What’s a typical day like for you?
When I’m not seeing sick students, I’m mostly out and about, making sure students know what we offer. Basically the idea is to remove the obstacles for students’ health and wellness so they can focus on drinking from that academic firehose. We have a lot more services than the typical college health center.
I think you can count on no more than two hands the number of colleges that have a full service, 24-hour, freestanding health center on campus. We do X-rays. We do lab work. We have a primary care clinic. We have five beds now for our inpatient unit.
How many patients does the health center treat each year?
Last school year we recorded 28,335 encounters with our clinic and the nursing advice hotline. We saw 84 percent of the student body at some point.
Is it difficult to get everyone on campus vaccinated against the flu each fall?
There are roughly 10,000 people on campus, and we get about a quarter of them dosed ourselves. I was bringing doses out on the Collis patio through the fall. I think it’s the most Dartmouth thing in the world to be out there in 40 degrees rolling up a sleeve and getting your flu shot under the changing leaves and with the Green as your backdrop.
How does this job compare to your previous work in a hospital ER?
I’m able to give a lot more personal attention and get to know some of these students in a really cool way. Sometimes students will just want to chat about stuff. It reminds me of when I used to sub as a school nurse: Kids show up in the school nurse’s office for reasons that aren’t necessarily medical. Belly pain can mean a lot of things.
How can the health service improve?
We are extremely hampered by our 100-year-old building. We’re not ADA-compliant. I don’t even know how I would get somebody up here to be seen right now if they couldn’t go up the stairs because the elevator is in a construction zone.
What’s your best advice for students?
Use the nurse advice line. It is probably the most underrated thing of value that comes with matriculation here.