Women’s health panel answers student questions on female wellness
by Narjes Albakshy
A group of women’s health and wellness professionals formed a panel on Wednesday evening, Nov. 19, at Gaede Stage in The Rolland Dille Center for the Arts.
Formed by a team of experts, the panel planned the event from last spring.
A student focus group collected popular topics that interest female students on campus presented at the event.
The chief organizers of the panel were: Gloria Riopelle, from the Athletic Department, Jayne Gust from Sanford Health and Lynn Peterson from Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Services. The trinity of departments aims to inform female students about their wellness, in order to be healthy enough to succeed in their academics.
“(The event) gives women the opportunity to realize that thinking about their personal well-being is not only ok, it is encouraged,” Gust said.
“With this age group, this may be the first time they are having a pap or wanting to get on birth control, but not sure what option would be the best for them,” Peterson said. “It may be the first time they have to make decisions about their health without a parent around for assistance. Having this event can help get information out to our students to assist them in navigating health care for themselves.”
Topics included in the discussion ranged from eating right on a budget, birth control options, self-advocacy, mental health, and sexual abuse.
After the presentations and introductions, the panel answered anonymous handwritten questions by student attendees. Some of the questions revolved around effective studying tips, Minnesota law, rape case investigation procedures, approaching a partner who suffers from alcohol abuse and the pricing and availability of emergency contraception pills at The Hendrix Wellness Center.
With the availability of abundant health information online, students may stumble upon unspecific information or non-credible sources.
“What we heard very clearly in our focus groups was that, while young women in particular have access to a lot of information, they don’t necessarily know what information is accurate.” Gust said.
Additionally, the event allowed students to verify health information they already are aware of.
“Hearing from their campus health providers as well as Sanford providers allows them the opportunity to get accurate information and know it is the truth,” Gust said.
Community health junior Elsa Odney was in attendance.
“It was interesting to learn how they handle sexual assault on campus, because it’s a very hot topic these days,” Odney said. “I think that was pretty cool to hear first-hand. It’s also nice knowing we have a dietitian at our services at the wellness center.”
The panel also gained the interest of male students. Kevin Kuefler, a junior from the health and physical education department, believes males should learn about health issues women face, too.
“As a guy, I believe it is also important to be aware and understanding of the opposite sex, and the different health options they have right on campus,” Kuefler said. “I was previously unaware of the different nurses, counselors and dietitians that we have right on campus willing to help various needs of the students.”
The event was successful not only in educating female students about their body and well-being and leaving with door prizes and nutritious snacks; the event enlightened students about the resources available to them to make their college experience a healthy one.