College of Allied Health and Nursing hosts a Health Summit on “Creating Community Well-Being.”  

The College of Allied Health and Nursing held its sixth annual Health Summit at the CSU Wednesday, with this year’s overarching theme being building connections with a focus on community welfare. 

The event featured many Minnesota-based speakers and a keynote address from triple board-certified physician Dr. Sarah Vinson.  

“Connections lead to better health outcomes, and that’s part of why we felt it was important to bring people into a space together,” said Megan Mahowald, interim associate dean of College of Allied Health & Nursing. 

Keeping with the theme, a keynote address was made on Cultivating a Culture of Connection “within the varying health and wellness systems to create THE standard of community wellbeing.” 

Keynote speaker Vinson is a physician who specializes in adult, child and adolescent forensic psychiatry. She is also a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry and chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine. 

“I always appreciate the opportunity to interact with people across disciplines because health and people exist across disciplines,” said Dr.Vinson. “Our way of doing things is usually that nurses talk to nurses and occupational therapists; occupational therapists and sports medicine people talk to sports medicine people. We don’t do nearly as much across professions as we should. When we start to examine health care and health care outcomes, that collaboration is going to be really important.” 

According to Vinson, aspiring health professionals should take advantage of classrooms, social media platforms, and networking sites to interact with peers and faculty members. As for those who have already jump started their career in health care, Vinson says to “be deliberate in grabbing lunch or dinner with people and being involved in your professional community. It doesn’t always have to be something dramatic, labor-intensive, or resource-intensive. The idea is that there are always opportunities for us to connect with other people, and we should use those opportunities.” 

Vinson also mentioned the importance of maintaining communication with peer mentors who may be at different stages of their careers or at different levels of leadership. She highlighted the importance of reaching out to peers to discuss managerial skills and all the other “things that they never really taught in medical school but are now the major components of the job.” 

Vinson explains that when we think about community, it is necessary that we not only discuss a professional community but also a personal community. The profession demands that healthcare personnel have a solid foundation and be grounded.

“It’s great that I visit Florida because I’m not Dr. Vinson there — I’m Sarah, who they watched grow up,” she stated. “Making time for the places where you don’t have a title and where your profession doesn’t matter gives you a foundation for the other stuff.” 

The event included 15 speakers in breakout sessions, a lunch presentation, and featured speaker sessions in addition to the keynote speaker’s speech to provide a variety of viewpoints on the subject of community wellness.

“In the past, the summit was really to elevate research that was happening within health. But this year, we really focused more on building community partnerships and engagement,” said Mahowald. ” Post COVID, we moved to more online events. Now we just wanted to bring people back into one space to connect,” said Megan Mahowald 

Mayo Clinic Health System was the lead sponsor of the summit. Additional sponsors included Mankato Clinic, Open Door Health Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Ecumen Pathstone Living and Delta Dental of Minnesota. 

According to Mahowald, the sponsor’s contribution goes beyond financial support. A summit advisory board has been established for sponsors to get involved in planning the event.   

“Those folks who are sponsors of the event are also able to participate in giving direction. That’s a really exciting aspect of the summit — that we’re coming together with those partners with a joint vision,” said Mahowald. 

Issatu Kamara, a nursing student, attended the summit for her coursework. “I learned that in Mankato, we have an integrated dental care program. It provides children from age zero to 18, pregnant women, and diabetics with free dental care. I didn’t know they would have it here,” said Kamara.  

Photo caption: The College of Allied Health and Nursing held its sixth annual Health Summit in the Centennial Student Union ballroom Wednesday. The focus this year was community welfare and building connections. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Ephrata Bezuayene at Ephrata.Bezuayene@mnsu.edu

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