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. Environmental health specialists are seldom involved in the delivery of healthcare, and public health specialists usually work in more administrative positions.
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.
Allied health programs
If you are interested in a career in the health sciences other than becoming a physician, the University of Washington Seattle campus has many undergraduate and graduate "allied" health programs.
The UW has degree programs leading to careers in:
- Environmental health
- Medical laboratory science
- Prosthetics and orthotics
- Speech and hearing sciences
- Occupational yherapy
- Pharmacy residency programs
- Physical therapy
- Public health
- Graduate coordinated program in dietetics
In addition, we offer 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.
Except for Speech and Hearing Sciences, the undergraduate programs allow transfer students to apply directly to the program; that is, they don't require that you attend the UW before applying to the program. The application deadlines for these programs is February 15. You must submit applications for admission to the program and to the University. 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:
Biomedical Graduate Education (Ph.D.) Programs
The UW School of Medicine provides advanced scientific training toward graduate degrees in biomedical research in a resource-rich, collaborative environment dedicated to scientific discovery.
MEDEX-PA: Physician Assistant
MEDEX Northwest, established in 1969, is proud of its long-standing mission to train healthcare providers who will practice primary care in medically underserved and rural areas of the UW School of Medicine’s service region. MEDEX also has a formal agreement to train students from Nevada. Most of our approximately 2000 graduates work in the WWAMI region.
MEDEX offers a competency-based training program that accepts applicants with previous healthcare experience (such as nursing, EMTs, Alaska community health aides, medical assistants, athletic training, former military corpsmen, etc.). Four classroom sites serve students from a wide geographic range, and clinical training takes place throughout the WWAMI region and beyond. The very diverse MEDEX students fulfill the program’s mission to improve access to primary health care as well as developing new professional roles for PAs.
Our faculty and staff bring considerable experience to the MEDEX program. The MEDEX Section Chief, Ruth Ballweg, has been a PA for 30 years and has made significant contributions to the development of the profession and physician assistant education. The Program Director has been a PA for 20 years and practices within UW Medicine. The core faculty includes PAs with between two and more than 35 years experience, physicians and research faculty. The cross-site staff includes individuals with extensive involvement in and familiarity with the field of PA education and student assistance.