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We’re in the Wellness Business


We're in the Wellness Business

R. Scott Ward
R. Scott Ward, PhD, Interim Dean, College of Health

As interim dean of the College of Health, my mission is to advance the college’s vision of “More Health, Less Medicine.” But what does that mean, exactly?

I’ve been a physical therapist for 43 years, and I’ve learned that everyone in health care has a contribution. When I started my career in the U of U Burn Center, everything we did was team-based and patient-centered care. Medicine was clearly involved, but all other health care professionals were recognized as equally crucial partners in achieving the best possible outcomes with the care that was provided. We viewed patients holistically. As I worked to rehabilitate patients with traumatic injuries, I could help them recover their function by supplementing pharmaceutical interventions. I also learned through my care of these patients that there’s more to health than just treating ill health.

When I transitioned to teaching and academia, I emphasized the importance of developing relationships with patients as you help them through a long-term recovery. And those social relationships are a key part of preventive health. If we can make our communities as healthy as they can be with preventive measures, we can rely less on medicine and expensive treatment. There’s a time and place for treating disease, but I believe health care can (and should) primarily begin with emphasizing wellness.

Our magazine title reflects this vision. Valeo is a Latin word that translates, in essence, to “I am well.” We’re in the wellness business here at the College of Health. Whether that’s training future health care professionals in the classroom, making cutting-edge research discoveries that improve quality of life, or serving so many of our community members to better their well-being, we all live this vision of “More Health” in our daily lives.

As you read this year’s magazine, you’ll find stories that bring this work to life. Shannon Jones and Jeff Rose are creating a community farm hub for the unsheltered. Melissa Zahl is bringing adaptive recreation opportunities to rural Utah populations. Peter Fino is making concussion assessments better for student-athletes. Barbara West has championed healthy living in the classroom and in her community for decades.
And our cover story is all about what health means across our six departments. You’ll find that while the work is dramatically different for each person profiled, they all believe in a shared vision of health and well-being, and it drives them to make the world a better, more vital place.
I’m proud of the good work we’ve accomplished in the College during my tenure as interim dean. I hope I’ve set the table nicely for our incoming dean, Dr. Kelly Tappenden. From the conversations we’ve had so far, I am certain they will lead us to new heights and help us bring health to more people than ever.

It’s been my privilege to lead the College over the last few months and serve in many other roles for the past 30+ years. Whether you’re picking up this magazine as an alum, student, or supporter, you are part of our community championing well-being for all. I can’t think of a better community to have spent my career with.

To your health,
Scott Ward