ThedaCare provider reminds college students to prepare for medical needs

As young people head off to college, many families will spend a lot of time preparing for the upcoming school year. In addition to books, dorm room décor, and meal plans, it is also important they prepare for medical needs.

“Like every stage of life, one’s health has impact on how a person soaks up new opportunities,” said Steve Rasmussen, MD, of ThedaCare Physicians-Ripon. “When a young person moves away for the first time, it might be a good opportunity to complete some healthcare appointments and organize certain health-related information.”

Dr. Rasmussen explained that students should receive required and recommended immunizations before heading off to school. “Some of the immunizations will be booster shots and others are especially important for college-aged populations who tend to live in close quarters,” he said. “Recommendations for college students include any required childhood booster shots like Tdap plus an annual influenza vaccine, meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine, meningococcal B vaccine and HPV vaccine.”

To confirm the vaccinations already received, Wisconsin students can log onto the State of Wisconsin Immunization Registry and search for their immunization record. Students should also take necessary health insurance information with them when leaving home. They can request a duplicate insurance card from their insurance company, or if available, download a secure app for specific insurance carriers. In addition to insurance information, students should also have access to his or her electronic medical records.

Another important document students should consider bringing with them is a health care power of attorney form. This form is a legal document where a person can specify what health actions should be taken if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or injury. “If you were to be hurt in a bike accident on campus and your doctors deem you unable to make your own healthcare choices, temporarily or long-term, if you do not have a healthcare power of attorney, there is a chance your family would have to go to court to make these decisions on your behalf,” explained Dr. Rasmussen. “By having an advance healthcare directive, you can determine who you trust to represent your wishes.”

 

An advance healthcare directive form can be found online through the partnership between local health care organizations, Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership. The form is free and can be updated anytime. Keep copies for yourself and send one to your provider to add into your medical file.

Once you arrive on campus, Dr. Rasmussen recommends that students familiarize themselves with campus health services. “Many colleges and universities provide low to no-cost primary care services on campus,” he said. “For full time students with a student ID, you may not need your family’s insurance card at all unless you need services beyond the scope offered on campus.”

 

Students who take daily medication should determine the best way to receive refills. Dr. Rasmussen reminds students that not all medications can be mailed, so it is important to have a plan before a prescription should run out. “When I hear about young people headed off to college, I am excited for all they will discover and experience,” he said. “My wish is for my young patients to stay safe and always feel comfortable about asking their healthcare providers for help or advice.”