By Heidi Toth
No day in Pam Olsen’s life is like the day before it.
Olsen, the nursing coordinator at Northern Arizona University’s Campus Health Services, has been in her job for 12 years, and in that time one of the few constants to expect day to day is there is no day-to day constant. As a department that is available to treat the more than 20,000 students on the Flagstaff campus, plus faculty, staff, retirees and their families, something unexpected is always happening.
“With students being away from home for the first time, I believe that a top-notch health care facility close by is pretty important to them,” Olsen said.
In honor of National Nurses Week, which starts on May 6—National Nurses Day and the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday—NAU News spoke with Olsen about how she got into nursing and all the resources that Campus Health Services offers to the NAU community.
The medical team from Campus Health Services includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and medical assistants; they treat more than 200 students a day for ailments ranging from colds to broken bones to chronic illness management. With most of the appointments being same-day, she’s never sure when she gets to work the types of conditions she’ll be treating that day. Knowing that she’s working with a team of dedicated health care providers who offer the service they can is another of those constants that help her love her job.
“A typical day includes teamwork and organization from everyone,” Olsen said. “The RNs and MAs work collaboratively to ensure patient safety and excellent care. No one is more important than another, and we need each other’s different talents to successfully care for our patients.”
She also enjoys getting to know her patients and talking with them about school, life and anything else a college student may want to bring up—sometimes related to health, but not always.
“My favorite part of my job now is helping college students understand their health care needs and how to maintain healthy lifestyles,” she said. “It’s such a vibrant and energetic population that I look forward to interacting with every day I come to work.”
Campus Health Services also includes Health Promotion, Counseling Services, a pharmacy and lab. Health Promotion works to create fun ways to promote healthy lifestyles, including cooking and nutrition classes, meditation and stress relief programs (every fourth Monday Health Promotion holds a PAWS Your Stress event) and Wellness Wednesdays, which is a walk-in clinic offering $20 chlamydia testing.
It is very much a team atmosphere, Olsen said, which also contributes to how much she enjoys her job. For years, that team included Verna, the now-retired life-sized model skeleton that used to live at Campus Health. She was mostly responsible for providing comic relief.
“We used to dress her up in crazy attire and accessories and put her in our coworkers’ offices for when they returned from their vacations,” she said. “It was quite fun to come back from vacation and see a skeleton dressed in a hula skirt!”
Robbin Boadway, director of nursing for Campus Health Services, said the contributions of all the staff create a healthy, pleasant atmosphere for members of the NAU community to seek health care and make NAU a healthier place to be.
“Our goal at Campus Health Services is to keep our campus community healthy,” she said. “Thanks to nurses like Pam and the rest of our great team of nurses and medical assistants, we are able to give our patients the care they need. I am so proud of each of them and grateful for their expertise and care. Happy Nurses’ Week to nurses everywhere!”
To learn more about Campus Health Services or make an appointment, call (928) 523-2131. Interested in becoming a nurse? Check out NAU’s School of Nursing.