Wellness efforts create resilient healthcare professionals from the inside out


June 19, 2019

Fruit on a desk
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Wellness is an integral part of life at Ohio State and the College of Pharmacy. Ensuring that students, faculty and staff can make healthy choices and live a great life is ingrained in everything we do, from our curriculum to our student organizations. But this mindset didn’t just happen overnight - Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing Bernadette Melnyk, Wellness Innovators and Ambassadors across campus have demonstrated a commitment to health and well-being. This is the Buckeye Wellness Initiative.

In Parks Hall, the efforts to improve wellness at the college, specifically with emotional and physical wellness, began in 2014. Students were aware their health science counterparts had access to resources like counseling and wondered “Why don’t we have anything like this?”

“We heard from students that they were having trouble handling the stress of school and personal situations and they wanted access to counseling and mental health resources,” Dr. Jim McAuley, associate dean for academic affairs and professor, said. “Our goal of getting students the support they needed, especially with mental health, nutrition and physical activity, started as a grassroots effort and took off from there.”

What started out as one-off presentations and access to a counselor has now grown into on-going wellness activities that leave an impact around Parks Hall. Faculty and staff members, known as Wellness Innovators, work alongside students, known as Wellness Ambassadors, to plan programming for the year. On-going wellness activities include fresh fruit in the Dean’s Suite, a free little library, take five station, wellness walks and, of course, student counseling services. Wellness is even built into the curriculum, having students participate in REACH training and addressing topics like mental health.

“We’re lucky that we get to plan and try new programming every year and touch on all nine of the dimensions of wellness,” Emily Keeler, wellness and community builder. “Wellness is more than diet and exercise, it’s choices that lead you to a healthier, happier life.”

In the past year, the Innovators and Ambassadors have hosted events like resiliency trainings, therapy dog visits and financial wellness presentations. Their efforts have also been recognized at a university level. In 2018, Dean Mann and McAuley received the Buckeye Wellness Leadership Award for their support of health and wellness activities in the college.

“It’s important to us that students are learning about wellness and how it can positively impact their lives. Healthcare professionals tend to have some of the unhealthiest habits, but are encouraging their patients to live better lives,” McAuley said. “We want our students and the next generation of pharmacy professionals to demonstrate the behaviors of wellness and be a model for the patients they care for.”

Looking to the future, the wellness team plans to further expand their programming. To ensure they are meeting their goals of helping students receive the support they are seeking, the team will look at student health outcomes and how activities and programming are leaving an impact.

“What I love about being involved with wellness at the college is seeing busy members of our community take time to find balance between their professional and personal lives,” Meghan Ritchey, PharmD student and Wellness Ambassador, said. “I know that making the time for wellness isn’t easy. I love knowing that we are making an impact and helping others take time to invest in themselves.”

To learn more about wellness at Ohio State, visit https://wellness.osu.edu/.