Every year, millions of students attend U.S. colleges or universities. Exposed to several health risks, including psychological disorders such as stress and depression, these young patients depend on the primary medical care offered by clinics on campuses.
College medical clinics will soon be busy. If you are the owner or manager of one of these medical clinics or private practices on campuses, now is the ideal time to prepare in advance to meet the demand. There are ways to advance your current practice to better help students when they need it. Follow these procedures to ensure everyone’s safety and health.
Prepare Vaccinations Ahead of Time
College medical clinics need to be prepared for multiple vaccinations, especially around flu season. Some universities also require specific vaccines before a student can begin their studies, such as tetanus/diphtheria and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR). Upon arrival, the freshmen have their immunization history evaluated and receive the missing doses when necessary.
Especially in times of COVID-19, there’s been a rush for vaccines that could wreak havoc on your clinic. Always order vaccine doses well in advance so that you can inventory them and know if everything is prepared. You can also organize pop-up sites across campus instead of centralizing vaccination campaigns in a single space. This way, you avoid crowding and at the same time ensure that the operation reaches a greater number of students.
Up Your Technology
Modern technology has made the processes easier and can help your clinic serve more students faster. If you haven’t yet embraced technology, now it’s a good time to retire paperwork. Replace handwritten medical histories for digitized forms that allow you to automatically update and access each patient’s health information.
A considerable evolution in this process was the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law on December 2016. It was created to accelerate research that can bring innovations and advances in health treatments, and consequently speed up the development of new medical products.
One of the major aspects of the Cures Act is that it makes it easy for your clinic to use technology to provide patients with access to their health information in an automated way. From now on, your patients will be able to choose an application to access their data through secure and standardized application programming interfaces (APIs).
Provide Educational Resources
Many students may be unaware of the services provided by your clinic, especially those arriving for their first semester. Be sure to educate them to use your services. There are several ways to do this, and the most practical are:
- Brochures, pamphlets, and other printed materials
- Educational social media posts
- Podcasts or YouTube videos presenting the clinic
- Posters with basic info
You can also ask professors to attend classes and present the services provided. This way, you can talk about the benefits of the clinic and the importance of its physical and mental health programs, using a lighter tone to avoid alarming the students.
Create a Safe Space
Students shouldn’t be intimidated to visit the clinic. Remember that many of them are away from home and their families for the first time and may not feel comfortable seeking medical care on their own. There are some ways to create a safe space and gain the trust of young people, including:
- Train your entire staff, from the reception team to healthcare professionals, to understand different experiences and identities, without prejudice or judgment.
- Avoid “fear tactics” on posters, flyers, or magazines in the clinic’s waiting room.
- The professionals and also the physical structure of the clinic must be prepared for diversity, including a bathroom for users who identify themselves as gender-neutral and can feel uncomfortable in spaces divided into male or female.
- Ensure all mandatory hygiene and social distancing measures to prevent COVID-19.
A Graduated College Medical Clinic
College or university campuses across the country are preparing to welcome their students. As these institutions have different sizes and budgets, the health facilities available to their students also vary from large hospitals to small clinics offering some kind of first aid.
Many of these college students are living alone for the first time in their lives. Away from their families, they have to make their own decisions but have little or no experience in using the health care system. In the face of pain or diseases, their first reaction is more likely to go to Google than to a doctor.
In this scenario, do what you can to have a clinic capable of providing the best care to these young patients. Publicize your services, promote a safe environment and organize procedures to bring them together.