Career Center job shadow program: Exploring paths in health

The School of Education’s Career Center launched a new job shadowing program in January for our undergraduate students majoring in Education Studies and Health Promotion and Health Equity.

In all, 26 students took advantage of the opportunity to take part in a one-day experience that was designed to help them gain a better understanding of the jobs and roles that are available in the field, broaden their knowledge of the sector, and network with professionals.

These students were hosted by 11 campus employers in health and education fields. In the future, there are plans to expand the program off campus.

To learn what students gained from their time with the job shadowing program — and to hear from the professionals what they enjoyed about hosting students — the School of Education’s communications team checked in with participants to conduct a Q&A about their experiences.

Following is an edited transcript with UW–Madison student Sarah Kopp, who as a sophomore participated in a job shadowing experience with UW–Madison’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (UW-CIPE). Kopp is pursuing a BS with the Department of Kinesiology’s Health Promotion and Health Equity (HPHE) program. She is also working toward certificates in Global Health, Health Policy, and Business. 


Why did you decide to pursue a degree in this field? I have some close family members that went into public health, so I was able to learn a lot from their college/school/career journey. I correlate the HPHE major with public health. For me personally, I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to go into health care, but I never knew what for. I feel as if going into public health and creating wellness programs is a good fit for me because I will be able to work in health care in many different communities and I don’t have the pressure of hands-on work experience.

What was a highlight of the job shadowing experience for you? One highlight for me was to be able to use some of my skills from my degree to answer some of the questions/activities that were given out at the job shadow. With me using these skills, I was able to learn how different health professionals work together and how strengthening those relationships leads to better quality care for the patients.

What did you learn about different roles or jobs in the health field that might be available for students majoring in Health Promotion and Health Equity? I think it would help people in the HPHE major know that there are small jobs and future careers that are out there that they don’t even know about. For people going into public health, like myself, there is such a broad range of careers. Some careers are in large corporations and easy to find, yet some are smaller jobs and harder to find. The career of working in UW-CIPE is an example of a smaller job that is harder to find, but it has such a unique function/aspect in health care, which is why I enjoyed shadowing this organization.

Has this experience had a lasting impact on you? If so, how? I feel that this experience has had a lasting impact on me particularly because they showed how they would create these seminars and classes about wellness and interprofessionalism. I’m really interested in creating programs such as wellness programs for communities and possibly seminars — and this job shadow was able to give me an insight on how I might accomplish that.

What, if any, effect did this experience have on how you view your major and what you might want to do after earning your undergraduate degree? I think this job shadow made me realize that I do want to pursue program planning in health care. This also made me think critically about the interdependence within different health professions and it makes me want to learn and possibly work interprofessionally with different health professionals as well. I just found it really interesting on the interdependence within health care professionals and it makes me wonder if there  are interprofessional careers that are open in hospitals, clinics, etc.

What was most surprising to you about your job shadow experience or about the roles you observed during the day? For me, I just didn’t really know that there was a UW-CIPE and that interprofessional training is needed within different health professions. Mainly I just thought that health professionals, for instance doctors, would just be able to communicate accurately with other health professionals, such as pharmacists. I guess I was most surprised that there do need to be classes and education on how to work interprofessionally.

If a friend or classmate was considering doing the job shadow program in the future, would you urge them to participate? I would urge them to participate with this particular job shadow or any other job shadows because usually these job shadows are only a couple of days. If someone were to do a job shadow, it gives them more perspective and more options/knowledge about possible careers. These job shadows help students know if they would like a particular job, in which they can pursue a career similar to that. Or, if the student did not like that job shadow, it can help them find careers that are not centered around that topic. I feel as if the UW-CIPE job shadow, and any job shadow, is important to attend because it helps guide yourself where you want to go for a potential career.

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