The health and wellness of our students is a priority for the college, so in fall 2017 a committee was formed consisting of students, faculty, staff, and members of Health and Counseling and Student Recreation services. The idea was to create and foster an environment that looked at the health and well-being of our students. The Optometry Wellness Advisory Council is an advisory committee meant for discussion, review, development, and integration of wellness activities and policies within the College of Optometry. Under the direction of the office of Student Services, the committee is designed to develop and maintain a campus environment conducive to wellness and learning at an optimal level.
The areas of focus for the committee include emotional and spiritual wellness, physical wellness, environmental and community wellness, and interpersonal wellness. Rebecca Weinberger (’20) member of the committee, feels it enhances the image of our institution: “The wellness committee gives us the opportunity to put our mental well-being before our studies. I know most will sacrifice our sleep and mental health first just to get everything done, and when it is through an entire semester that can be seriously harmful for our health. I think the wellness committee is a great way to keep us healthy, happy, and reenergized to focus on ourselves and our studies.” The committee works to look at ways to enhance the overall physical and mental health of our students through various programs throughout the semester. Rachel Simpson (’19) also feels the college needs this committee: “They need to have their concerns heard, represented, and addressed. They need a committee of peers that is working on their behalf. There are simple, affordable changes that could be implemented today that would make life better, and that’s another function of the wellness committee- to hold the college accountable for making these changes.”
One of the additions to helping reduce stress and anxiety is the addition of 17-month-old corgi, Willow, who makes her appearance during times when students are taking tests. Nick Palisch, Director of Student and Alumni Services feels, “Willow has the demeanor to calm and make people smile. She is a dog who seems to understand people’s behavior more so than most and she brings smiles to the students.” Having Willow on campus periodically helps to ease the stress and anxiety. Heather Stern (’20) agrees, “Willow is such a sweet puppy! When I am stressed about assignments, tests, and school in general it brings me such joy to see and play with a puppy who looks at you telling you that it’s all going to be okay.” Being able to add small things to the college can have a huge impact on our students.
The committee will continue to review areas of need through various workshops on stress, time management, health, and wellness. “Enhancing the health and wellness of our students is a growing concern across medical schools. We must be aware of our students’ mental, physical, and academic health at all times,” said Palisch. Over the next several months, the committee will continue to develop programs to better serve the college and all the students.