Matt Hancock earned a bachelor’s in exercise science, became a personal trainer and managed a gym.
The Springfield native eyed MSU’s health promotion and wellness management graduate program because he wanted to make change on a larger scale.
“I really wanted to get into corporate health,” Hancock said. “It has been blowing up over the past couple of years. There’s a lot of opportunity. Companies are realizing healthier employees are more productive, too.”
Working while completing his degree
Missouri State’s program was attractive because it was flexible and offered a mix of seated and online courses. He worked full time at Mercy and was able to go to school part time and tackle his degree in chunks.
“I really liked the core classes because they let me learn a lot more about the direct areas I was going into, such as how to build up a program, how to look at a population health approach. My undergrad was more studying facts. My master’s was more applicable to everyday life and translating into a working situation,” Hancock said.
As part of a clinical requirement for his master’s, Hancock completed a 420-hour internship at Bass Pro working for the company’s wellbeing program.
He added on a certificate in health education because Hancock felt it would give him an edge in the job market and it did.
Shortly after graduating in spring 2019, Hancock left Mercy and joined Prime Inc., as Driver Health and Fitness Coordinator.
Making a difference
At Prime, Hancock was able to use the knowledge he learned in his master’s courses to directly impact driver health.
He revamped the wellness program and reaches nearly 8,000 drivers.
“In the past, Prime focused on a 13-week weight loss program for drivers,” Hancock said. “We have evolved to focus on a whole person virtual approach now. When COVID entered our lives, we had to look at our health initiatives in a different way. In-person services were no longer an option, so in October 2020 we began designing our own online wellness platform using a learning management system called Learn Dash.”
“The master’s program really helped prepare me for my career by giving me the base of knowledge I needed. I didn’t know anything about corporate health when I started. I learned a lot to prepare for the position I am in now.”
Through this platform they created health risk assessments, collected health data and designed and evaluated programs more efficiently to suit drivers needs based on the health risks that are prevalent in the occupation, such as fatigue and back pain.
A holistic approach to employee health
The platform will allow them to offer fitness, nutrition and mental health programs around-the-clock to fit drivers’ unique schedules over the road.
“All aspects will be gamified so we can create an engaging, competitive atmosphere by offering points to our drivers for completing certain health-related activities and tasks,” Hancock said.
Drivers can access virtual personal training and nutritional counseling with their registered dietitian.
Taking a holistic approach, they also addressed:
- Mental health, which is so important during the pandemic.
- Created a tobacco cessation program since 60 percent of drivers use tobacco products, said Hancock.
- Formed a healthy driver task force and put together exercises that drivers can do at truck stops or using equipment on the truck
- Showed employees how to make healthier choices on the road.
“Not everyone is interested in losing weight or eating right, but if we have several initiatives they can focus on, then we can let them hone-in on one that helps them lead a healthier life,” Hancock said. “It has gotten a lot of traction. We are starting to see improvement in employee health. It’s really a rewarding job. This is what I’ve been wanting to do for many years. I want to make a big impact on driver health, satisfaction, happiness and lifestyle.”