Although preparing for unforeseeable health circumstances when your child is about to go to college may feel like a daunting task, it’s crucial. Before move-in day arrives, sit down with them and review this list of things your teen should know to help them better understand their medical history and more:
1. Personal and family medical history
Providers will ask about a student’s medical history and their parents’ medical histories, so it’s important to know. It also allows you and your child to discuss what they’re at risk for.
If your child has allergies, a chronic disease, a history of surgeries, or serious illnesses, they should keep a documented list with them, along with their vaccination records and a family medical history.
A family medical history list should include major diseases or causes of death of their parents and grandparents. For those who were adopted, they should be provided with any information that’s known about their birth family’s history.
Keep in mind, though, that some conditions that weren’t present during their adolescent years may suddenly appear during college, provoked by their new environment.
This also creates an opportunity for you to discuss sexual health concerns with your child, as well as general decision making.
2. The primary care doctor for college
Depending how far your child’s college is from home, and their medical history, it may be wise for them to continue seeing their current physician instead of finding a provider on or near campus.
Alternatively, you may decide it’s best to identify a provider for them nearby.
You can ask your teen if they’d prefer only seeing their pediatrician or if they’d like to also find someone on-site that can communicate with them and their physician at home.
3. How to schedule a doctor’s appointment
Whether your child listens to you as you make an appointment for them or they do it themselves, it’s helpful to have them be part of the step-by-step process years before going to college. But if you haven’t started, now is a better time than any.
Some teens need to see a health care provider more frequently, while others only receive routine, yearly appointments. In either case, help and encourage your child to schedule their next few appointments months in advance during their holiday breaks.
Some teens have a complex medical history, while others only ever see their doctor once a year and don’t take any medications. If your kid does take medications, it’s vital for them to know the names of each medicine and why they take them. Encourage your teen to develop a system around taking their medications, such as setting up an alarm on their phone.
5. Nearest pharmacy to campus and how to transfer or refill a prescription
Scheduling a visit to your child’s college before move-in day not only gets them familiar with the area but it’ll also allow you both to scope out the nearest pharmacy.
It’s important to be mindful about how often a prescription needs to be refilled in order to avoid inopportune moments, like running out of medication on the second day of school. Being aware of move-in dates and when every semester begins and ends can be key to avoiding these types of mishaps.
Besides calling or going to the pharmacy to request a refill, many places offer online portals through phone apps, making the process less intimidating. You should encourage and show your teen how to set up this online access. These systems also allow them to easily send notes to their providers and access their medical records.
6. Existing medical insurance and important details about the plan
If you have medical insurance, it may cover your child until they’re 26 years old. Providing them a copy of your card can help expedite their billing process after a visit.
Having them understand what your plan covers is important, but it’s also important for students who pay for their own medical coverage to know. For example, out-of-pocket costs and co-pays may vary depending on the appointment.
For graduate students who may no longer be on their family’s plan, they should explore if there are any graduate student insurance packages offered to them by their university.
7. Necessary accommodations to preserve your child’s health
It’s recommended that whenever possible, students should create their class schedules around what best accommodates and tends to their mental and physical health needs. For example, morning classes may not work well for everyone.
Your child can also introduce themselves to their professors via email to ask how they can best help accommodate their individual health concerns. This simple step can help to alleviate some stress for your teen, and that they won’t know what accommodations exist unless they ask.
A student who anticipates their needs and proactively establishes care gives their parents peace of mind and helps themselves better adjust to becoming a new college student.
8. Resources offered by the campus to manage physical and mental health
Have your child do their research, or better yet, do it with them. College campuses generally have student-focused resources that cater to the most common challenges they could face.
It’s likely that various well-being classes and activities are available on your child’s campus too, so encourage them to attend ones that interest them most.
Also, as a parent, you may be eligible to receive emergency alerts about any major incidents or health hazards that arise on campus.
All in all, this is an important population to have addressing their own physical and mental health, and a process that you can also join in on and support.
This article is derived from “Parents: Ask your college-bound teen these 8 health questions” (University of Michigan), and is used under CC BY 4.0.