When Dr. Amy Patel, a hospital physician at the Good Samaritan Medical Center, arrives on campus on October 1 to begin serving as Andover’s new Medical Director, it will not be the first time she has worked with high school students.
Patel has worked at a community health center, acted as a medical consultant for the local public school system and served as a physician for an outpatient substance abuse treatment center for adolescents, in areas of Brockton, MA with limited access to healthcare.
Patel will replace Dr. Anthony Turiano, Interim Medical Director, who took on the role after the resignation of Dr. Richard Keller, former Medical Director, in May 2011.
A committee chaired by Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, selected Patel in August, after a six-month nationwide search.
The committee, comprised of faculty and staff, sought candidates not only with a strong background in clinical work but also with an interest in health education and expanding the health education curriculum at Andover, according to Sykes.
“[Isham] is not an acute care hospital. For the most part, kids [at Andover] take good care of themselves, but they are growing, [their] bodies are changing and there are pressures and stresses from society that they need help with,” said Sykes.
Patel plans to work with faculty, students, cluster deans, counselors at Graham House and Isham staff to identify health trends and common risk factors on campus.
“I think [a major issue] is going to be unhealthy behaviors that might come about from having such intense, demanding schedules and expectations,” said Patel. “Expectations may be both external and internal for students, but I think having such rigorous lives… can sometimes lead to unhealthy practices, [including] sleep deprivation, [use of] stimulants to try to substitute for sleep, poor nutrition, lack of exercise or substance abuse.”
She continued, “I really don’t see my job as being confined to Isham… I really think it’s about making sure I can understand fully what a student goes through on a typical day or a typical week, so I can understand how some of the day-to-day activities may be impacting their health. I will work with the appropriate people to see how I can optimize the healthy aspects of the challenges the students go through.”
She also hopes to meet with faculty to discuss ways to promote healthy habits on campus.
“If you’re doing things that are unhealthy such as not sleeping well enough or eating foods that aren’t the best for you, your academics will suffer,” she said.
“The goal is really to make sure… students are at their healthiest so that they can do the best with the rest of their responsibilities at Phillips Academy–academic, athletic and otherwise.”
After Patel transitions into her new role, she will begin to assume certain responsibilities that Catherine Golas, Isham Administrator, Diane Griesbach, Nurse Practitioner, and Katherine Vozeolas, Director of Nursing, assumed after Keller’s resignation
Vozeolas said, “Isham, as a small health center, has a lot of crossover in jobs. There are so few of us [working in Isham], so a transition like [Patel’s] is easier because we know how to do each others’ jobs.”