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Cougar Health Services Kristen Maki

Become a peer health educator

Student receiving health screening.

This spring, our health promotion team is continuing a peer health education program. Peer health educators are a diverse group of undergraduate leaders who work with us to educate and empower their fellow students.

We consistently hear from students who are interested in peer health education programs, and studies show that students view peer health educators as credible and trustworthy sources of information. The program is supported by the Service & Activity Fee and will help increase our collaboration with students.

Students who participate in the program will receive a range of professional development opportunities, including training and hands-on experience. Peer educators will develop leadership and public speaking skills, foster positive working relationships, and gain foundational knowledge in a variety of health topics, including violence prevention, mental health, substance use, and life skills.

The application for becoming a peer health educator will open November 1 and close on December 3.

Students who are accepted into the program will receive BACCHUS training and take an exam for their peer educator certification. The program lasts one school year with 30 hours of involvement per semester.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Peyton Prothero.

Violence prevention toolkit for faculty & staff

Violence prevention toolkit for faculty & staff

As faculty and staff, we’re in a unique position to shape the climate of the university. We typically stay in the area and at the university longer, and many of us are in frequent contact with students.

When it comes to violence prevention, there are many ways faculty and staff help set the tone for students. You can play a critical role in efforts to reduce sex- and gender-based violence on campus.

Stalking, intimate partner violence and sexual assault are complex, difficult problems to address and it’s easy to become discouraged.

We firmly believe that while no one can do everything to stop violence, everyone can do something. To get started, check out our toolkit below for ideas and resources you can use in the year ahead.

For faculty

 For all employees

By taking action in our everyday lives, we can all do something to help stop violence on our campus.

Protect yourself from wildfire smoke

photo of WSU Pullman campus with buildings and trees

WSU community members should take precautions to reduce exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke.

If you experience any signs of respiratory distress, contact your health care provider. Students can call Cougar Health Services at 509-335-3575.

There are many steps you can take for limiting exposure to unhealthy, smoky air.

Avoid being outdoors. Use public transportation rather than walking or biking.

Stay inside as much as possible. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows, and if possible use an air filter and air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake is closed and the filter is clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.

Do not add to indoor pollution. Avoid using candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

Follow your health care provider’s guidance. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan.

Wear a mask. Masks can help limit exposure to unhealthy, smoky air. Students can get a free basic mask from the clinic’s waiting and lobby area. The CDC advises against relying solely on basic masks for protection.

Students, faculty, and staff can purchase N95 masks for $1.50 at the Cougar Health Services pharmacy, The Market on Cougar Way, Flix Market, Towers Market, Hillside Market, and Union Market. These masks offer more protection than basic masks.

WSU Environmental Health & Safety has additional resources on wildfire smoke, including a real time map.

Make your health a priority

Front entrances of the Washington Building

Your health plays a major role in your success as a student. We provide comprehensive care right here on campus, making it easier for you to get the care you need.

Our highly-skilled health care providers and counselors understand the unique needs of students and offer a wide range of services to support all Cougs.

We’re here for you!

Make sure you’re familiar with our services and the resources we provide.

We hope you have a wonderful year. Stay healthy, Cougs!

New mental health promotion specialist

Earlier this month, we hired a new mental health promotion and suicide prevention specialist, Nikita Alimohammad. Nikita previously worked on our team as a health educator, and will now lead suicide prevention efforts on campus, including coordination for our grant work. This includes SAMHSA’s Garrett Lee Smith Grant and the JED Foundation campus program.

We created the specialist role two years ago as part of WSU’s focus on mental health and suicide prevention. The position was vacant for the majority of the 2017-2018 school year, and filling the role will help us build on previous success in promoting mental health on campus.

In her new role, Nikita will collaborate with campus partners on our community-based approach to mental health promotion. She will analyze collected data and feedback to identify high-risk student populations and improve health promotion student outreach trainings.  One of her first projects will be coordinating the Healthy Minds study, an online survey conducted every year to collect information on student mental health.

Nikita earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences with a focus in administration and management from California State University, East Bay. She then went on to earn her master’s degree in public health at San Diego State University.

In her previous role as a health educator, Nikita led Mental Health First Aid trainings and supported our IMPACT program and student reinstatement and enrichment workshops.

New name, fully integrated health services

We’re excited to announce Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services have officially integrated under the name Cougar Health Services.

This change reflects our model of student-centered, integrated health services on campus, as well as our staff’s hard work over many years to improve collaboration, streamline processes, and ultimately provide better health and well-being services for students.

As part of this process, we’re merging our electronic health records over the summer. Maintaining one central record for each student will help us provide seamless care across all of our services. We can welcome each student with a full understanding of their health history and the care they’ve already received from us, regardless of which service they used first.

Updated Cougar Health Services materials are available upon request for WSU departments and groups.

Meet our new medical director

Dr. Bonnie de Vries

Our new medical director, Bonnie de Vries, MD, MS, begins work this week. In this role, Dr. de Vries will oversee medical clinic operations and collaborate with partners in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and throughout WSU to support student health and safety. Dr. de Vries will take on both administrative and clinical responsibilities, opening up additional physician availability for patient appointments.

We invite the WSU community to join us as Dr. de Vries shares her vision for the future of university health services on April 9 from 4-5 p.m. The event will take place in the Health Promotion Peer Education Training Room G41, located in the ground floor entrance of the Washington building. Please RSVP to Melissa Painter at melissa.norton@wsu.edu.

Dr. de Vries is a board-certified family physician with a background in quality improvement and practice transformation. Dr. de Vries earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College, and completed her residency at Maine Medical Center, where she also studied integrative medicine.

In addition, she earned a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Columbia University, during which she did clinical HIV research at Harlem Hospital.

Most recently, Dr. de Vries practiced at Southern Maine Health Care, where she successfully led an innovative Advanced Primary Care initiative to create a culture of team-based care, population health, and physician retention.

She also served as the only family physician on the Medical Executive Committee; and completed professional certification through the Hanley Center’s Physician Executive Leadership Institute.

Dr. de Vries was also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of New England (UNE) College of Osteopathic Medicine, teaching case analysis and team-based learning to future physicians.

Providers trained on care for LGBTQ patients

We’re dedicated to providing the best possible medical care for WSU students of all genders and sexual orientations. After meeting with students from the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center last fall and hearing their concerns, we’ve vigorously pursued new training and resources to better serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students.

The students we spoke with identified unmet needs, including training for our staff on common issues and concerns for members of the LGBTQ community. In particular, transgender students in attendance talked about their struggle to receive gender-affirming hormone treatment locally and the importance of being able to access treatment on campus.

Since then, our primary care, counseling, and pharmacy staff have taken steps to improve our care for LGBTQ patients. Earlier this month, two of our health care providers attended a symposium on providing more effective, culturally sensitive care to LGBTQ patients.

For providers, the symposium including taking an inclusive LGBTQ health history, guidelines for primary care treatment for LGBTQ patients, and information regarding gender affirming hormone treatment. For all staff, the symposium reviewed the need for gender affirming care as well as cultural competency.

We plan to begin offering hormone treatment for transgender students in fall 2017. We will continue engaging with LGBTQ students and working together to address their needs going forward.

Take action to prevent violence

group of students

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and WSU students are ready to take action to prevent violence!

According to 2016 climate assessment data, 67 percent of WSU students feel confident in their ability to take action to reduce interpersonal violence. When asked why they would take action, 78 percent said they feel it’s their responsibility to make people in their community safer.

We’re clearly committed to helping one another! But it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to taking concrete action. What can we do to help? How can we make a real difference?

At Health & Wellness Services, we believe that every single one of us can help make our community safer. One person can’t do everything, but we can all do something. Here are some simple ways you can get involved in addressing violence in our community this month (and throughout the rest of the year!)

  1. Read our blog post about how you can support survivors of sexual assault.
  2. Make sure you know WSU’s Executive Policy #15 prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.
  3. Get familiar with the confidential and university resources
  4. Request a resource poster or print a message of support to hang in your hall, classroom, or Greek residence.
  5. Add Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse’s 24- hour emergency and support service phone number for survivors of family and sexual violence to your contacts: 1-877-334-2887.
  6. Visit the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs for tools and materials you can personalize and use for social media and events. Materials are available in four different languages!
  7. Check out #SAAM on your social media of choice to find info and resources you can share with friends and family.
  8. Follow Coug Health and Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse on Facebook for more info on violence prevention efforts in our community.
  9. Attend a Green Dot bystander training and learn how to safely intervene in a potentially dangerous situation and prevent violence from happening.
  10. Sign up for updates on violence prevention and other health news and resources.

These are just a few ways each of us can take action, and get connected to helpful resources in our community. If we work together, we can put an end to violence and make our campus a safer place.

This post, originally published in April 2016, has been updated with new resources and information.

Cougs support survivors of violence

two students talking

Here at WSU, Cougs help Cougs. Our community cares deeply about supporting and encouraging one another in all areas of our lives. This way of thinking is especially important when it comes to supporting survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking. How we respond to survivors can have a huge impact on how they feel about their experience and what actions they take as they heal.

When someone tells you about their experience, it can be incredibly tough to know what to say and do. If you find yourself in that situation, remember what matters most: listen, believe, and support.

Listen. The most important thing you can do is listen without judgment. Even asking too many detailed questions can feel critical. Let the survivor tell their story at their own pace, with the details they feel comfortable providing. For some survivors, sharing their story is an important part of healing. Listening non-judgmentally and offering empathy will help them to feel safe and cared for.

Believe. People rarely make up stories of violence. Believe the survivor. If they say they were hurt, then they were. Assure your friend that it’s not their fault, no matter what happened, and that you believe and want to support them.

Support. Survivors can experience a range of emotions that are all normal. Encourage your friend to access support services, but let them decide if and when they want to use the resources you offer. You can find a comprehensive list of confidential and university resources from the Office of Equal Opportunity. If you’re able to and feel comfortable, you can offer to go with them. Everyone responds differently, and survivors’ needs may change over time. Check in with your friend occasionally and offer support again.

These conversations can be incredibly difficult and emotional. After talking with a friend about their experience with violence, you may want to consider seeking resources or support for yourself as well.

Supporting survivors is just one way Cougs take action against sexual assault and interpersonal violence in our community. Check out this list of simple steps you can take to help prevent violence and make our campus a safer place.

Do you want more information on how to make our campus safer? Sign up to receive news and resources for preventing violence in our community.

This post, originally published in April 2016, has been updated with new resources and information.