Oswego to deliver online health, wellness program under Open SUNY

OSWEGO — A new SUNY Oswego online graduate certificate in health and wellness was among the programs announced as part of the second wave of Open SUNY+ programs by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher on Oct. 16.

When Open SUNY+ launched in January, Oswego had two of the first eight online programs available — a master’s in business administration and an MBA in health services administration.

This second phase adds 56 more online programs offered at 17 campuses, including certificate programs for the first time.

Open SUNY+ programs are online degree and certificate programs that meet pressing employment needs and feature additional support services for students and faculty.

Oswego’s online health and wellness certificate, designed for busy professionals and potentially achievable within a year. is unique in New York state as a totally online advanced program of its type, said Sandra Bargainnier, chair of the college’s department of health promotion and wellness.

“I think it’s a unique opportunity for SUNY Oswego to serve the health care field in a way that enhances people’s skills,” said Jill Pippin, dean of extended learning at Oswego. “Having it online is key to being adult friendly, since most of these people are going to be working in the health field and will have varied schedules and demands on their time.”

The core target market is nurses and health care workers, including those in mental health, who need to advance their skillsets or attain professional health care credits. But it can help anybody interested in personal or professional development in the field, including fitness instructors, substance abuse counselors, child care workers, professionals in the leisure and insurance industries, and others.

It also addresses a key educational niche, Bargainnier explained: Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in a New York state teacher preparation program for health or physical education need at least 12 credits in graduate health-related content to gain professional certification.

Students completing the advanced certificate will learn about evaluating various approaches to health and healing and about viewing people holistically — incorporating physical, environmental, emotional, mental and social factors.

“Students are going to learn about the latest evidence-based research in mind-body wellness,” Bargainnier said. “They will also explore the behavior change process — how you help yourself or others make and maintain positive changes in behavior, whether in diet or exercise or managing addictions.”

The online health and wellness certificate fits a need in a growing employment field, with the number of jobs in the health care and social assistance industry expected to increase by 33 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Online pioneers

Oswego’s inclusion in both waves of Open SUNY+ underscores the college’s expertise in online delivery, Pippin said.

“We’re very proud Open SUNY participants,” Pippin said. “We think we’ve seen a lot of benefits from being part of wave one with our MBA and our MBA HSA. We’re really looking forward to providing more opportunities.”

The Open SUNY+ initiative offers online courses and programs with a comprehensive suite of supports and services to aid degree completion. Built-in supports include 24/7 assistance for students, whether they need technical help, tutoring, financial planning or academic advisement services, as well as a Center for Online Teaching Excellence where faculty can opt into training programs and online forums to broaden their knowledge about developing effective online courses or share best practices and learn directly from colleagues across SUNY.

“Open SUNY embodies all of the ideals we aim to uphold in service to our students — increased access to quality higher education and improved avenues for degree completion and career success,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “The growth of Open SUNY in its inaugural year is remarkable. We are more confident than ever that, at full scale, Open SUNY will emerge as the world’s largest online learning environment.”

A full list of the 64 online programs on 19 campuses available through Open SUNY+ can be found at http://open.suny.edu.

For more information on other graduate programs at SUNY Oswego, visit http://www.oswego.edu/gradstudies.