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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

New Wellness Coordinator and Counselor In Magruder Hall

September 15th, 2016
Wellness Coordinator and Counselor Alex Rowell with his rescue dog Winston.

Wellness Coordinator and Counselor Alex Rowell with his rescue dog Winston.

This month, the college welcomed a new wellness coordinator and counselor to the team. Alex Rowell will be developing the college’s new wellness program, as well as providing onsite hours for one-on-one counseling and consultation services. “The wellness part of this job is going to be a cultural shift which I am super excited to be a part of,” he says. “Wellness is not something a physician or a psychologist does, it is something a culture does. It takes little changes.”

Alex will be available to assist everyone in the college – faculty, staff, and students – but busy students, in particular need reminders not to neglect their need for sleep, exercise and nutrition.  “When I think of wellness I think of lifestyle,” says Rowell. “It means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or holding a walking meeting instead of sitting in a room; wellness is meditating or just being mindful of what you are doing.”

Rowell also wants to tackle the vending machines in Magruder Hall. “I took a look at the vending machines downstairs and that stuff is loaded with sugar,” he says. “Maybe we can implement healthier options like bananas or apples. I’d like to swap out those Red Bull monsters for something that isn’t loaded with 60 grams of sugar.”

Dean Susan Tornquist worked with OSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to create this shared position, and is excited to have Rowell on board. “The veterinary profession is stressful, as we all know from reading about the high rates of burn-out, compassion fatigue and suicide among veterinarians. Veterinary students start to feel this early on in their training, and often their schedules make it difficult to go across campus to the counseling center for an appointment. Having Alex onsite at the college makes counseling services much more accessible for students, faculty and staff.”

Before Rowell starts developing specific programs, his first objective is to create an online survey that will provide feedback on the most critical needs in the college, and the best ways to address them. “I don’t want to come in and say, ‘This is how it is going to be’,” he says. “We will be rolling out an online needs assessment, then we will review the data. Maybe people won’t want counseling, they’ll want seminars . . . maybe they’ll want wellness classes that meet regularly to talk about various topics, or just reminders to practice good wellness habits.”

Rowell plans to attend events and other activities in the college to get acquainted with everyone. He also hopes to collaborate with the student organizations on getting wellness information and ideas delivered. “Being a part of everyday life at the College will allow Alex to observe and discuss the issues that arise and to come up with creative ways to promote behaviors that will keep us all physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and able to do our jobs,” says Tornquist.

Growing up in Fremont, California, Rowell knew he wanted to pursue a career in psychology and counseling from a very young age. “I got interested in psychology my Junior year of high school,” he says. “I took the regular class and I liked it so much, I took the AP course my senior year.”

He went on to get an undergraduate degree from San Diego State and earned a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University. “I always knew I wanted to do this,” he says. “I’m generally just drawn to helping people. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”

Rowell has three rescue dogs at his home in Corvallis. “Winston was a breeding dog, and when she wasn’t able to have puppies any more, her owners kicked her out. My parents picked her up then I adopted her,” says Rowell. “Dexter was adopted by my girlfriend from the dog pound.”  Their husky mix, Chula was also adopted.

Rowell has several years’ experience counseling college students and really enjoys it. “At the graduate/professional level, it’s exciting because students are studying what they really want to do in life. There’s a lot of vibrance in that. . . at the same time it is a lot more stressful.”  He also likes working with college students because it helps him grow. “Working with this population is incredibly dynamic; they are intelligent and motivated. It’s a population that challenges me to reflect on my growth as a therapist. I don’t believe you ever stop growing as a practitioner. As much as I try to help my clients, I also learn from them.”

To read more about Alex and CVM Wellness and Counseling Services, visit http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/counseling-and-wellness-service.


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