In September 2015, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation and the Mandel Supporting Foundations announced an $8 million grant to the Health Education Campus, a joint project of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic. The award supports the construction of a 12,000 square-foot educational conference center within the campus, as well as development of an “academic pathway” for medical students who want to focus on wellness and preventative care education.
The Mandel Foundation commitment included $1.5 million to support the development of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Wellness and Preventive Care Pathway, as well as $1.5 million to endow a professorship to lead the pathway. Selected for this professorship role was Dr. Hope Barkoukis, a licensed, registered dietitian, associate professor, and interim chair of the Department of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
At a chairing ceremony held this July, Dr. Barkoukis was formally named as the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Professor of Wellness and Preventive Care. The celebratory event was held at the university campus and attended by Case president Barbara R. Synder and Morton L. Mandel, Chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation. Faculty, friends and board members from both organizations were also in attendance.
The School of Medicine’s pathway programs allow students to personalize their medical training by acquiring in-depth knowledge and added skills in addition to the formal curriculum. The guiding philosophy underlying the four-year pathways mirrors the thinking behind medical and surgical residences, just on a smaller scale.
Now at the beginning of its second academic year, the Mandel Wellness Pathway is preparing students who want to devote their future practices to multi-dimensional and holistic wellness, or incorporate such principles into their practices in other areas. Components include lectures, workshops, presentations from guest speakers and practical applications such as healthy cooking. The wellness track adds about two hours to the students’ weekly workload. Participants may also choose to pursue a joint degree in one of several related fields, such as the MD/MS in nutrition, offered through the biomedical investigation degree program.
“To extend the benefits of this pathway beyond formally admitted students, we have also created a student wellness committee to identify and develop wellness opportunities on campus and beyond,” Dr. Barkoukis said. “There is also outreach through participation in local efforts to improve community health.”
Going forward, Dr. Barkoukis said, “our goal is to offer these same types of lifestyle and wellness educational offerings to all interest medical students and, eventually, interested area physicians.”