Attention college students and parents of soon-to-be college students…my cousin Kelly, who is a nurse at a state university in Iowa, recently posted this great advice about student health care on her Facebook page and she kindly is letting me share it with you.
For my friends sending their precious cargo off to college this year, here are some tips from Yours Truly on some of the relevant health care issues to think through NOW, so you can sleep a little better at night this fall.
Don’t Forget to Pack That Sick Day Kit
When packing a sick day kit for college include a thermometer, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, an antihistamine, band aids, as the main staples, and then anything else they have needed regularly at home.
If your child is followed for chronic conditions, be sure to send them with the names and numbers of their providers, if records would be needed. If the condition is something you know will require maintenance, while they are away at college, go ahead and transfer your records and schedule an appointment to establish care ASAP.
Clue Your Kiddo In On Their Past Medical History
Review your child’s medical history with them, as well as, family history so they can pass this information along to any providers they will need to see while they are at school. This can be very helpful when you least expect it. If your college student takes daily medicines or has drug / food allergies make sure they can recite them or keep a list in their wallet.
Those as needed inhalers, epi pens or over the counters your undergrad hasn’t needed for months… send those along to college too, and be sure to check expiration dates.
Send Along Immunization Records
You have probably received this already, but it’s most likely buried with the information overload you have received in the past year. Make sure your college bound kid knows the dates of their last tetanus shot or any other vaccine series they haven’t completed. It’s best to send their complete immunization record to their student health center and check university requirements.
Put Emergency Contact Numbers in Your College Kid’s Phone
Put the number of your coed’s student health center and local after hours triage line in their phone. You may also want to include the local triage nurse line. This will save time when your kid is sick and isn’t sure what to do or who to call. Also, tell them to keep off the internet. And you should too, without also calling for assistance. It can cause so much unnecessary worry. Your health center webpage will have trusted sites, if needed.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Check with your insurance company about where your kiddo will be living and what medical facilities are in network for them. It is my understanding, that even if your college kid will be living out of network, if you contact your insurance company, before the move, they can make accommodations. You’ll also want to make sure your child has a medical insurance card. Having a sick child at college is stressful enough, trying to navigate your insurance on the fly, at the same time, makes it miserable.
Release of Information
If you have questions for a doc and your kid is over 18, ask your student to sign a release of information. That nurse on the other line wants to talk to you! But, won’t be able to without that release. The release of information is good for a year and is only signed at the visit or time of treatment. They canNOT be signed for something that hasn’t yet occurred.
If you do need to call and talk to a nurse, keep in mind, even though they may not be able to provide you information, they CAN receive any information you want to give them. If you have worries that something may not be communicated by your student during a visit, feel free to let the nurse know.
We won’t be able to provide anything back, but can hear your concern. At the same time, I encourage you, even though it will be hard, to let your child learn how to navigate their visit on their own. It’s part of that growing up thing that you may not be ready for yet and we understand.
Which leads to this…
Most health centers, mine included, have the option of having a nurse call your child, if they don’t know what to do. Make sure your college student uses that service when they feel the need or are anxious and unsure.
Thanks for reading! We college health nurses care about your kids and lose sleep at night over them too. We want to make that transition into managing their healthcare as an adult as seamless as possible. Good luck to my Moms and Dads out there! Hang in there!