The physical and mental well-being of students at Point Loma Nazarene University demands principal attention from the faculty and staff. In constant pursuit of a safe place for students to gain access to healthcare on campus, the medical team at the Wellness Center has recently made some new additions to their offered services and staff, including the new Nurse Practitioner Lisa Roberts.
Roberts, who recently joined the team in January of 2022, began at PLNU working with patients in symptomatic urgent care, but now works full-time in wellness. A nurse practitioner of almost thirty years, Roberts originally comes from a background of primary care family practice and brings with her nine years of experience treating the health of college students at the University of San Diego.
“We want this to be a safe, welcoming place, because as college students you are navigating your health, care and illnesses, many times for the very first time, on your own,” said Roberts.
With new physicians, counselors and more mental health counseling, the PLNU Wellness Center staff has plenty of resources that they want students to use in order to promote the healthiest community possible.
“We function down here as an urgent care, like you would go to an urgent care for a one-time visit, but we also function as a primary care, where you come back and we continue to take care of you,” said Roberts.
This can be particularly helpful to first-year students, who are navigating how to best take care of themselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle on campus. Point Loma students actually have the ability to influence the possible establishment of new testing services through an annual survey.
“Every year there’s a student survey and last year almost 65 to 70 percent of our students really wanted us to address sexual health,” Roberts said, addressing the new STI testing available at the Wellness Center.
Rather than ignoring the topic, Roberts feels that direct communication concerning student sexual health is essential to provide accurate and helpful information and that all of their services and appointments are completely confidential.
In addition to the testing, there will also be sexual health services available at the Wellness Center including birth control prescriptions and STI screenings. 2021 alum Kaitlin Sorgea is the new health promotion specialist and offers certified reproductive health counseling at the Wellness Center. She graduated with her degree in applied health science.
Counseling services is now providing group therapy, with two focus groups that include “Setting Boundaries” and “Creating an Anxiety Toolbox.” The new electronic health record with a connected portal called “Point and Click” will soon allow students to self-schedule for certain appointments and provide access to telehealth services (all appointments and health concerns discussed are protected under the HIPAA law).
Since students arrived back to campus, the prevention of COVID-19 has been a main focus for the Wellness Center as they decide how to best approach the county guidelines. Although the center makes their own decisions on what services are best to offer, Roberts said that the staff still feels it extremely important to follow the guidelines from our city council health department.
“With our COVID policies, contact tracing, and quarantining, our numbers here on this little campus were always so much better than the community – because we had our own little bubble. But it was [also] because of all the really hard, laborious work… taking calls every night, every weekend,” Roberts said.
Along with the strides taken toward preventing the spread of disease, the staff has worked to make sure their patients are fully taken care of, even off campus. Roberts said that when something was beyond their ability to provide treatment for, they suggest places close by that offer the services needed.
“We’ve also spent time in the summer visiting the urgent cares and the places we send students to, so we kind of pre-checked them out just to make sure they’re easy to get to, and the people are friendly and helpful,” said Roberts.
Sitting back in her office chair, Roberts breathed a sigh of relief and a smile crept onto her face as she told her favorite thing about working on campus.
“My Framily. That’s what we call it,” Roberts said, laughing. “We have an amazing team. I interviewed with Jen in the fall of 2021 and I stayed the following Monday just to sit in on a team meeting,” Roberts said. “Everyone was so invested, volunteering and respecting one another and there’s a ton of support from the director.”
As well as helping students navigate their health, the Wellness Center also provides internships to students who are pursuing a career in the medical field. 2022 PLNU alum Abby Lehman worked as a Student Nurse Extern from August 2021 to May 2022, where she took patient’s vitals, tested them for acute illness and carried out the nurse practitioners orders. “I think this job is perfect for people wanting to work in the medical field. Because everyone there is so eager to teach and help students learn, it’s an optimal hands-on learning environment and it provides a solid foundation for understanding how to provide basic medical care,” said Lehman.
Kimberly Hosoda, second-year child and adolescent development major, said she had a good experience seeking care at the Wellness Center, in regards to the new progress being made toward bettering the health of students. She said the new services being offered make her feel more cared for in the current environment.
“I think it was really cool how they incorporated nursing majors and let them do some of the work too so that they get real experience,” Hosoda said.
The Wellness Center is here to maintain the health and safety of the student body.
“Really the role of the Wellness Center is to keep student success, academic success, to keep you guys healthy and keep you in class, and to help you graduate,” Roberts said.
Written By: Shelby York