LiveSmart: Preparation Key to Maintaining Good Health in College

[This piece was written by Carrie Hogan, MSN, ANP-C, Director of Siena College Health Services.]

It was roughly 17 or 18 years ago that this new little miracle graced your life…a son or daughter, with the world at his or her feet. You’ve raised them into young adults and now the wider world awaits! For most parents, sending their child off to college fills them with a mixture of pride and worry – how will they do without you right by their side?

A good place to start is to ensure the student has the necessary supplies to treat the everyday illnesses, cuts and scrapes you handled while they were growing up. Along with their smartphones and laptops, students should bring basic first aid kits to college as another step toward living independently.

A basic first aid kit should include:

  • bandages and antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin, Neosporin)
  • tweezers (for splinter and tick removal)
  • thermometer
  • ice pack or chemical cold pack
  • acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and fevers
  • medicine for allergies
  • cough and cold medicine
  • sore throat lozenges
  • hand sanitizer.

In addition, freshmen should have pre-college physicals. Their primary care physician should send the college’s health center a summary of their care, including any restrictions or needed interventions.

Before classes begin, all students must have the immunizations required by their college. Students and their provider should be aware of the scope of their health insurance coverage. Students generally are covered through their guardian’s health-care plan, although sometimes it is provided through the college.

It’s also important for students to be knowledgeable about their:

  • medications, doses and frequencies and bring their medications and inhalers to campus
  • allergies or reactions to medications and foods
  • health histories, both personal and family.

And don’t forget to remind your son or daughter of the best germ-fighting skill they learned even before they started kindergarten – hand washing! The best way for students to protect themselves from the cold, flu and other germs is to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, especially before eating.

Finally, before college students return to campus this fall, they are well-advised to have a plan for what they’ll do if they become very ill or if campus closes because of an emergency on campus and/or in the community. Students are encouraged, if they get sick, to seek medical help, stay away from classes and work, and minimize contact with others.

The Siena College Health Center, operated by St Peter’s since 1993, provides low-cost, accessible health care to students. The Health Center is staffed with nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses and a physician consultant, who are skilled in providing immunizations, routine medical care for most common illnesses, treatment of minor injuries and health education to students.

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