Meet Jennifer Schwartz, Wellesley’s New Medical Director of Health Services and Sports Medicine

December 18, 2019
A woman in a white lab coat stands in front of rows of files.

Wellesley welcomes Dr. Jennifer Schwartz, the College’s new medical director of Health Services and sports medicine, to campus as part of an innovative new collaboration with the Newton-Wellesley Medical Group, the physician group of the Newton-Wellesley Hospital

A board-certified family medicine physician who also specializes in sports medicine and eating disorders, Schwartz received her medical degree from UMass, completed her residency and internship in family medicine at Tufts University, and completed a sports medicine fellowship at UMass. She joins Wellesley from Beth Israel Deaconess Family Medicine in Brookline.

Here, Schwartz talks about her background in primary care and preventative medicine. She's looking forward to motivating students to pursue healthy living and get the most out of their experience at Wellesley.

Q: You started at Wellesley in November after working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. What excites you about working here? 

Jennifer Schwartz: I can’t pick just one thing I am excited about—this is the ideal job for me! I live in the area and would drive by Wellesley College and think “Wouldn’t it be awesome to work there?” And now I do!

I love working with college students and have worked primarily with this demographic throughout my career. I look pretty young myself and hope this makes me more approachable and relatable—I want students to see me as their confidante and advocate and not someone who will lecture or judge them. I also have a background in sports medicine and eating disorder management, so I am looking forward to capitalizing on these interests. Above all else, I am psyched to be a part of the College community and to help imagine and shape a new Health Services identity on campus. 

Q: A college has a different environment and client population than a large hospital like Beth Israel. What are your thoughts about that?

Schwartz: I would take this client population any day. I have a primary care background and am a huge believer in preventative medicine. I want to keep students healthy and motivate them to live their best lives. I love getting to know my patients over time and being part of their successes (as well as their not-so-successful times). Although I am not a therapist, listening, counseling, and advocating for patients is a huge part of what I do.

College health is primary care/urgent care in a closed system. I am excited to work with other members of the administration and think about the interplay between students’ health and other facets of college life. Without a strong Health Services foundation and access to quality care, it would be difficult for students to excel in academics and get the most out of their time here. 

Q: What was your own college experience like?

Schwartz: I went to Colby College in Waterville, Maine. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and so (shockingly), I majored in biology. I even worked at our health center all four years—at that time it was still an infirmary, and so I served lunch to the students who stayed overnight.

In general, I tried to take advantage of all the different opportunities college provided, and I participated in an eclectic group of activities. I directed the Colby Volunteer Center, played in the hand-bell choir, gave admission tours, researched the mating habits of mink frogs, and, of course, frequented the athletic facilities. I have such fond memories of my college years and think it is such a perfect time for exploring passions, trying new things, and maturing as a person.

Q: You have a background in sports medicine. Are you an athlete yourself?

Schwartz: I am always on the move (although, full disclosure: I am horrible at any sport requiring coordination)! I am an endurance athlete at heart and love to run for stress relief. I am also a gym rat: spin classes, lifting, and the stairmaster are among my favorites. You may even see me sweating it out at the Keohane Sports Center in the morning. I have tried many different athletic activities through the years—teaching aerobics, synchronized swimming, soccer, and getting a black belt in karate. My current obsession is Orange Theory Fitness classes.

I don’t think you have to be on a varsity team or work out every day to be an athlete, though. Sports medicine, to me, is a way to encourage people to keep active (whatever that means to them), prevent injuries, and feel their best.

Q: Can you share one random fact about yourself with us?

Schwartz: I have an irrational fear of sharks. I don’t know where this came from. I will not go to the shark exhibits at aquariums and almost did not go on a cruise because I was worried I’d get eaten by a shark!

Q: What would you like students and their parents to know about your approach to your role on campus?

Schwartz: My goal is to make Health Services a staple on campus and a place that students want to come to (although hopefully they will not need to). I want to motivate students to be the best versions of themselves and really integrate Health Services into the College community. I hope to do this by being approachable and accessible. From treating acute conditions to counseling about preventative health, listening, and helping students wanting a career in medicine, I hope Health Services can be more than just a place students call when they are sick. While we will not replace a home primary care provider, we will make sure students are cared for and safe while they are here.