Meet the EIM Leaders
Rachele M Pojednic, PhD, EdM
I am an Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Simmons College and a former Research Fellow at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Harvard Medical School. I hold a PhD and MS from Tufts University in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition & Exercise Physiology and an EdM in Physical Education and Coaching.
What is your current work position and title?
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, Simmons College Staff Scientist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
How and when did you get involved with EIM?
I have been a long-time member of ACSM, promoting the benefits of physical activity and exercise well before EIM was even a concept! As I have moved through my career, my focus has narrowed to the benefits of physical activity and exercise on chronic disease prevention and treatment. I became actively involved in EIM while working on my postdoc with Dr. Eddie Phillips at the Joslin Diabetes Center, as I became more involved with training health practitioners to promote and prescribe physical activity and exercise. This lead to my work as co-Chair of the EIM education committee, where we examine and promote forward-thinking curriculum and training models for all health professionals.
How do you promote EIM through the work that you do?
I work with and teach health care practitioners in three specific professions - registered dietitians, nurses, and physicians. Utilizing the EIM platform, I integrate the core curriculum throughout my courses, teaching each aspiring health professional how to incorporate physical activity and exercise counseling and prescription into their work.
How has EIM influenced the work you do professionally and those you work with (your patients/clients/colleagues)?
EIM has a powerful influence over my professional work. While exercise and physical activity have been a core tenet throughout my career, one of my current focus areas revolves around how to educate and inspire health professionals to integrate physical activity and exercise into their work and personal lives. While my research has typically focused on physical activity and exercise outcomes at the clinical level, I actually also have a Masters degree in education. So, working with EIM has blended my passion for both!
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in introducing and/or implementing EIM where you work?
Education models are very rigid and prescriptive in the health care professions. So while most health care providers acknowledge that physical activity and exercise are indeed a critical component of health, both as prevention and treatment, finding the time to introduce and integrate this education is an ever present challenge.
What are some of the sucesses that you have seen implementing EIM into your work?
In addition to being co-Chair of the EIM Education Committee, I am also a member of the leadership team for the LMEd (Lifestyle Medicine Education) Collaborative. We are seeing some incredible work within US based medical schools and the integration of physical activity — as well as nutrition, behavior change, and self-care — into the curriculum of aspiring physicians. At Simmons College, we are also pursuing an integrated model introducing physical activity and exercise to dietitians, physical therapists, nurses, and allied health professionals. It is inspiring to see how thrilled the students are to learn not only how to integrate physical and activity into their practice, but to truly see and understand the evidence behind why movement is such a critical element to health.
What advice do you have for early career professionals wanting to promote and develop careers related to EIM?
Get creative and collaborate across fields! Despite the overwhelming evidence of the importance of physical activity and exercise in health, you need to be a trailblazer to integrate this message into the current health care system. It is only when we reach a critical mass of practitioners across fields speaking the same language that we will truly affect global change.