For students, shrugging off sickness is a time-honored tradition, however foolish. Be it busy schedules, confidence in our immune systems or just downright laziness, many of us have not sought medical attention on occasion even though it was most likely the best course of action for our overall health. That said, having an accessible Student Health Center able to best address a wide range of urgent medical needs is vitally important.
A student health center should function much in the way a normal hospital does, but should not be blind to the unique nature of the population they mostly tend to — students. With the sporadic nature of many students’ schedules, in combination with expectations that an illness will only last a few days, we often figure it is not worth our time to try and walk in to the Student Health Center when it is likely we will not be able to get an appointment until the next day or day after.
This is an attitude that needs to change. Students must understand the need to seek care even when we may view it as too big of an inconvenience. Regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments are most available when students are in class, and expensive last-minute emergency room trips when symptoms get worse are a waste of both the hospital’s and the student’s resources.
Problems with Student Health Services fall on both students and the health center to address. Currently, the Student Health Center does not offer short-notice services like instant-care or pop-up clinics that are common in cities across the country, exactly for those urgent situations that may not require an emergency room. Making a service like this available — while it obviously requires more resources and readily available medical professionals — would make getting treatment for the vast majority of illnesses that college students face much simpler and easier. If students would rather endure an illness than seek treatment because they do not view it as worth their time, it is clear that there is a more systemic issue at play.
Feeling run down or sick is, of course, a common and endurable part of college life. But no one should feel that they do not have the option of a quick and easy checkup just because of the fact that they are a college student with a hectic schedule. As students, we should prioritize safety on all levels — that means feeling safe walking home at 1 a.m. on a weekend night, as well as when we chug Emergen-C and think, “I really hope I’m not sick.”