Midwestern University Celebrates One Health Day with Ongoing Commitment

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November 03, 2022 | Midwestern University

Midwestern University incorporates One Health principles into academic, clinical, and community service experiences for students in all programs.

Midwestern University has fully integrated the concepts of the One Health Initiative into every facet of healthcare education, research, student activities, and community outreach. At its core, One Health is based on the understanding that the health of humans is connected to the health of animals and the environment. This approach encourages health science professionals from multiple disciplines to work together to optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems.  

At Midwestern University, One Health concepts are introduced to every student early in their academic courses and clinical experiences. The University also provides additional support for cross-disciplinary research, and our campus community is committed to engaging in service opportunities that support One Health principles.

To mark the seventh annual global One Health Day on November 3, 2022, we reached out to some of the Midwestern University faculty members who are at the forefront of the ongoing One Health Initiative to share their insights.

David Line, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.W.
Program Director, College of Graduate Studies-Glendale

How would you explain/describe the One Health approach for the uninitiated?
One Health helps us appreciate how we are part of a holon (both a part and a whole at the same time) rather than a food chain or circle of life. In One Health we appreciate the interrelationships of the environment, animals, and human health. In the food chain we think of the plant feeding the animal, then a smaller animal eaten by a larger animal, all the way up to the top of the chain to the top predator. In the circle of life, we appreciate that the top predator is eventually consumed by the smallest of microbes. In a holon, we understand that all species, from the smallest of microbes to the tallest of trees or strongest of predators, rely on each other to exist. Similarly, the One Health approach allows us to understand how important animals, humans, and the environment are to each other. Each part is integral to the success of the other parts.

What are common One Health issues?
Food is a quintessential One Health topic. After all, we are what we eat. Agriculture provides most of the food we eat while also dramatically changing the environment in which we live. Maintaining a healthy balance of biodiversity while growing food in monoculture fields or feedlots creates a challenge. Understanding the complex relationship of the farm-to-table continuum is best understood with a One Health perspective.

Why is One Health a vital concept for our students?
The One Health approach helps us appreciate how health is attained from the environments we create as well as the animals around us. Midwestern University students look at these relationships through the full spectrum of the bio-psycho-social continuum.

Colin MacPherson, M.A., CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor, Speech-Language Pathology-Glendale

How would you explain/describe the One Health approach for the uninitiated?
The One Health approach is discussed with student speech-language pathologists during their first quarter in the course “One Health and Speech-Language Pathology.” There is a discussion on how animals and humans coexist and benefit each other, ranging from pets and their owners to medical and behavioral research that incorporates animals to understand species similarities and differences. Students also engage in learning activities that improve their understanding of the role of personal qualities and how that contributes to interprofessional education.

Why is the One Health approach essential to understand?
The One Health initiative is important to understand as knowledge of the interdependence of humans and other species situates the discipline of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders in the broader academic universe that seeks to understand human function. This broader perspective leads student speech-language pathologists to increase their knowledge of multiple disciplines and professions that contribute to our knowledge of human communication science and disorders.

What are common One Health issues?
One Health issues addressed in our course include information from cross-species research that informs clinical assessment and treatment practices and the role of pets/animals in the treatment of communication impairments.

What do you want MWU students to understand about One Health?
I really want our student SLPs to understand that research from multiple disciplines can inform our knowledge of the social, cognitive, and linguistic bases of human communication development and disorders.

Why is One Health a vital concept for our students?
The One Health initiative is critical in that our student SLPs develop their awareness that our profession does not exist in a vacuum and is reliant on basic research in other disciplines that addresses both the human and non-human species.