School of Nursing Adopts New Name

The University of Portland School of Nursing (UPSON) is changing its name to the School of Nursing and Health Innovations effective July 1.

The change is primarily due to the growth of the Integrative Health and Wellness (IHW) program within UPSON, which was introduced three years ago.

The IHW program uses holistic wellness education to promote the well-being of individuals and communities by cultivating psychological, social, physical, biological, and spiritual practices, according to the website.

The program had its first cohort of graduates in the fall of 2021, and the number of students enrolled continues to increase. There are currently 62 majors and 95 minors at IHW.

IHW junior majors Karena Torres and Sandy Piedad both came to UP with different majors prior to the program’s inception.

“I was undeclared first, then I took an integrative health and wellness course and was like, ‘That’s really cool,'” Piedad said. “You can do so many things with it, that’s why I chose it.”

Torres was originally majoring in psychology before choosing to pursue IHW in her second semester. While acknowledging the program’s accomplishments, she notes that it’s still a smaller study plan with limited coursework.

“It’s a good base, but I’d like to see it grow into what people actually see themselves doing,” Torres said. “How are they able to open new classes that are in the world of integrative health but also work towards what people actually want?”

With a modern approach to health and wellness, the major can provide students with flexibility through a variety of concentrations and career opportunities.

Its unique design, however, keeps IHW students out of the UPSON conversation.

“Technically, we’re nursing students because we’re in nursing school,” Piedad said. “The separation of the two gives the impression that we are not part of the School of Nursing, even though we are part of it. So yeah, I don’t feel like we’re recognized enough, especially because it’s a new branch.

With the addition of “Health Innovations”, the IHW program and its students are more fully included in the school’s foundation and profile.

As a school affected by constant change, UPSON strives for innovation in its curriculum.

“The entire IHW program is brimming with innovations and forward-thinking approaches to supporting people in health and wellness,” said UPSON Dean Casey Shillam.

Although the program is new, it has still made great strides and is the only health and wellness coach training and education program endorsed by the National Council for Health and Wellness Coaching ( NBHWC) in Oregon.

Integrative Health and Wellness Program Director Andrew Lafrenz has overseen the development of the program for the past two years.

“It’s a hybrid program because we all have the same content and curriculum as a public health major, but we also have a pretty strong focus on individual holistic health,” Lafrenz said. “It’s about focusing and educating students on how to work on disease and how to prevent it through different dimensions of well-being, not just physical, but psychological, spiritual, social, environmental.”

The launch of the Integrative Health and Wellness program was the deciding factor that opened the conversation to adjust the name of the School of Nursing.

Shillam and Lafrenz collaborated with staff and faculty from other UP departments to create a name that could reflect the present and the future.

“It was a fun, exciting but somewhat challenging process to come up with a name that was inclusive but also gave us the flexibility to offer more,” Lafrenz said.

With the name “Health Innovations”, UPSON has space to grow and develop using an innovative mindset.

“Innovation and design thinking are built into the curriculum, but these are also approaches that our faculty use with our students,” Shillam said. “So I think it’s a really fun way to imagine where we are and then where we hope to go.”

Chiara Profenna is a journalist for The Beacon. She can be contacted at

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