Transforming Tomorrow’s Healthcare Leaders: Weimar University’s Distinctive Natural Science Degree

The Natural Science degree program at Weimar University is the most uniquely lifestyle-focused pre-health degree offered by an Adventist institution. Serving as the foundational premedical track for aspiring healthcare professionals, it prepares students to broaden their understanding of the meaning of healing. Students have used this degree as the springboard to medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, becoming physician assistants, and more.

The Natural Science program aligns with Weimar’s overarching mission to heal a hurting world. The comprehensive curriculum of the Natural Science degree encompasses the major biology and chemistry disciplines yet extends the conventional scope of a traditional science degree. While equipping students with a solid scientific foundation for graduate studies, our program uniquely imparts practical natural healing knowledge and methodologies.

Comprehensive Curriculum and Specialized Courses

In courses such as “Intro to Chronic Disease,” students delve into the study of prevalent chronic diseases and acquire invaluable skills in disease diagnosis, treatment, and reversal through hands-on, simulated patient scenarios. In addition, in courses such as “Principles of Health” and “Lifestyle Treatments of Disease” taught by WU president Dr. Nedley, students learn the mechanisms behind major diseases and the simple lifestyle changes that can prevent and reverse them. Many students have come to Weimar to learn from these classes. Furthermore, the curriculum challenges students to grapple with profound questions, as exemplified in courses such as “Issues in Origins,” where they critically analyze the history of scientific inquiry into our planet’s origin and examine interpretations of the fossil record and other geological phenomena to see how the Bible record stands in light of natural evidence.

Practical Experience Through Sanitarium and Clinic Partnerships

In the writing of Ellen White, schools are encouraged to partner with sanitariums. In manuscript releases vol 6, she says this: “From the light I have, with every sanitarium that is established anywhere there shall be a school with that sanitarium.” (Pg. 363.2). Weimar University is an Adventist university that takes this counsel seriously. On the campus, there are two residential health programs for guests who receive treatment for physical and mental health disorders. These are the Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program and the NEWSTART program. These programs heal many people each year and enable students to witness firsthand the transformative impact of the knowledge and techniques acquired in their coursework. This experiential learning goes beyond preparing them for future medical careers by nurturing their capacity to be healers during their undergraduate years. Adam Sabangan, one of Weimar’s brightest senior students, recently finished his rotations in these programs. He comments,

 “I appreciate the NEWSTART clinical rotation and the Nedley Depression & Anxiety Recovery Program internship because they allow pre-med students like me to get real clinical experience. Interacting with patients facing the health conditions we read about in textbooks helps us remember that healthcare professionals treat people, not diseases. It is inspiring to see lifestyle health principles improving quality of life in just a relatively short amount of time and to see how the physician’s role can extend beyond diagnosis and treatment to educating their patients.”

In addition to having rotations through University lifestyle programs, students also have an opportunity to apply to work in the clinic on campus. Here, they can gain even more clinical experience through their work. At the on-campus clinic, students can interact with the 175 patients who come through every day. This experience is invaluable to aspiring health professionals. And even more, their hourly rate is higher than many other options for work.

Hands-On Anatomy Study and Research Opportunities

Another unique feature of our Natural Science program is the opportunity for students to engage in hands-on anatomy study by working with cadavers. Unlike most science students who typically encounter cadavers in graduate school, Weimar University’s students gain a distinctive advantage. In addition, Weimar University offers an opportunity to publish research. In the class “Research Methods,” students are taught the process of doing research and have the opportunity to do their own research and have their work published even before they graduate, which is a significant advantage as many medical schools give preference to students who have done undergraduate research.

Dedicated and Diverse Faculty

A team of dedicated faculty members further enhances the Natural Science program. The professors of Natural Science possess not only exceptional qualifications but also diverse life experiences. These varied experiences include high-level cancer research, international studies, elementary education, missionary work, and carpentry. These various life experiences enrich their knowledge and improve their effectiveness as educators.

Dr. Opiyo, our newest Natural Science faculty member, has recently joined our team with a commitment to providing an exceptional learning environment for students. Dr. Opiyo explains his mission: “I hope to create a memorable learning experience for all my students by providing the best classroom environment and employing student-centered pedagogy in all my subjects. I will endeavor to be one of the most available and approachable faculty on campus for the benefit of all students, in and out of the classroom.”

Education for Eternity: Aligning with Weimar’s Mission

In alignment with Weimar’s mission, Dr. Opiyo emphasizes the broader purpose of education, echoing the words of inspiration: “My mission is to educate for eternity, preparing Christ-centered scientists for service here and in the world to come. This is the scope of education as the pen of inspiration states: ‘True education means more than the perusal of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being and the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come. (Education pg. 13)'”

Post-Graduation Opportunities and Success

Upon completing Weimar University’s Natural Science degree, students encounter a multitude of possibilities. Graduates from Weimar have gained admission to esteemed graduate institutions, with Loma Linda University being a favored destination. With its high acceptance rate for Weimar alums, Loma Linda University has witnessed our graduates’ preparedness for the rigors of graduate education. LLU has stated that Weimar students are ahead academically and clinically since they have had the opportunity to do clinical rotations before graduate school.

Conclusion: Preparing Graduates to Heal a Hurting World

Weimar University’s Natural Science program is a unique science degree designed to prepare students to be health professionals who offer patients total healing. A low student-to-faculty ratio ensures personalized attention from our highly experienced faculty, ensuring a premier science education with the opportunity to study cadavers and become a published researcher. In addition, students also learn about the fundamental principles of human health and can see these principles at work firsthand in rotations. Beyond a traditional science education, students gain practical skills in healing and witness the profound impact their knowledge can have on individuals who have not previously encountered such wisdom and care. Graduates from Weimar University are genuinely prepared to go forward with knowledge and experience to heal a hurting world.

Lifespan Development (3 Credits)

From conception to old age, this course explores focuses on the biological, psychological, and social developmental issues and milestones for each stage of the lifespan, paying particular attention to the aspects of context, culture, and environmental issues. Topics include, but are not limited to: parenting style (child guidance), social contexts, social stress, poverty, low educational attainment, abuse and neglect, gender and family issues salient to relationships, separation, nontraditional and blended families and inadequate housing and how these affect development. Issues of aging and long-term care are included.

Moral Identity and Faith as a Counselor (3 Credits)

This course explores the formation of the student therapist’s identity as a counselor within the framework of Christianity and how this plays out in a secular world of counseling. This course presents philosophical and ethical perspectives integral to the understanding of the contemporary psychologies. Students learn how to analyze the ethical bias of psychotherapeutic psychologies, identify their underlying philosophical assumptions, and develop an appreciation for the moral components in individual, marital, and family identity formation. Also included will be a workshop to enhance spiritual development.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Basic Theories and Skills (3 Credits)

This course develops an understanding of the major theoretical orientations used by current practitioners, focusing on systemic approaches. Theories provide a coherent framework for understanding how people change. This course will highlight the Biblical understanding of how change takes place. This course covers the concepts and techniques associated with the primary theories of counseling psychology: psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and post-modern; in contrast with wholistic counseling techniques. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, limitations, and outcome research associated with each concept. The course also highlights cultural and spiritual diversity as it applies to the therapeutic process and awareness of the self, interpersonal issues, and spiritual values as they impact the use of theoretical frameworks. This course also introduces the student to basic skill in attending behavior, clinical interviewing and clinical intervention. Finally, this foundational course clarifies key issues in human nature and prepares the student for developing a worldview that is consistent with their theological and spiritual orientation.

Advanced Counseling Theory (3 Credits)

This course will examine several individuals, and family approaches for counseling. The development of specific behavioral, cognitive, humanistic/experiential, psychodynamic and systemic frameworks will be deconstructed. Student will distinguish Christian approach of addressing individual and family concerns. Students will be involved in experiential activities designed to relate the observation, demonstration and practice to research-based explanations. In this course, we will consider how each approach is used in clinical, school, and marriage and family counseling applications. Training in the use of the therapeutic relationship will be a focus for understanding and intervening with clients.

Group Processes in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling with children, adults, families, and couples. The course focuses on basic group counseling theory including therapeutic group factors, stages of group development, and principles of commonly accepted and research-based group interventions. The course will cover different types of groups, such as support, psycho-educational, and process groups; the tasks, skills, and qualities of effective group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups, group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups. Importance is placed on responsibilities and skills and cultural considerations. Emphasis on small and large group processes and involvement in experiential activities is designed to relate the clinical process to theoretical explanations. Throughout, there is an emphasis on group work within community mental health settings.

Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 Credits)

This course provides an understanding of the broad range of childhood and adolescent problems and maladjustment behaviors. A variety of psychotherapeutic modalities are presented, providing the student with an opportunity to develop knowledge of basic child and adolescent therapy skills, assessments, and treatment strategies. The impact of the development aspects, family dynamics, social environments, and multicultural issues are addressed. In addition, legal and ethical issues and the role of hospitalization are considered.

Addictions Counseling and Treatment (3 Credits)

This course covers the prevention, assessment, and treatment of substance abuse/dependence, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring conditions. Theories of etiology, populations at risk, and the role of persons and systems in supporting or compounding abuse/addiction are discussed. The course reviews the cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects of psychoactive drug use and the impact of addiction on the family system. Best practices for the screening, assessment, and treatment of addictions and co-occurring behaviors are covered as well as community resources for individuals and family members. Additional focus will be placed on developing understanding of Recovery Oriented Care, social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and cultural awareness and competencies.

Counseling Diverse Populations (3 Credits)

This course focuses on the intersection and convergence of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, acculturation, and chronological age and how these inform effective mental health care. The goal is to increase awareness of multiple dimensions of diversity in order to prepare students to work sensitively and effectively with California’s multi-cultural population. Attention also is given to issues of privilege, marginality, and oppression, including sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, and heterosexism. Theoretical perspectives on multicultural counseling will be examined as well as strategies for intervention and advocacy. This course will focus on eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination. Throughout, effective strategies for communicating about emotionally charged material is emphasized.

Couples and Family Counseling: Post-Modern (3 Credits)

This course continues the study of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals, couples, and families using interactional and brief models. This course provides advanced training in the theories and techniques of modern and post-modern schools of family therapy including Cognitive Behavioral, Behavioral, Solution-Focused, and Narrative Therapy. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, outcome research, and limitations associated with each theory. Specific family issues addressed include: transition to parenthood, parenting young and school-age children, household division of labor, and blended families. Throughout, careful attention is paid to the historical and cultural context in which the theories were developed and the implications for working with diverse populations in recovery-oriented community mental health settings.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Advanced Techniques (3 Credits)

This course is designed to further develop the psychotherapeutic skills of students prior to their entry into a clinical placement. Students focus on developing proficiency in the core interviewing qualities, deriving goals for a clinical session, and in making contracts with clients for change. Additionally, students are encouraged to begin developing a theoretical and conceptual understanding of cases and trained to work with diverse populations. Students are also encouraged to address issues regarding the integration of their faith with the practice of psychotherapy.

Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 Credits)

This course examines the application of psychological instruments to the assessment of individuals, couples, and families. Fundamentals of psychological assessment are reviewed including standardized and non-standardized testing approaches, basic statistical concepts, and moral, ethical and cultural considerations in assessment. The course will also provide an overview of issues related to cognitive assessment, achievement, aptitude, and neuropsychological assessment. Emphasis will also be on clinical, behavioral, and personality assessment.

Knowing God Better Through Career Development: Theories and Techniques (3 Credits)

This course prepares students to address the intersections of career, values, and life roles in the context of career counseling and responding to career and work-related issues

for majority and marginalized groups. Students will gain core knowledge of major career development theories; examine the implications of sociocultural factors on career development, work transitions, and the career counseling process; gain experience with career counseling assessments and resources; and become familiar with current career development literature.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling (3 Credits)

Students will develop a foundation for assessing and treating post-trauma reactions in adults along with an overview of trauma responses in children. We will begin by reviewing the variety of trauma populations followed by in-depth instruction on the mechanism of development major trauma concerns. The assessment and intervention of post-trauma conditions will be identified. Next, we will address clinical interventions including disaster mental health and exposure-based treatment. Finally, we will review issues affecting therapists working with trauma populations and self-care strategies to prevent compassion fatigue.

Research and Evaluation in Counseling (3 Credits)

The goal of this course is to enable students to become informed consumers of psychological research and to use current research knowledge and tools to improve treatment outcomes. Students will explore methods and issues associated with the conduct and use of research concerning phenomena relevant to counseling psychology. The course provides an overview of hypothesis generation, research design, data collection and interpretation, and utilization of research findings in clinical practice, while considering systemic and sociocultural influences. Students will review seminal research findings including research on specific treatments and common factors across treatments that improve therapy outcome. The course also provides students with assessment tools for evaluating mental health programs and the effectiveness of one’s own clinical practice. Emphasis is given to helping students become knowledgeable consumers of research, including the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.

Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology (3 Credits)

Fulfills the California Board of Behavioral Sciences requirement for surveying the use of pharmacological agents in patient care. This course provides a basic overview of neurobiology in order to understand the biological bases of behavior and the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders. The course includes information about commonly prescribed psychiatric medications for children and adults – indications, contraindications, mechanisms of action, side effects, drug-drug interactions, iatrogenics, and variability related to age, gender, ethnicity, and medical condition. Students will learn how to work cooperatively and effectively with clients, family members, and prescribing clinicians. Additionally, controversies related to the medical model and to specific prescribing practices will be explored.

Psychopathology & Diagnostic Processes (3 Credits)

This course examines the major types of psychopathology. It explores techniques of intake interviewing and determining mental status to formulate a differential diagnosis based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will also recognize and understand the controversial history of the development of the DSM. The

course also includes a critical examination of the clinical and experimental literature in psychopathy. Etiologies of cognitive/affective functions and dysfunctions and implications for therapeutic intervention are also addressed.

Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy (3 Credits)

This course will provide students with an understanding of human sexual development with a particular focus upon sexuality counseling from a systems perspective. The goal of this course is to learn about the many facets of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual dysfunctions in a safe and respectful environment. Topics include the physiology, psychology, and sociology of sexuality, including the effects of sexual attitudes and functioning on individuals and families. Gender Identity and LGBTQ and sexual perspectives will be reviewed. Clinical applications, including the treatment of sexual difficulty and dysfunction will also be explored. Students will develop familiarity with the language and terms of sexology and demonstrate an ability to apply this knowledge to clinical situations. Finally, students will explore the above with a framework of Christian compassion and love, exploring how God created sex to be beneficial. A review of AIDS, HIV, and STDs will be given.

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to the practice of LPCC and MFT in the state of California. This course focuses on contemporary professional law and ethics and moral dilemmas related to counseling practice. Students review statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws related to the scope of therapy practice, including confidentiality, privilege, reporting requirements, family law, and the treatment of minors. Professional codes of ethics (ACA, AAMFT/ CAMFT, and APA) will be reviewed. California law that is relevant to the practice of counseling will be examined including goals and objectives of professional organizations, standards of training, licensure, and the rights and responsibilities of professional counselors. Case examples will be discussed. Consideration is also given to the student practitioner’s values and behaviors, especially in relation to becoming a Christian therapist.

Practicum in Counseling (6, 3 per term)

The purpose of this course is to develop counseling competencies when working with a variety of clients with unique presenting concerns. Specifically, the focus will be on your ability to engage your clients in treatment, establish a working alliance, identify dysfunctional patterns, and use either general strategies or ECBIS strategies to facilitate change. You will work toward the development of a personally acceptable and professionally effective style of establishing and working in helping relationships. We will work toward helping you to examine your behaviors and rationales and to modify for greater effectiveness.

Course Prerequisites:
This is the terminal course for the program and will run concurrently with a weekly seminar that will address issues in counseling practice.