Public Health Expert Walks the Walk When it Comes to Wellness

Public Health Expert Walks the Walk When it Comes to Wellness

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor


Katie Deslandes '15 M.S.
Communications and Public Affairs Graduate Assistant

As a public health researcher, Summer McGee, an associate professor in the Department of Public Management, is well-aware of the growing research that shows a sedentary lifestyle can lead to negative health implications. The challenge for many Americans with desk jobs is to carve out enough time in their busy schedules for regular exercise.

Summer McGee

Enter McGee’s new treadmill desk, an apparatus that enables McGee to combine both pursuits. Earlier this semester, she reached her first 25,000-step day – well above the 10,000 steps a day that the American Heart Association recommends for an "active lifestyle." Writing in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed, she said she was “more proud of that accomplishment than my most recent publication.”

“I thought I should be showing people how they can have a healthier workplace, and I thought this would be a great thing to try out,” she said.

An expert on the Affordable Health Care Act that went into effect in October, McGee points out that the new law is part of the ongoing shift from treating disease to preventing it in the first place.  “Instead of being a culture focused on sick care, we are becoming a culture focused on staying well and staying healthy,” she said.

The focus of the more than 20,000 pages of the new regulation can be boiled down to three main points: affordability, accessibility and improving the quality of health care.

“The most recent numbers said the government exceeded its goal with eight million people signing up for health insurance,” she said. “I think most people agree that this is better than most expected, considering how rocky the start was. Time will tell if people stay enrolled, but overall it’s been a success.”

McGee is a member of the faculty of UNH’s master’s degree in healthcare administration, a program – the seventh largest in the country – that was judged to have the “most resources” in a recent national ranking. “I came to UNH because I knew this was a place where I could really make an impact,” she said.

“One of our biggest advantages is that we offer a Master’s of Science degree, so our students learn how to analyze data and do research, but they also learn about healthcare management and administration and the core knowledge about the healthcare field,” she said. “They get the best of both worlds.”

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