Spartans of UD: Andrew Simcox

Mar 29, 2021

Spartans of UD highlights what makes the University of Dubuque special – the people.

Andrew Simcox, PhD, is a psychologist at the Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center.

1. What services are available for students at the Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center? How can students access those services?

“At the Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center, individual counseling is provided by brain health providers in person or via Microsoft Teams. Brain health providers also occasionally conduct evaluations to help determine if a student meets the criteria for academic accommodations. We anticipate offering group counseling once the pandemic is well controlled.

“The Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center provides a wide array of medical services including health and wellness exams, STI treatment, contraceptive management, and onsite testing of blood sugar, COVID-19, influenza, mononucleosis, strep throat, and urinalysis.

“Students can access services by calling, 563.589.3360, emailing, or stopping by the health center at 1994 Grace Street to schedule an appointment.”

2. As a brain health provider, how are you able to help students on campus?

“Counselors assist students by listening to them discuss concerns, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and potential solutions to problems and stressors that they experience. Students often feel relieved after openly discussing problems and developing solutions or strategies for coping with challenging situations. When there appears to be a biological basis for a student's distress, a counselor may refer them to a medical provider at the health center who can prescribe medication.”

3. What are some signs that someone should seek assistance for potential brain health challenges?

“When a student is experiencing a lot of distress or isn't functioning well, and they are not able to substantially reduce the problem via self-help or the support of others, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Common issues students encounter include loss of pleasure, or disengaging, from important life activities such as school, work, sports, hobbies, or friends; thoughts of death; intense anxiety; trouble sleeping; and/or problematic habits such as excessive gaming, weight loss, and substance use.”

4. Why did you decide to become a brain health provider at the University of Dubuque?

“I started teaching at UD as an adjunct several years ago and was impressed by the University students, faculty, and culture. UD students come from such varied backgrounds and I enjoy learning from their experiences. The faculty and staff at UD are especially caring, and the University has a very positive and uplifting culture – embracing challenges, focusing on and valuing the development of each student as an individual, and a pattern of putting Christian values into actions.  

“I was also attracted to the opportunity to work in a setting with various staff. I enjoy working as part of a larger team and believe students receive better care when providers collaborate.  The Smeltzer-Kelly Student Health Center employs a nurse, physician assistants, and physicians.”

5. What are three coping strategies you would recommend to students as they navigate the pandemic and tragedies like the recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado? 

“There are many good coping strategies and I always advise students to employ what works for them as an individual.

“Basic strategies that I often find helpful include having a plan and/or routine to care for yourself. This often involves physical needs like safety, sleep, eating well, taking time for exercise, fresh air and nature, and seeking social support by spending time with people who care about you and who you enjoy. Students who feel safe, healthy, and connected to others are best prepared for the many challenges of life and higher education.

“I also find it helpful to employ a pattern of positive thinking – looking for the good in each event, situation, or other person. Paying attention to the goodness and positive actions of others can lift and inspire us. 

“A third coping strategy I like is finding opportunities to help others when we feel down or burdened by negative events. We can almost always find someone with a more difficult situation than our own.  Focusing on helping other people can help us to gain valuable perspectives, make beneficial connections, and experience purpose and meaning.”