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A Prescription for College Health

by Tina M. Radcliffe
Tina M. Radcliffe is a former R.N. with two students attending out-of-state colleges.
Tina provides some useful general information regarding planning ahead to help ensure a more favorable college health experience for your college student.
-Always consult your personal physician regarding matters involving heath care.

The best way to ensure a healthy college experience for your student is to plan ahead. Work through these steps before you send your student off to that institution of higher learning. The information presented below is not a comprehensive list, you should consult with your family physician for all topics involving your family's health, including the items described below.

Vaccinations: Plan and Prepare
Tetanus Boosters. Many colleges will, according to state law require copies of up-to-date immunization records including tetanus. The guidelines on tetanus per the Center for Disease Control, (visit www.cdc.gov for the latest info), are a booster if you have not had one in over ten years.
Meningitis vaccinations. Most colleges will require a waiver if your student does not receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, many health insurance carriers do not cover the cost of the vaccine because of the relatively low risk, however; according to the CDC the risk is higher for the 18-23 year age group, especially those who are in environments like dormitories which are conducive to spreading the disease. Do your homework, consult your physician, and decide what is right for your child.

Health: On the Offense
First aid kits are essential. An all-purpose first aid kit is easily purchased at any retail outlet such as Target, or Wal-Mart for less than twenty dollars. They contain basics such as instant ice packs, band aides, antiseptic wipes and gauze pads. These kits are great starters. To complete the, add those items that are specific to your student, such as over-the-counter (OTC) allergy meds for your seasonal allergy sufferer, cold and flu medications that you trust and other OTC items that will keep your student healthy and comforted when ill.

Plan Now for Medical Emergencies
Keep your student’s health officer updated on prescription medication information and primary care physician numbers in case of emergencies. It goes without saying that your student should have copies of any pertinent health information including his personal physician contact information in a purse or wallet with their own health insurance card.
Review your health care plan and call the insurance billing office to verify ahead of time what they expect as far as notification for emergency treatment or out-of-state provider coverage. Does your student understand the intricacies of your insurance carrier’s co-pay program?
Locate local health care providers ahead of time. Off hours and weekends are not the time to be searching for a qualified and available health professional for your student’s immediate needs. Do this essential homework ahead of time to avoid a non-essential emergency room visit. Call doctor’s offices, including chiropractors, ahead of time, verifying insurance coverage and on-call procedures. Chat with the office staff about your concerns.

Begin to plan now for your student’s healthy college years. You both will be glad you did.

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