Note to students entering the UMKC School of Medicine’s new fifth-floor Wellness Wing: Studying is off limits.
Niloofar Shahmohammadi is the school’s wellness program coordinator who brought the Wellness Wing to life. She calls the space a special area where students can step away from the rigors of schoolwork for a short while.
“This is our official wellness place where you can take a break, step away and then get back to what you need to do,” Shahmohammadi said.
The School of Medicine officially opened the space on May 9 with a grand opening event that included food and drawings for door prizes.
A massage chair sits discreetly in one corner of the room. Large bean bags on the floor along one wall allow students to stretch out and relax while soft music fills the area. Tables loaded with puzzles, coloring books and arts and crafts, sports equipment that can be checked out, and a small library of books on wellness are just some of what the area offers as an escape from the rigors of study and work.
Two computers loaded with meditation software are available. Students can also step in for a drink of tea, or to check out a Fitbit to count their steps while they’re active.
The area once housed the school’s curriculum office. Now, Shahmohammadi said, it is intentionally designed not to look or feel like any other room in the building.
“You are in the library studying all day. You are in the clinic and you’re working all day,” she said. “This is a little oasis where you can step away in the middle of your day, maybe during your lunch break, maybe in a break between classes, step in here and get rejuvenated.”
The room will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to provide students a place to get away after class hours. Student members of the wellness council will fill shifts manning a front desk to help those who want to check out equipment or need help with the meditation software.
Shahmohammadi applauded School of Medicine advancement director, Fred Schlichting, for obtaining support and funding from the school’s alumni association to make the area a reality. The two met about a year ago to talk about student wellness needs. That’s when she shared her ideas for a physical space at the medical school where students can escape the stresses of schoolwork.
“He said, ‘I think we can make that work,’” Shahmohammadi said. “Because he works with the alumni, he was able to allocate some alumni association funds for this project. All of a sudden, in one year, it’s here and we’re very excited.”