Greetings from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences!
Since the inception of the University, an emphasis has been placed on a phrase coined by our Founding President, Dr. Paris: “a commitment to a healthy and productive lifestyle.” The University’s governing board recently shortened that core value to “health and wellness,” but that in no way diminishes the importance this concept plays in our everyday activities at USA.
Wellness is voluntarily seeking ways to achieve a higher quality of life. It involves focusing on staying well and not waiting for disease to strike before you make lifestyle changes. In the presence of health problems, wellness care focuses on finding and eliminating the cause of disease and not just treating disease symptoms alone. Wellness is being aware of what it means to take care of one’s physical, mental and emotional self (The Preamble of the Constitution for the World Health Organization, WHO, 2002).
The University infuses the importance of wellness in curricula so that our health care graduates not only embody wellness concepts personally, but promote a wellness mindset in the clients they treat. Health and wellness is displayed on our campuses with our wellness centers, physical activities, and sponsored community events. As an organization, we promote a goal oriented approach to self-improvement such as keeping a positive mental outlook and sharing our talents with others.
Our professional associations also support improvement in the health of US citizens. For example, the American Occupational Therapy Association writes, “occupational therapy is a health, wellness, and rehabilitation profession dedicated to the maximization of performance and function across the lifespan so that individuals can live their life to its fullest. The holistic approach taken by occupational therapy practitioners is particularly useful in the areas of wellness, health promotion, and prevention” (from Wellness & Prevention: Occupational Therapy’s Opportunity in the Era of Health Care Reform, pg 1, AOTA, nd).
If we, as health care practitioners, hope to make a positive impact on health promotion, we need to do a better job of fostering wellness in our daily patient management. Do you regularly ask patients what they do for exercise? Do you ask them if they have any concerns about their general health and wellness? Do you provide free information on healthy practices? Are you actively engaged in your communities to support wellness initiatives? I hope that all of you can embrace the University’s core value to be healthy and well. Let’s be good role models. Let’s spread the word.
Wanda Nitsch, PT, PhD