SWAU Announces New Wellness-Focused Quality Enhancement Plan

SWAU Announces New Wellness-Focused Quality Enhancement Plan

By Michael England, education professor with Amy Rosenthal, vice president for Academic Administration, and Kerrie Kimbrow, nursing professor

Southwestern Adventist University is committed to educating a diverse student body in a Christ-centered environment shaped by Seventh-day Adventist Christian beliefs for service and leadership. This is our mission. Our tagline, “Knowledge, Faith, Service” flows from our mission, vision, and core values. We aspire to produce graduates that are fit for leadership and fit for service to our church, our wider communities, our country, and to God.

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSC)C), which requires the institution to submit a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) as part of the accreditation process. SACSCOC expects the QEP to “enhance the overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue or issues the institution considers important to improving student learning.”

Thus, we proudly announce Southwestern Adventist University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Whole-Person Wellness,” which is designed to strengthen our commitment to enhance healthy lifestyles among our students. Beginning in Fall of 2016, the new QEP will apply the CREATION Health model, as developed by Florida Hospital: Mission Development, to personal lifestyle change for a campus-wide transformation plan (CREATION is an acronym: C= Choice; R = Rest; E = Environment; A = Activity; T = Trust in God; I = Interpersonal Relations; O = Outlook; N = Nutrition). The plan will be implemented over the next 10 years and will include changes such as a new required freshman course (required for graduation), implementation in each academic department, student challenges, health presentations, health emphasis weeks, and more. The goal is to help students make positive wellness choices during their university experience that will impact their lifestyle and the effectiveness of their service to humanity for years to come. 

With the collaboration of CREATION Health, Adventist Health System, Texas Health Huguley Hospital, and the Ardmore Institute of Health, we are prepared to initiate a comprehensive effort at Southwestern Adventist University that no other Seventh-day Adventist University has attempted. Our Quality Enhancement Plan has two overarching outcomes:

1. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of whole-person wellness principles as exemplified in the CREATION Health model.

2. Students will be able to apply the principles of whole-person wellness to their daily lives.

In the process of formulating this QEP, the faculty researched how whole person wellness affects the student. Studies have shown how specific health behaviors impact students’ academic success and even university graduating rates. Lifestyle choices, including adequate sleep, stress reduction, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and spirituality all affect a student’s chance of success1

 “We’re sometimes guilty of focusing on just nutrition and exercise, but it is really necessary to include all the elements of the whole person, as outlined in the CREATION model. Outlook is especially important for our students as it will affect their success in other areas,” says Kerri Kimbrow, nursing faculty and QEP Implementation committee chair. “We couldn’t be more excited to start this new program. Not only is it beneficial to our own campus, but we’re already witnessing enthusiasm for participation from our community.”

In order for the university to decide what areas will be addressed in the QEP, it has been paramount to get student, faculty, and staff input on campus health transformation. Focus groups and surveys have been implemented to determine campus needs. Based on this information, a new course that embodies the CREATION Health principles, UNIV111–Wellness for Life, has been developed that will be a requirement for every new student entering the university. At the beginning of the year, a health assessment inventory will be taken of each student. At the end of each academic year, students will retake the inventory and discuss how their attitudes as they relate to the eight components have changed. 

A comprehensive campus-wide effort requires the participation of each academic department, and faculty have already started to plan how they will infuse the whole-person wellness aspect into their curriculum. For instance, the nursing program is including how whole-person wellness impacts patient care and community outreach in all of their classes, as well as the importance for faculty and students to look after their own personal wellness. CREATION Health will visit our campus several times this summer to train our faculty and staff and help departments continue to plan for their individual department’s implementation. 

An additional bonus to the implementation of this QEP is the opportunity to share the wealth of knowledge with our community, and we hope that the Southwestern Adventist University experience will aid in the development of a new CREATION Health curriculum for institutions of higher education. Initial steps have also been taken with local city chambers and other entities to initiate wellness-learning opportunities for the community. 

Perhaps Michael England, who was instrumental in leading the QEP Development Committee through the accreditation approval process, sums it up best. “I tell my students that you can’t truly love yourself until you help others. This QEP puts a major emphasis on involving the surrounding community and schools to help ordinary people get to know God through selfless, balanced living, and focused effort,” explains England, Professor of Education. “We want our campus and our community to have access to information to achieve a balanced physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual lifestyle. It delivers the concept of “progressive success” in daily life and advances the value of service to others.”

1. A number of research studies reveal important relationships between student health and academic achievement, specific to the university population, including:  Freudenbert et al. (2013), Gaultney, 2010), Hershner and Chervin (2014), Danbert, Pivarnik, McNeil, and Washington (2014) and Gilinsky, (2011), Upright, Esslinger, and Hays (2014).