Beyond academics: Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine redefines medical education through wellness 

Reading Time: 2 minutes

With a specialized wellness curriculum for its medical school students, the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine seeks to make a lasting change in Utah’s healthcare education system. 

In the spring of 2024, the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine – Utah’s newest and largest medical school, according to a report by Genelle Pugmire with the Daily Herald – will open its doors to the public. With an incoming class size of over 190 students, the third cohort, set to graduate in 2027, will experience the “largest medical student class in Utah history,” according to the report. 

While boasting state-of-the-art technology at its “140,000 square-foot, four-story” facility, according to a Noorda-COM press release, the Noorda-COM is vastly different from traditional medical schools.  

“First of all, we are an osteopathic medical school – which means our entire approach to medicine is centered on ‘mind, body, and spirit,’” shared Jenna Knaupp, communications and media manager for the Noorda-COM. “This approach emphasizes that root cause diagnosis and lifelong wellness comes from treating the whole person, not just their symptoms.” 

Although the Noorda-COM is not the first of its kind, its approach to student wellness is extremely unique in that it prioritizes the wellness of its medical students. “To train doctors to think this way, we have to instill good wellness habits in them, too,” Knaupp continued.  

To help instill good wellness, Knaupp explained that the Noorda-COM provides free, unlimited visits to contracted therapists, booking assistance with psychiatric and psychoeducational testing, a multi-area, Noorda-COM student health plan, teletherapy services, discounted rates for meditation apps, the Provo Recreation Center , Peaks Ice Arena, the Timpanogos Golf Course, access to The Noorda Cares Fund, “a fund to ease financial emergencies,” and other resources. 

Additionally, students are required to participate in at least one hour of wellness activities a week. “It’s part of their grade!” Knaupp explained.  

Dr. Sara Beaudry-Wiltse, director of Interprofessional Education and Student Wellness Education at the Noorda-COM, was involved in the creation of the wellness curriculum. When asked about the inspiration behind its development, Beaudry-Wiltse shared that “the wellness curriculum is designed to encourage students to take time for themselves during their lives and studies.” Built to encourage student experimentation among eight different dimensions of wellness, the curriculum helps students “learn how to cope with stress by learning from others, learning from education opportunities, then experimenting with what they learn to see what works well for them.” 

In addition to providing wellness resources to its students, the Noorda-COM also seeks to benefit the Utah County community. According to the Noorda-COM’s website, “Kaufusi’s Keikis,” a joint preventative outreach program between the Noorda-COM, Provo City, and Provo City School District, will provide “free, in-school health screening for elementary-aged children in the greatest need, including those in underrepresented, low-income, and under-resourced communities.” While serving the community, the initiative also provides valuable clinical experience to the Noorda-COM’s medical students, Beaudry-Wiltse explained. 

With a first guiding principle that “students are at the center of all that we do,” the Noorda-COM seeks to increase wellness awareness and quality of life for its medical students. 

Noorda-COM is a for-profit medical school located in Provo, for more information visit their website.