Student Wellness Program

The College of Medicine’s Student Wellness Program is designed to support the well-being of the student as they progress through their medical education and into their professional career. By integrating wellness programming into various aspects of the curriculum, establishing a wellness committee, and promoting on-campus activities, the wellness program aims to facilitate a positive sense of individual well-being both physically and mentally. Services include: in-house mental health counseling, peer mentorship, tutoring services, assistance for students with substance abuse, and faculty training for assisting students with various concerns.

Student Affairs & Wellness Committee

The Student Affairs & Wellness Committee in the College of Medicine is comprised of faculty, staff, and students who all have a diverse passion for engaging in student wellness. The committee meets on the second Tuesday of every month and encourages input from all members to help enhance the well-being of students throughout their medical school journey and beyond. All students, staff, and faculty are welcome to join in and engage their passion for well-being!



Committee Co-chairs:

Rochelle Frank, MD 
Associate Professor of Neurology
Clerkship Director – Neurology 

Committee members:

Valerie Gerriets, PhD 
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Darilyn Falck, MD, FACEP
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Co-director of Emergency Medicine Clerkship

Sherif Zaher, PsyD


Louis F. Glaser, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Floyd Culler, MD 
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Admissions and Outreach
Professor of Pediatrics, Endocrinology, and Clinical Skills

Xiaodong Feng, PhD, PharmD
Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Admissions and Outreach
Professor of Pharmacology and Oncology


Students: Timothy Yang, Hera Wu, Alana Freifeld, Nicholas Peterson, Stephanie Chou, Asal Homayouni, Nadija Rieser, Rosalie Perrot, Neeraj Ramakrishnan, Rohaum Hamidi, Daniella Schochet, Gabriella Goodlin, Priya Reddy


The passionate committee members have further branched their interests and developed subcommittees in the following areas:

  • New Student Outreach
  • Academic Assistance/Peer Counseling
  • Service and Community Outreach
  • Health and Well-being
  • Outdoor Activities

Mental Health

Mental health is critical to sustaining a successful wellness experience. Medical school consists of a diverse group of individuals coming with experiences from different backgrounds. Many individuals can find it difficult to cope with adjusting to a new environment, the rigor of medical school, and/or many other concerns. This can lead to a cycle of stress, anxiety, and depression when combined with inadequate sleep, unhealthy diets, and infrequent exercise. Trying to cope with these symptoms alone, can often times become difficult. The key is to remember there is help available and services designed especially to meet the needs for students. The College of Medicine has a dedicated psychologist to assist you. The provider is available every other Thursday between the hours of 8:30 am – 2:00 pm. To make direct arranges during a different time, or off-campus, Dr. Zaher can be contacted directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (916) 969-0723. In addition, the College of Medicine has a designated wellness committee which aims to ensure the health and wellness of its medical students. A strong effort is also made to ensure curriculum involves teaching practical skills and training during medical school, clerkships, and beyond.

Never be afraid to ask for help – it is the first step towards ensuring good mental health and gaining the resources and guidance you need.

Here are some tips to help you maintain positive mental health:

  • Maintain balance. While medical school may be an important part of your life, ensuring a successful journey is directly associated with your own health and well-being.
  • Support systems. Reach out to your friends and family as often as possible – they will provide you with a strong moral support system for your medical school journey.
  • Make time for yourself. It is okay to take a break, relax, and do something outside of your studies. In fact, it is healthy for you. Good physical and mental health contributes to a more successful medical school journey.
  • Make friends outside of your medical school. While it is important to establish good relationships with your classmates, it is also important to keep friendships outside of your world of medicine to help you relax and shift your perspective.
  • Ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone on your journey through medical school and are certainly not the only one who may be experiencing mental health concerns.
  • Take an active role in your learning experience. Seek experiences outside of your medical school curriculum for personal enrichment. If you’re interested in a specific career path, seek a research/volunteer opportunity to engage your passion and supplement your educational experience.


Suicide Prevention

In 2013, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and continues to be a major public health concern. Understanding the warning signs for suicide, and how to get help, can help prevent these deaths and save lives. Because suicidal behavior is complex, there are a variety of risk factors that should not be ignored. Suicidal thoughts and actions are a sign of extreme distress and it is critical that an at-risk individual be provided the appropriate treatment from a licensed mental health professional.

The Crisis Text Line: 741741

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

  24 hours a day, 7 days a week – all calls are confidential

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone

  1. Ask. Although it’s not always an easy question to ask, it is the first step in knowing and helping: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  2. Keep them safe. Removing access to lethal items and places can help make a difference, especially if the at-risk individual has shared a suicide plan.
  3. Be there. Be an active listener by paying attention to what the individual is thinking and feeling.
  4. Help them connect. Link the at-risk individual with a trusted individual who can help them (family member, spiritual advisor, mental health professional, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
  5. Stay connected. Studies have shown that staying in touch after a crisis, or following up with the at-risk individual, helps reduce the number of suicide deaths.

To read more about the signs and symptoms of suicide, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s webpage, at:


Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Student Health Insurance Members)

Materials & Tip Sheets

Local Health Education Centers

Local Health Education Classes


Mental Health and/or Substance Abuse Contacts

Kaiser Permanente

(Kaiser Student Health Insurance Members)

-          Sacramento

-          Elk Grove

-          Folsom







Primary Local Assessment and Treatment Facilities

Bi-Valley Medical Clinics

-          Capitol Clinic

-          Carmichael Clinic

-          Norwood Clinic





Midtown Mental Health Center


Addiction Treatment Program


Mental Health Center

(Kaiser patients)



Mental Health center

(Kaiser patients, after hours emergencies)


Personal Counseling System

The College of Medicine recognizes that students will come into this program with various levels of academic ability and psychological robustness. Some students will most likely experience trying personal circumstances outside the curriculum that impacts their ability to perform at an optimum level of academic performance. 

To assist the student at times of need, the College of Medicine will have an onsite licensed mental health provider. The provider will teach no classes or in any way have any evaluative academic role in the student’s curriculum. This provider will also have expertise in helping students increase their ability in time management, test taking and study skills. 

All first year students will be required to have a brief meeting with the mental health provider during the first few weeks of medical school. The purpose of the meeting is for students to gain ease in finding the provider’s office and in enlisting the provider’s skills, should the student feel it necessary. The provider is available every other Thursday between the hours of 8:30 am – 2:00 pm. To make direct arrangements during a different time, or off-campus, Dr. Zaher can be contacted directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (916) 969-0723.

The students will also have access to mental health provider services off-campus through the College of Medicine’s Employee/Student Assistance Program (ESAP). This program allows students to see a licensed mental health provider for three, one-hour sessions, every six months. The ESAP has over 900 licensed mental health providers in Northern California, in various locations, and in close proximity to the College of Medicine. In addition, an online counseling service, Talk One2One, is available to students on a 24 hour, 7 day a week basis. 

The ESAP also provides one, thirty-minute consultation with a licensed attorney every six months, and one, thirty-minute session with a financial advisor, every six months.  

Talk One2One – 24/7 Confidential Support for Students: 1-800-756-3124


Peer Mentorship

First year students will be assigned to a Big Brother or Big Sister who is an upperclassman in academic good standing. The purpose of this program is to provide first-year students with the opportunity to work with an upperclassman that has a firm understanding of the curriculum and the requisite skills for its successful navigation. 


No Wrong Door Policy

The College of Medicine will foster an atmosphere among students that there is no wrong door when it comes to seeking assistance. Correspondingly, faculty will be trained on how to assist students with the various kinds of issues they may present with, as well as know where and when to make referrals.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy, both physically and mentally. It helps lower the risk of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome. Studies have also provided strong evidence that it helps prevent weight gain, reduces depression, and contributes to improved cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength. Engaging in physical activity is an excellent way to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety associated with the intensity of medical school curriculum.

Adults should generally aim for at least 2 ½ hours, or 150 minutes, of physical activity each week which should include both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. It is important to remember that physical activity comes in all forms and the key to sustaining engagement, is choosing an activity that not only matches your ability, but is also one that you enjoy. A good way to incorporate it into a regular routine, is to plan out a weekly schedule of activity.

In order to gain the health benefits associated with physical activity, here are some guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Aerobic Activities

  • Duration + Intensity
    • 2 hours and 30 minutes – moderate intensity, OR
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes – vigorous intensity, OR
    • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous intensity
      • Moderate-intensity (a person doing this activity can talk, but not sing during it)
        • Examples: brisk walking, water aerobics, tennis (doubles), ballroom dancing, general gardening
      • Vigorous intensity (a person doing this activity can only say a few words before pausing for a breath)
        • Examples: race walking, jogging, running, swimming laps, tennis (singles), aerobic dancing, jumping rope, hiking uphill with a backpack
      • Perform at least 10 minutes at a time
      • Spread aerobic activity throughout the week

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  • All major muscle groups should be worked (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms)
  • Exercises for each group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per set
  • Should be performed 2 or more days per week
  • Examples: lifting weights, working resistance bands, push-ups, sit-ups

If you’re not sure where to start, check out sample plans designed by the CDC, which include moderate and vigorous aerobic activity routines:

Check out the following tips to make physical activity a regular part of your day:

  1. 10 minutes – To reach your weekly goal, focus on doing at least 10 minutes of activity at a time.
  2. Support – Partner with a friend or family member to help motivate one another.
  3. Mix it up – Choose to swim one day, go for a jog, attend a yoga or zumba class, or lift weights so that you change up your daily routine.
  4. Be ready – Keep a pair of walking shoes in your car, bag, or locker to take advantage of any time you can for a quick walk or run.
  5. Work out during TV time – if you’re taking a break to catch up on a movie or TV show, try doing so as you jog on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike.
  6. Wellness at school – Look for on-campus opportunities (walking meetups, fitness centers, sports).
  7. Outdoors – Physical activity doesn’t have to be restricted indoors and can be found in a variety of venues, such as local or national parks (hiking, canoeing).
  8. Chores – Many people forget that cleaning the house, washing the car, or even mowing the lawn all contribute to the minimum 150 minutes of activity each week.

SuperTracker is a free resource developed by the USDA that allows you to be proactive in taking care of your health, by being able to develop personalized nutrition and physical activity plans, track your foods and physical activity, and get tips and support to help you make healthier choices. To take advantage of this great resource, please visit:

California Northstate University College of Medicine ♦ 9700 West Taron Drive ♦ Elk Grove, CA 95757 ♦ Phone: (916) 686-7300