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The Future of Integrated Practice and Education

August 11, 2014, 11:00 AM
The Future of Integrated Practice and Education
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Recognizing the emerging need for a workforce that can understand the potential synergy between safety, injury prevention, and wellness efforts, Western Kentucky University (WKU) has begun offering educational programs that encourage students to integrate health promotion into occupational safety and vice versa.

In fall 2014, WKU will offer a Master of Science in Environmental and Occupational Health Science, with both worksite wellness and safety components. In addition, an advanced certificate in worksite health promotion will be available that includes training on critical issues in health and safety.

Cecilia Watkins, who teaches worksite health promotion at WKU, has been one of the lead figures pushing for integration in the WKU curriculum. Each year she takes her students on a field trip to Logan Aluminum, a local business, but this year she brought along occupational safety and health students as well. Both sets of students attended presentations by Logan’s safety and wellness representatives.

In another example, students in Graduate Worksite Health Promotion are working collaboratively to develop a program integrating health protection and health promotion, using Logan as a case study. A key instructional resource in this elective has been The Whole Worker: Guidelines for Integrating Occupational Health and Safety with Workplace Wellness Programs, one of the resources featured on our Guidelines for Implementing TWH Programs webpage. For more information on developments related to integrated educational offerings at WKU, visit http://www.wku.edu/online/worksitehealth or email cecilia.watkins@wku.edu.

Rethinking the educational framework is only one important piece of current efforts toward integration in Kentucky. The Kentucky Department for Public Health Worksite Wellness Program and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) at the University of Kentucky are bringing together the lead agencies and thinkers in the state for worksite wellness, injury prevention, and occupational safety and health, as well as strong linkages with small business. While these programs have long been strong in their own right, they are now taking bold, new steps to integrate health protection and health promotion for even better outcomes.

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