Spokane to offer new degree

Washington State University Spokane has become one of a few universities in the nation to offer an interdisciplinary degree integrating concepts and principles of exercise science and nutrition.

The Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology and metabolism focuses on biological interrelationships between exercise and nutrition, as well as social/psychological aspects on exercise and nutrition and the effect of these interactions on the health of individuals.

According to program faculty members, the curriculum is distinctive because the emphasis of the degree is on integrating exercise and nutrition effects. Most other programs that offer some content from each of the two areas typically offer a bachelor’s degree in one of the two disciplines with a minor or certificate in the other, rather than the integrated curricular approach available at WSU Spokane.

The program content examines multiple influences on individuals’ health–biological, nutritional, environmental, clinical and social/psychological – and how and why the human body functions and responds in certain ways to various exercise and nutritional stimuli. Students learn to apply classroom concepts to real working situations by participating in a practicum that is part of the curriculum and by doing a semester-long worksite internship to prepare them for the demands of the workplace.

Faculty are working on the program curriculum for submission to the American Dietetic Association for accreditation. If approved, students in the program will acquire a strong foundation in the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competencies as specified by the American College of Sports Medicine, and will be eligible to take the certification exam as an exercise specialist after completing this degree.

Healthcare and medical leaders in Spokane believe the degree fills a critical need.

The combined nutrition and exercise science program makes sense from a health care perspective. Both components are critical aspects of lifestyle modification, which we promote for managing many health concerns. In particular, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, chronic kidney disease and cancer are areas where this expertise would be helpful,” sqaid Katherine R. Tuttle, MD, director of research for The Heart Institute of Spokane, and professor of basic medical sciences, WWAMI program, WSU.

Ryland P. “Skip” Davis, CEO, Sacred Heart Medical Center, said, “Providence Health Care and Sacred Heart Medical Center, as a leading health care provider, strongly supports a multidisciplinary team approach to health care services. The curriculum of this program will enhance the nutrition education of the clinical specialist in exercise science, and enhance their ability to function effectively as a team member for prevention and rehabilitation.”

Students interested in pursuing the degree are encouraged to contact program faculty for advising on prerequisite courses. Students may begin their studies at WSU Pullman, with the final two years at WSU Spokane, or may enroll in their freshman and sophomore years at another university or community college and transfer to WSU Spokane. For more information, contact Linda Massey, massey@wsu.edu, 509-358-7621.

Lead faculty in the program offer broad expertise, and teach in graduate programs in nutrition and in exercise science also available at WSU Spokane:

Sally Blank, PhD, FACSM, associate professor, exercise science, focuses her research on stress-related effects of exercise and its impact on immune function, and on integrative biobehavioral interventions for cancer survivors. Contact: seblank@wsu.edu, 509-358-7633.

E. Carolyn Johnson, PhD, FACSM, associate professor, exercise science, focuses her research on cells from small blood vessels in the body and the damaging effects of conditions associated with diabetes, high protein intake, and atherosclerosis, as well as the protective effect of ethanol on processes underlying atherosclerosis in these cells. Contact: ecarolj@mail.wsu.edu, 509-368-6733.

Linda Massey, PhD, RD, professor, human nutrition, is recognized nationally as an expert in mineral metabolism; she examines calcium, sodium and magnesium nutrition as related to development and treatment of chronic diseases of aging such kidney stones, osteoporosis and hypertension. Contact: massey@wsu.edu, 509-358-7621.

Janet Beary, PhD, RD, CHES, assistant clinical professor, human nutrition, directs the registered dietitian program at WSU Spokane. Her expertise is in, weight management eating disorders and diet’s affect on bladder symptoms. Contact: beary@wsu.edu, 509-358-7562.

Maddy Houghton, PhD, RD, associate professor, human nutrition, studies breast feeding, world food supply, infant feeding practices, sports nutrition, eating disorders, hunger, Native Americans, international issues, and comparative cultures. Contact: dellwo@wsu.edu, 509-358-7622.

Susan Kynast-Gales, PhD, RD, assistant professor, human nutrition, provides nutrition education for the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial, has participated in research in the areas of diabetes, kidney stones, caffeine and blood pressure, and has particular interest in the effects of stress and circadian rhythms. Contact: kynasts@wsu.edu, 509-358-6735.