7 things to take care of before college
Sponsored by Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
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Going to college is a thrilling experience. You get to leave home, find new friends, and seek new places and adventures.
In the excitement, however; don’t forget about making sure your health needs are taken care of. This is particularly important for someone with a chronic health condition or illness.
1. Update your immunization records
“Make sure vaccines are up to date,” says Jeff Aughney, DO, a pediatrician at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated diseases that killed people just a few generations ago, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Vaccines protect your family and help prevent the spread of disease.
If vaccinations are covered under a student or parent’s current health insurance plan, make sure you get them done before ever setting foot on campus. Your college will request an up-to-date record.
2. Finalize student insurance
Insurance is an essential part of today’s society. The U.S. Labor Department reported last year that spending on health care increased by more than it has in three decades.
Chances are that you’ll need to see a doctor or go to the emergency room during your college career. Your pocket book could take an astronomical hit if you don’t have insurance.
Check for student coverage under your parent’s plan or through the health care exchange. Some schools will even provide student plans. You’ll also want to double check that your insurance is good if you are going out of state.
3. Be aware of the risks
Even for the best students, the excitement of a new life in college can lead to some unwise decisions.
“Risk-taking behaviors are common among young adults,” warns Dr. Aughney. “This includes not wearing seat belts in cars, drug and alcohol experimentation, and sex, which brings with it the risk of sexually transmitted infections.”
Roughly 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Make sure to seek help for yourself or a friend if you feel like you, or they, are endangering themselves or others.
4. Register for disability services, if needed
The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to universities and can help with accommodations for certain conditions, according to the ADA National Network.
There is no set list of conditions that qualify for the ADA. Rather, the ADA covers anyone who has physical or mental disabilities that limit or hinder major daily activities, according to College Parents of America.
Students will likely need proof of the disability, such as updated medical documentation or testing. If this service would be helpful, talk to the school about registering for disability accommodations.
5. Get medical ID bracelet
This may not be the most thrilling piece of jewelry, but a medical ID bracelet can be a lifesaver for people with chronic conditions. Besides generic options from the pharmacy, dozens of companies create customized jewelry.
Make sure the bracelet includes the exact medical condition, food and medication allergies, emergency contact information and your primary physician’s contact details.
6. Make contact with a resident assistant
Resident assistants, otherwise known as RAs, are charged with ensuring the wellbeing of the tenants in their dorm. The RA is a point of contact if a student starts to feel depressed, overly stressed, overworked, or otherwise unhealthy. The person is less formal than psychological services and less intimidating than a student’s new friends.
An RA can be a solid rock of support for easing the transition to university life. They are usually upperclassmen and have a wide array of experiences and know where to go for help. Make sure you take advantage of the service.
7. Tour the health center
This is pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll want to ask the health center staff some questions.
- Do they have drop-in counseling or does it take weeks to get an appointment?
- Do they do routine checkups, vaccinations, and STD tests?
- Can they handle complex athletic injuries?
- Can they handle chronic conditions?
- What are the hours of operation?
Making sure your health needs are taken care of will go a long way while you pursue your higher education.