges offer one- and two-year training programs in a variety of health fields. UW Extension offers evening certificate programs in gerontology and health information administration.
UW School of Medicine Allied Health Programs
If you are interested in a health sciences career other than becoming a physician, the UW School of Medicine Seattle campus offers several additional health programs:
- MEDEX Northwest: Physician Assistant program
- Medical laboratory science: Undergraduate degree program
- Occupational therapy: Graduate degree program
- Physical therapy: Doctor of Physical Therapy program
- Prosthetics and orthotics program: Graduate degree program
In addition, the UW offers minors in bioethics and humanities, environmental health and global health.
Admission to allied health programs is competitive and may have different application deadlines and procedures.
Admission to the degree programs can be extremely competitive and most admit students only once per year. Some of the programs have extensive prerequisite course work. Familiarize yourself with the admission requirements and the application procedures of the major(s) in which you are interested, by following the links to the specific degree program.
In addition to world-class post-graduate M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, the following programs offer bachelor's degrees for undergraduate study: