The Bachelor of Science program in Health Promotion and Wellness that Lander University plans to launch next fall, pending approval from the Commission on Higher Education, will have Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Amir Bhochhibhoya's fingerprints all over it.
Bhochhibhoya (pronounced Bo-chee-bo-yaa), the winner of this year's Young Faculty Scholar Award, has been developing courses for the new major since joining Lander's nursing faculty last spring. He played a leading role in the development of "Health Promotion Program Planning," "Health Promotion Measurement and Evaluation," and "Epidemiology and Biostatistics," which are already in the catalog. Other courses are in the works.
Lots of thought goes into the creation of a new program, according to Bhochhibhoya.
"We want to make sure that it fits the student who comes to the School of Nursing, and the faculty's resources we have in the School of Nursing as well," he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic disease accounts for approximately 86 percent of the nation's aggregate health care spending. Many chronic diseases are caused or made worse by smoking, excessive drinking, poor diets, or sedentary lifestyles - all of which can be avoided.
Health promotion educates people that "how we behave, what we eat, and how active we are" have a direct impact on our health, he said.
Bhochhibhoya said he has seen a surge of interest among students in health promotion. "It's getting popular, and the job market is growing," he said.
Some examples of the many places where health promotion graduates can find work include hospitals, universities, businesses, community organizations and government agencies such as the Departments of Health and Environmental Control and Health and Human Services.
A native of Nepal, Bhochhibhoya came to the United States for his higher education, earning a master of science in health promotion in 2014 and a Ph.D. in health promotion in 2017, both from the University of Oklahoma.
One of the unhealthiest behaviors of all, binge drinking by college students, was the topic of his dissertation. He returned to the same subject in an article published last year in "Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education."
From 2017 until 2018, Bhochhibhoya was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina, where he worked alongside Dr. Xiaoming Li, recognized as one of the world's most active scholars in the field of HIV/AIDS. Bhochhibhoya also collaborated with Li in "Mindfulness-based Intervention among People Living with HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review," published last year in "Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice."
Another recent publication was a chapter that he co-authored on the subject of the mental health of international students studying in the U.S. Several other publications are currently under review.
Bhochhibhoya also has a master's in business administration and entrepreneurship and co-founded MetCel, LLC, a technology company that he ran for five years. He still has entrepreneurship in his blood, and part of what he liked about Lander's William Preston Turner School of Nursing was the opportunity to create something new.
Another thing that Lander had going for it was the fact that his wife, Dr. Pragya Sharma Ghimire, an assistant professor of physical education and exercise science, was already here. Being able to find work at the same place, he said, is "a blessing."
One of the best things about Greenwood, according to Bhochhibhoya, is the weather. In Oklahoma, he said, "it's scorching hot in summer, and in winter there's icy rain that disrupts everything." Tornadoes, he added, are all too common.
Since beginning his teaching career as a graduate teaching assistant at Oklahoma State University in 2007, Bhochhibhoya has taught a wide variety of courses. In addition to health promotion, he has taught courses in business, interdisciplinary studies, racquetball and golf.
English is not his first language, and he used to focus as much on the words he used as the ideas that he talked about in class. Now he focuses on making sure that students understand. He's devised a simple way to help students who have trouble pronouncing his name.
"'Just call me Dr. B, that will be fine,'" he says.
This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of Lander Magazine. Read more at www.lander.edu/magazine.