Graduate Students

Graduate students can enroll in individual courses OR pursue our certificate program.

Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate Program

The Center’s Health Advocacy certificate program educates a diversity of learners interested in health advocacy. We have graduate students from Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Social Work, Gender Studies, Engineering, and others participating in our certificate program. Please contact or call 608 265 6267 for an advising session to get started.

*The certificate requirements differ based on your discipline. Please email to talk to an adviser.

Graduate Elective Course Listing

Law, Regulation, and Ethics

Courses in this elective area address fundamental substantive knowledge and critical thinking relevant to complex legal, regulatory, or ethical matters health advocates will face.

One or more of the following courses or an approved substitute:

  • Administrative Law (Law 744, 3 cr.)
  • Bioethics and the Law (Med His & Bioethics, Law 905, 2-4 cr.)
  • Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Clinical Investigation (Med His & Bioethics, 545, 1 cr.)
  • Ethical Problems Raised by Biomedical Technology (Med His & Bioethics, Philos 558, 3 cr.)
  • Food & Drug Law (Law 916, 3 cr.)
  • Health Law and Administration – Intro to Health Law (Law 935, 2-3 cr.)
  • Law, Science & Biotechnology (Law 906, 3 cr.)
  • L&CP: ERISA (Law 940, 2 cr.)
  • L&CP: Health Care Fraud and Abuse (Law 940, 2 cr.)
  • L&CP: Law & People with Disabilities (Law 940, 3 cr.)
  • L&CP: Public Health Law (Law 940, 3 cr.)
  • L & CP: Mental Health Law (Law 940,2 cr.)
  • Pharmacy Law and Regulation (Pharm 511, 2-3 cr.)
  • Justice and Healthcare (Med His & Bioethics, 559, 3 cr.) 

Health Economics

Courses in this elective area address fundamental substantive knowledge and critical thinking regarding health care financing and economics.

Students who choose this elective are required to discuss their course selection with a Certificate Advisor and the chosen course faculty; standard pre-requisites apply.

One of the following courses or an approved substitute:

  • Advanced Seminar in Health & Mental Health Economics (Publhlth 650)
  • The Economics of Health Care (Publhlth, Econ, Pub Affr 548)
  • Health Economics (Publhlth, Econ 848) (Designed for advanced doctoral students with strong quantitative skills)
  • Health Policy and Policy Design (Pub Affr 864) 

Policy, Management, and Public Health

Courses in this elective area address fundamental substantive knowledge and critical thinking regarding health policy, management, or public health issues.

One of the following courses or an approved substitute:

  • Health, Aging, and Disability Policy and Services (SW 875)
  • Health Care and Public Policy in the US (Nrsg 703, 3 cr.)
  • Health Care Management and Policy (Publhlth, 650, 3 cr.)
  • Health Program Planning, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement (Nrsg 761, 3 cr.)
  • Introduction to Environmental Health (Publhlth, 471, 3 cr.)
  • Public Health: Principles and Practice (Publhlth, 780, 3 cr.)
  • Quality of Health Care (Publhlth, Indust Eng. 703) 


Field Placements, Clerkships, Fellowships, and Individual Courses

Law Students

The Center’s Applied Advocacy Experience (Patient-Centered Care and Health Advocacy Clinical) offers an excellent opportunity for law students to learn about laws that impact patients in the areas of health, insurance, disability, and employment. Students also learn skills relevant to serving future legal clients: including interprofessional problem-solving, interviewing and communicating, case management, and correspondence drafting. Students are eligible to enroll beginning the summer after their first year.

Our clinical offering may be started in the summer and require an application through the Symplicity system. Details about the experience relevant to law students can be found on the law school website.

Medical Students

Medical students join us for our applied advocacy experience and courses each semester, or spend the summer advocating for patients and working on a research project funded by a Shapiro Fellowship. If you are a UW-Madison medical student interested in doing a Shapiro Fellowship with the Center for Patient Partnerships, and learning about patient advocacy, please contact us at

The Shapiro Fellowship competition provides a stipend for a research project relevant to medical science and practice. Information on funding for student research, including Shapiro Fellowships is available here.

For more information about funding contact: Lynne Cleeland Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs 4119 HSLC 

MPH Students

In addition to advocacy education, the Center engages in grant-funded projects, research and systemic advocacy. Field placement students are invited to participate in on-going projects or design a self-directed project relevant to patient engagement/empowerment, health advocacy, health care navigation, or consumer-influenced healthcare improvement. Past projects have included: analysis of the PPACA and creation of guidebook for advocates; researching the impact of patient-driven internet research on the relationship between patients and providers; legislative advocacy regarding private health insurance coverage and mental health parity; community outreach to vulnerable populations; studying state-wide variability regarding screening for melanoma; and examining oncologist communication regarding clinical trial opportunities.

An MPH field experience includes:

  • Applied education in advocacy skills and methods, patient-centered care, and interprofessional (teamwork) problem-solving through our Applied Advocacy Experience course. Students are required to enroll in this course in tandem with their field placement.
  • Identification and completion a project in an area of public health practice, including core public health functions (e.g. needs assessment, program planning, program evaluation, policy development, educational campaign, or an applied research project), and relevant to patient engagement/empowerment, health advocacy, health care navigation, or consumer-driven health systems performance improvement.

To apply, contact us at to express your interest and a preliminary topic area. Three credits of the field placement (PHS 788) can apply towards the Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate requirements.

Pharmacy Students

Application for these opportunities occurs through the Pharmacy school. Contact us at for more information.

Pharmacy Contact: Mara Kieser, Asst. Dean/Clinical Assoc. Professor,, 608.265.4842.

Advanced clerkships provide pharmacy students the opportunity to learn about the health care system from patients’ perspectives in an interprofessional environment along with medical, law, social work, public health, and other graduate students. Students learn key patient advocacy skills and substantive knowledge about health care navigation (medical decision making, insurance, finance, disability, and related laws and regulations) as they advocate with patients.

Specifically, Pharm D. students:

  • Attend an intensive two week orientation which introduces students to health advocacy and related substantive topics;
  • Provide comprehensive advocacy to individual patient cases;
  • Provide intake to potential clients who contact the Center, utilizing interviewing and assessment skills;
  • Attend weekly sessions including case review with colleagues and instructors and presentations by guest speakers on relevant topics (e.g. researching a medical issue, employment law related to disability/healthcare issues, administrative agency processes, insurance coverage);
  • Learn core patient advocacy skills (case monitoring, confidentiality, communication, research, and ethics), and work with other professional and graduate students from a variety of programs around campus.

Advanced clerkship logistical information:

  • Hours: Pharm. D. clerkships are full time, (i.e. a minimum of forty hours per week, five days per week.)
  • Course: Applied Advocacy Experience. A clerkship at the Center for Patient Partnerships qualifies for: 760 – Pharmaceutical Care Clerkship (Elective clerkship rotations; inpatient or outpatient).
  • Experience can count towards Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate.

Additionally, Pharm D (DPH-1, DPH-2, DPH-3) students can shadow Center faculty during their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE’s). This opportunity gives pharmacy students an introduction to patient advocacy, interaction in an interprofessional environment and contact with a diverse patient population. During shadowing Pharm D students may attend a clinical seminar, sit in on a client meeting or meet with faculty. Students are offered access on online modules on topics relevant to patients’ experience in the health care system. Module topics include: paying for care, private and public health insurance, private disability, employment issues, prescription drug coverage, clinical trials, cultural competency, medical decision-making, empowering clients, end-of-life, and team-based care). For more information contact us at

Social Work Students

Field Placements are open to first or second year students.

First year graduate students: Specific responsibilities will include: phone intake intervention, in-person contact and health care advocacy. Student goals will include developing generalist social work skills, understanding the multiple systems encountered in the health care system, developing and applying advocacy skills and working collaboratively in an interprofessional setting. The student would be expected to be flexible, enthusiastic, and strongly interested in these issues. No parking is available and a car is not needed.

Second year graduate students: Specific responsibilities will include: phone intake intervention, in-person contact (on some cases), and health care advocacy. Student goals will include building on generalist skills, understanding the various systems encountered in the health care system, developing and applying advocacy skills and working collaboratively in an interdisciplinary setting. The student would be expected to be flexible, enthusiastic, and strongly interested in these issues. No parking is available and a car is not needed.

SW Practice and Social Policy students will focus on analyzing policy and its impact on a micro level. Based on opportunity and student interest, they may have the opportunity to do one or more of the following; community outreach and advocacy training, develop policy initiatives with community partners and on a statewide level.

SW Practice and Health students will focus and develop advanced knowledge of the health care system, including the players involved, roles of the consumer and policy implications. The student will gain skills and knowledge related to working in an interprofessional setting.

Contact us at for further information.

Genetic Counseling Students

The Center has forged a unique partnership with the Genetic Counseling Masters program: the Genetic Counseling Modified Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate. Since Genetic Counseling students focus on advocacy skills unique to genetic counseling in their program, students interested in completing our Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate follow a modified course of study, enrolling in 3 credits of our Applied Advocacy Experience course and 3 credits of our Models of Advocacy course or 2 credits for our Advocating for Populations: Partnering to Improve Community Health course. Click here for more information about the graduate Certificate.

Genetic Counseling Program Director Catherine Reiser on the Program:

“Genetic Counselors, as required by their Practice Based competencies and Scope of Practice, serve as an advocate for their clients so that they ’can understand a client’s needs and perceptions and represent their interests in accessing services and responses form the medical and social service system.’ This competency is consistent with the goals of the Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate Program. The CHAC curriculum is an exceptional resource for practicing genetic counselors and current genetic counseling students who wish to build upon their skills. The interdisciplinary focus and service-learning components of the Consumer Health Advocacy Certificate Program ensure its students are competent and effective advocates.”

Click here to learn about Genetic Counseling student’s experiences learning advocacy skills.

Other Graduate Students

If you do not see your discipline listed above and are interested in learning advocacy, consider enrolling in our Certificate Program or enrolling individually in our Applied Advocacy Experience (Patient-Centered Care and Health Advocacy Clinical). This is a low enrollment service-learning course that requires an application and consent of instructor, and is only open to new graduate students in the summer semester.  We give priority to students pursuing our Certificate in Consumer Health Advocacy. Please carefully read information about our curriculum, logistics and prerequisites on this page before applying.

As part of our application, you will be asked to submit:

  • Personal Statement
  • Resume
  • transcripts for any current program or course work and all prior degrees (copies or unofficial accepted).

The online application allows you to attach a resume and contains directions for sending in your transcripts. If you have any questions, please contact us.

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