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Health Promotion and Integrative Health Pathway


Background and Overview

The majority of chronic disease is related to lifestyle.  Despite the strong relationship between lifestyle and disease risks, affecting change in lifestyle in a clinical setting is challenging.  Students graduating from medical school are well versed in the causes of illness and its treatments, however, the average student does not have a strong understanding of the role of lifestyle and disease prevention, nor develop skills in how to help patients with health behavior change.  This understanding and skill set is important as health care moves towards a sharper focus on population health and disease prevention. 


Physicians can play an active role in counseling patients about lifestyle change and are increasingly urged to do so by national organizations.  They can serve as a source of information about other professions and resources. They can also serve as advocates for their patients at the community and policy level.  The Health Promotion and Integrative Health pathway at the University of Utah Health seeks to train students in these skills. Students learn that health is not the absence of disease but rather a dynamic state that we can optimize through lifestyle.  Students can apply this concept of health not only in patient care but also in self-care as they embark upon a challenging career.  


Students learn the background biochemical science and then extend that knowledge to understand clearly how it applies to the real world of food choice, physical activity, sleep, stress management and connection with the world around them.  They gain exposure to techniques that are frequently included in the realm of Integrative Medicine. 


Integrative medicine and health reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.  Students learn how these techniques can work alongside conventional medicine to move patients towards optimal health.


The Health Promotion and Integrative Health pathway shapes leaders of the future who want to change the face of medicine by effectively impacting health behavior to prevent and treat disease.


Why You Should Consider the Pathway

Do you want to help change the face of health in the United States? Do you want to be a leader in your community? Do you want balance in your own life?

Students completing this pathway will understand that highly effective physicians consider their own self-care as important as taking care of patients.  They are poised to help their patients consider the implications of lifestyle and take advantage of integrative therapies to achieve health optimization.  They have the tools to advocate for policies that support the health of populations.


Pathway Objectives

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the science of health and complementary health disciplines.
  • Practice and model self-care behaviors
  • Understand the steps to implement integrative and preventive health programs with professionals in health care.
  • Effectively counsel patients on behavior modification as it pertains to lifestyle, disease prevention, and health promotion.
  • Provide inter-professional care and advocate for community resources and public policies that support health.




Example Activities Within the Pathway

Each student completes a core curriculum to give them breadth and then choose activities to support their career path.

  • Current and future electives opportunities include Culinary Medicine, Manual Medicine, Mindfulness. Individual electives can be arranged with University faculty or community practitioners.
  • Project opportunities are broad and can include more a primary focus on research, educational, policy, or clinical projects. A list of possible mentors can be found here.
  • Each student is assigned a mentor at the beginning of MS2 with experience in their area of interest. Together they will chart a course that includes electives, clinical experiences, project selection and capstone work.  This close working relationship with faculty makes it easier to obtain letters of reference for residency and allows a close up look at future career choices.
  • The University of Utah Health’s broad faculty base means access to projects in nutrition, community education, and policy work, among others.



Example schedule:

Beyond the core pathway courses (years 1-3), student will tailor their electives and experiences to fit their interests and potential career path.


  • Fall: FPMD 7810 Health Promotion and Integrative Health 1 (0.5 credits)
  • Spring: FPMD 7811 Health Promotion and Integrative Health 2 (0.5 credits)
  • Summer: Optional project



  • Fall: FPMD 7812 Health Promotion and Integrative Health 3 (0.5 credits)
  • Spring: FPMD 7813 Health Promotion and Integrative Health 4 (0.5 credits)



  • FPMD 7814 Health Promotion and Integrative Health Clinical Cases (0.5 credits)



  • Additional electives and experiences, complete Capstone project (1 credit). These may include Culinary Medicine, Manual Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Mindfulness.



For more information, contact: Rebecca Wilson Zingg ( or Tricia Petzold (



For any further questions please contact:

Kerri Shaffer, MEd, MLIS
Director of Curriculum and Faculty Support