Ross University Blog

NEW FACES: Meet Joy Himmel, Director of RUSM's Counseling Center

December 07, 2015

Joy Himmel, RUSM
Joy Himmel, PsyD, director of the RUSM Counseling Center in Dominica

The new director of the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Counseling Center on the Dominica campus, Joy Himmel, PsyD, said her first impression of the island was, “how beautiful the scenery is.” She and her husband, who arrived in late September 2015, take the opportunity to go hiking and swimming on weekends, she said.

For the past two decades, Himmel was the director of the Health and Wellness Center at Penn State Altoona. Since 2009 she has also been a peer review consultant for the American College Health Association (ACHA) and a health care accreditation surveyor with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). She noted that medical students are different from undergraduates. “Medical school students have a lot on their plates. There’s a lot of pressure. They’re competing with themselves and competing with others. There is also stress caused by the need to adjust to the cultural differences here.” In this situation, she advised, “You have to have the mentality of, ‘go with the flow,’ and have the mindset that you’re going to enjoy your environment.”

Himmel began her professional career as a psychiatric nurse in the U.S. She then went on to earn an MA in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a PsyD in Counseling Psychology from California Southern University.

“I’m here as a guide, a coach, to help students make the best choices, and to help them see all sides,” Himmel said. After evaluating what the needs of the RUSM students are, and what services are available, Himmel said she looks forward to partnering with the student affairs department and the health center on campus on initiatives to better “maintain students’ health, wellness and safety.”

She is the author and co-author of many publications and presentations, including “Suicide Prevention Strategies using a Chronic Care Model,” delivered in 2010 at Penn State University’s Professional Development Conference.

Adjusting to life in Dominica, Himmel takes her own advice about ‘going with the flow.’ “On Saturday mornings we go down to Portsmouth,” she related, “and if there’s a fisherman with a big tuna, we get a big slice and take it home in a bag. You learn to eat what you can find.”

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