Health Professions Academy


What is the HPA?

The HPA (Health Professions Academy) is an enrichment program intended to increase the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented minority undergraduate students at the UW who matriculate to medical school and dental school. The HPA enrolls selected students into a comprehensive professional development program that supports their academic, social, and experiential needs as they are preparing not only for medical and dental school, but the roles they will play as healthcare providers and decision-makers in the future. The HPA is a collaborative program with stakeholders coming together from across the UW campus and local community. The program receives its leadership from the UW’s School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. The HPA is funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA; Grant # D18HP29047).

What advantages are there to participating in this program?

The HPA’s formal and informal activities are designed to help students:

  • Build a supportive community of collegial scholars
  • Collaborate to improve professional development strategies while preparing for medical and dental school
  • Enhance academic and research skills and strategies
  • Access pre-health advising and mentoring
  • Prepare for the medical and dental school admissions processes, including MCAT and DAT preparation

Additionally, the clinically focused HPA-supported activities will:

  • Provide approximately 100-120 hours of clinical exposure in settings serving patients in Seattle and King County communities
  • Increase the medical and dental knowledge of the program’s participants
  • Offer internships for interested students

Collectively, these activities span the continuum of skill building and experiential learning that aspiring healthcare providers need to be competitive applicants to medical and dental school. The HPA’s staff, advisors, and mentors work with each student individually to customize activities to best match interest and needs.

What Are Rolling Admissions?

The idea behind rolling admissions for HPA applications is that it offers a larger application window  – in this case up to one month—yet our HPA program administrators will respond to applicants as the applications come in instead of waiting until after the deadline

How much does the program cost?

The program is free and some of its activities provide a modest hourly stipend (e.g., research internships, MCAT and DAT preparatory courses)! In exchange, students selected to participate are expected to demonstrate a high degree of commitment to their professional development and the program. All participants enter into an agreement with the HPA to perform to the best of their academic ability (maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2) and to adhere to the program’s code of conduct for professional behavior.

What are the eligibility requirements for this program?

Eligibility for the HPA is limited to UW freshmen and sophomores who are aspiring to attend medical or dental school and come from disadvantaged backgrounds (economic and educational). The eligibility requirements include:


  • US Citizen or permanent resident
  • Matriculated full-time UW student (12 credits/quarter) in a baccalaureate degree program
  • Demonstrated commitment and/or interest in serving underrepresented minority and disadvantaged communities (i.e., have you volunteered, participated in research, or engaged in community service in such settings)

Academic Criteria:

Varies per cohort application cycle 

Demonstrated Disadvantaged Background:

  • Pell Grant Eligible
  • 1st generation student to attend college

Can AP/IB credits satisfy any of the prerequisites?

Not all professional health programs accept AP/IB credits for core science course prerequisites. If you have AP/IB credits orA-level credits for any of the HPA prerequisite science courses (chemistry or biology), we recommend that you repeat those courses and then consider applying for the HPA.

Should I apply if my GPA or course completion is below the minimum requirements?

Much thought was given to deciding the program’s eligibility requirements, and they are intended to maximize the benefit each participant receives at this stage of their professional development. While the course completion/enrolled requirements are not flexible, GPAs that are slightly below the established criteria will be considered on an individual basis. Students wanting to be considered in this situation are encouraged to contact the program before completing an application to discuss the situation (

My friend was invited to apply to the HPA and I was not, is there any way I can find out if I am eligible?

Invitations to apply to the HPA were sent to students who, according to UW records, met the general, academic and disadvantaged eligibility criteria (see the second FAQ). If you feel that you were inadvertently overlooked, HPA staff can investigate on your behalf. They can be contacted at

Who can write my letter of recommendation for the application?

To be complete, your application must have one (1) recommendation/assessment completed by a person who knows you well and is able to assess your character and strengths. Examples of people to consider asking to provide such a recommendation/assessment include, but are not limited to: a high school teacher, college professor or advisor; employer; religious leader; a community service organization supervisor. Family members and friends are NOT to be considered and recommendations/assessments received from them will not satisfy this requirement. The Health Professions Academy will contact the person you select for their recommendation/assessment.

What if I am considering a career in medicine or dentistry, but am not 100% sure. Is this a good program for me?

While the HPA would like all of its participants to be 100% sure of their career choice, we know that is not the case for many students, and that some may decide while in the program that neither medicine or dentistry are the careers for them (in fact, some students interested in one of the careers may change to the other as they learn more). All the program asks is that participants stay engaged in HPA program activities, including regular meetings with their academic advisors, and open conversations with the program’s mentors and staff. Questions about career choice are encouraged, and if the program is found to not be a “fit” for your career goals, the program’s staff and advisors will help you find a better fit.

What is the summer schedule for this program? How many hours a week would I need to set aside? May I still take summer classes and participate?

Everyone applying to the program will be notified of their status at the end of the Spring Quarter, and students selected for the first HPA cohort will begin during Summer Quarter. The HPA’s approach is student-centered, and emphasizes the importance of excelling in one’s formal coursework. The program’s schedule (currently in development) will be relatively light this summer and consist of a welcome reception, program orientation and a few workshops. Each student will also be expected to meet in-person with their academic advisor a minimum of two times per quarter (three meetings per quarter are preferred) to ensure a well-balanced academic schedule. The HPA’s other summer activities will be tailored to the individual needs of the student and each activity’s capacity. Each participant, in consultation with HPA staff, will determine what other HPA activities should be pursued each quarter (e.g., clinical shadowing, research internships, etc.). If you are planning to take summer classes, it is recommended that you take no more than two, and that you discuss these plans with the HPA staff.

Can students participating in the program get letters of recommendation for medical or dental school?

HPA participants will encounter many healthcare professionals affiliated with the program in a variety of settings (e.g., workshops, clinical facilities, research laboratories, etc.) while in the program. The program’s activities are designed in ways that allow the participants to get to know these professionals and to form genuine and purposeful mentor-mentee relationships. Such relationships can form the foundation for strong letters of recommendation, and can be explored by the mentor and mentee when the time is right.

Will participants of the program be given preference when applying to the University of Washington’s Medical or Dental Schools?

No. However, the HPA’s leadership team includes administrators and faculty from the UW’s School of Medicine and School of Dentistry, and the program’s carefully designed activities are based on the criteria both schools use when assessing applicants to their programs.

I’m interested in learning more about the HPA and how to apply. Is there someone I can talk to about the program and the application?

Yes, Ms. Teri Ward is the Program Manager and you can contact her at: to arrange a time to talk.