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Campus Profile --Maryanne Kirkbride

Kirkbride settles in to new position as MIT Medical’s Clincal Director for Campus Life

By Brian Loux

In August, Maryanne Kirkbride began her job as the MIT Medical Department’s new Clinical Director for Campus Life. This position was newly created this year. As Clinical Director for Campus Life, Kirkbride acts as a liaison between MIT Medical and students, faculty, staff and administrators within the MIT community. She is also in charge of MIT Medical’s Health Education Service.

The Tech: What degrees do you hold?

Maryanne Kirkbride: Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I am also a registered nurse. I have a combined MBA and a Masters of nursing.

TT: You used to work at the Dorchester Community Health Center. How did you find Dorchester?

Kirkbride: It is big. If it wasn’t part of Boston, it’d be the third largest city in Massachusetts. So it’s diverse and full of hardworking creative people from 50 to 60 different countries. It is very similar to here, in that it there are many small communities inside a large one.

TT: Have you always been in Boston?

Kirkbride: I was born in West Medford, but grew up in New Jersey.

TT: What are some of the differences between managing the community health of a city and managing that of a campus?

Kirkbride: MIT is a much more complicated community. There are other differences. I think the asset of having the students is one. In low income neighborhoods, my assistants didn’t have the resources, and I had to do most of the leg work. Now they can do it. Plus the intellectual stimulation is wonderful.

TT: What was the oddest medical call you’ve had?

Kirkbride: [At the Dorchester Community Health Center], we had a guy who came in with a pet iguana on his shoulder and refused to leave. He was something of a repeat customer. I recently heard that his iguana died.

When I was at Boston City Hospital, now Boston Medical Center, it was during the vicious gang wars that Boston had. We often had rival gang members in beds next to each other, and we had quite a bit of trouble when their friends came in. I guess that’s not an odd story, but an interesting one

TT: What do you see as the most important problem that MIT Medical must address?

Kirkbride: In the next year, that would be improving the credibility that MIT Medical has. Students need to trust the medical department.

TT: What do you think MIT sees as the most important problem MIT Medical must address?

Kirkbride: I think that they think we are moving in the right direction to become more integrated and having a plan that puts students first.

TT: How have your first two months been?

Kirkbride: Exciting and challenging. Everyone has been very welcoming, and it was a well planned position from which I’ve been able to make progress.

TT: Has your role become more defined in the past two months?

Kirkbride: I hope so. It is defined inside MIT Medical. People will contact me about campus life. I’m working on a process of teaming with student leaders so people know to call me. I’m also working on getting students face time with staff.

TT: So how often do you get out of your office in the Health Education Department?

Kirkbride: Every day. I’ve been to UA and GSC meetings, [dorm and student group events], etc. I still want to go to every living group at MIT. I want students to see me as a resource. I’m available on Mondays and Wednesdays to talk to groups.

TT: With the weight of the requirements of the mental health task force, do you find your job stressful?

Kirkbride: I take my stewardship role very seriously. I’m not scared... [but] I believe lives are at stake in the decisions that we make.

TT: Has MIT put you in charge of the student ambulance service?

Kirkbride: Yes. I’m the medical liaison. This is a pilot program, so the police still hold the EMT license. We’re working to deliver the license to us. [The students] are professional and well prepared.

TT: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Kirkbride: Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I know it’s the world’s most popular flavor, but it’s pretty good.