ASU Health Solutions faculty innovate to inform

ASU faculty are using strategic event programming to engage more students in important health issues

ASU's College of Health Solutions has taken new steps this year to design event programming that keeps pace with modern health issues while employing a multidisciplinary approach. 

We Need to Talk is a series of live events that host conversations focused on modern health issues. The series also shows how faculty adapt to improve existing events for students.

This year, three Health Solutions faculty members are teaching a topic course themed around the series to further student involvement.

This course, titled "We Need to Talk - Tough Health Conversations," has no enrollment requirement and is a small-group study and research class in which students help research and design programming for the series.

Clinical assistant professor Swapna Reddy explained that, though the series has been running for a few years, the class component and additional media were added this year. 

Reddy said that this class has given students hands-on experience in public health programming.  

Junior business and global politics major Asha Ramakumar said she decided to take the class because of her interest in global women's health, and the class ultimately inspired her thesis.

"The class is broken up in to three groups," Ramakumar said. "One group does background research on the topic, the second finds media clips and interview people who know about the topic to create a montage that plays before the event, and the third group writes the questions that are asked during the podcast."

The talks tackle issues like race and gender in healthcare delivery, mental health, medical marijuana and more.

Ramakumar said the class made her realize that most public health information is designed to be consumed by health professionals, not average people. She said this class taught her that kind of programming is imperative for letting the public know about relevant health information. 

Reddy said that the dynamic nature of the class and the important topics covered attract students from a variety of majors. 

Along with the new class, Reddy said that a new podcast for the series also started this year, two of which are now available on the College of Health Solutions iTunes page. 

These additions to the series, as well as the emergence of the hashtag #GiveEmHealthDevils, show the college's push to ensure that students have access to information that is relevant to their lives.

“While they’re health focused, the origins of these problems and challenges tend not to be in the healthcare system as much as they are in our society,"  Reddy said. "Healthcare is just a mirror of what’s happening in our society ... and there’s challenges but there’s also opportunities."

College of Health Solutions lecturer Jessica Lehmann said the programming is meeting a student demand.

“I've noticed more willingness to talk about ethnic diversity, and I see more of a focus in our students," Lehmann said. "We’re trying to meet students where they are."

Beyond societal issues, Lehmann said that the college has an obligation to stay up to date and be engaged when it comes to contemporary health conversations.

All in all, the college is well on its way to fulfilling that imperative, Ramakumar said. 

"I absolutely loved it, it was a really good experience and it illustrates really well how health information is really difficult to understand oftentimes," Ramakumar said. 

Lehmann and Reddy both expressed a continued interest in working with students and faculty to improve programs, so students can expect a schedule of informative health events in future semesters.

“We need to be a hub of wellness education … health is not an individual problem, we need to work on this problem as a community” Lehmann said.


Reach the reporter at gmlieber@asu.edu or follow @G_Mira_ on Twitter. 

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