Metropolitan State University of Denver has partnered with Eaton Senior Communities in a couple of ways – first by providing internship opportunities to health professions and social work students, and eventually expanding to provide ongoing volunteer opportunities for the Integrative Health Care Program students focusing on holistic wellness.
The Wellness Coach/Aging Services internship was created a few years ago to offer students experience in assessing and coaching residents to create annual health and wellness goals for themselves. The social work students participate in the same type of internship with an added social work component. According to Integrative Health Care Program intern Kate West, Metro State University’s 2014 Intern of the Year, “A fellow student at MSU Denver had an incredibly positive experience with her internship at ESC and highly recommended it to me. Their diverse wellness offerings and green initiatives really stood out amongst other internship opportunities. I felt as though the depth and breadth of services ESC provides would be the greatest benefit to my learning experience.”
The interns’ offerings have been an extremely valuable addition to the ESC wellness program. Intern West has initiated holistic wellness classes focusing on natural supplements and prescription drug interactions, weight management, “Super Foods” and nutrition, and well as other holistic health lectures. She leads a walking group, chair yoga, and an emotional support group in addition to her role as a wellness coach. “Since ESC has allowed me a certain degree of autonomy, I have been able to push myself to grow in a variety of ways,” states intern West. “My experience has furthered my hands-on learning with integrative health. By utilizing holistic health and wellness concepts in a real world environment, I have been able to greatly enhance my education. From ethical dilemmas to learning new healthcare offerings to understanding insurance, the situations I have encountered at ESC provide lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom.”
Because of the positive internship experiences of Integrative Health Care Program students, the program’s Student Club, called the Integrative Therapeutic Practice (ITP) Club, reached out to ESC to spearhead some wellness course work as a community service outreach to ESC. According to Dr. Emily Matuszewicz, Faculty Advisor of the ITP Club, “Observing our students, I have witnessed those discovering clear vocational goals, inspiration, and most importantly, a sense of purpose and meaning. Our students tend to enter our program because they have a strong desire to make a difference and they have found that they get as much back from working with seniors in low-income communities as they are contributing. Now, with our students interested in volunteering their time through the ITP Club, it gives us additional avenues through which we can build a relationship with ESC”. The ITP Club has been generous in providing a variety of holistic health and wellness classes and activities that focus on the whole person, promoting all dimensions of wellness.