What to Do When: You Have to Go to the Hospital in College

So, sometimes accidents happen or you come down with something that won’t be ameliorated by a trip to the student health services.

Yes, you’re correct; there may be a time in your collegiate career when you have to hit up the hospital (a real hospital where they take care of people who aren’t just students at a university).

Here’s how to make the visit quick and painless (tee-hee, health puns):

1. Grab some form of ID.

Assuming you’re coherent and can still form multisyllabic sentences, remember to keep some sort of picture ID on you.

In most cases, a student ID will work just fine, but there are those sticklers who insist that a government-issued form of identification (in most cases, a driver’s license) is the way to go.

Keep both on you…although I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second and just say you should have some form of picture ID on you at all times.

Speaking of, know your insurance plan. Certain types of insurance will cover doctor’s visits…and medication…meaning you won’t have to pay full price for it.

Hospital sign

2. Know where the nearest hospital is.

The hospital is different from the student health center (or whatever permutation of that your school chooses to call it) so know what it’s called and where it is.

Make a plan for how to get there before the event actually happens and make sure you have some idea of where you are going.

3. Be prepared for some sort of wait.

Good things come to those who wait and the waiting room of a doctor’s office is no exception.

Even on a Wednesday at midnight there will be paperwork to fill out, insurance cards to be photocopied, and the doctor’s claim that he’s “backed up”, so be prepared.

Bring a book. Bring some Sudoku. Get out that phone, download Angry Birds, and have at it.

If you have none of these options at your immediate command, read the magazines in the waiting room.

When that fails, I like to make up stories about the people working behind the desk. It’s always amusing.

4. Cooperate.

Yeah, there’s a wait and yeah, it seems like forever and yeah, there’s all this paperwork to fill out, but just go at it.

Try to get through it as quickly and concisely as possible. I’m pretty sure the people working the desk want to point our errors as much as you want to go back and correct them so try to get it all right the first time.

5. Tell the doctor your problem forthright.

Don’t beat around the bush, just tell the medical practitioner your problem. They’ve heard worse, guaranteed.

Plus, if you aren’t clear and/or withhold information about your condition, you reduce the chance of getting the correct form of treatment or prescription.

6. Stay in contact with someone.

Like a parent. Or a friend. Give them periodic updates as to how you’re doing, what the diagnosis is, how long you will be at the hospital, when you can expect your medicine or treatments, etc.

7. Speaking of, establish an emergency contact.

If there is ever a situation where you’re not lucid, make sure you have a sober friend to speak for you. I’m sure both you and the staff on call that night will be overcome with gratitude for him/her.

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