Profile: Tiffany McManis educates students on how to take care of themselves
For first-year college students, life can be scary. You’re in a new environment. You must make many important decisions. And, for some, you’re on your own for the first time. But Tiffany McManis and her staff at Washburn Student Health Services say they are working to help make Washburn their “home away from home” for new students.
McManis, Washburn’s director of Student Health, is a certified family nurse practitioner. She has been at Washburn for more than 10 years.
“I enjoy not only helping students but educating them on how to take care of themselves,” McManis said.
‘Always accurate and super-fast’
A common misconception is that students run Student Health, with professors overseeing them. In reality, Student Health is a primary care clinic located in Morgan Hall and operated by nationally certified, state-licensed, highly trained and experienced nurses.
“They are always accurate and super-fast when I need to get a medical test done for requirements in my degree,” said Samuel Moore, a Washburn nursing student.
McManis displays a noticeable sense of passion for the program she oversees.
“I have the best job in the world,” McManis said. “When people leave the clinic, I want them to feel empowered in their health care and be a part of the decision-making process. We work with a lot of people who have never been away from home before, and we want them to feel comfortable in this new environment and feel okay to ask questions.”
Part of the credit for making that happen goes to Kimberly Patty and Julie Schwerdt, Student Health’s senior administrative assistants, McManis said.
‘Parents away from home’
“I was working at Student Health when Dr. McManis was first hired, and she changed the clinic for the better,” Patty said. “She changed the clinic to a very hands-on style of work and brought in a lot of nurses to do clinicals and developed the student worker program.”
Student Health employees are here to help students in any way they can, Schwerdt said.
“We are the parents away from home for these students,” Schwerdt said. “If we can’t help them, we will refer them to someone who can. We also try to educate the students on how to treat themselves effectively by handing out care packages for colds and the flu.”
‘Building the plane as we were flying it’
Student Health’s work became particularly crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nurses were present in person, were always on call and worked hard to keep up with the constantly changing procedures that Covid-19 pushed upon the world, McManis said.
“Covid-19 completely took over our lives,” McManis said. “The lines of my personal life and work were completely blurred. We were essentially building the plane as we were flying it.”
‘It made our jobs a whole lot easier’
However, with challenge came triumph. McManis and Student Health became pioneers in developing a template that could keep track of COVID-19 reports for Maxiant, a software company that compiles data for college campuses. They also implemented telehealth in the clinic, which allowed long-distance patient and clinician contact.
“When we got the Maxiant program up and running, it made our jobs a whole lot easier,” McManis said. “Now we could easily keep track of multiple Covid-19 reports, which made alerting departments about COVID-19 more straightforward and manageable.”
In addition, COVID-19 allowed nursing students more opportunities to sharpen their skills for the real world.
“COVID-19 allowed us to have more collaborations with the School of Nursing,” McManis said. “Instead of students only having 30 patients shared between them to give flu shots and vaccines, they now had 30 patients each to give COVID-19 vaccination shots.”
Satellite clinic is in the works
Student Health is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Room 140 at Morgan Hall.
The clinic provides COVID-19 testing, vaccines, telehealth visits, medication refills, pre-participation physical exams, tuberculosis testing, Transgender patient care, hormone therapy and a place where LGBTQ+ students can ask questions and feel safe.