Spotlight on Student Healthcare

Caring for the physical and mental health of students on a college or university campus is critical. Sometimes, providing this care can be challenging as students are learning to manage their own healthcare needs, sometimes for the first time in their adult lives. Dr. Betsy Clachko, medical director for Sacred Heart University Student Health Services in Fairfield, CT, discusses some of the challenges and benefits of on-campus healthcare with College Planning & Management, covering topics ranging from student medical records to maximizing medical resources.

Q. How is student healthcare provided on a college campus different now from in past decades? Is there any new advancement that makes caring for college students easier?

A. One thing that makes healthcare on campus easier now is our use of technology. Our electronic medical records keep all student health information at our fingertips. It also enables us to communicate with students more easily through the use of our online Health Portal. With the Portal, students can submit forms and contact their provider, and providers can message students, send test results, and much more. For busy college students, this feature has been much appreciated.

Q. What are some of the unique challenges that on-campus healthcare presents?

A. College students are generally living away from their families for the first time. This is often challenging for students, as they are not used to managing their own health. In fact, many students come to campus not even knowing how to check their temperature. We spend a lot of time educating students, constantly reminding them that sleep deprivation; stress, improper or lack of exercise/poor diet can all be detrimental to their health.

We also teach students how to advocate for their own health and how to recognize warning signs. Our goal in Student Health Services is to keep our students healthy so they can succeed academically.

Q. The resources available to student health clinics differ depending on the size of institution. What are some ways to maximize healthcare resources as a smaller school?

A. One way to maximize healthcare resources is by implementing policies and practices that support the overall health of the student. This is achieved easily at a smaller school because the health team works closely with almost every department at the institution to ensure that our students are healthy and thriving. One example of this is how closely we work with the Counseling department. Being housed in the same building, we can easily refer students who might benefit from meeting with a mental health professional, and vice versa.

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