Community colleges recognize the importance of health in the learning, retention, productivity, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff alike. Health is not merely the absence of disease, but is promotion of the mental, physical, social, environmental, and spiritual well being of individuals and communities. Being largely social, environmental, and behavioral means that many modern-day illnesses are preventable, but only through a combination of individual and broad community measures. In an effort to encourage citizens to embrace their personal and social responsibility, and higher education institutions to embrace their organizational responsibilities in matters of health, the American Association of Community Colleges encourages the integration of health into all facets of community college life and offers the following recommendations:
- Community colleges should create an environment that supports health in which institutional mechanisms such as policy, programs, curricula, services, and collaborative work with the community promote and support health and wellness. Among the issues to be considered in health and wellness policy development are: tobacco use, HIV infection, and use of alcohol and other drugs.
- Community colleges should remain on the cutting edge of health care transformation by preparing clinically and culturally competent allied health professionals. These professionals range from associate degree nurses to substance abuse counselors, medical assistants, radiological technologists, medical technologists, and a wide range of therapy assistants in occupational, recreation, rehabilitation and related therapies. These and other allied health occupations fill a critical niche for practice in the 21st century.
- Because of their easy accessibility and capacity for providing customized training, community colleges also should continue to offer continuing education for faculty and other health care professionals.
- Community colleges should view health as a powerful and appealing vehicle for interdisciplinary learning, skills building, and career development.
Adopted by the Board of Directors August 1999