Well-Being is the new Prevention & Prevention is the new Medicine

Currently, Lifestyle Medicine doctors partner with coaches to help patients have greater health & well-being.

As well, the Ornish Program prevents or reverses heart disease & cancer by helping  patients to connect & manage stress together,  plus eat healthier & exercise (see video).   Medicare covers the team – a physician, nurse, exercise physiologist, dietitian, yoga/stress management instructor, & psychologist. 

Also, the largest healthcare system, military medicine is a community-based prevention system – Total Health & Fitness. The DoD has poured hundreds of millions into a train-the-trainer model, disseminating Seligman’s Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness program. Proven to increase resilience, Drill Sergeants train troop leaders to train their units to help each other –  to be more “totally” fit.  

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The Challenge

Suddenly, we all need to learn to work together as we apply new skills in Clinical Prevention & Population Health. In practice, prevention is a team sport. But, training is still stuck in silos.  In 2013, the IOM reported the need for new interprofessional models, for training new competencies, like knowing:  

(1) What’s evidence-based for a healthy lifestyle,

(2) Where to find it in their community,

(3) How to promote it to patients to motivate health behavior change, and

(4) How to promote healthy communities.


A New Model:  Outsourced Certificates

Recently, in the area of Quality Improvement, scores of schools (medical, nursing, public health) actually require an outsourced QI Certificate.  Students ‘virtually’ train at the IHI – their second school.


It combines online education with local service learning & action research. Students learn QI competencies in online modules. They then demonstrate their QI skills by measuring improvement from their intervention in a local hospital.

How did it happen?  It evolved rapidly, starting with individual students voluntarily taking IHI non-credit courses. Excited by how they improved hospital safety, they tweeted out their successes and initiated QI chapters at their home schools. Then, worldwide, students flocked to the Open School. Finally, professional schools saw value in outsourcing this turnkey QI training.


Bottom line, this non-University is the leader in training global healthcare quality.  It set the gold standard for interprofessional skills training, established new knowledge in QI, and in fact, has saved millions of lives!

The Opportunity

In developing a Well-Being University, George Mason could also train future healthcare leaders. That is, similar to the Open School model, it could develop the gold standard for training in Lifestyle Team Leadership & Coaching.

Building on Mason’s solid distance education program, it could combine two validated trainings – resilience and healthy lifestyle (i.e., Seligman’s and Ornish’s programs). Dr. Seligman himself, at the 2011 CCT Conference he keynoted, suggested that we empirically test the training of students to lead their peers to be more resilient (in Fitness Teams), using his train-the-trainer military model.

For instance, to earn a Lifestyle Team Leadership & Coaching certificate,  students could learn to promote team resilience skills (online learning) and apply their skills to recruit and lead interprofessional fitness teams on campus (service-learning).  They’d measure results (action research).  As they’d  post their fitness success stories to their curated Well-Being University page in their Directory, they’d promote new knowledge about what works for greater health & well-being.   

Using the Directory to find a team to join, students in other courses could share their strengths (for a service-learning credit).  At first, student fitness teams could compete within their home schools. Over time, school teams could compete in annual intercollegiate competitions (dubbed March Madness for Fitness) – to be the University with the best Well-Being or total fitness stats.

The training could develop a knowledge base of what works to improve resilience and other health outcomes on campuses. It could provide students with a high-demand skill set and a ‘social CV’ showing their leadership and coaching track record. In this way, Mason could set the gold standard for training future leaders in Clinical Prevention & Population Health.  Isn’t that what Mason aspires to be … the best University FOR the world?

First Steps

In preliminary pilots with Dr. Kreps, Mason staff, students, and faculty said they’d join such a competition. Over 40 Directors of University Clinical Psychology programs also said they’d participate. Even the town of Princeton is ready to play. Who knows, the Provost’s Global Problem Solving Consortium might join to meet the global challenge of obesity.

Next Steps

We propose that the ONE Tool, a platform already in use at Mason, could facilitate the interdisciplinary communication & collaboration to implement this in several phases. We need to conduct pilots to show feasibility of this tool, in order to be competitive for grant funding.

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We envision that a University-based social enterprise, initiated with NIH grant funding, could develop and sustain this program.  The concept of a revenue-producing ‘Open Curated Directory’ is explained in this American Psychological Association presentation.


See more here:  Mason Pilots  … Open Directory  …   MOOC  …  Teaching Clinical Skills

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