The Statewide Wellness Coalition (WC) is run by an amazing group of students from across the state and advised by Kristen Heath, Lead Advisor and Statewide Wellness Coordinator. The executive team consists of one chairperson, the VP of Wellness (who also sits on the MSC board), vice presidents for all eight dimensions of wellness, a secretary, a treasurer, a VP of communications & social media and a VP of curricular integration. Additionally, the coalition has a wide range of members consisting of one to three liaisons from each regional campus and class representatives from Indianapolis. Also sharing a seat at the table are members of existing student organizations including FIRM, MedTalks, and the Vital Healing Project.
This fantastic group of students aims to provide programming, events, and work with administration for curricular change in order to reduce burnout and introduce students to effective self-care strategies for the eight dimensions of wellness—emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.
In the past three years of its existence, the WC has hosted events such as cookies and canvas, terrarium building, sleep specialist talks, nutritionist visits, trail mix making stations, therapy dog visits, acupuncture workshops, Mental Health awareness week and field day. Additionally, the WC has been a key player in initiating the intersessions wellness breakout sessions and the peer facilitated clerkship support groups.
This spring the Wellness Coalition stepped up to the challenge of providing opportunities for students to engage in well-being practices during the pandemic and lock-down of our nation. Peer facilitators began offering Zoom support groups, called “Quarantales," and hosted an illuminating panel featuring residents working in the time of COVID-19. They began offering virtual workouts (HIIT, Zumba, and yoga) and weekly meditation sessions.
Yoga and meditation are still offered each week via Zoom. Please see the website for more details. Additionally, partnering organizations continue to feature robust programming. For example, The Vital Healing Project recently collaborated with other medical schools around the nation to host a discussion on solidarity in medicine.
This year the Wellness Coalition is excited to continue efforts in providing opportunities for students to work on their well-being. They have upcoming plans to host an herb-planting event, an event to educate on mental health services, a stop the stigma campaign for Suicide Awareness month in September, as well as several outdoors activities (hikes, orchards, pumpkin patches!). They hope to return to gatherings soon so they can bring back the Wellness Carnival!
Getting involved in the Wellness Coalition is a wonderful way to enhance personal well-being, as well as help peers. Students can become involved with the Wellness Coalition by applying for a position during the fall and spring interview day application cycles, through Medical Student Council. Additionally, they can join student organizations that are a part of the Wellness Coalition or reach out to Kristen directly to see if their existing organization would be a good fit on the WC.
Please make sure to visit the website to learn more about the coalition and the wellness curriculum at IU School of Medicine. Also, make sure to add them on Instagram (@iumedwellness). In the meantime, stay well IU School of Medicine.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Kristen Heath is a Lead Advisor in the Mentoring & Advising Program at IU School of Medicine. She has worked in higher education for over eight years, starting her career off on Air Force Bases teaching Psychology coursework. She is passionate about lifelong learning and devotion to personal well-being. When she is not in the advising office you can find her teaching Zumba, dancing, or riding bikes with her son, Ryder. She is a fan of the outdoors and loves to camp, hike and garden.