Essential to the EIM leadership team are licensed health care professionals and certified health fitness professionals. An EIM credential has been created that any NCCA-certified fitness professional can earn (4). The goal of the EIM credential is to identify who might be qualified to provide appropriate exercise prescription for clients/patients of varying health statuses. Qualified professionals can earn a level 1, 2, or 3 of EIM credential, which is dependent on the current certification held. For more information concerning the EIM credential, please visit http://certification.acsm.org/exercise-is-medicine-credential. Current EIM-credentialed professionals who are certified through ACSM can be found on ACSM’s ProFinder Web site at http://members.acsm.org/source/custom/Online_locator/OnlineLocator.cfm.
Additional members of the leadership team should include a supervisor/advisor and a minimum of two student representatives. Please refer to the EIM-OC University Registration Process below for specific instructions on creating your leadership team. EIM-OC specific materials are available at http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=17.
To assist you further, numerous EIM planning and implementation materials, including forms, letters, and evidence-based literature on PA and health, are available to both health fitness (http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=91) and health care professionals (http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=8) on the newly updated EIM Web site.
Once the professionals to lead the charge have been established, the next step would be to identify your proposed level of engagement. This may be determined by the resources you have available, the expertise of your EIM-OC team members, the specific charge or task identified by an administrator or supervisor, and/or the amount of time that can be committed. You may just be interested in or have the resources to provide education and awareness of the benefits of exercise as medicine or the risks of leading an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. You may provide health screenings for campus community members or provide exercise or other wellness interventions. You may be interested in implementing PA as a vital sign or be able to offer subsequent referral to certified health fitness professionals.
As you begin to consider how you might implement EIM-OC, it is essential to incorporate strategies for sustaining your effort during the planning stages. Having a plan for sustainability, as mentioned later in this article, is essential for continued success. In addition, this also could be an important marketing piece for buy-in from university administrators who could provide valuable support.
As mentioned, the basic tenets of EIM® include the monitoring of PA as a vital sign and the subsequent referral of those who do not meet the current recommendations for PA to qualified exercise professionals for exercise prescription. This process can be implemented on a college or university campus in a number of ways, which might be guided by the current structure of your health and/or recreation services; your university size, location, and culture; your team’s vision; your resources; and a host of other variables. The On the Floor column in this issue highlights how a referral-based EIM-OC was implemented in one university campus.
The ability to create an on-campus referral system is not an option at some universities. Some might have a system in place, but they cannot accommodate everyone who would be a candidate for this service. Others might not have all the resources necessary to implement a referral-based EIM-OC system. These universities would benefit from enlisting the services of a local fitness professional as mentioned previously.
Additional EIM-OC PA Programming Options
Alternatively or in addition to a referral-based EIM-OC program, EIM-OC PA programming initiatives also might include:
- education and awareness of the benefits of exercise as medicine and risks of being sedentary or inactive
- various health screenings
- behavioral change
- formal fitness testing and exercise prescription clinics run by qualified students or other professionals
Education and Awareness
One way to promote EIM-OC easily is to provide educational and awareness opportunities for students, staff, faculty, and/or the local community. One of the advantages to this type of programming is the flexibility offered. These efforts could be one time, weekly, monthly, yearly, or ongoing. The topics can change with the needs, interests, and culture of the campus community; the programming can be spread among various professionals and appropriate students; and these efforts can be very time/resource friendly. Some examples might be highlighting the distinction between exercise, PA, and fitness. Those institutions that have a physical education or wellness general education requirement or offering could include EIM as part of the course content. Exercise Science/Kinesiology programs could include EIM as an integral part of their curriculum, both educating students on EIM and guiding them to be the student champions of EIM-OC. This provides opportunities for students to gain valuable experience in the field and provides an important service to the campus community. Table 4 provides some examples of education and awareness topics/formats.
Screenings provide instant feedback to individuals concerning current markers of health. Monitoring exercise as a vital sign is one way to provide ongoing screening for campus community members and obtain valuable information concerning current campus trends in PA participation. This information can be used to provide specific programming based on the needs of the population. Table 5 lists several possible screening measures.
Behavior Change (Lifestyle) Programs
For those professionals who have the time and resources available, interventions targeting behavior or lifestyle change can be implemented. These programs focus on the behavioral changes necessary to create positive health behaviors with the hope of sustaining these lifestyle changes after the intervention ends. Some examples of lifestyle programs can be found in Table 6.
SUSTAINING THE EFFORT
Regardless of your reasons for planning and implementing an EIM-OC initiative, you don’t want to lose the momentum and hard work that you have put into your EIM-OC programming efforts. The following represent potential sources for providing sustainability:
- Integrating into the strategic planning of your college or university
Securing internal or external funding
- ○ Include as part of the current university mission (most include a wellness component)
- ○ Create as part of a university assessment measure
- ○ Garner administrative support
Incorporating EIM into your university or major requirements
- ○ Garner administrative support
- ○ Means to support continued EIM-OC efforts
Creating EIM-OC assessment and outcome measures
- ○ Provide students valuable EIM-specific experience
- ○ Provide a valuable service to the campus community
Accepting community referrals from local area physicians
- ○ Provide evidence of need when requesting resources
- ○ Highlight EIM-OC programming success
- ○ Provide insight for future EIM-OC planning and decision making
Earning university recognition (see below)
- ○ Conduct community outreach
- ○ Assist with population health management efforts (see EIM-suggested reading)
- ○ Emphasize your institution’s commitment to using exercise as medicine to create a culture of wellness on campus
- ○ Provide an impressive PR opportunity for the institution
The final two steps involved in beginning an EIM-OC program at your institution are to officially register your university with ACSM and apply for university recognition.
THE EIM-OC UNIVERSITY REGISTRATION PROCESS
Recent updates to the Action Guide and registration process have been created by the EIM-OC committee to allow tracking of institutions that are engaged in EIM-OC programming and provide greater networking capabilities. The next phase of the new EIM Web site (set to launch this year) offers professionals the ability to view registered institutions on local, national, and global levels. Registered institutions also may include a link to their university program/EIM Web site, providing those interested additional information concerning their EIM-OC strategies. Information about registered institutions before this launch can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register your campus with ACSM officially, an EIM-OC leadership team must be created. The required team members are listed in Table 7. Registration with EIM-OC provides professionals additional resources for planning and implementation, as well as the opportunity to apply for recognition. For detailed information concerning EIM-OC registration, please visit http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/assets/page_documents/EIM%20on%20Campus%20Action%20Guide_2014_12_03.pdf.
LAUNCH OF THE UNIVERSITY RECOGNITION PROGRAM
The EIM-OC Recognition Program highlights the efforts EIM-OC institutions are taking in leading their campus and community to becoming healthier by increasing opportunities to be active physically and linking PA to university health care.
EIM-OC Recognition provides an opportunity for your campus to publicize its image as an academic environment of professionals who care about the health of their campus community members and emphasizes your commitment to using exercise as medicine to create a culture of wellness on campus.
A campus can earn one of three levels of EIM-OC Recognition:
- Gold Level: Focuses on efforts to implement the EIM Solution. EIM-OC’s goal is to establish PA as a vital sign within the health care system and link health care professionals to fitness professionals to provide a referral system for appropriate exercise prescription.
- Silver Level: Focuses on educational opportunities for campus and community. Education helps ensure that knowledge of the importance of PA to health is shared and incorporated into campus life. Silver campuses work to promote these ideals and work toward the ultimate goal of incorporating PA as a part of routine doctor visits.
- Bronze Level: Focuses on PA promotion and awareness and opportunities to be physically active. Bronze universities and colleges aim to make PA a priority on campus and within the surrounding community, emphasizing the benefits that come with regular exercise.
Each level includes specific bulleted examples of requirements to earn that level of recognition. All registered EIM-OC institutions will receive the University Recognition Handbook and may apply for Recognition status. A self-evaluation checklist is completed by the applicant to determine the level achieved, and final approval is granted by the EIM-OC committee. For more information concerning the EIM-OC University Recognition Program and application process, please visit http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=17.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) can take many forms — from a referral-based system to providing increased opportunities for a more active campus community. Implementing EIM-OC in your campus is a great way to fulfill a professional obligation to the members of your campus community, provide valuable educational experiences to your students, be part of the global EIM team effort, and have your university recognized as an official EIM-OC institution. To assist in your goal of creating and implementing an EIM-OC program, the updated EIM-OC Action Guide provides programming material and the new EIM-OC registration process provides an enhanced way to track institutions that are implementing EIM-OC and allows professionals the capability to connect and provide best practice for EIM-OC implementation. The newly launched EIM-OC University Recognition Program recognizes those campuses that have made a commitment to improving the health of the campus community by creating a culture that incorporates physical activity as a daily facet of life and provides great PR for any institution with a commitment to health and wellness.
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Credential. ACSM Health Fitness J. 2012; 16 (2): 29–30.
Keywords:© 2015 American College of Sports Medicine.
Exercise is Medicine®; exercise referral; university recognition; wellness programming; exercise