New online degree targets wellness managementThe University of Wisconsin-Superior joins UW-Extension and three other UW campuses to offer a new online degree program in Health and Wellness Management.
By: For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
The University of Wisconsin-Superior joins UW-Extension and three other UW campuses to offer a new online degree program in Health and Wellness Management.
UW-Extension spearheads the new online degree that prepares students to manage wellness initiatives offered by insurance companies, employers, and governments.
UW-Extension is bringing together the strengths the La Crosse, River Falls, Stevens Point and Superior campuses to create the program that targets adult students.
“As more and more companies introduce smoking cessation, weight management and heart disease prevention programs, there is a growing need for qualified individuals who can oversee these programs in order to reduce health care costs and improve productivity and employee well-being,” said David Schejbal, dean of UW-Extension. “The Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Management prepares students to fill this critical need.”
Courses in the new program are fully online. To be eligible, students must have either an associate degree or 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree. The curriculum consists of 21 classes — 63 credits — and covers such topics as health and medical terminology, medical ethics, information technology in health care, health benefit plans and providers, and leadership and change management in health care.
“People are seeking ways to enjoy healthy, productive lives. Graduates of this new degree will lead programs in companies and organizations toward this goal,” said Dr. William Simpson, associate professor of health and human performance at UW-Superior and the university’s academic director for the online Health and Wellness Management program.
Worksite wellness programs have continued to grow in number and sophistication since their formal introduction in the 1970s. The rising cost of health care, sweeping national health care legislation and concerns about productivity have spurred demand for such programs. As health care costs continue to rise, insurance companies, employers and governments are attempting to find ways to curb costs.
This is leading to anticipated employment growth of 18 to 22 percent in the health and wellness field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This growth has increased the need for qualified employees who can manage health and wellness programs that produce measurable bottom-line results.
Careers benefiting from the Health and Wellness Management Degree Wellness programs are growing according to a 2009 survey by the Integrated Benefits Institute. Sixty eight percent of responding employers who provide health and productivity initiatives said that over the next two years, they plan to add resources to build those initiatives.
“I foresee this degree and the jobs in this field growing over the next five years,” said Jon Schluck, regional manager of CV Outreach Operations at Regions Hospital and a reviewer of the curriculum.
The Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Management can be the foundation for a variety of positions, including wellness manager, wellness program manager, worksite wellness coordinator and director of sports, fitness and wellness. The degree equips students with the skills necessary to manage health and wellness programs in the workplace.
Prospective students for health and wellness programs range from insurance professionals, human resources administrators, nurses and fitness coaches to health educators and promoters.
The average salary for a wellness professional is $55,000, according to a 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.
The degree equips students with the skills necessary to manage health and wellness programs in the workplace using the seven dimensions of wellness. UW-Stevens Point, which has a long history leading the wellness movement, expanded the modern concept of wellness into the seven dimensions, encompassing the social, physical, emotional, career, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual.
“An emphasis on management sets this degree apart from other health and wellness degrees,” said Stafford C. Rorke, associate professor and director of the Wellness, Health Promotion, and Injury Prevention Program at the School of Health Services, Oakland University.
The Health and Wellness Management program is the second online degree program in which UW-Superior is partnering with UW-Extension and other UW campuses. The nation’s first Sustainable Management degree, launched in 2009, already is attracting twice as many students as originally anticipated.
UW-Superior’s Distance Learning Center also offers online degree programs in Communicating Arts and Elementary Education along with an Individually Designed majors that students can plan with many different program concentrations.
To register or get more information, visit http://hwm.wisconsin.edu. Prospective students can apply for the spring 2012 semester.