In response to Governor Jay Inslee’s directive in 2014 that mandates “State Agencies with 50 or more employees are required to provide Employee Wellness Centers,” Bellevue College’s Health Sciences, Education and Wellness Institute will be accepting its first cohort of students into the four-year Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Promotion and Management program.
BC received Washington State Board approval for this degree in April 2016.
The HPM degree will prepare graduates for careers focused around the preventative care of chronic illnesses. Unlike those who have graduated with public health degrees, students in the HPM program will put more emphasis on lifestyle changes that can improve one’s health. With a BAS in HPM, graduates can find work as health directors, health promotion managers, fitness coaches, wellness consultants and other similar positions.
Although the program will focus on the prevention of chronic conditions, students will find that the degree is not entirely science, technology, engineering or math related. As prerequisites, students interested in the program are required to have completed college biology and math courses, however once in the program students will find that their classes also incorporate business, interpersonal communications, wellness coaching and leadership.
In addition, “Students will gain knowledge about the development of chronic diseases and prevention. They will also gain business skills in organizational theory needed to manage these programs,” said Program Director of HPM Ray Butler.
Every fall quarter, students will start the HPM program as a cohort. They are required to attend an orientation before classes begin where they meet and network with students of their cohort. As a result, students of the same cohort will move through the program together. This model was adopted because “being surrounded by classmates who support and encourage one another will enhance student involvement, engagement and retention in the program,” explained HPM Program Manager Megan Sykes.
Nearly half of the HPM classes will be hybrid courses, which require students to allocate their time online and on campus during the evenings. “The faculty have intentionally done this so students are able to work during the day and also enroll in the program,” said Sykes.
A BAS in HPM is different from a degree in public health or healthcare management. Butler explained that “The Health Promotion and Management program is designed to prepare students to manage Employee Wellness Programs focused on the prevention rather than the treatment of chronic disease common in America today,” the latter being a focus of public health graduates. According to the Center for Disease Control, the treatment of chronic illnesses is responsible for 86 percent of this nation’s health care costs.
With this degree, Butler hopes to “significantly cut the occurrence of early onset chronic diseases like diabetes, heart attacks, asthma, obesity, strokes, osteoporosis, arthritis and so many other self-inflicted disorders.”
With Governor Inslee’s directive, many companies in the state are now required to have Wellness Centers for their employees in order to prevent absenteeism and improve personal health. For Butler, this program is necessary.
“The growth in Wellness Center’s in the workplace, hospitals and community centers has exploded but there just aren’t college-level programs available in the NW to address this increased need,” explained Butler.
In addition, Butler is confident that students will find employment following graduation. “We expect all of our graduates to immediately secure employment in employee wellness, hospital wellness or community wellness programs upon graduation,” said Butler.
The program is based on rolling admissions and will continue to admit until Sept.1. Eligible applicants must have an associate’s degree in business-related, allied health or wellness or personal fitness training.
Students who are interested can apply at bellevuecollege.edu/hpm/how-to-apply.