She has traveled around the world, she has gone scuba diving with whale sharks in the Maldives and she has even played competetive croquet, but what really excites Dr. Birgit Pols is providing health care to students.

Bowdoin’s new director of health services has been working in college health for over eight years—most recently at New York University (NYU) and NYU Abu Dhabi, located in the United Arab Emirates.

“NYU Abu Dhabi was sort of this magical, mystical place that none of us really knew much about,” said Pols. “The opportunity presented itself to go there for the short term, and I took advantage of it.”

Although Pols only expected to work at NYU Abu Dhabi for a few weeks, she ended up staying for four years. While there, she lived and collaborated with Emirati students, getting to know each of them by name.

Working with the small community of  NYU students was a factor in Pols’ decision to come to Bowdoin. 

“I learned how much I really love providing health care at a liberal arts college,” she said.
Pols also has a strong connection to the area.

“I grew up in Maine, so I’ve always known about Bowdoin and always found it a very exciting place,” she said. “Having the opportunity to get to know students here, to get to know my colleagues here—those are the things that energize me.”

Pols has years of experience in the medical field, both on land and at sea. An avid scuba diver, she has achieved the distinction of being a dive master, a master scuba diver and a dive medical technician.

Besides diving in the Maldives with whale sharks, some of Pols’ favorite dives have been in Thailand and the Great Barrier Reef.

Pols is already diving right into her work at Health Services and   taking every opportunity to engage with students. She is working with peer health educators and the Department of Athletics and is serving as staff advisor to Reed House.

“Birgit has been incredibly friendly and communicative with Reed House. I know I speak for all of us when I say that we are glad to have her,” said Jacob Russell ’17, the programming director of Reed. 

 Pols will be hosting a question and answer session about campus health at Reed next Thursday.

Pols said she does not anticipate making any large-scale changes to the current campus health care system.

 “Hopefully any changes I would make would seem seamless to the students because what I would be looking to do would be to improve access to care,” she said.

 Pols said she hopes any changes that come will benefit both students and staff.
 “The most important [task] is either directly providing patient care or supporting my staff who are providing patient care,” Pols said. 

At the same time, she hopes to focus on establishing connections with the Bowdoin community.

 If you see Pols working out in the gym early in the morning or practicing her croquet swing on the snowy Reed lawn, stop and introduce yourself.  After all, your health and is in her hands.