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Student Health Service Director Bess Austin on keeping healthy abroad

January 30, 2015

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Bess Austin, director of the Student Health Service, has been keeping us healthy and aware at Lewis & Clark for a good while now. After hearing about her recent exciting accomplishments, we thought it was time to check in…

You recently received your certification from the International Society of Travel Medicine. Can you tell us a bit more about that, as well as how you became interested in the field of travel medicine?

Travel medicine brings together two passions of mine, medicine and international travel. I have the privilege of helping prepare students for healthy and safe international study abroad experiences. Recently I obtained my certification in International Travel Health.  The examination for certification focuses on a unique body of knowledge that is recognized internationally as the standard of practice for travel medicine. Through the certifying organization, the International Society of Travel Medicine, I have become part of a larger community of international travel medicine practitioners around the world. I feel fortunate to be able to incorporate my certification and connections into my practice in the Student Health Service at Lewis & Clark.

Your certification will mostly impact students who study abroad, at a school where more than 60% of students do so. How will your accomplishment impact the preparation process for those students traveling to foreign lands?

The Overseas programs offered to Lewis & Clark students are truly extraordinary. LC programs take students all over the world: Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, Western Europe and more. For many of these programs, students need specific vaccinations and medications to stay healthy and safe during their time abroad. I enjoy helping prepare students so that they can be their best and get the most out of their study abroad experiences. We in the Student Health Service also assist students in their post travel medical checkups providing us the opportunity to learn about their adventures overseas.

The Student Health Service is part of a campus-wide team assisting students with their overseas travel needs. Other members of the team include the departments of Overseas and Off Campus Programs, Health Promotion and Wellness, Student Support Services, the Counseling Service, the Ombudsperson’s Office and the Registrar’s office. These departments support students in preparation for studying abroad and re-entry to American culture and the Lewis & Clark community when they return. My new certification will only help me contribute to this all the more effectively!

Is there anything you’d like everybody to know, or be thinking about, at this time?

I would like to remind students, faculty and staff who are traveling overseas to come see us 3 – 6 months before your departure so that we have ample opportunity to get your vaccinations, medications and other travel preparations in order.