Public Affairs, The California State University

Enriching the Quality of Life through Healthcare

By Stephanie Thara

Students measuring blood pressure

As the new year begins, goals of eating better and living a healthier lifestyle are filling the resolution pipeline. CSU students and staff are dedicated to helping keep people on the wellness track and promoting the importance of good health and a balanced diet.

The CSU graduates more than 25,000 health professionals every year, awarding degrees ranging from physical therapy and nursing to exercise science and nutrition. Housing 19 schools of nursing, 14 schools of social work, 14 schools for allied health professionals and nine schools of healthcare management, the CSU is one of the largest producers of healthcare graduates in California.

With nearly 400 healthcare-related degree programs and concentrations, students are able to take a variety of courses that teach them how to apply essential health concepts into the community. Jessie Arnold and Andrea Nunez-Smith, two nutrition majors at San Diego State, are inspiring students to stay healthy while living in residence halls. Using Instagram—an image-based social media platform—Arnold and Nunez-Smith posts workout plans, meal ideas and “fitspiration” to help college students achieve their fitness goals.

Cal Poly SLO Men's Basketball TeamAt Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, nutrition students exercised the university’s “learn by doing” approach by creating a unique diet for each player on the men’s basketball team. To identify the nutrition needed for each player to perform at an optimal level, head coach Joe Callero tapped nutritionist/part-time lecturer Chris Borgard and associate food science and nutrition professor Scott Reaves to conduct a comprehensive health evaluation and develop a wellness education program for the team. Under Callero, Borgard and Reaves’ direction, nutrition students evaluated what type of foods each player was eating, their class calendars and their sleep schedules to determine what the players should eat and when they should be eating. The program was a pilot project launched last year and Coach Callero hopes to create other programs to get more students involved and create more opportunity for hands-on learning.

Last week, 13 campus teams composed of students, faculty, alumni and health care partners held more than 60 meetings in the state capitol to inform state legislative members, staff and administration officials about the impact the CSU has on the healthcare industry. CSU leaders emphasized the different ways the University is responding to the rapidly changing healthcare workforce. For example, alumni spoke about how the CSU established the CSU Health Advocacy Day CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSU San Marcos to address the critical shortage of palliative care specialists. Additionally, healthcare students mentioned how CSU Dominguez Hills is improving the lives of wounded veterans by training students to become experts in prosthetic care through its Orthotics and Prosthetics Program.

Whether it is inspiring students to launch a fitness social media account,  giving students opportunities to practice their nutrition skills or advocating to legislators about the impact of CSU health programs, the CSU and its campuses strive to prepare leaders in the healthcare workforce that are committed to enriching the quality of life of citizens.