Loma Linda University is a health-focused campus in what may very well be the healthiest community in the country. Located 60 miles east of Los Angeles, the city of Loma Linda has been designated as one of the world’s five “Blue Zones” — places where residents live uncommonly long lives — according to author Dan Buettner and National Geographic. On average, residents outlive those in other communities by a decade.
Well being — both physical and emotional — is a big focus in Loma Linda and a wide variety of health disciplines take center stage at the university. More than 55 programs are offered at this Seventh-day Adventist institution, with curricula ranging from certifications and associate of science degrees to doctor of philosophy and professional doctoral degrees. Schools of Allied Health Professions, Behavioral Health, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Religion, prepare students for careers in the fields of science and medicine.
At a university where all 4,000 students are generally older, career focused, and guided by their Christian faith, the campus bookstore has big shoes to fill. “There are no ‘freshmen’ on this campus. Students come here to pursue a professional education after receiving some higher education elsewhere,” explains The Campus Store @ Loma Linda University Manager Michelle Gura. “They’re typically mature and savvy. I see that in the way they comparison shop when purchasing books and other items.”
In addition to items such as emblematic apparel and gifts that are typically found in a campus bookstore, it also carries a mix of non-traditional merchandise as well. “We have a large selection of medical supplies,” Gura explains. “You’ll find stethoscopes, blood pressure and dissection kits, medical posters and eye charts, six racks of scrubs and lab coats, gait belts for physical therapy, otoscopes and ophthalmoscopes — many of the things students pursuing health careers need in their training.”
Uniforms are a big draw, too, as some students are placed in the hospital just two weeks after starting classes. For example, at the beginning of the semester, nursing students are required to purchase unisex scrub tops with the Loma Linda University School of Nursing emblematic stitching. However, there are other considerations, especially at a religious-based institution. “We didn’t want the top very short or low cut, and the bookstore was able to get us a well-made modest top with pockets,” says Dr. Sylvia Stewart, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. “The bookstore has done a beautiful job keeping up with our requests.”
Sometimes keeping up with those requests includes addressing distinct needs. “We’ve had students who are pregnant and need a top that accommodates a pregnancy and we’ve had female students who prefer dresses to tops and scrubs for religious reasons. The bookstore has been very accommodating,” Dr. Stewart says. “Those students have felt very heard and respected.”
When Barnes & Noble College took over management of the bookstore in the summer of 2012, it undertook a total redesign and renovation to increase its offerings and expand textbook options. As part of the renovation, a Tech Store was created, which sells computers, computer accessories and tablets, and also includes an Apple authorized store that sells the latest Apple products. An employee of the bookstore since December 2012, Andreea Gheorghita has seen many changes. “Everything has been updated and is more modern. We’ve started carrying convenience items such as travel-sized toothbrushes, shampoos and other necessities,” says Gheorghita, a student at the School of Allied Heath in the Medical Radiography program. “It has been a big help. You never know when you’re going to get a headache and need some Tylenol. The bookstore has become a one-stop shop for the students.”
In addition to an extensive medical reference section, students have religious curriculum requirements, and textbooks for those courses are offered alongside anatomy and bio-statistics texts. “Our nursing students take 11 to 16 units of religion,” Dr. Stewart explains. “There are also books on the teachings of Seventh-day Adventists and health for those who are interested.”
In addition to students and faculty, the bookstore’s customers also include doctors and nurses, as well as those from the local community looking for a specific book or other items from the store’s wide selection of office supplies, spirit items, gifts, and greeting cards. And if they don’t find what they’re looking for, the bookstore will make sure to locate the item for them. “Our bookstore is really wonderful because of what we have to offer, including medical equipment, textbooks, or a quick afternoon pick-me-up snack. We even sell sweaters, scarves and umbrellas for those days that you don’t think it’s going to rain and it starts pouring halfway through the day. This is California and that’s just how the weather is around here!” says Gheorghita. “Beyond that, we try to offer a friendly face to everyone who comes in to help make their shopping experience just a little bit easier and quicker, so they can get back to studying.”