Student Testimonials

Students in their Own Words


Working Professionals and Encore Career


Cindi Gatton, one of our students who completed her Certificate online, has found success in patient advocacy in Atlanta, GA. Watch the short video to see what Cindi has to say about her experience at the Center.


Brent Schmaling, featured here, is a Capstone student who enjoys the flexibility of the Center’s online courses. Watch the short video to see what Brent has to say about his experience at the Center and how he’ll tap into the Badger network upon completion of the Certificate.



Gap Year Students


I have wanted to become a doctor ever since I was a little kid. When I suffered a spinal cord injury after my sophomore year of college, I thought that this dream had become unattainable. I was able to persevere and graduate in four years from UW-Madison with a degree in Biology. In my gap year between graduation and medical school, I wanted to devote my time to somewhere I could make a positive impact and learn a lot that I could apply to my future career. That is how I found the Center for Patient Partnerships and their Capstone Certificate program in patient health advocacy. This yearlong program exposed me to the foundations and principles of patient advocacy both on an individual and systems level. The clinical portion of the certificate allowed me to interact with and help real patients who were dealing with issues ranging from cancer diagnoses, insurance denials, exploring clinical trials, and obtaining disability benefits. Understanding and being sensitive to what patients are dealing with beyond the exam room is a skill that I will carry with me throughout my career. The capstone also afforded me the opportunity to explore in-depth the topic of health care accessibility for patients with disabilities. I think that the combination of real-world and theoretical knowledge that my cohort and I gained from the program will help us to become leaders in the fields of patient advocacy and health care. I am grateful to my clients, classmates, and professors at the Center for Patient Partnerships for teaching me so much and preparing me for the next chapter in my life.”

– Jeff Mahlum, Pre-Med Certificate Student



Certificate Students


I wanted to use my nursing experience in a new career field, so I enrolled in the certificate program for Consumer Health Advocacy. I am very impressed with the Center’s attentiveness to students and the teaching philosophy that prioritizes learning by doing.”

– Kathe Powers, RN


My experience here at the Center has already had a huge impact on how I talk and think. I listen much better than I used to; I ask questions I never would’ve before. I feel much more confident talking about illness and cancer and death than I used to. All useful skills in any walk of life. … I know my experience here has influenced my decision to look for opportunities to work with the underserved people within my own community.”

– CHA Capstone Certificate Student


Being a Consumer Health Advocacy Capstone Certificate student has given me tremendous insight into patient perspectives and has equipped me with the know-how to partner with patients and their families in navigating the complex health care system. The Certificate program has afforded me a truly invaluable educational experience through applied learning and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Certificate students are given a unique opportunity to direct their own learning plan, which allows them to gain applicable experience and knowledge. I would highly recommend this program to anyone in a health care profession or anyone who would like to become a savvier health care consumer.”

– Carmi Pietila



Medical Students


At the CPP you get to experience a side to healthcare that future physicians will not see in any of their four years of medical school or residency. It changed both the way that I think about patients and the way I think about the healthcare system. It gave me a new compassion for the difficulty many patients have with navigating the healthcare system. More importantly, the CPP teaches you how to listen, collaborate with and empower patients. These are skills that are fully transferable to almost any area of your life, but will definitely make you a more empathetic and effective clinical provider. The CPP also changed my perspective on what I perceive as my role as a healthcare provider and has pointed me on a trajectory to find a greater role healthcare system reform. The supervisors at the CPP are dedicated patient advocates and educators that put your experience as a student at the CPP as priority number one. They are supportive, insightful and inspiring. The interprofessional team approach offers a variety of perspectives and allows for collaborations that most students never get to experience. I think every medical student should have an experience with the CPP both to gain the skills of patient advocacy and to understand what ‘healthcare’ really entails away from the bedside or clinic.”

– Bret Valentine, Medical Student, SMPH



Pharmacy Students


Albert Carbo, one of our students who completed his Certificate in a blended format, has found success as a pharmacist in Madison, WI. Watch the short video to see what Albert has to say about his experience at the Center.


Being at the center was a life changing experience for me. I learned firsthand how people can use their profession to enrich the lives of others through advocacy, listening and empowerment. I came to the Center expecting to learn how to change patients’ lives through counseling and education but I ended up being taught about humility and listening. I learned that patients do not need a super hero most days, they just need someone to tell them they are not alone and to empower them.


Participating with students from other disciplines gave me an opportunity to be part of a multifaceted approach on patient advocacy. I came out from the group meetings having learned something different from law, medicine, genetics and other personal experiences. These stories left an impact on me and I will always remember them in my future practice as a pharmacist. They also showed me the power that interprofessional teams can have on patient outcomes.


It is imperative, that every student who works in healthcare understand the important role that they play in achieving desired patient outcomes. Taking the time to learn how real individual patients were affected by advocacy, was a ‘moment of impact’ for me and it is an experience I believe every student should have.”

– Wangui Nganga, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, 2014



Genetic Counseling Students


Three things I think are especially valuable for genetic counseling students are:


1. Learning about a cancer patient’s experience and their family’s experience.
2. Thinking about how clients are making decisions and the factors associated with their decision.
3. Getting a general idea of the challenges faced by chronically ill patients.


Being able to talk with someone about what they are experiencing and attending appointments to oncologists with them was incredibly insightful for me. These experiences allowed me to look at how the clients were making decisions about their healthcare and their lives. Learning to identify barriers patients might face and how to navigate around those barriers will make me a better genetic counselor.”

– Genetic Counseling Student


Intake was very helpful because as genetic counselors we have to talk to people over the phone and even in clinic that we have not prepared to talk to. Intake is an example of learning how to use one’s skills in a random setting and without knowing what to expect from the client. It teaches people how to respond quickly and accurately. The Center gives genetic counseling students insight into the issues facing patients and an overview of the health care system with different laws and all.”

– Genetic Counseling Student

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