In March 2016, Wellesley College Health Services hired a nutritionist, reintroducing a service that had been unavailable to students since the College’s previous nutritionist retired in the spring of 2015.
The new nutritionist, Barbara Southcote, is on campus 15 hours a week, five of which are spent working with athletes at the Keohane Sports Center (KSC), and aims to promote healthy eating as a key factor for students to feel well-balanced.
“My goal is to help [the students] be strong both physically and mentally,” Southcote explained. “It’s hard to be mentally strong if you body’s not strong and you’re not fueling your body adequately.”
Southcote is a Licensed Dietitian-nutritionist (LDN) and has a background in biology and food science. She was hired by the College’s Health Services both to reinstate the nutritionist position and to act as a promoter for the clinic’s holistic wellness model.
“Most colleges have a nutritionist,” Registered Nurse Lisa Keffe commented. “It’s an important service in encouraging full body wellness and balance.”
Southcote specializes in nutrition for athletes, and also has experience as a high school hockey coach. Varsity athletes meet with Southcote both as a team and on an individual basis. “Barbara makes sure that she knows your entire nutrition background before giving advice; all the questions that I had about protein, hydration, and supplements were answered well,” varsity volleyball player Samantha Hoang ‘19 commented.
“For the students that are athletes,” Southcote emphasized, “I want to find eating habits that will help them to be stronger and faster.”
Students can make an appointment with Southcote through the Health Services at wellesley.edu/healthservice. While Southcote holds no walk-in hours, she encourages students to email her if they have more urgent concerns and to be open to making inquiries about their eating habits.
“If you see me at the KSC or around campus and you have a question, ask it,” Southcote stressed. “Even though it’s just eating and it should be really simple, we’re so bombarded with messages that we’re supposed to look a certain way, and there are all these expectations. I ultimately just want to help students to feel good.”
Southcote’s arrival preceded a series of renovations and procedural changes enacted by the Health Service this past summer in response to student feedback. Wellesley College Health Services Office Manager Melissa Sapporetti stated that changes were made based responses to Health Services’ student post-appointment feedback survey during Spring 2015, where students had voiced concerns about privacy, cramped spaces and long wait times.
The renovations resulted in the separation of the previous single waiting room into two separate spaces, increasing the level of privacy offered to students. Staff are reminded to keep conversations to a minimum in public spaces and noise machines have been installed in all exam rooms in order to mute private conversations. Free safe sex supplies are available both in waiting rooms and in bathrooms, allowing students to take them at their discretion.
Changes have been made on the procedural front as well with the renaming of urgent care hours to S.I.I.C or Sudden Injury or Illness Clinic. The change in title was made with the goal to offer students more clarity about the functions of the clinic’s various services.
“We have always struggled with what to call [urgent care hours],” stated Registered Nurse (RN) Lisa Keefe. “It’s frustrating for both students and staff when [students] come with a big problem during hours that are set up for rapid-fire answers.”
Keefe stressed the idea that S.I.I.C. hours are structured with the intention of finding quick, effective solutions to immediate problems, whereas more complex or long-term concerns are best addressed during a scheduled appointment. Students generally have to wait up to two weeks for these longer appointments, a fact which has historically generated substantial campuswide discontent.
Keefe acknowledged these wait times but argued that the high ratio of students to Health Services staff already has nurses and doctors working after hours. “We have two to three nurse practitioners who diagnose and treat students in S.I.I.C clinic, perform sports physicals, travel appointments and general appointments,” Keefe maintained. “We are employed Monday-Friday during the academic year and are available after hours by phone.”
Sapporetti stated that the clinic’s hours will be posted daily via social media as an effort to prevent scheduling confusions and that Health Services was open to being more involved in campus life as a whole.
“We want to know what you’re involved in on campus, and we want to support student organizations,” Sapporetti commented. “The bottom line is we’re here to help and we’re here to educate.”
Health Service S.I.I.C. hours can be found at www.wellesley.edu/healthservice and both general appointments and appointments with Southcote can be scheduled at 781- 283-2810.