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UVM Public Health Student Competes in 2018 Winter Games

Like most graduate students, Ida Sargent finds pursuing a master’s degree to be a juggling act. But Ida is not your typical student. She’s a member of the U.S. Ski Team who is competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

A student in the UVM Master of Public Health online program, Ida is a lifelong Vermonter, 2014 Olympian, and World Championship skier.

We talked to Ida about her Nordic racing career and why she wants to work in public health.

How did you become interested in this particular career path?

As an elite athlete, I am very grateful for my health. Sports has given me the opportunity to be fit and strong, and I believe that good health is one of the most basic rights in life. It scares me to see the rising levels of childhood obesity, and the physical and mental burdens that it places on young children. I’m involved with several non-profit organizations that use sports and physical activity to build confidence, self-esteem, community values, and healthy habits. This is mostly volunteer work, but it has given me the opportunity to share the values and building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, which I believe is key to our future.

As an Olympic athlete, how to manage to find time to go to school?

Online courses are my only option. I spend at least half the year on the road with training camps during the summer and fall. From November through March, I am traveling around the globe with the U.S. Ski Team and racing World Cups almost every weekend. I often will be in four or more countries in a single month, so being in an actual classroom would be impossible for me. While I have a busy schedule, it’s great to have some balance on the road and to take my brain off of skiing.

Why did you choose UVM?

I’m a Vermonter through and through, and it’s a place that I care about deeply. UVM offers such a strong Master of Public Health program. It’s great to connect with many professors, public health professionals, and students who also have strong ties to Vermont and our communities. These connections can help us all make a difference improving the health of our population.

More information about UVM’s Ida Sargent (courtesy of TeamUSA.org)

Birthplace: Newport, Vt.

Hometown: Craftsbury, Vt.

High School: Burke Mountain Academy (Burke, Vt.) ’06

College: Dartmouth College ’11, Biology and Psychology

Team/Club: Craftsbury Green Racing Project

Olympic Experience

  • Two-time Olympian (2014, 2018)
  • Sochi 2014, 19th (sprint freestyle), 32nd (10K classic)

World Championship Experience

  • Most recent: 2017 – 24th (sprint freestyle), 43rd (10K classic)
  • Years of participation: 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017
  • Top finish: 24th – 2017 (sprint freestyle)

Personal: Daughter of David and Lindy Sargent…Has one brother, Eben, and one sister, Elsa…Started skiing as soon as she could walk…Aspires to be a physical therapist…Hobbies include running, practicing yoga, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, reading and gardening.

Learn more about UVM’s Master of Public Health Program

 

After UVM, Christina Supino Sets Her Sights on Working in Emergency Medicine

Christina Supino runs with children in Ghana, Africa, during her public health fellowship.

Christina Supino’s family doctor in New Hampshire inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. The positive relationships he developed with patients made such an impression on Christina that she later decided to work for him as an intern.

“That’s when I knew medicine was for me,” she says. Christina received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and Italian from Dartmouth—where she was also a track and field athlete—and went on to earn a master of public health from University of South Carolina. She eventually came to UVM to complete the Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, and is now in her first year at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She hopes to eventually work in Emergency Medicine.

We talked to Christina about gaining experience in patient care, developing a water purification center in Africa, and her medical school scholarship with the U.S. Air Force.

Can you tell us a little more about how you became interested in medicine?

Our family friend who is our family doctor really made an impact on my life. My parents were his first clients when he opened up his own practice. They liked him so much that they brought the rest of our very large Italian family to him, and now everyone goes to him. Going to the doctor’s office didn’t feel like a chore, and we actually really enjoyed it. Even my grandmother would always bring him her homemade Italian food. I was really impressed at how he was able to maintain this kind of relationship with almost all of his patients and also provide them with a very important service to maintain their health.

Tell Us About Your Fellowship in Africa.

I did a fellowship with Saha Global in Ghana, Africa, after I finished my master of public health in South Carolina, and it was really an incredible experience. We worked in a small village for a month and helped construct a culturally appropriate water purification center. We taught the women in the village how to run it since women are the traditional water gatherers in those communities. It was my first time in Africa and really gave me a better perspective on life. I remember finishing each of the long hot days by racing the kids in the village down the road. No matter how tired or exhausted I was, I always made sure to do that because even though we couldn’t understand each other in terms of language, it was something we could still share with each other.

While in the UVM Post-Bac Program, What Kind of Work Experience Did You Receive?

I worked at Home Instead Senior Care doing patient care-centered work. I picked up shifts with numerous people over the year and half I was there and fulfilled vastly different needs. I also worked as a personal care attendant for two private clients as well. I felt that these experiences helped diversify my skills to fit the needs of different patients. I would help with daily activities such as getting up, dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, transportation to and from grocery stores or doctor appointments, cleaning, preparing for bed, medication reminders. For some clients, I was there to accompany the hospice nurse for end-of-life care. Some shifts also required me to spend the night to ensure the client was safe.

Can you talk about research papers you published regarding physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness?

I was part of two papers during my master’s program at USC. Both were with one of my favorite professors who taught biostatistics. The first is titled “Differential association of cardiorespiratory fitness and central adiposity among U.S. adolescents and adults: A quantile regression approach.” Published in Preventative Medicine in March 2016, we discussed how using regular linear regression analyses to analyze the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and waist circumference might not be the best method. Instead, we used quantile regression to get a better picture of the existing trends. In fact, we found it to have a differential impact across waist circumference quantiles, which you wouldn’t have seen with regular linear regression analysis.

The other is titled, “Fitness adjusted racial disparities in central adiposity amongst females in the US using quantile regression” and was published in Obesity Science and Practice last June. This paper also used quantile regression instead of linear regression to analyze the impact of racial disparities in women across waist circumference quantiles. This was a pretty interesting paper because it shows the differential impact of waist circumference across quantiles for women of different ethnicities.

Tell us your scholarship with the Air Force.

When I was thinking about how I was going to pay for school, it was pretty overwhelming. Neither of my parents went to college and they just recently retired, so I knew I would be on my own in terms of the financial burden. With the Air Force, I am free to pursue whatever specialty I want, I just have to give them years after residency. I chose the Air Force specially because I have two friends that are in that branch and they told me what a great experience it was, and also my dad was an aircraft mechanic for 40 years, so aviation has always been something that’s part of my family. I have also heard from other students that are doing the same program that military service will give me great experience, especially if I do end up going into emergency medicine. Lastly, I think in the future I’ll be really proud to use my skills to help those who fight for our country.

What do you find most rewarding about your studies and practicing medicine?

I think one of the most rewarding things about medicine is the ability to make connections with people. Through my time as a personal care attendant experience, I have met and cared for so many different people and have enjoyed hearing their life stories. Knowing who a person is and how they function really helps me to be better prepared as their caregiver. Sometimes just listening to people helps them feel better emotionally. Health is a very equalizing factor, and whether you are young, old, rich or poor, the fact is we all need to tend to our health. As a doctor, I’ll meet people from all walks of life and be able to do something for them to help improve their day-to-day life. Ultimately, I hope to be useful to community in the same way our family doctor has been pivotal in my small hometown in New Hampshire.

Learn about the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.

 

Truth and Compassion Are at the Core of End-of-Life Care

 “Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.” -Dr. Alan Wolfelt

By Francesca Arnoldy

My initiation into this realm happened unexpectedly when my grandfather was dying. It was my first time sitting vigil through a person’s death. I showed up unprepared for what I was walking into (which is actually the case for all doula work, honestly—we don’t know what will be asked of us or how to best serve, which is why setting the intention for each person’s “greatest good” is so important).

My grandmother was exhausted and happily handed over the care to me so she could sleep. I stepped up and stepped in, having had no real preparation. My grandfather was already in his deep coma sleep so he was uncommunicative (verbally, aloud). His appearance and labored breathing begged the questions: How are you still alive? And why?

I sat by his side in that quiet house that night, reading a book that was coincidentally perfect and contained his favorite prayer, “Make me an Instrument of your peace.” I spoke to him on a spiritual level with comforting words. I gave him the tiny amounts of prescribed oral meds at prescribed intervals. He slept, did not move, and rarely breathed. I was sure he was working, though. It seemed like hard work. Mysterious work. Working through something…working on something…working toward something. I encouraged his efforts and held him in compassion and love.

For his wife and children (one of whom had not been able to visit for a length of time because it was too upsetting, and one of whom only entered the room for the final breaths), it was excruciating to get through this period as it continued on, much the same, the next morning. This was something I noticed but did not share in their sentiment. Because of my birth work, I was comfortable with the unknown—intrigued by it—an eager student of it. This is what death asks of doulas. Can settle into this liminal space?

End-of-Life Care: Can Death Be Beautiful?

We seem to afford birth more ups and downs, while still calling it “beautiful.”  But birth is also work (“labor”). It asks for all of a woman—all of her strength, determination, and trust. We puke, we have diarrhea, we have flashbacks of abuse and trauma, we scream, we beg for it to end, we moan like animals, we bite on things, we cry. Not always, not all of it, not for everyone every time. But they’re normal aspects, and yet birth is still “beautiful.” And it is.

So, without casting our yearning for perfection and control, can death be beautiful, too? Can we hold steady through the ups and downs? Can we companion people into the “wilderness of the soul?” Can we “doula?” I say, yes. We can. Not without apprehension or doubt—that isn’t reasonable. But, with trust—trust in the humanity that lives in our core, and trust in our compassion and intention. We can, with unwavering, prevailing trust.

Learn about UVM’s End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program.

-Francesca Arnoldy developed and facilitates the End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate program to strengthen an individual’s resolve as they enter into this sacred realm of service. She’s currently working on a memoir inspired by her years as a doula. She lives in Hinesburg with her husband and their two kids. 

Amy Trubek Examines What Cooking Means in the Modern Age

My feelings about cooking are complicated. Sometimes I feel joy when I cook, and other times it’s more like shame. After reading “Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today” by UVM Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Science Amy Trubek, PhD, I was at once relieved and alarmed that I’m hardly alone.

I was raised in an Irish-Catholic household, the youngest of seven children. Every night, my mother cooked a protein, starch, and vegetable for dinner. Meals usually consisted of chicken, venison, liver or trout, along with potatoes or rice and green beans or peas.

For some reason, my mother and I never cooked together. We would bake cakes once in a while, but cooking was never part of our relationship. She never asked me to help, and I guess I wasn’t interested enough to take the initiative and learn from her in the kitchen.

My lack of knowledge and indifference eventually turned into intimidation, which made me avoid cooking altogether in my 20s and early 30s. It wasn’t until I was married and had a child that I faced my fear. Once I became a mother, I figured it was time to buy a skillet and figure out a way to regularly cook for my family.

What Does Cooking Mean to People in the 21st Century?

Trubek, a trained cultural anthropologist and chef, teaches at UVM on the contemporary food system, food and culture, qualitative research methods, and food history.

To research “Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today” (University of California Press, 2017), she visited homes and professional kitchens to interview 50 people, including parents, working professionals, bakers, and chefs about their cooking strategies, habits, and challenges.

“I found myself very moved by how much food matters to people, and that they want to do the right thing as best they can,” Trubek said in an interview last week. “Everybody wants to nurture themselves and others. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just that it’s difficult.”

Her book is organized innto five sections: Cooking Is a Chore, Cooking Is an Occupation, Cooking Is an Art, Cooking Is a Craft, and Cooking Is for Health.

Trubek also examines the social pressures and domestic ideals tied to cooking, especially for women. The chore of cooking has become so entangled with social obligations and moral values, and providing good food defined as “healthy” has become equated with being a good mother.

Perhaps I’m a good mother when I cook locally sourced beef chili in my slow cooker and a bad one when I serve up a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. That’s often how it feels. It’s one of the complexities that Trubek set out to learn more about in “Making Modern Meals.”

In the Cooking Is a Chore chapter, Trubek writes, “It can be argued that ambivalence toward making everyday meals has run wide and deep in the case of American women because they are laboring with such a heavy symbolic load on their backs. Even though women can now vote, wear pants, and work outside the home, cooking as ‘the regular or daily light work of a household or farm’ remains part of a women’s role as the center of family life.”

She acknowledges that it’s hard not to feel a certain amount of pressure and emotion in the kitchen. With the rise of celebrity chefs, glossy food photos on Instagram, and Tasty Tuesday videos on YouTube, food has become increasingly glamourous while cooking remains a virtuous task. Still, it’s hard to believe that in 2017, cooking dinner continues to crackle with such a cultural and moral charge.

Unfortunately, Trubek doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “We’re social animals, and social comparison is a way we define ourselves,” she says. “But do you need to feel in anyway burdened by it? The answer is no.”

When it comes to gender roles, she does see a potential shift on the horizon “If one of the big changes we’re seeing is that cooking is not an everyday chore, but rather an expression of self or care for the family, then the question of gender is really compressing. It will be interesting in 50 years to see whether anyone views cooking to be associated with a particular gender.”

In or Out: Where We Eat

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, almost all food preparation occurred at the household level. In 1929, Americans spent 85 percent of their total food budget on food prepared in the home, and 15 percent of food eaten outside the home. In 2012, Americans spent over 50 percent of their total food budget on foods eaten outside the home.

Cooking has clearly been transformed over the past several decades. We spend more money on food prepared outside the home, spend less time cooking, eat fewer meals at home, and have more diet-related disease issues. Trubek agrees that one culprit is the demands of modern life, such as working full-time while raising children.  We also have more options for enjoying food outside the home than our grandparents or great-grandparents did 75 or 100 years ago.

Lack of time and stage of life do make a difference in a person’s decision to cook or eat out, Trubek says. Research has also found that being of a more advanced age had a significant, positive effect on time spent preparing food, most likely because these people are retired or have less time-consuming jobs.

For me, a working parent, it’s hard enough to find time to prepare meals, let alone teach my six-year-old daughter much about cooking.  But I also don’t want my daughter to feel as lost in the kitchen as I once did. Since she was three years old, my daughter has helped my husband and I make things like blueberry pancakes, lasagna, and chicken pot pie.  How should I continue to teach her to cook when I don’t have decades of wisdom to pass down?

“I think you can make cooking with her somehow necessary and meaningful, but it doesn’t need to have a huge amount of emotional weight,” Trubek says. “When it comes to food and cooking—especially domestic cooking—emotions have become a big part of it. I think that is just part of who we are. But I think you can also just look at it matter-of-factly with your daughter as in, ‘We’re cooking, this is something we do, and this is what is happening today.’”

Ultimately, Trubek hopes that a conversation about why cooking matters will help address other issues like obesity and the rising consumption of processed food.

“The thing I find fascinating is that cooking has been a profoundly important piece of the human experience. We think about cooking a lot, but we don’t verbalize our thoughts. However, when you talk about it, you realize how complex cooking really is.” she says. “By having a cultural conversation about cooking and food, it can lead to better teaching, better communication, and better policies about food.”

Filling a Critical Gap in End-of-Life Care

By Cabot Creamery Co-operative

Death is a natural part of life. Even so, talking about death feels anything but natural.

According to the National Palliative Care Center, 20 percent of the United States’ population will be over age 65 by the year 2030—that’s more than 60 million people. Chances are, a significant portion of these seniors will be diagnosed with a terminal illness.

A recent article in the New York Times reported that, on average, patients make 29 visits to the doctor’s office in their last six months of life, even though 80 percent of patients say they hope to avoid hospitalization and intensive care at the end of life. Our healthcare system is designed to save lives—or attempt to do so—regardless of the outcome or impact on a patient’s quality of life. However, our healthcare system is only beginning to recognize the value of high quality end-of-life care.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement that helps fill the critical gap in end-of-life care. For the terminally ill, dying is a process they’re living through. End of-life doulas (also known as death doulas, soul midwives, transition coaches, and more), help the dying live better throughout the process—and ultimately die well.

For the farm families who own Cabot, life and death are a part of everyday life. From their animals to the generations of family who have run the farms, Cabot farmers have a unique perspective on dying and want to help others have better conversations around the topic, including the Death Over Dinner Project, an interactive conversation with dozens of medical and wellness leaders about end-of-life care.

Here are 3 things you might not know about end-of-life doulas:

End-of-life doulas are in demand.

The word doula, which comes from the ancient Greek word for servant, is traditionally associated with childbirth. In this context, a doula provides emotional and physical comfort and support to a mother before, during, and immediately after childbirth. End-of-life doulas serve essentially the same purpose, but at the opposite end of the life cycle. They provide care and support for the dying and their family, guiding them through unfamiliar territory and making the transition as physically, emotionally, and spiritually peaceful as possible.

End-of-life doulas don’t replace palliative and hospice care providers.

Instead, doulas work alongside providers to ensure the holistic comfort of the dying. While many end-of-life doulas come from nursing or therapeutic backgrounds, it’s not a prerequisite, as their role as a doula is not medical. While other caregivers focus on the body, end-of-life doulas focus on the soul. The role of a doula might be best described as faithful companion, or friend in death. Being physically and mentally present for the dying is their first priority. They may be part of a broader support system, or they may be the only one there to hold a hand. The process of dying is deeply personal, and as individual as each of us. Doulas adapt to meet the needs and wants at hand.

Professional end-of-life doulas receive training and certification.

Compassion comes naturally, but anticipating, understanding, and supporting the needs of the dying, and often their families, takes specialized skills, training and education. Several end- of-life care certification programs exist in the United States, including the University of Vermont’s (UVM) End of Life Doula Professional Certificate.

UVM’s certificate program comprises eight-weeks of interactive online content based on a comprehensive curriculum that includes:

  • Death Awareness
  • Commonalities in the End-of-Life Experience
  • The Grief Continuum
  • Dignity Therapy
  • Holding Space/ Honoring Sacred Space
  • Religious/ Cultural Beliefs and Practices
  • Preparing for Loss
  • Bereavement Support and Much More

Program graduates come away prepared to meet the growing demand for meaningful, compassionate end-of life care.

“Death matters. It’s a meaningful, emotionally-complex, natural part of life,” says end-of-life doula Francesca Arnoldy, who orchestrated the UVM program in association with the UVM Larner College of Medicine, UVM Continuing and Distance Education, and Cabot Creamery’s Centennial Legacy Projects. “Doulas understand the importance of the experience—for the person dying and for those being left behind. They provide a hand to hold, a listening ear, and nonjudgmental, compassionate understanding during the dying process—aiding comfort, relieving anxiety, while helping to shift our culture’s fear of death into empowerment.”

Learn more about the End of Life Doula program at UVM.

Author Michael Moss Exposes How the Food Giants Hooked Us

By Andrea Estey

Have you ever snacked on a bag of salty, crunchy chips and gotten the feeling that you just couldn’t stop? You’re not alone. That irresistible sensation is completely by design. It’s just one of the ways the processed food industry tempts us to eat more of “the food we hate to love,” as author and journalist Michael Moss illuminated at the 2017 Aiken Lecture on Nov. 1.

Drawing on his best-selling book, “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” Moss took the audience, sitting in a packed Ira Allen Chapel, on an exposé of this “unholy trinity,” the ingredients the trillion-dollar industry “relies on to make their products easy, irresistible, and cheap.”

Moss used potato chips as an example. The satisfying “mouthfeel” you get, said Moss, is exactly what the industry is after; chips can be as much as 50 percent fat. Another key part of the chip equation is their crunch: The industry has figured out that the more noise a chip makes, the more of them you’ll want to eat.

And consumers seem to be paying the price. According to the NIH, more than one in three adults, and one in six children and adolescents, are considered to have obesity in the United States. Those numbers have big implications – some estimate associated healthcare costs at more than $150 billion nationwide.

“Crawling around the food system is like reading a detective story,” said Moss, whose work as an investigative reporter with the New York Times on the dangers of contaminated meat won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

What Moss has unearthed in his food systems detective work is lots of deliberate product development, and marketing, to make us consume more. Some tactics, says Moss, echo those used by big tobacco. (In fact, Philip Morris owned Kraft Foods until 2007.)

Moss points to Lunchables as a case study. In addition to the salty, fatty chow inside every package, it’s marketing that makes the product so successful with children, said Moss. “Lunchables give kids the feeling of empowerment.” Their slogan: “Lunchtime is All Yours.”

Where do we go from here? Moss said the work starts when we’re young, when our strongest food memories and associations are formed. “In talking with kids, we need to help them see information about food as empowerment.”

Since information is power, when you’re reading an ingredient list, Moss suggested paying attention to what order things are listed (the biggest item comes first, and the smallest comes last). “You have to be careful in the grocery store,” said Moss, as he walked through the ingredient list of a frozen broccoli, potato and cheddar dinner, in which broccoli was the very last ingredient.

As for the larger food industry, Moss hopes produce growers and the makers of other whole foods will have fun marketing their goods, as processed foods titans have, rather than preaching. Moss worked with an ad agency to test this fun-first approach, and developed a marketing campaign for the much-loathed vegetable, broccoli. Taking a page out of the processed food industry’s handbook, the campaign was built on a fictitious brand battle, pitting broccoli against kale, the trendy vegetable of the moment. One ad from the campaign read: “Broccoli: Now 43 percent less pretentious than kale.”

During his visit to campus, Moss also spoke with a group of 25 food systems students. He seemed to speak to them as he ended his talk with a call for exposing the truth behind the things we eat. “We have to take an investigative reporting approach to food systems.”

-Andrea Estey is a writer and digital content strategist for the University of Vermont.

 

Trading Aspirin for Asparagus: A Prescription for Healthy Food

By Charlie Mitchell

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Do you believe this old saying? If we, as a state, ate a healthier diet, would we experience fewer issues, and probably spend a lot less on healthcare?

If that logic follows, shouldn’t we be trading Cortlands for Cortisone? Asparagus for aspirin?

The rubber is starting to hit the road on state-wide healthcare reform. With an increasing focus on keeping populations healthy through preventative and holistic care, hunger and food systems advocates are finding willing partners in doctors and hospitals.

As the debate rages on over healthcare and the immense cost of preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, we should consider a simple paradox. This was pointed out to me in a conversation with Katy Davis, Hunger Free Vermont’s Nutrition Education Outreach Manager:

While 98 percent of children in Vermont have access to healthcare, 14 percent live in food insecure households.

What does this say about the way our system functions (or fails)? What can doctors do to treat our diet-related disease if we can’t afford to buy the food we need to stay healthy? As Davis says,“if you don’t have access to enough food for a healthy life, that’s going to directly impact your health as well as future outcomes.”

So what can doctors do to help patients who might be hungry? Since 2010, Children’s Health Watch, a national advocate, has been working to introduce the Hunger Vital Sign™ to as many communities as possible. It’s two simple questions that provide a pulse on whether a family is struggling with food insecurity.

Since 2011, Hunger Free Vermont has encouraged health providers to incorporate this screening, which takes all of two minutes, into their normal routine. They’ve developed a strong relationship with UVM Medical Center, who has embraced this practice wholeheartedly, and much of Davis’ time is spent training medical personnel in every corner of the system to use this technique and help them understand what to do next.

When a doctor determines that a patient may be struggling with food insecurity, there are many ways to address the problem. Ideally, they can be referred to a one-on-one case manager or social worker that can meet with the patient separately and provide support in accessing all of the community resources available. This could be as simple as locating the nearest food shelf, identifying a transportation issue, or enrolling in government programs, such as SNAP or WIC.

A Health Care Share and Prescription for Healthy Food

Medical centers are also partnering with nonprofits pioneering the “Health Care Share” across the state, a program that provides families who suffer from diet-related illness with free weekly vegetables during Vermont’s growing season. Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has been the main coordinator of the program, and now six health communities are distributing a total of over 500 shares every year.

Charlotte Sullivan, a Bristol resident and Health Care Share recipient at the Mountain Health Center, is very grateful for the program. Since her income had changed recently, she had been forced to adapt her shopping habits by opting for cheaper vegetables and cutting back on fruit. “Now I can afford to eat the way I want to eat,” she said at a pickup in September.

It means a lot to her that her doctors value healthy eating as much as she does. She does believe that regular vegetable doses are “medicinal” and a “necessity,” and she’s gratified that the system is starting to value these as much as other over-the-counter medications. Community and connection are important to putting the “care” in healthcare. “I feel healed already,” she told me, smiling with her box of produce in her arms.

These programs hope to amass the data to prove that fresh food is a better medicine than pharmaceuticals, so that insurance companies will pitch in to make healthy food access a reality through healthcare coverage.

If the capacity for follow-up within the medical community is more limited, there are many other community resources doctors can direct patients to. United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline provides 24-7 support with a variety of issues, and Hunger Free Vermont’s vermontfoodhelp.com is a widely-used online resource to help people access the benefits they qualify for.

Because health providers are some of our most trusted personal and community relationships, they may be the first touch point for someone who needs help.

“You can’t tell by what someone’s wearing or what kind of car they’re driving what’s going on with someone,” Davis says. This is why she feels strongly about “habituating folks to that [screening] process” and “not only asking the folks who you think might be struggling, but really asking everyone.”

The momentum is building. UVM School of Medicine’s Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) spearheads a network of 49 medical providers called CHAMP (Child Health Advances Measured in Practice) that are taking on the two-item hunger screening as well as a screening for parental depression as their main focus this year. The nine-month project should yield important data across a huge swath of providers about the efficacy and complications of the screening process.

As the national healthcare debate rages on in Washington, to the dismay of many who believe that progress is being undone, Davis reminds us that as a state, “we are on the train to integrated care,” and “Vermont is going to move in that direction anyway.”

She seems to be right.

“There’s no stopping us from being pioneers in that regard,” she says. “There’s definitely a lot of ground to be covered still,” but for now, “full steam ahead, we have to keep moving.”

-Charlie Mitchell is studying Food Systems at Middlebury College. He is on the management team of Middlebury Foods and serves on the board of ACORN, the Addison County Relocalization Network.

Learn about UVM’s Master of Public Health Online Program

Author Michael Moss to Speak at UVM Aiken Lecture Nov. 1

Best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 George D. Aiken Lecture Series on Nov. 1 at the UVM Ira Allen Chapel.

Moss is the author of the New York Times’ bestseller, “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” His writing focuses on the food industry in context of health, safety, nutrition, politics, marketing, corporate interests, and the power of individuals to gain control of what and how they eat.

uvm Aiken lecture

“Some of the most profitable food companies of the last half century are knowingly manipulating salt, sugar, and fat to addict us to their products. And it’s working,” Moss says. “The industry rakes in a trillion dollars a year. Meanwhile, one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.”

At UVM, he will share how food scientists are manipulating the chemical structure of products, and how companies are adapting marketing techniques from tobacco companies. Moss will offer an objective and sweeping take of the problems, and the many solutions.

Moss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with the New York Times, keynote speaker and occasional guest on shows like CBS This Morning, Dr. Oz, CNN, and The Daily Show. He has been a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. He continues to report on the processed food industry and is currently at work on “HOOKED: Food and Free Will,” for Random House.

The UVM Aiken Lecture Series

The University of Vermont’s George D. Aiken Lectures are a permanent tribute to the former Dean of the United States Senate and Governor of Vermont for his many years of service to the people of the state and nation. Supported by an endowment created by George and Lola Aiken and held annually at the University of Vermont, the lectures, which began in 1975, provide a platform for distinctive views on critical American issues and is the University’s major annual public-policy forum. The tradition of keeping the Aiken Lectures free and open to the public endures.

The lecture series will stress four areas of public service for which Senator Aiken is best known, namely, foreign and public affairs, energy and the environment, food systems and health, and economic development for the purpose of making Vermont, the nation and the world a better place to live and work. There will be an annual rotation of these topic areas by the corresponding College at the University: Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering and Mathematical Science, Education and Social Services, Environment and Natural Resources, Nursing and Health Sciences, Medicine, and the Grossman School of Business Administration.

The Aiken Lecture Series will be at the UVM Ira Allen Chapel at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the UVM Gutterson Garage. Visit learn.uvm.edu/aiken to learn more.

 

A Birthing Doula Shares the Significance of End of Life Care

Birth doula Francesca Arnoldy realized the power of end of life care when her grandfather was dying at his home in Massachusetts. During his final days, his wife and primary caregiver—Arnoldy’s grandmother—was sleep-deprived, scared, and emotional.

end of life doula program

Francesca Arnoldy

“I went to Massachusetts to see my grandfather, and I didn’t realize how close he was to dying until I got there,” says Arnoldy, who graduated from UVM in 2003. “I immediately jumped into my doula role so my grandmother could get some sleep. I kept a one-woman vigil and read him poetry and talked to him on a spiritual level.”

Her grandfather died the following morning surrounded by his family. “It was an eye-opening experience, and I was blown away how similar it felt to the sacred space of birthing,” Arnoldy says. “With the right end of life care, I realized that people can find a sense of peace, comfort, and trust.”

Arnoldy eventually spearheaded the development of UVM’s new online, eight-week End of Life Doula Professional Certificate Program and is also the lead facilitator of the program. Developed in association with the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, UVM Continuing and Distance Education, and Cabot Creamery, the program will start in September.

A graduate of the UVM College of Education and Social Services Human Development and Family Studies Program, Arnoldy lives in Hinesburg with her husband and two children. She pursues a number of endeavors, including birth work as a certified labor doula and childbirth educator.

After her grandfather’s death, she completed training programs in hospice and end of life care, extending her focus beyond the childbearing years to support peaceful and personalized end of life care.

The Role of a Doula

Doulas empower clients, ease anxieties, and help ensure people’s days are lived fully and that time spent is personally affirming and meaningful. Similar to birth doulas, end of life doulas are non-medical professionals who offer support and provide caregiver relief.

“The work is different for each client. Doulas can sense who needs support, who needs a break, and who needs to talk,” Arnoldy says. “We’re also dedicated to honoring the goals of the clients.”

The new UVM program is designed to prepare graduates to meet the growing demand for end of life support and teaching essential skills to assist clients with compassionate care, including emotional, spiritual, informational, and physical support. These services complement the care provided by family members and other palliative and hospice professionals.

“Death matters. It’s a meaningful, emotionally-complex, natural part of life. Doulas understand the importance of the experience, for the person dying and for those being left behind,” she says. “Those who have felt well-supported and find closure with a loved one’s death talk about the experience with reverence, even through their grief and pain. Doulas can provide a hand to hold, a listening ear, and nonjudgmental, compassionate understanding during the dying process—aiding comfort, relieving anxiety, while helping to shift our culture’s fear of death into empowerment.”

Learn more about the UVM End of Life Doula Professional Certificate.

UVM Is: Jean Harvey Mentoring the Next Generation of Nutrition and Food Professionals

A one-credit elective opened Professor Jean Harvey’s eyes to the world of nutrition.

While pursuing a biology degree at Penn State in the 1980s, Professor Harvey enrolled in a one-credit nutrition course. It wasn’t long before she switched majors and decided to focus her studies on nutrition instead.

Professor Harvey, a registered dietitian with a doctorate in epidemiology, began teaching at UVM in 1991 and chairs the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. She talked to UVM Continuing and Distance Education about how nutrition and food sciences have changed over the past 25 years, the rewards of mentoring students, and her advice to recent graduates.

What was the focus of nutrition sciences when you first started teaching at UVM?

When I first came to UVM in 1991, nutrition was mostly focused on dietetics and it was very clinically focused. If you weren’t studying to be a dietitian, you could study nutrition science to learn things like how nutrients are metabolized, or what a deficiency looks like at a cellular level. At the time, the public’s interest in nutrition was mostly about how to read a nutrition facts table or how to follow a vegetarian diet. It was really basic nutrition education back then. Students were focused on clinical nutrition to address things like eating disorders, and there was a growing interest in sports medicine.

How has the UVM Nutrition and Food Sciences Program evolved?

Now our program is much broader. We are a community-based program, and students do most of their clinical work and internships in the community. Students are focused more on food and social justice, and they are looking more at hunger issues than eating disorders. Students want to know where their food comes from, and they want to know about things like preservatives and additives. We have a lot more students interested in food science who want to work in the food industry.

What are some of the greatest rewards of your career?

For me, it’s mentoring the students. I’ve also had the good fortune of working with graduate students who have pushed me and helped me see things from different perspectives. My work makes me feel like we’re accomplishing something, and we’re sending out students—our ambassadors—to make the world a better place.

How and why do UVM students make you hopeful for the future?

I find some of my students to be very entrepreneurial. We’re teaching them to be critical thinkers and to think outside of the box to help address issues like food shortages and how climate change will affect our food. There are so many problems out there, and we want our students to have hands-on, experiential learning so they can experience real nutrition and food issues happening in everyday life.

What have students taught you?

The students at UVM have shaped who I am. I’ve also learned that all students are different and each one has a unique set of strengths and challenges. As a professor, I wish we had more time to spend with students to truly understand who they are as people.

What advice would you give students once they earn their degree?

Keep your options open for as long as possible. Go out and get some experience, and figure out what path you want to follow.

-Our “UVM Is” series celebrates University faculty, educators, and the campus community.

To learn more, visit UVM Continuing and Distance Education at learn.uvm.edu.

 

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