College of Health Professions in sustainability spotlight

GVL / Eric Coulter
Cook-Devos Center for Health Services

GVL / Eric Coulter Cook-Devos Center for Health Services

Ellie Phillips

With three sustainability-related classes and four service opportunities, Grand Valley State University’s College of Health Professions is December’s Sustainability spotlight college.

One initiative within the college aims to reduce paper waste. The departments and programs in CHP use Blackboard to reduce paper usage in providing course materials to students, including manuals and placement paperwork for the Internships and Fieldwork studies and the Therapeutic Recreation program. The occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant studies programs use iPads and the GVSU eReserve system to provide course materials and communicate with clinical sites.

Furthermore, virtual learning has been established in several programs, including Allied Health Services, which offers hybrid sections of AHS 100 and AHS 495 every semester.

CHP has also been pushing to recycle, regulate the use of its thermostats and power down electronics at the end of each day.

Sustainable routines have been established in many of the departments as well, with clinical placements made in the West Michigan area to reduce travel costs along with a determined route of travel between clinical sites that optimizes travel time and mileage costs.

Lab equipment is being bought at reduced cost from local communities and vendors, and efforts are being made to recycle batteries and outdated equipment, print on both sides of a page, and re-use clothing as much as possible before disposal. Thermoplastic splinting material is also saved in order to create a stock of small pieces that can be used to modify equipment and tools.

Additionally, the physician assistant studies program has developed a Media Swap that will bring in ‘new to you’ items – books, magazines and movies that someone has already used that can be brought in and traded for items the individual has not yet seen or read.

“The Media Swap Room will be in a Faculty Lounge on the fourth floor of the building,” said Martina Reinhold, a faculty member of physician assistant studies. “At present the room is not very heavily used, and the idea of the media swap will hopefully have two benefits: one, re-use old books, magazines, DVDs and such that can be dropped off and picked up in a designated area in the room, (and) two, allow for faculty and staff to use the room, come together and meet up while browsing the available ‘media,’ hopefully leading to conversations and maybe even people leaving their desk for lunch and have it up in the ‘Media Swap’ room.”

The four service opportunities in CHP are the Therapeutic Recreation program, which places students with organizations like the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and Spectrum Continuing Care; the Heels to Heal and Wheel Run races, which take place every fall; the Mock Disaster, which is a collaborative effort between CHP, the nursing college and Spectrum Health; and the annual summer sHaPe camp.

The Allied Health Sciences department sponsors the annual summer sHaPe camp for Michigan residents entering the eighth or ninth grade in the fall. This camp is a one-week-long day program introducing the middle school and high school students to the Health Professions.

The three courses related to sustainability offered by CHP are: HPR 482 – China/Japan Friendship Hospital; OT 401 – Role of Occupation in Human Development; and PT 682 – Health and Wellness.
For more information on the College of Health Professions, visit their page at
[email protected]