Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dean Ishee on Leadership

Dr. Jimmy Ishee
We were fortunate to have the grand opportunity to interview Dr. Jimmy Ishee, Dean of the College of Health Sciences before he leaves his position as our leader for another deanship at the University of Central Arkansas. Since he is in a position of leadership and health educators are often called upon to be leaders, we felt he was the ideal candidate to interview about leadership skills and leadership roles. This post is a tribute to his leadership of ten years in the College of Health Sciences of Texas Woman’s University.

We asked him questions about his journey to leadership, his views on leadership and advice for leadership. Dean Ishee told us that he began his journey with nineteen years of moving up the academic ladder at the University of Central Arkansas in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. He started as an assistant professor and shortly after receiving tenure he moved into the position as Associate Dean. He desired a deanship and landed the position at Georgia College and State University as the Dean of Health Sciences. In 2005, Dr. Ishee came to Texas Woman's University as Dean of College of Health Sciences.

When asked what are the characteristics of a leader Dean Ishee explained that each leader has different characteristics, but they have each have a quality that people want to follow. “You cannot be a leader without people following you. Sometimes that’s charisma, intelligence, good decision-making skills, and sometimes it is it all of those together.” He also explained that sometimes the leader has to have a certain skillset for the position of an institution to move forward and it depends on the circumstance of the institution as to what skills are needed at that point in time. Dean Ishee continued, “I think a leader needs to help people to move to the next place. How they move to that next place may be being told to move to there, being guided to move there, or being persuaded to move there. All of those would help them get to next place, but there are different skills to do that. Of course, the people have to be willing to listen to those particular skills in moving forward."

Our next question was “How do leaders motivate others?” Dean Ishee explained that there are several ways to motivate others. The one way that works the best is through self-motivation. He explained that it is difficult to motivate a whole group of people. Communicating a common goal can help also motivate individuals and groups and it also enhances those who are self-motivated.

Dean Ishee explained that leadership in higher education has changed over time. Leadership in higher education has become much more legalistic. The number of laws influences how operations take place in higher education such as confidentiality, immunizations, and conditions of admittance to graduate school are influenced by some legal perspective. He also explained that a new crop of students bring in new techniques and strategies. Students today are more technology based and that impacts how leadership communicates with the students, faculty, and department chairs. For effective communication and an effective learning environment, leaders in the university need to use the common technology that students have access.

When asked about how leaders handle hardship Dean Ishee stated, “Whether it is university issues, student issues, faculty issues, or budget cuts, if the leader does not handle them well then you can very quickly be viewed as an ineffective leader. Handling it well, means that everybody believes that is considered in the situation; understanding of the whole situation.” He continued to explain that it is important to not make biased decision and that all options were considered prior to making the decision. No matter what decision you make as a leader there are those that are going to feel that it is the incorrect decision. In some situations the decision is not fair, but the decision is appropriate for that situation.

When asked, “What is the different between networking as an individual versus networking as a leader?” Dean Ishee explained that both are very important not only career wise but influence wise. “A network is a group of people that you influence and those that influence you. Your network consists of people you value, respect and people you wish to influence or want to be influenced by. As a leader you are networking with a greater purpose in mind. Individual networks for to further individual purposes and what needs to be done to become a greater influence. Networking as an individual, you communicated your interests, accomplishments, and opinions. As a leader of the Health Sciences, I network with the purpose of displaying the accomplishments and successes of the faculty, students, and focus on the group as a whole. As a leader there must be a balance between individual networking versus networking as a leader.”

Dean Ishee continued with the subject of networking and leadership. He said that as a leader, it is important to work for both the present and future. If a leader just works for the present then there is no planning for the future; also if you are just planning for the future you are not taking care of the present in order to get to the future. There is a balance because what you are doing in the present is what will either get you to your goal or not. Strategic planning starts in the present and then progressively moves toward the future. He encouraged future leaders to make sure to think and plan for both the present and the future. You cannot do one without the other because the future eventually becomes the present.

Next we asked Dean Ishee how the College of Health Sciences collaborates with other disciplines. Dean Ishee stated since the second word in the college is sciences, there is a need to have biology, chemistry, and math to better understand the human body and how it works. The College of Health Sciences collaborates with the other departments and colleges heavily through curriculum development and team teaching courses. There is also collaboration with English department for students who do not have English as their primary language. Finally, the College of Health Sciences also collaborates with other degree programs such as education, physical education, and special education.

We then asked Dean Ishee what he looks for in students. He stated, “Self-motivation is the key with students. I never taught a self-motivated student that I could not keep from learning. External motivation is useful too, but external motivation usually goes away or is taken away and eventually the learning stops. Along with self-motivation is self-responsibility.”  He also looks for students who are self-responsible for their learning, situations for they are in, for the mistakes they have made, and take responsibility for their lives.  A self-motivated and self-responsible student does not necessarily make perfect grades, but s/he is a deep learner and approaches courses for self-betterment. He continued to explain that it is important to provide students options, which give them the responsibility to make decisions about their future.

Lastly, Dean Ishee gave advice to those who want to take on leadership roles. He recommended first asking yourself, “Why do you want to take on that leadership role?”  The answer will be an indication of your success as that leader and your satisfaction of being that leader. If you want to be the leader because you enjoy leadership roles there is a different approach to the role than if the reason is that you want to make a change and influence outcomes. The approach will still be different if you want to a leader because you want to help people. There have been leaders with all of those motivations and great leaders as well. He recommended heeding caution if a group asks you to be a leader because no one else wants to lead the group. You may want to reconsider the leadership role for that group because of the lack of self-motivated people involved.  Once becoming a leader, there will be different criticisms and it is important to take those criticisms as a learning opportunity.

We hope you as our readers will take his advice into consideration when seeking out leadership roles. We want to say, thank you to Dean Ishee for taking the time for this interview about leadership. We also are thankful for his years of service as the Dean of Health Sciences and his leadership at Texas Woman’s University. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

Interview by Amanda Hinson-Enslin

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

National Women's Health Week

Every year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Offices on Women’s Health lead a nation-wide observance focused on the health of women. This observance begins on Mother’s Day and lasts for a week. During this week, communities and individuals are asked to help spread information to women which involve ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This year, National Women’s Health Week is May 11-17 so let’s get out there and start spreading the news!
Being a “Well Woman”
What does it mean to be a “well woman”? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, being a well woman consists of a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. A well woman makes her physical and mental lifestyles a priority in her life and National Women’s Health Week seeks to empower women to do just that. So do yourself a favor and make the pledge to become a well woman this week!

How to be a Well Woman
One part of being a well woman is having a healthy physical lifestyle. This lifestyle can involve different attributes such as getting check-ups and having preventative screenings
performed. Other aspects of this lifestyle include being active so make sure to take some time out of your day to exercise in any way that you enjoy. Physical activity should not be something you dread, but something that you enjoy. Not only is it important to be physically active, it is also important to eat healthy. Whether it is exercising or eating healthy, a well woman pledges to make physical health a priority in her life.
The other side of being a well woman is having an awareness of your mental health. Often stigmatized, mental health is not meant to be a negative aspect of life, but it is an important part of having a holistic healthy lifestyle. It is vital in a well woman’s lifestyle to be mindful of her mental state. One example of this mindfulness is understanding how stress can play a role in your life. Taking steps to deal with this stress can lead to overall better mental health. Another tip to improve a healthy mental lifestyle is to make sleep a priority. Getting enough sleep is an easy change that can be made to any lifestyle and is an excellent way to improve mental health. More than just the physical, mental health is also priority in a well woman’s lifestyle.
Spread the Word!
One of the main reasons for National Women’s Health Week is to spread awareness of a healthy lifestyle to women across the nation. Everyone has a role to play in the spread of awareness and you can help too! Start spreading the news by posting a well woman status on social media. Get active and pledge to be a well woman. Invite your friends to partake in a healthy physical and mental lifestyle with you. By spreading information and getting involved, we can improve women’s health nation-wide. 

Written by Amelia Garza

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Guest Post: Get Involved! by Laura Valentino

Let me begin with a call to action: Get involved! It does not matter where you are in your professional journey. Whether you are an undergraduate student, graduate student, new or seasoned professional, you should get involved immediately. Why? Quite simply, it benefits you and the profession. Do you want to network with emerging and veteran professionals? Do you want to learn about the newest research being done in your area of interest? Do you want to give back to others? Do you want to strengthen the health education and promotion profession? If you answered yes to any of the questions, then you should find out how to get involved with the professional association of your choice.

I recently attended my first national professional association conference. I was privileged to be able
to present at the SOPHE 2014 Annual Meeting in Baltimore in March. What an exciting time! I was able to present my research in poster and oral sessions and making lasting connections. Additionally, I received a SOPHE 21st century meeting scholarship to help defray some of the costs of attending. This honor meant that I got to participate in an awards ceremony and experience a night of private viewing at the National Aquarium. Turtles, alligators and sharks, oh my!
Laura's helpful hints for attending your first national professional association conference:

Come prepared! Bring your business card, have your resume on hand, and make handouts of your research. *Side note-Yes, undergraduate and graduate students should have business cards made. They can be as simple as stating your name and contact information, university affiliation and degree status, and area(s) of interest. You may want consider a Linked In profile style business card.* **Second side note-I was note told to bring my business card. The thought never even occurred to me. It will be much easier next year to gather contact information when I just pass someone my business card.**

Seek out new connections and mentors! Step out of your comfort zone! Smile and say hello. Strike up conversations. Pay attention to presenters' names. Seek out people you are interested in connecting with. Attend sessions that you are interested in and take notes. Introduce yourself-these may be your future employers.

Be an active participant! Sign up for and participate in mentor activities, get to know those in the same committees as you, ask questions during presentations, visit exhibitors, and befriend board members. You only get what you put in to the experience.

Professional associations you may want to consider depending on interests:
SOPHE, APHA, TSOPHE, TAPHA, ASHA, ACHA, ASA (if you don't know these acronyms, I
challenge you to find out what they mean).

A special note for undergraduate and graduate students:

Undergraduates- Do not wait to start doing research. Research is not only for graduate students and professors. Ask a graduate student or professor about research opportunities and attend conferences. The sooner you make connections in the field, the better prepared you are.

Graduates- Submit that research. Professional associations want student submissions. We are emerging professionals after all. Take the time to pay it forward and volunteer for the association of your choice. Together, we can infuse health education and promotion with renewed passion and enthusiasm. 

About Laura: Laura Valentino is a soon-to-be second year doctoral student. She is the 2014-2015 recipient of the Janice C. Williams Health Education Teaching Fellowship. She currently teaches HS 4121, Internship Preparation. She is the President-Elect of TSOPHE and actively involved in APHA, SOPHE, and ASA as well as Pioneer Power Speakers (Toastmasters International). She is always looking for research collaboration opportunities. Feel free to email her at

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Caring for Your Mind and Body

May is Mental Health Month

We all know about the importance about taking care of our health—eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising. Healthy habits positively influence how a person feels and how their body functions.

But good health involves not only caring for our body, but also our mind.

The fact is our mental health is integral to our overall health. Far too many Americans fail to incorporate a principal component into their health choices. Yet overall health and wellness are not possible without it.

What is mental health? If you were to ask your office mate, spouse or neighbor, they may respond that it is a “state of mind,” “being content with life” or “feeling good about yourself.”  Simply put, mental health is the ability to cope with daily life and the challenges it brings.

When a person has “good” mental health, they deal better with what comes their way. By contrast, “poor” mental health—such as feeling overwhelmed by stress —can make even day-to-day life difficult.

Poor mental health can also significantly harm a person’s physical health. For instance, research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.

The good news is there are many healthy choices and steps that individuals can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health—and overall health and well-being.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems.  It can also help people recover from these conditions.

This May is Mental Health Month; TWU Health Studies is raising awareness of the role mental health plays in our lives and providing tips and resources so anyone can take steps to promote good mental health.

These include building social support, eating with your mental health in mind, recognizing the signs of stress, and knowing when to reach out for help.

Just as Americans have learned there are things they can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and other illnesses, TWU Health Studies wants to help people learn what they can do both to protect their mental health in tough times and also to improve their mental well-being throughout their lives.

We need to care for both our body and mind.

Be sure to follow our Facebook page for mental health tips and ideas this month.

This post is provided by Mental Health America as part of Mental Health Month. 


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