Going to college can be a thrilling experience. Your child may be leaving home for the first time or traveling far away to new friends, new places, new everything. It's a rush.
In the excitement, however, don't forget about some fundamental things your child needs to handle health-wise”particularly if she has a chronic health condition or other illness. It's vital to get certain things done before you see her off.
Here's your college kid's medical checklist, with some advice from Jeff Aughney, DO and pediatrician at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Get Immunization Records.
“Make sure vaccines are up to date,” advises Dr. Aughney.
Yes, these are important. Yes, your child's school will ask for this info. Yes, you'll have to get anything you're missing. If vaccinations are covered under your current health insurance, make sure your child gets them done before he even sets foot on campus.
Finalize Your Insurance.
Hopefully, she won't need it. But in case of a bad flu, a fracture while playing sports, or an unexpected illness, insurance is vital”and mandatory according to the Affordable Care Act.
Check whether she's still covered under your plan, whether she can enroll through the healthcare exchange, or whether insurance is covered by a plan provided by the school. Triple check on insurance if your child is going out of state.
Then, take care of anything you may need to do to finalize coverage, including making payments and registering with your child's school.
Be Aware Of The Risks.
Even if he was an angel at home, 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.”
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Remind him of all the advice he's heard time and time again: Buckle up, say no to drugs, and”if they choose to be sexually active”always engage in safe sex.
Register For Disability Services, If Needed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to universities and can help your child if she needs 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.
If you feel that description applies to your child's condition, talk to the point person at the school responsible for registering disability accommodations. Most schools have an office or counselor.
You should trust your child to take the initiative on handling the majority of the process. After all, college is the beginning of adulthood, and he'll need to learn how to navigate adult life with a disability.
Often, students need to provide proof of disability, such as medical documentation or testing. These should be fairly recent.
Get A Medical ID Bracelet.
Your kid may not be thrilled about this particular piece of jewelry, but it can be a lifesaver if he has a chronic condition”especially during an emergency.
If your child truly hates the generic options from the pharmacy, dozens of companies create customized medical ID jewelry.
Make sure it includes:
- The exact medical condition
- Current medications
- Food and medication allergies
- Emergency contact information
- Primary physician's contact information
Make Sure Your Child Gets In Touch With The RA.
Resident assistants, or RAs, can be solid rocks of support for easing the transition to university life. Usually, they are upperclassmen. They've been through it all”workloads, social life, homesickness”and know where to go to for help.
This can be especially helpful if your child has trouble reaching out. RAs often have great interpersonal skills and are specifically trained to foster community.
Additionally, RAs are charged with ensuring the well-being of those in their dorm. If your child is starting to feel depressed, stressed out, overworked, or otherwise unhealthy, she'll have a point of contact that's less formal than psychological services and less intimidating than new friends.
Tour The Health Center.
All university health centers are different, so make sure your child knows what they can ask of theirs.
Some questions to consider include:
- Do they have drop-in counselling 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?
Hopefully, the answer to all of these questions is yes, but if one is lacking, you can prepare beforehand.
Also, check hours, how many doctors are on staff, and what your child can do in case of an emergency.
And finally ...
Remind your child that mother knows best. “The best advice I feel is for them to listen to their mothers,” says Dr. Aughney.
Don't wait until they leave home. Schedule an appointment with Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center's physicians to take care of any last-minute vaccinations, health problems, or checkups your child needs before the semester starts.