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Center for Integrated Health Studies

Collaborating for better health and wellness

CMU launches interdisciplinary center for health education, research and service learning

Contact: Heather Smith

A forum examining how the opioid epidemic is impacting the Great Lakes Bay Region and Michigan will be the first of many collaborations produced by a new center at Central Michigan University.

A variety of professionals — from physicians to parole officers — will review resources, alternative treatment approaches, and intervention and prevention models at the CMU College of Medicine Sept. 8.

CMU's new Interdisciplinary Center for Community Health and Wellness — launching as a virtual space for resource and information sharing — is designed to stimulate education, research, projects and service learning with a team approach to prevent disease and promote health.

"The center reflects our commitment to the Great Lakes Bay Region and the state of Michigan as a whole," Provost Michael Gealt said. "Many opportunities exist for community collaborations to advance urgent health priorities — especially in medically underserved rural and urban communities."

Deans from five academic colleges have partnered to develop the center:

Student serves a senior citizenIt takes more than hospitals and care facilities to promote community health and wellness, said George Kikano, dean of CMU's College of Medicine. Early childhood development, employment, education, food availability, air and water quality, housing, public safety, and transportation all influence the health and well-being of children, families and adults.

"We envision a center that increasingly engages CMU students and faculty with communities to improve health outcomes through clinical practicums, research and service learning initiatives," Kikano said.

The center will connect faculty, staff and community experts, said Betty Kirby, acting dean of the College of Education and Human Services.

"This interdisciplinary approach has a lot of potential. We're expecting the work we do to improve the health and wellness of the mid-Michigan community, our state and potentially the nation," Kirby said. "Together, we can remove barriers, promote resilience and build people's capacity to lead healthier lives.

Partners and activities in the center include:

The university will hire a director to organize and manage center offerings and partnerships, generate funding, and reach out to the community and stakeholders.

CMU is a leader in innovative, team-based, interdisciplinary education, including through the College of Medicine, which graduated its first class in May. Its students work in teams from the day they start their program and also study and collaborate with peers in other programs, such as physician assistant and physical therapy.

"CMU students learn from the start that health and wellness is best achieved with a team of dedicated professionals collaborating on behalf of patients," Kikano said. "This center will extend that concept to communities and give students in any number of majors hands-on experiences making a difference in real-world settings."

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