Two items in the news should surprise students this week?and perhaps not in a good way.
On Monday, the College began its search for a new director of health services. The individual will fill the position vacated by Dr. Jeff Benson in January, when the College abruptly announced that he would no longer be serving his post. There?s one catch: His replacement won?t be a doctor. The College is searching for a nurse practitioner or physician?s assistant to fill the director position. Medical doctors from a local practice will be contracted, and we?re told that a doctor from the practice will always be on call overnight.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster has been the dean?s office resident student health expert for many years, and we are confident that the plan has been carefully crafted. The new system?s use of contracted doctors provides the compelling advantage of bringing in physicians who see a wide range of conditions in their outside practices. And the holistic approaches offered by some mid-level providers may be attractive in a college environment.
Yet to students, the prospect of losing a full-time doctor on campus is disconcerting. The contracted physicians will only be on campus for 10 hours a week, presumably reducing the flexibility and emergency support that is offered by a doctor who works on campus full-time. Over the past seven years, students and parents became comfortable knowing that ?Dr. Jeff? was here and available to provide continuity of care. With medical doctors now outsourced, we fear that sense of security and community may be lost. And while physician?s assistants and registered nurses provide high-quality healthcare, we still wonder if it is a step backward to have someone other than a doctor leading the creation and implementation of campus health service policies. During reaccreditation, the College declared that ?student wellness is a college priority? and placed renewed attention on student mental health. On the heels of that statement, switching away from a full-time medical doctor just doesn?t seem right.
We are also concerned by news that the faculty will not consider the proposed course scheduling policy during its May faculty meetings. The proposal is being bumped to the fall, further delaying the effects of any approved changes. In this space, we have previously detailed the importance of a sound policy?one that would ease scheduling conflicts and increase communication between students, faculty, and co-curricular advisers?so we won?t repeat our arguments here. But any students and faculty who have been dissatisfied with scheduling conflicts that often arise should also be dissatisfied that this proposal is being further delayed.
As Ivies Weekend signals that the semester is coming to a close and summer is about to begin, important issues for student life are still at stake.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient?s editorial board, which comprises Bobby Guerette, Beth Kowitt, Anna Karass, Steve Kolowich, and Anne Riley.