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New WVU Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, curriculum address region’s critical needs

masked doctor talks to masked patient

Vida Falahatian, a resident in the West Virginia University School of Public Health Public Health – General Preventive Medicine residency program, provides a consultation to a patient in the WVU clinic. (WVU Photo/Jessica Wilmoth)

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To help improve the quality of life for West Virginians and residents in the Appalachian region, West Virginia University’s School of Public Health is offering an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and often reversing chronic disease, 85 percent of which is attributable to lifestyle risk factors.

Lifestyle Medicine addresses diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension by replacing unhealthy behaviors with positive ones. The root causes of the diseases are targeted through six key interventions – nutrition, exercise, stress, substance abuse, sleep and relationships.

In collaboration with their primary care provider, patients at the new clinic will be treated by Jennifer Lultschik, who is board certified in Lifestyle Medicine. Lultschik will provide individual evaluation and planning for evidence-based lifestyle changes that are specific, measurable, feasible, appropriate and time-related. Ongoing appointments will focus on providing personalized support and guidance to assist patients in achieving their health and wellness goals through lifestyle adjustments, while the primary care provider continues to manage prescription medication.

“The WVU Lifestyle Medicine Clinic adds another aspect of great health care to that provided by our WVU Medicine physicians and providers,” Lultschik said. “We have an opportunity to approach chronic disease in a collaborative manner to lessen its impact on patients. We work with the patient and their established provider to reduce the need for medication, improve fitness, sleep, stress management and energy, and prevent disease diagnosis and progression. This will have a major impact on individual and community health in West Virginia.”

The clinic will also serve as a learning environment for those in the WVU School of Public Health Public Health - General Preventive Medicine residency program. Starting with July 2022 admissions, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Lifestyle Medicine Residency Curriculum will be implemented to provide enhanced learning for residents in the School of Public Health’s Preventive Medicine residency program, making it one of only six PH-GPM programs in the country offering this unique curriculum.   

The new curriculum draws on a longstanding Health Sciences commitment to bettering lives through lifestyle medicine. Students in the School of Medicine have the option of completing a Culinary Lifestyle Medicine track as part of their curriculum.

“Lifestyle Medicine addresses individual and community health concerns, and fits into the scope of general preventive medicine perfectly as an approach to improve both individual and population health,” Lultschik said.

The two-year program focuses on service to underserved and rural populations with an emphasis on the issues of health crisis found in West Virginia, Appalachia and across the nation such as chronic disease morbidity and mortality, behavioral health and addiction medicine, and disparities of health care access and outcomes.



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WVU School of Public Health

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