Health Services director steps down, looks forward to fresh ideas


Dr. Ellison in his office in Boone, NC where he specializes in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. He graduated from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 1980.

Aidan Moyer

Dr. Robert Ellison is stepping down from his position of Director of Student Health Services after eight years, according to Ellison.

Ellison has been the director since 2010 and has been with student health since 2007. Ellison worked as a clinician for his first few years with health services, and traded positions with the previous director. Ellison said that his job has since entailed half administrative work and half clinical visits from students.

Ellison reflected on his time as director and said that he has been privileged to work with each of his fellow clinicians. He went on to say that he was eager for the changes that the next director may make and looks forward to working with them. Ellison said his stepping down was a “statement of hope,” his eight years was long enough, and that he hopes the new director comes in with their own new ideas.

“I’m stepping down for all the right reasons,” Ellison said.

As director, part of Ellison’s job has been preparing the health services for their triennial accreditation from the state, saying that this is a period of study and review from the state.

Appalachian’s M.S. Shook Student Health Services is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, according to the health services website.

A factor in Ellison’s decision to step down now was to allow the next director to take on this year’s accreditation process, so that they would have the experience and reward of having their name to a successful accreditation. Ellison said this was the most logical transition, and he felt he has served long enough as director.

Ellison said that he had the privilege to meet the family of M.S. Shook, the original nurse and director of student health. Shook started student health services on Appalachian State University over 67 years ago, according to the health services website. Ellison is the fourth director of health services, and said he was honored to be among those who have served at Appalachian.

When speaking about his favorite parts of the job, Ellison said that he has been spoiled by those he works with and has been rewarded to work with them.

Ellison also said he looks forward to spending more time hiking the Appalachian Trail, of which he and his wife have already completed 200 miles.

“My wife has more plans for my free time than I do,” Ellison said, laughing.

On working with students, one of Ellison’s favorite aspects has been the difference between the routine checkups and the specialized needs of students.

“We’re interacting with students on and off campus as they deal with injuries or are preparing for travel. Young adult medicine is fascinating,” Ellison said.

According to the student health website, student visits total over 45,000, with 600 overseas travel consultations.

Ellison also said that he will be returning to a full-time clinician. He said that working and connecting with Appalachian students was his favorite part of the job, and he looks forward to spending more time devoted to his “first love” of working with students.