New director brings lifelong passion for health care to TU
On May 10, Towson University welcomed Yu-Ling Shao as the new director of health services and leader of the Health Center at Ward & West.
Born in Philadelphia, Shao always had a passion for health care and, initially, wanted to pursue a career in cancer research. He transitioned to hospital administration and earned his undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a master’s in health administration from Saint Louis University.
“This change has allowed me to serve the health needs of a larger spectrum,” Shao says. “This includes individuals with developmental disabilities, geriatric medicine and pediatrics and has given me the opportunity to partner with some of the best clinicians and researchers in the U.S.”
For the past eight years, Shao has been working at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., and was most recently the director of operations for the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health.
Shao jumped at the chance to apply his experience in health and wellness to the TU student population.
“During the online interview process, I was immediately drawn to the rigor and professionalism of the university setting and, at the same time, meeting individuals who clearly expressed deep commitment for the well-being of the students,” Shao says.
As he works through his first few months on campus and prepares the Health Center for the full return of students in the fall, he discussed his plans to promote health and wellness among the campus community.
What are you most excited about?
I am looking forward to developing new programs and partnerships—while strengthening existing ones—that educate, empower and inspire all TU students to strive for long-term health, wellness and life satisfaction. I hope that many years after graduating from TU, the students will continue to draw upon the health and wellness lessons learned during their time here.
What was your first impression of Towson University?
Soon after starting at TU, I ended up locked out of the Health Center after hours. I did not have my OneCard yet. A TU team member named Ruth Hipkins [who works in the College of Education] called security and waited with me until the campus officer arrived. During this time, she helped no fewer than three different families to navigate to an event located on campus. I am confident that each family (like me) felt a sense of caring and support.
What is it like for you to step into this position, especially during a worldwide pandemic?
The Division of Student Affairs, the Health Center team and internal and external partners have effectively navigated these unprecedented times in an exemplary fashion. There are significant challenges that remain as TU prepares for the return of students in the fall and the uncertainty of the future. I will draw on my past professional experiences as well as leveraging current best practices to strengthen the overall effort.
Just how important is a campus health center?
One recognized pinnacle of a health center is achieving the designation of a patient-centered medical home. In such a model, every TU student would be partnered with a Health Center primary care provider throughout their university experience. Although effortful to fully achieve in many settings, there are key objectives that can be achieved.
One is the development of a strong trust by the students for their health center clinicians. This trust serves as the foundation for an effective health and wellness partnership with the potential for extending care beyond the urgent care model and fostering long-term health benefits.
What message do you want to share with the campus community?
The Health Center team is committed to achieving excellence in health care delivery and fostering long-term partnerships with the students, with the aim to educate and empower. Physical health and emotional well-being can have substantive benefits in and out of the classroom. We look forward to working with you.
The Health Center provides health and wellness services for registered Towson University students and is conveniently located in the Health and Counseling Centers at Ward & West Hall, near the College of Liberal Arts and Residence Tower, and is open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Services include allergy shots, sexual education counseling, STI and HIV testing, minor office procedures, lab services, massage therapy, treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries and a referral network of specialists for larger issues.