As I continue to see many of the older teenagers I care for getting ready to head off to college, I find myself repeating a few key suggestions or reminders as they prepare to get things in order for what is probably their biggest move in their lives to date.
I just so happened to see some wonderful tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on this topic as well, so I’d like to share some of them with you all while acknowledging a big thanks to the AAP and adding in my own two-cents as well. So in this two-part blog series, I will first share some tips for the students and in the second one, I’ll have some tips for the parents of these college-bound students.
For the student embarking on the next step in his or her life:
1. Have a routine physical exam: Firstly, there may be a vaccine or two that need to be done (e.g. the meningitis one or possibly the completion of the HPV vaccine series), but also, a thorough physical exam is so very important because I often notice this is the last one for quite some time. And, unfortunately, I’ve seen things “pop up” at this appointment before. Furthermore, these appointments allow me to remind the young adult about how important it is to take care of your body moving forward. If there is any stress while at college, most (if not all) have mental health services in place. I also remind them I will still see them for a couple of more years so they don’t have to worry about finding a new doc just yet.
2. Make sure all medical conditions (both physical and mental) are understood: I’ve found that some college-bound students don’t have a complete grasp of their underlying medical condition as mom and/or dad had that covered before. So now is the time to step-up and own things, including what is going on with his/her body. And this carries over to any medications he/she might be taking as well…so know the side effects and where and how refills will be obtained.
3. Familiarize yourself with the health centers: where they are located, urgent hours, etc. And figure out whether insurance will be covered through the family’s health insurance and/or through the school’s insurance program. This also includes knowing where the mental health services center is located as well…and any after-hours phone numbers that may be helpful if the situation arises.
4. Pack an emergency kit: This one is straight from the AAP list and is really a great idea. Just like we all should have a home emergency kit, having one under the bed in the dorm is a great idea as well. In fact, it’s a must.
5. Worship your body: It’s on the student to take care of the body (similar to what I mention above.) Despite the common perception, most college students don’t use drugs and if they do drink (remember, it is illegal), they do so in moderation. But key thing here is don’t feel the pressure to tamper with your body…you’ll need it for many many more years. And along those lines, get some good sleep and remember to eat right…that means balanced and healthy.
And, of course, remember to enjoy the college experience as well. There will never be a time in your life like the college experience…so certainly make the most out of it.
And stay tuned for a future blog for some tips for the parents of college bound students.
- Dr. Jeremy
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