The University of Portland School of Nursing (UPSON), is changing its name to the School of Nursing and Health Innovations effective July 1.
The change is primarily due to the growth of the Integrative Health and Wellness program (IHW) within UPSON, which was introduced three years ago.
The IHW program uses a holistic, wellness-focused education to promote wellbeing among individuals and communities by cultivating psychological, social, physical, biological and spiritual practices, according to the website.
The program had its first graduating cohort in Fall 2021, and the number of students enrolled is consistently increasing. There are currently 62 majors and 95 minors in IHW.
Junior IHW majors Karena Torres and Sandy Piedad both came to UP with different majors before the program was established.
“I was undeclared first, and then I took an Integrative Health and Wellness class and I was like, ‘this is really cool,’” Piedad said. “You can do so many things with it, that's why I chose it.”
Torres was originally a psychology major before choosing to pursue IHW her second semester. While recognizing the program’s achievement, she notes that it is still a smaller degree plan with limited courses.
“It's a good foundation, but I would like to see it grow in terms of incorporating what people actually see themselves doing,” Torres said. “How are they able to open up new classes that are in the integrative health world but also working towards what people actually want?”
With a modern approach to health and wellness, the major can offer flexibility for students through a variety of concentrations and career opportunities.
Its unique design, however, leaves IHW students out of UPSON conversation.
“Technically we're nursing students because we're in the School of Nursing,” Piedad said. “Separating the two makes it feel like we're not part of the School of Nursing, even though we are. So yeah, I don't feel like we get enough recognition, especially because it is a new branch.”
With the addition of ‘Health Innovations,’ the IHW program and its students are more fully included into the school’s foundation and prominence.
As a school affected by constant change, UPSON strives for innovation in its program.
“The entire IHW program is so full of innovation and forward-thinking approaches to supporting people in health and wellness,” Dean of UPSON, Casey Shillam, said.
Although the program is new, it has still made great strides and is the only Health and Wellness Coach Training & Education Program approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) in Oregon.
Director of the Integrative Health and Wellness Program, Andrew Lafrenz, has overseen the program’s development the past two years.
“It's a hybrid program because we have all the same content and curriculum as a public health undergrad major, but we also have a pretty strong emphasis on individual holistic health,” Lafrenz said. “It’s focusing and educating students on how to work on and prevent disease through different dimensions of wellness, not just physical, but psychological, spiritual, social, environmental.”
Launching the Integrative Health and Wellness program was the definitive factor that opened the conversation for adjusting the name of the School of Nursing.
Shillam and Lafrenz collaborated with staff and faculty from other departments at UP to create a name that could reflect the present and the future.
“It was a fun, exciting but somewhat challenging process coming up with a name that was inclusive but also provided us flexibility to offer more,” Lafrenz said.
With the name, ‘Health Innovations,’ the UPSON has space to grow and develop using an innovative mindset.
“Innovation and design thinking are threaded through the curriculum, but also they are approaches that our faculty are using with our students,” Shillam said. “So I think that's been a really fun way of envisioning where we are and then where we hope to go.”
Chiara Profenna is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.