ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Sheila Bowen

Going where no one has gone before

Missouri State University
Employee Wellness Coordinator
Higher Education
3500 employes, full/part-time

Health care costs per employee at MSU compared to other institutions


I have been an RN since 1991 with a bachelors in Nursing and a Masters in Health Administration. I am a Certified Wellness Program Director with the Chapman Institute. In 2011 I received the DOSA award at Missouri State University for most impact on employee’s. I am a certified as a CORE Financial facilitator, a CHIP coordinator, a KeenFit instructor and a trained counselor for Dave Ramsey.

In ICU/CCU nursing, I realized that many of the patient’s I took care of had conditions that were largely preventable with a healthier lifestyle. This began my journey into personal and professional wellness.


I offer numerous options for health and wellness through our employee wellness program, some with more measureable impact than others, but all geared toward the eight elements of wellness we at MSU espouse; social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical and occupational.
- Biometric and Health Risk Assessment (Health status improvement, behavior change, culture change)
-  92 - 94% completion rate the last 3 years
- Found dozens of people with hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia and hypertension and began treating with lifestyle and medication interventions. Many of these people had not been to a doctor in years.
- Weight Watchers at Work – We have the longest standing program in the nation of > 13   years. (Health status improvements, Behavior change, Culture change)
- Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) – (Cost Savings, Health Status Improvement, Behavior Change, Culture Change
- This six week, 40 contact hour lifestyle intervention program does pre and post  blood work, assessment and vital sign measurements.
- Averages for all CHIP programs offered at MSU in the last 3 years.  Total cholesterol (mg/dL) decrease from 9 – 20%. Triglyceride (mg/dL) decrease from 8.1% to 44.1%. Fasting glucose (mg/dL) decreases from 2 – 20% decreases.
- Decrease and discontinuation of many medications including those used for   hypertension, hyperlipidemia and glucose management, along with a decrease in anti-depressants usage.    
- CHIP Alumni
- Longitudinal study of participants from last 3 years at MSU demonstrated 89%    of the participants had maintained or improved in at least one of the five indicators of Total Cholesterol, LDL, Triglycerides, Blood Sugar and Weight since their CHIP program at MSU.
- CORE Financial Wellness (Dave Ramsey) – (Cost Savings, Behavior Change)
- Several hundred employees have participated and have had several million    dollars in combined debt, not including home mortgages.  This has been a life changing program for participants, helping them to create a plan for their money and to relieve stress in their life and in their relationships.
- Healthy Eating Demonstrations.
- Screenings (skin cancer, hearing assessment, flexibility assessment, range of motion    assessment, fitness assessment).
- Memberships provided to our new $30M fitness center on campus.
- Many other programs offered throughout the year.

The employee wellness program has the full support of our President and our Board of Directors with a $175,000 annual budget to be used for programming, incentives and my salary. Other funds have also been made available for further wellness endeavors. The Employee Wellness committee that I’ve put together includes seventeen faculty and staff members from across campus. The CHIP program and Weight Watchers at Work program, along with our biometrics and HRA program are measured with data collection.

Mercer, our consultant for MSU, reports the average total health benefit cost per employee at MSU to be $6,548 in 2013 compared to other colleges and universities 500+ in 2013 at $11,599. Our numbers have been dramatically lower than others in these benchmarks for years.



I engage in daily physical activity and eat a diet that is 90% food as grown. I believe we need to maintain strength and function as we age so I incorporate major strength training into my cardio workouts. I practice balance in my commitments and this year am specifically focusing more on relationships than on tasks.

I love to introduce things new on campus. Nordic walking is new to these parts of the country and to MSU. I incorporated the Couch to 5 K program and kicked it off with Chi Walking techniques in order to teach people correct body mechanics of walking and running to decrease accidents or incidents in our middle aged population. The average age of employees on our campus is 47.5 years old.

WELCO has been my greatest resource, along with the National Wellness Institute. My advice would be to think bigger than just fitness and nutrition because wellness has to do with everything human.


I go where no one has gone before when it comes to wellness.  MSU has one of the most robust employee wellness programs that I have seen or heard when talking with colleagues from other companies or institutions.  We offer the most variety and truly try to address every spoke of the wellness wheel because in my mind, anything that has to do with the human being, involves wellness.

I bought several hundred apples and had stickers made that said; “Bite me. The original fast food. MSU Employee Wellness.”  I walked office to office around campus and introduced myself and my programs while handing out apples.


The biggest threat that health promotion faces is the food industry. In an attempt to meet the convenience needs of people, the food industry is creating all sorts of food that is manufactured and refined. Then this food is marketed in every conceivable way possible. People don’t eat real food and their bodies and health are showing it. So, getting back to the basics of nutrition is key.  The challenge is, how does one make that alluring enough for people to gravitate to it? Teaching the science of nutrition and helping people shop for it, prepare it, taste it and physically experience how their body responds to healthy eating by having more energy, getting sick less, being in a better mood and having less cost expended in health care dollars. Making it real and keeping it simple are imperative.

You can vote as often as you like. You may vote once per hour per entry.
When you come back, use the search function to find this entry.
Flag as Inappropriate

You can vote as often as you like. You may vote once per hour per entry.
When you come back, use the search function to find this entry.


Health care costs per employee at MSU compared to other institutions
profile photo Posted by
Sheila B.
View Sheila B.'s Profile.
Post a Comment

Comments 4

Comments are in order of newest to oldest

As a former graduate of Missouri State University it was exciting to see the employee wellness efforts going on there and the emphasis on the eight elements of wellness.

Daniel C. on 11/07/2014

Sheila Congratulations on your nomination. I remember working with you when you were at Freeman. I would love for us to network together. You can still reach me at Freeman Health System. Best to you. Kris Drake

Kris D. on 10/29/2014

Ms. Bowen is an excellent Wellness Coordinator. She believes in wellness, works creatively and diligently, and models wellness to others. Her programs at Missouri State University are diverse and successful, both in participation numbers as well as in health and economic outcomes. As her application describes, Ms. Bowen has garnered phenomenal employee/families participation. It is an honor to work with such a great wellness professional. Dave Muegge, M.D. Director-Taylor Health and Wellness

Dave M. on 10/23/2014

Hi Sheila, All the best with your contest entry. Your achievements, innovation and leadership in Workplace Wellness within your organization is most impressive. Congratulations! I would love to connect with you offline to chat more about your programs and services as I am seeking interested and talented Workplace Wellness Professionals like yourself as guest presenters/facilitators for our online Ambassador Certification program. Additionally, I would most welcome a case study of your organization's successes for a KWC International White Paper on Workplace Wellness Perspectives, Best Practices, & Case Studies that we are currently developing. With permission, these papers will also become case studies for our soon to be launched Certification Program providing further recognition to your amazing successes. Please contact me at if either of these opportunities are of interest to you. I look forward to connecting in the near future! Lisa Kelly

Lisa K. on 10/09/2014

Post a Comment