Today: Jun 25, 2024

New major offered in public health, wellnes coaching

Jay’Mi Vazquez – News Writer

A new major is being offered at the university: public health and wellness coaching.  

The university is one of the first universities in the United States to implement this new program. The closest university that offers this major is Ohio State. The goal of this program is to empower students to become wellness coaches, tackle health concerns and create plans for individuals.  

Debra Risisky, position, was one of the creators behind this new major. Her vision for the major began in the summer of 2022. She said she is happy to be a part of this new program and offer it to students. 

“We are really excited; we are the only university in the northeast that is doing this,” Risisky said. “It’s great because people can go work for insurance companies, hire coaches and go to corporations or be in private practice with their certifications.” 

Risisky said this new program is an exploding career field that has been gaining more traction after the pandemic. She described it as an interdisciplinary field with many options available for students to do internship work while at the university and be able to find something good for themselves basically anywhere once they graduate. 

Risisky said that the major is set up like any other program; there are 120 credits required. There are 36 major required credits that are courses that have already been at the university. Some of the required credits are four newly created wellness coaching courses.  

Risisky said that the intro course for wellness coaching is the only course available to any student. Students would have to be in the new major to take the other three coaching courses. 

Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the School of Health Education Sarah Benes was one of the people who were consulted on the creation of this program and will be teaching one of these new wellness courses. 

“I was able to build on experience I had from starting a similar program at my previous institution to support the program development,” Benes said. “I am a bit of a curriculum geek, so I love creating courses, especially ones that I think have a lot of practical value for students as these health coaching courses do.” 

Benes is a certified wellness coach. She said she got into wellness coaching by a colleague at a previous institution that wanted to offer coaching courses and a certificate. She got her certificate and now does wellness coaching when she can. 

“Health and wellness coaches work with clients to improve their health and well-being through building capacity and tapping into existing strengths within the clients. The focus is on supporting sustainable lifestyle changes. Coaches help clients overcome challenges, build internal resources, connect with external resources and build skills to support lifestyle changes,” Benes said that this is the role of a wellness coach.  

Benes said she is excited about the opportunities this new program can offer students. 

“This is so exciting because there are not many programs that exist in the country, so that is a great opportunity for our Southern students,” Benes said. “Students benefit not only from the possible career opportunities but also the skills they build will transfer into their own lives personally and professionally.”  

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