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Information for Parents

Whether a child is 9 or 19, parents play a vital role in their kids’ lives. As parents send their students to college, one of their biggest fears is “who will take care of my child when s/he is sick?”

If you’re a parent and your student is ill, we know you want to be there for him or her. We also understand that it can be frustrating as a parent when their child is getting healthcare from providers they do not know. Many parents find it difficult when their child is seen at the Student Health Center and the provider cannot speak with them about their child’s assessment or plan of care. Please understand that we DO encourage parents to collaborate with us in their student’s care. Unfortunately, we legally cannot share information about a student’s visit unless the student signs a release form giving permission to speak with their parents. In addition, American University does not serve as a custodian of medical directives, healthcare proxy, and power of attorney. If you have questions and would like to speak with your child’s healthcare provider the best thing you can do is have your child go to the Student Health Center to sign the release. However, please be advised that a release form must be signed for each visit in question. Once that is done, we will be happy to speak with any parent!

Parents may find it difficult to have their student seen by providers in a clinic which is very different from the pediatrician’s office. Most students find the transition to be an easy one. The health center is specifically focused on the health needs of adolescents and young adults. Leading our health provider team is a physician who is board certified both in adolescent medicine and pediatrics. In addition, he supervises a group of experienced family nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The entire team is passionate and dedicated to giving college students the best healthcare possible.

An important part of a student’s college experience involves learning about how to manage their health and to be an effective advocate for their health concerns. For some students, this could refer to learning how to make (and keep) a medical appointment, understanding how to get a prescription filled at a pharmacy, or how to give a provider the important details of their health/medication history. The Student Health Center staff is dedicated to helping students navigate this developmental process. However, as s/he prepares to leave for college, there are some things that parents can do to help their student manage their health:

  • Encourage your student to call and make his or her next medical appointment and obtain general information about the appointment.
  • Review the basics of your insurance plan with your student, providing copies of his or her medical, prescription drug, dental, and/or vision insurance cards, discussing any requirements for pre-approval, whether and when to notify the insurance company following hospitalization or emergency room care, and the difference between "in-network" and "out-of-network" care.
  • Discuss any seasonal, food, or drug allergies and personal and family medical histories, ensuring that your student can provide the basics to a health care provider.
  • Discuss the resources on campus and the services (psychotherapy, eating disorders, chronic medical conditions) that may be provided by a local professional in the community.
  • Send your student to college with basic first aid and over the counter medication(s).
  • Recommend that your student make an appointment at the Student Health Center within 1-2 days of feeling sick.
  • Encourage your student to contact health center administration before calling home, if s/he is not satisfied with their service. We always take student concerns seriously!

Working together we can help your student:

  • Develop skills to understand and participate in decisions concerning personal health and the care needed or received.
  • Acquire knowledge of accessing medical services, the cost of medical care, and the necessity for medical insurance.
  • Recognize and engage in healthy behaviors to reduce the risk of illness and injury.

Please feel free to contact us at the Student Health Center at 202-885-3380 if you have any questions or need our help!