Health Science Honors Program


The UC Santa Barbara Health Science Honors Program is a component of the College of Letters and Science Honors Program specifically for students interested in the health professions. HSHP assists students as they explore and prepare health careers by providing:

-Dedicated pre-health academic advising
-Dedicated career, application, and admissions advising and mentoring
-Health Science Honors Seminars led by faculty and health care professionals
-University sanctioned clinical internships and shadowing
-Health science related research opportunities.


Academic Advising

Rob Larocco ( is the academic advisor for the Health Science Honors Program. Scott, a member of the Letters and Science health professions advising team and also an Honors Program advisor, assists students as they consider course selection and scheduling. Students may also meet with Rob to consider choices about majors and minors and to discuss any other academic concerns.

Health Science Honors students should also take advantage of the resources that they will find on the Letters and Science Health Sciences website. The website features advice for students considering a wide range of health professions and has information about volunteering and internships as well as health-related student organizations.

Career Advising and Mentoring

Dr. Stephen Blain ( is the director of the Health Sciences Program at UCSB, and a Clinical Professor Emeritus in the School of Dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Blain assists students as they explore health science careers and serves as mentor, supporting them during the application process.

To schedule a career, application, or admissions advising appointment with Dr. Blain, please call (805) 893-2038, make an appointment in person at 1117 Cheadle Hall, or visit the appointment link here:

Student Organizations

Health Profession related student organization provide opportunities for career exploration and can help students find potential mentors. For a list of health profession student organizations go to the Student Organizations page.

Recommended Honors Courses and Seminars

The Honors courses listed below are a few of the courses that HSHP students will find helpful as they pursue their academic and research goals and as they prepare for professional school tests. They represent, however, only a few of the Honors courses available, and we urge HSHP students to consider enrolling in Honors courses across the academic disciplines. Also, please note that not all of these courses are available each quarter. Please go to the Honors Courses page to see the list of Honors courses offered in a given quarter.

Chem 2B
General Chem Honors — Leroy Laverman
Chem 2BC
General Chem Honors Lab — Leroy Laverman
Chem 2C
General-Chem Honors — J. Herbert Waite
Chem 2CC
General Chem Lab (Honors) — J. Herbert Waite
Chem 6BH
Organic Chem Lab — various faculty
Chem 6CH
Organic Chem Lab — various faculty
Chem 109AH
Organic Chemistry — various faculty
Tau and Alzheimers Disease — Stuart Feinstein
Microtubules and Cancer Therapies — Leslie Wilson
Genetic Mutations and Disease — Rolf Christoffersen
Protein Function in Disease — Seng Hui Low
Plant Hormones/ physiology — Ruth Finkelstein
MCDB 101A/126AH (joint honors)
Gene Therapy — Doug Thrower
Genetic Mutations, Modifications, and Diseases — Rolf Christoffersen
Cell Bio — Jamey Marth
Developments in Biochemistry — Duane Sears
Physiology of Human Diseases — Bill Smith
Stem Cells and Therapy — Kathy Foltz
Immunology — Duane Sears
Oncogenesis—Kathy Foltz
Medical Microbiology—David Low
Neurobiology I — Carol Vandenberg
Neurobiology II — Dennis Clegg
Neurobiology III — Stuart Feinstein
Statistics — various faculty
Sociology 1H
Intro to Sociology — various faculty

Seminars and Internships

INT 75—Underserved Medicine
Using service and problem-based learning methodologies, the course explores unique medical needs of vulnerable, underserved populations internationally and locally. Guest speakers discuss topics including refuge health, homelessness, humanitarian aid in conflict zones, care of military veterans, global health development, care of migrant farm workers, and more.
Dr. Jason Prystowsky MD, MPH Emergency Physician, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

INT 175 - Healthcare Delivery
This unique course is directed to those upper division students interested in health professions and who should understand the important issues related to health care delivery in the US. Guest speakers will address the economics and models of health care delivery as well as other topics to include quality control, the Affordable Care Act, the ethics in decision making and more.
Paul Jaconette, MPH, Chief Operations Officer, CenCal Health

*INT 184KF—Biomedical Research and the Media - Navigating the Headlines
This week's sensational headlines - A Cure for Cancer! A Gene for Autism! Deadly Bird Flu! - often cause confusion and, sometimes, mistrust in the scientific process. We will explore how the basic biomedical research process works and then track what happens between the bench science and how it gets reported (or not) to the public. We will assess current news stories and research papers as well as some classic historical examples. The seminar is designed for non-science majors, but all are welcome!
Professor Kathy Foltz, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, UCSB

*INT 184PD—Introduction to Clinical Medicine
This quarterly course is NOT a seminar and instead entails intimate shadowing experiences with physicians at Sansum Clinics and internal medicine and Surgery residents at Cottage Hospital. Third- and fourth-year students with health professions experience interested in the course are eligible, and consent of the instructor is required after an interview. The selection process is competitive and number of positions are limited. Students interested in INT 184PD should scroll further down and review the opportunities and course requirements in the following section: Clinical Opportunities for Honors Credit. If eligible, make an interview appointment with Dr. Stephen Blain at the L&S website  

Students:  Please remember to read through the course requirements for INT 184PD prior to contacting our office about enrollment.

*INT 199H. Health Science Honors Independent Studies 

This quarterly course provides Honors credit for health related clinical, laboratory, research and administrative internships which students have acquired on their own or positions which are offered through the Health Science Programs. The internships (salaried and volunteer) may be acquired from various health related roles to include dental/medical assistant, public health lab/research assistant, medical scribe, veterinarian/pharmacy/optometry/nurse assistant, EMT, hospital tech., research assistant at the Cottage Research Institute and Sansum Diabetes Institutes etc.  Students must be working a minimum of 6-8 hours per week. For 199H Honors credit students must make an appointment with Dr. Stephen Blain for an interview at Students may earn up to two units of graded credit after successfully completing weekly logs of their clinical insights and a case report.

*Counts as an Honors Experience for the Letters and Science Honors Program

Clinical Opportunities for Honors Credit

To participate in the following opportunities, student must enroll in INT 184PD and 199H.

Sansum Clinic Shadowing (INT 184PD)

Location: Sansum Clinics, Santa Barbara
Only third- and fourth-year students may apply and prior clinical experience is recommended. A minimum 10 weeks time commitment is required. Pre-health students will shadow physicians in subspecialty clinics. The program will serve as a means to experience clinical medicine firsthand alongside subspecialty physicians, with a direct patient contact element. The student will rotate to a new practice location every two weeks in order to get a varied experience. Students shadow five physicians (each for two weeks) praciticing a diverse set of specialties during 80-90 patient encounters. In addition, students record each patient visit using the SOAP method of documentation to create informal, HIPAA-abiding reports for the program director. The physicians involved offer four hours of their time each week to educate pre-medical students on the profession while students benefit from valuable insight into a variety of approaches to patient care.

In order to apply for the program, it is mandatory that you will be able to available Thursday afternoons. If you cannot, please do not apply.

Prior to acceptance in the program, students will be required to submit a resume with a photo and interview with Dr. Blain in the Letters and Science Advising Office. The selection of applicants is competitive. Assignments are made during the middle of the previous quarter. Two units of Honors credit will be awarded upon successful completion and submission of a case report and daily log of one’s clinical observations. This experience is not offered during the summer.

Students earn up to two graded honors credits after successfully completing weekly logs of clinical observations and a case report.

Cottage Hospital Shadowing (INT 184PD)

Location: Cottage Hospital, Pueblo at Bath Street, Santa Barbara
Only third- and fourth-year students may apply and prior clinical experience is required. Candidates are selected the middle of the preceding quarter. Pre-health students will shadow first year residents in internal medicine and surgery. Unexcused absences will not be permitted. This one quarter course will serve as a means to experience clinical medicine firsthand, alongside a team of resident physicians with a direct patient contact. The student will arrange their schedule with the resident and must commit to a minimum of 8 hours each week for one quarter. This experience is not offered during the summer sessions.

To be considered for this experience, students must make an appointment with Dr. Blain for an interview through the Letters and Science Advising Office. The candidate should submit a resume and photo prior to the interview. The selection of applicants is competitive. If approved, the student will meet with Dr. Blain for a preliminary orientation and pass a Blood Borne Pathogens exam. The student must then meet with the Program Directors for assignments and follow up registration. You are required to make yourself available for the meeting with the Program Director at his request.

Students earn up to two graded honors credits after successfully completing weekly logs of clinical observations and a case report.

UCSB – Medical Scribe Systems/Cottage Hospital Scribe Program (INT 199H)

This program is acceptable for 199H Honors credit for UCSB Pre-Health students who qualify to scribe.

Location: Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room.
Junior or Senior students may apply and prior clinical experience is recommended. The positions are competitive. A minimum of 16 hours/week for a minimum of 12-24 months of time commitment is required. Application.

Senior pre-health students will serve as scribes in the Emergency Room, directly assisting physicians as they see patients. The primary responsibility of the scribe will be that of data entry into the electronic medical record. As a medical scribe you’ll witness a multitude of patient cases every day – from sprained ankles to life-threatening injuries – giving you unparalleled clinical exposure to take with you to medical, nursing or PA school. For attendance purposes, students will be treated as employees, whose weekly presence will be vital and relied upon for clinic workflow. Unexcused absences will not be permitted.

To prepare you for the medical scribe role, you will receive extensive training online, in a classroom setting, and at the patient bedside. This involves:

  • Online courses
  • Interactive medical vocabulary quizzes
  • Interactive videos to simulate patient scenarios
  • 80% pass rate to continue to classroom training
  • Classroom training at your designated medical facility
  • Bedside training with a certified scribe trainer once you have passed classroom training

To be considered for the program, you must

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be eligible to work in the United States
  • Have not been convicted of a felony
  • Be willing and able to submit to a drug screening and background check
  • Be able to type 50 words per minute
  • Be willing to work nights, weekends and holidays

Students must make an appointment with Dr. Stephen Blain for an interview at to register for INT 199H Honors credit. Students earn up to two graded honors units after successfully completing weekly logs of clinical observations.

St John’s COPE Health Scholars Summer Internship (INT 199H)

This program is acceptable for 199H Honors credit for UCSB pre-health students desiring to learn how to assist with basic care for patients alongside nurses, doctors and other clinicians. St. John's Regional Medical Center is located at 1600 North Rose Avenue, Oxnard, CA and is accessible by car or train from UCSB.  Students accepted into the Accelerated Summer Program are required to complete 280 floor hours in one rotation (3 months) and must complete a department-specific training and a shadowing shift prior to beginning their scheduled shifts. They will be scheduled for four to five 4 hour shifts per week (16-20 hours) based on their availability. Interns will complete their scheduling through a designated coordinator and will switch departments after they have completed 3 weeks in the department and at least 48 hours. Health Scholars will begin in June and complete the program at the end of August. Scholars have the option to continue volunteering depending on their availability.

In order to apply, please do the following:

  • Complete an online application
    • Applications are accepted year-round, so please take a look at the key dates and deadlines page
    • Applications for Summer will be due on March 31st.
    • Acceptances for Summer will be offered during the middle of the Spring quarter (around end of April)
  • Attend the Clearance Appointment & Health Screening at the program site to submit required immunization/health records before attending mandatory training
  • Attend mandatory 3-day training
  • Pass post-training exams

199H Honors credit is available for the Summer Program only. Students must make an appointment with Dr. Blain for an interview at Students may earn up to two units of graded credit after successfully completing weekly logs of their clinical insights and a case report.

For other clinical opportunities please go the Letters and Science Health Professions Website Volunteering and Internship Opportunities page.


Visit the Honors Program requirements page for information.

The Health Science Scholars Commendation

Under Construction 

Contact Us

Email Scott Kassner at  Scott is available for walk-in advising on Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00 and Fridays from 9:00-11:00.

Email Dr. Stephen Blain at or call 893-2038 to schedule a career, application, or admissions advising appointment.

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