Colleges (not to mention nervous moms and dads) probably do everything they can to ensure that students know where the infirmary or student health center is located. While that’s clearly important, hours of operation tend to me somewhat limited. Students, especially those who may away from home for the first time, need to have a back-up plan when injury or illness strikes—and your urgent care center should be part of it. Ensure that it is by reaching out to local colleges, and explaining the level of care you’re able to provide.

The Daily Californian, an independent student newspaper in Berkley, CA recently detailed the odyssey of a student who was unable to receive timely treatment for dehydration because he didn’t know how to access his available healthcare options, basically. After hours of vomiting, he tried to visit the student health center but arrived right before closing; staff there recommended he visit the nearest urgent care center. That advice could have helped but because he expected to be seen on campus, where his student ID would have been sufficient proof of coverage, he didn’t think to bring his insurance card with him; when asked for it at the urgent care center, he left without being treated because he assumed he couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket. He suffered through the night until the student health center opened again the next morning, at which time he was diagnosed with dehydration and given IV fluids to rehydrate.

A more successful dynamic can be seen in the partnership between the State University of New York – Adirondack and Hudson Headwaters Health Network. The health network is working with the school to ensure students and staff know what services are offered in its primary care and urgent care locations, and how to access them. This is especially important because SUNY – Adirondack does not have an on-campus clinic.

Arizona State University and FastMed in Tempe, AZ have also forged a healthy association. Located right across the street from campus, FastMed posts prominent signage noting that it accepts the ASU health plan.

In addition to the convenience factor, remember that college students (like adults in the postgraduate world) may like the idea of seeking care confidentially, in a location where they’re unlikely to know anyone, to be checked for sexually transmitted disease or other conditions they may perceive as embarrassing.

So, how do you get the ball rolling down the quad? Here are a few tips:

  • Find the head of student health services or campus life and give them a presentation covering your services, hours, insurance plans, and closest location(s).
  • Offer to set up a booth during new-student orientation.
  • Take an ad out in the student newspaper.
  • Supply the health center with referral brochures that include your address, hours, phone number, and website.

Taking the time to make yourself known, and ensuring it’s as easy as possible for students to visit, can move your location to the head of the class.

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