Program Overview

The University of Wisconsin Preventive Medicine Residency Program offers a comprehensive approach to education, combining clinical, didactic, health care systems and public health systems training. During the two-year program, residents gain hands-on experience in applied public health and population medicine through various practicum and clinical rotations, including at state and local public health departments, accountable care organizations, community health clinics and large hospital systems.

Additionally, all residents receive ongoing didactic training in preventive medicine and general public health throughout the program and residents without a prior master of public health degree (or equivalent education) complete coursework to obtain one from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Each year, the Preventive Residency Program accepts two residents who have completed at least one year of clinical training. Upon completion of the residency program, residents are expected to be eligible for the public health and general preventive medicine board exam administered by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

Questions? Contact Kelly Coffey, Preventive Medicine Residency program coordinator

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What is Preventive Medicine?

When interviewing applicants to our preventive medicine residency program, we ask “why did you decide to pursue a career in preventive medicine?” The most common response is that they grew frustrated with caring for diseases and injuries that were largely preventable, and wanted to move “upstream” to address these problems at their roots.

Then we ask, “how did you discover preventive medicine?” And the response is almost always that they heard about it by accident, and only after struggling for some time about what they could do to refocus their passion for prevention. Rarely does an applicant tell us that they had ever heard about preventive medicine in medical school or in their residency program.

After reviewing the following resources, we encourage you to meet with us to learn more about our career paths, and options that you can take to bring prevention and public health into your career.

General information:

General information from residencies:

UW-Madison Preventive Medicine Residency:

General Structure:

  • 2 years total; first year full-time MPH, second year practicum rotations tailored to interest and experience of the residents
  • Required rotations include 3 months at the State Department of Health, and 40 clinical days (direct patient care) each year.
  • Requirements and structure of MPH program are unique to each residency program.

How do you get there?

  • Pathway 1: Transitional year, followed by 2-years of PMR Residency. Currently, there is no way to be accepted directly into PMR from medical school, though this is under discussion.
  • Pathway 2: Begin residency program in another specialty, apply to PMR to begin after completing at least 1 full year of another program
  • Pathway 3: Complete a residency program in another specialty, then apply to PMR residency or fellowship programs

What can you do afterward?

From, available here.

Example career paths of preventive medicine doctors:

Why choose the UW Preventive Medicine Residency?

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the UW Preventive Medicine Residency provides residents wide variety of robust educational experiences. Master in public health coursework is completed at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the nation’s only integrated school of medicine and public health.

Additionally, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and adjacent William S. Middleton Veterans Memorial Hospital (VA) afford ample opportunity to gain first-hand experience in quality improvement, health systems management and clinical preventive services.

Madison is the home of Wisconsin’s largest public university, UW-Madison, and offers residents insight into the unique health care needs of a large university campus. Madison is also home to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and residents can experience how research is synthesized into public health initiatives and statewide policies.

Didactic training

The didactic curriculum of the program includes coursework, biweekly seminars in preventive medicine, journal clubs, and grand rounds, as well as local and national conferences. These didactic programs are required for all residents and occur during both years of the residency program.

During the first year, trainees who do not have a prior Master of Public Health degree (or equivalent education) complete coursework to obtain a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Sample Master of Public Health curriculum

Fall courses

PUBLHLTH 780: Evidence-based Decision-making
PUBLHLTH 781-004: Communicating Public Health Effectively I
PUBLHLTH 782: Determinants of Health and Health Equity: A Systems Approach
PUBLHLTH 783: Quantitative Approaches to Public Health
PUBLHLTH 791: Communicating Public Health Effectively II
PUBLHLTH 792: Public Health Policy
PUBLHLTH 787: APEX Seminar

Spring Courses

PUBLHLTH 784: Public Health Surveillance & Analytics
PUBLHLTH 785: Public Health and Health Care Systems
PUBLHLTH 786: Planning & Management to Promote Health
PUBLHLTH 788:  Applied Practice Experience
PUBLHLTH 790: Culminating Seminar- Public Health and Social Justice

Summer course

PUBLHLTH 788:  Applied Practice Experience

Leadership Course

POP HLTH 699 Preventive Medicine Residency Grand Rounds

Integrated Learning Experience

The Integrated Learning Experience is a MPH program degree requirement.  The ILE includes a high-quality written product (20-30-page paper or manuscript) with an oral defense.

Preventive Medicine Practicum

Our program provides practicum experiences in both the public health system and the health care system.

Public health system rotations

The public health system practicum rotations focus on training in applied epidemiology and public health, primarily occurring in the governmental public health settings at the state and local level. Rotations include:

  • Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • local health department (e.g., Public Health Madison Dane County)

The resident still has the opportunity to have elective experiences at additional sites. These rotations will prepare graduates who are interested in employment at a local, state or federal health agency.

Health care system rotations

The health care system practicum rotations focus on training in quality and systems improvement, primarily based in two main settings, which include:

Residents will also have the opportunity for elective experiences at additional sites, such as the UW Health Office of Quality Improvement of the University Health Services. These rotations will prepare graduates who are interested in employment in health systems.

Clinical work

The clinical rotation opportunities for each resident is matched to the resident’s interest. Options include the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital (VA)University Health Services (UHS) and Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (CTRI). Residents seeking additional experience in direct patient care and provision of preventive clinical services also have the opportunity to set electives at one of several UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health clinics. Additional clinical sites may be developed in the future, depending on a resident’s field of prior clinical training.

Funding Sources

Our program has several funding sources. Our residents can expect to spend some time dedicated to rotations and/or experiences with these groups.

Wisconsin Partnership Program

The Wisconsin Partnership Program has supported the program through grants, since planning began in 2012. These grants provide support for program faculty and staff, resident salaries, MPH tuition, travel, and other expenses.

Department of Population Health Sciences

The Department of Population Health Sciences has provided support for leadership roles—including the Program Director and Associate Program Director, as well as administrative support.

American Cancer Society

The UW-Madison Preventive Medicine Residency program in conjunction with the American Cancer Society offers one residency position per cohort focusing on cancer prevention and control. The two-year program involves completion of the Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree, broad training in preventive medicine, and intensive practicum experiences involving the development of clinical, research and teaching skills relevant to a career in cancer prevention. Residents in this track have focused on a range of topics, including tobacco prevention and control, cancer screening and prevention, and cancer survivorship and quality of life.

William S. Middleton Veterans Hospital

The William S. Middleton Veterans Hospital provides funding for one resident per year. The VA Hospital offers an incredibly valuable opportunity to work with the diverse and unique needs of the veteran population, and experience the VA health system.  There are a variety of research efforts underway and opportunities to participate in a quality improvement initiative focused on one’s interests/previous experience. At minimum, residents will complete at least one clinical rotation at the VA Hospital.

Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship

The Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship provides funds for one resident per year. Residents and Fellows will collaborate on monthly meetings in a joint Learning Community. While these two programs are distinct training programs with different respective program requirements and expectations, they come together for these Learning Community meetings as an opportunity to integrate training across the fields of public health and medicine. This effort enhances individual learning of Fellows and Residents, enriches the programs and staff, and supports future collaboration between the fields.

The Learning Community meets monthly at locations around the state to explore Public Health topics, develop skills, confer, collaborate, provide service, and engage in professional reflection around some of the state’s most pressing public health challenges. Core to the Learning Community is the development of leadership and facilitation skills for the fellows and residents. Therefore, most of the Learning Community meetings are planned and run by the Fellows and residents. The ultimate goals of these meetings and of the learning community is to support the development of highly skilled future public health leaders.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

HRSA provides support through a grant for program faculty and staff, resident salaries, MPH tuition, travel, and other expenses as they relate to our Training in Equity and Community Health (TEACH) program. This grant focuses on clinical quality improvement in a federally qualified health center (FQHC) with a focus on health equity and health literacy. The grant requires that all second year residents complete a 2 month rotation at Wingra Family Medical Center FQHC..

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A message from our Program Director:

Elisabeth Salisbury-Afshar

At the University of Wisconsin Preventive Medicine Residency, our commitment to equity and inclusion drives us to create an environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives feel embraced and valued as they engage in their training.

We are dedicated to fostering a culture where the discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only embraced, but actively integrated into every facet of our program. We empower every member of our community to become champions of these principles, ensuring that their actions and contributions resonate with the values of equity and inclusion.


The Preventive Medicine Residency is housed within the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) and we share a common diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy with the School. We also partner closely with UW Health, our academic health system, on diversity initiatives.

DEI Resources on campus and at UW Health