by Kevin Smuniewski
It's that time of year again where fresh starts are happening all over campus — new students, new classes for returning students, new books to read, and new people. This academic year also will feature the start of the newest student wellness initiative: MUSC Wellness Works.
Wellness Works will be the new student communication hub of all wellness and well-being programming offered through the Division of Education and Student Life, the Wellness Center, Student Government Association and the Office of Health Promotion. The mission is simple: Wellness Works is dedicated to helping MUSC students develop and increase their awareness of every aspect of wellness.
The aspects of wellness are based on what's known as the Wellness Wheel, a multi-dimensional, holistic approach to wellness and well-being, designed by Bill Hettler, M.D., co-founder of the National Wellness Institute. The theory suggests that there are six dimensions to complete wellness: physical, intellectual, spiritual, financial, social and emotional. Recently, a seventh dimension was added: environmental. Each of these dimensions is interconnected and each plays a vital role in an individual's total wellness. Wellness is reached when there is a degree of balance among the areas. Information on the breakdown of these dimensions can be seen at the Wellness Works website that is expected to be live within the next two weeks.
This website also will showcase programs and activities that MUSC offers to students. The programs have been broken down into eight categories that help organize the different offerings available. The categories and subcategories include:
- Academic Success and Enrichment — Center for Academic Excellence, Apple Tree Society, Office of Student Diversity and National Coalition Building Institute
- A Better You — Counseling and Psychological Services, Alcohol Advisory Group, and Student Health
- Get Financially Fit — DESL "Get Financially Fit" Series
- Office of Health Promotion — Employee Wellness (open to students too), Urban Farm, Pitch the Pack and Tobacco-Free Campus
- Student Government Association Opportunities — Cultural Projects Council, Intramurals and Outdoor Recreation
- Student Collaboration — Cultivating Health Among Medical Students, Clash of the Classes, and other student organization's wellness programs and events
- Volunteering Opportunities — MUSC Gives Back and Blood Donations
- Wellness Center Activities — Regular Wellness Center Use and Wellness Run
Each of these subcategories will offer different programs and workshops that students can participate in to benefit their well-being. So far, this initiative is in its grassroots stages, and the categories will continue to be developed, so suggestions for programs or services are welcome as are any ideas on information to include. To submit ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to these on-campus resources, students also will have access to Wellness Works online resources, such as information on wellness activities in the greater Charleston community, area student discounts, healthy recipes and guides to healthy restaurants, tools for habit change and even peer-submitted ideas and tips on improving student wellness and well-being.
The website also will feature the first "Wellness Works Challenge." This challenge will determine the "most fit college" each semester based on the contact hours that students log in each of the categories listed above. Students will receive credit for completing any of the programs, workshops, events and activities that are offered through departments in each category that are open to all students. These credit hours will go toward their college participation total during a three-month period each semester.
This fall semester's challenge will start Sept. 1 and run through Nov. 30. The winners will have their college's name engraved on "The Cup," a trophy that is on permanent display in the Wellness Center and their college will also be eligible for special giveaways and discounts to some of the events put on by MUSC Student Government.
So why do all this?
The most obvious reason is to help students perform their best. There also is research that suggests the health of health care professionals matters and that their practices influence their clinical attitudes toward the promotion of well-being in their patients. This supports the university's mission of optimizing human life as well as further educating students to become caring, compassionate, ethical and proficient health care professionals and creative biomedical scientists.