Cindy Crossman has been caring for Mount Allison students for nearly 15 years.
Crossman, the University’s nurse educator, delivers primary health care services for students at the Wellness Centre, located on the lower level of the Wallace McCain Student Centre.
Crossman earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at St. Francis Xavier University and began her career in neurosurgical nursing at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax. She later worked as a nurse educator for the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre and with the Amherst Association for Healthy Adolescent Sexuality, a community development project in partnership with Dalhousie University’s Community and Epidemiology department.
The work of a nurse educator is somewhere between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner. Crossman works in a collaborative practice model with a local physician, which provides her with a certain level of autonomy to test for and treat specific illnesses. She can also refer students to a physician or other allied health professionals if the presenting issue is outside her scope of practice.
It is the “educator” part of her role that Crossman feels is a particularly good fit for Mount Allison.
“I have more time for patient education,” she says. “If someone comes into the clinic presenting with a sore throat, I will do an assessment and based on the assessment, I can collect a specimen by doing a throat swab, await the test results, and treat an infection if required. But I also educate them on how the illness is spread and how to take care of themselves so they can take ownership of their own health. The education piece is crucial.”
For students, getting sick can be stressful. Most are new to Sackville, or even New Brunswick, and may not know what services are available or how or when to access them. They are also far from their usual support network.
Being able to access health services, right on campus, makes getting treatment and advice much less intimidating.
“The Wellness Centre acts as their primary health care provider when they are away from home,” Crossman says. “We can help co-ordinate their health care so they can get their needs met while they are at school.”
Crossman also works with students who have particular health needs before they arrive, collaborating with their family physicians to set up a plan of care while they are at Mount A.
“It’s advantageous for students to have that piece set up for them. We are seeing more and more of that,” she says. “We just want to help students achieve their optimum level of health at school so they can keep their academics on track.”
In addition to one-on-one consultations, Crossman is frequently called upon to make presentations during Orientation and in residences on health-related topics and she collaborates with the student-led Health Matters Society on health promotion and prevention.
Crossman says she truly enjoys working with the student population.
“It is a group that is always changing and evolving and that is very exciting,” she says. “It is also an opportunity to work with people during a critical decision-making time in their lives. That is challenging and exciting both. Sometimes just a small thing that you do really helps someone. It validates that you are making a difference and I think that is important.”
Crossman is available for appointments Monday to Friday each week, during normal business hours. Appointments can be booked through the Wellness Centre at 364-2163 or by e-mailing email@example.com