First Year Health Information
As you prepare to send your student to college, there are some practical matters you should consider.
Conversations to Have With Your First-Year Student
Access to Health Information
Once your student turns 18, their medical information is protected for their own privacy. You can review the Tufts University Health Service confidentiality policy and Tufts University Counseling and Mental Health Service confidentiality policies.
It is Health and Wellness’ policy not to accept blanket, unlimited permission to discuss all of your student’s medical matters. We encourage students to talk to their parent/guardian about health concerns, and your student can consent, verbally or in writing, for one of our clinicians to talk to you about a specific episode or illness. However, if a student does not want us to share private health information, we are required by HIPAA to honor their request, unless we have serious concerns for their life and safety.
Because students sign a consent as part of their health history pre-entrance form at Tufts, it is not necessary to get a HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, or durable power of attorney for parents/guardians to be contacted by someone at the University in the event of a life-threatening emergency. The signed consent is for all Tufts University AS&E (including SMFA) students regardless of their living situation; it only works within Tufts University.
We encourage parents and guardians to have a HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, or durable power of attorney on hand in the event their student is at the hospital and unable to make decisions for themselves. Tufts Health and Wellness office does not have medical authorization form templates so parents and guardians may want to consult with an attorney to obtain the recommended medical authorization form. Parents should keep this documentation in a safe place and be able to send it to the hospital where the student is being cared for at the time of the emergency. It may be helpful to review information on Massachusetts law regarding healthcare proxies.
Continuing Medical or Mental Healthcare
Students with preexisting medical or mental health conditions who will need ongoing care should arrange those services in advance of arriving on campus. Some services are offered on campus, but others may need to be found in the local area.
For ongoing medical care, you can reach the Health Service team at 617-627-3350 for information on the services we offer. We suggest scheduling a new patient visit at the beginning of the semester so we can provide refills of medications and ensure continuity of care..
For ongoing mental health care, you can reach out to the Counseling and Mental Health Service at 617-627-3360 for guidance on where to find care.
For services outside Tufts University, you should contact your insurance company for guidance, including information about which providers are in-network in Massachusetts.
Local Urgent Care and Emergency Room
For information on local urgent care centers and emergency rooms please visit Health Service Hours.
Prioritizing Mental Well-being
Encourage your student to establish good self-care habits to make adapting to college easier. Stress management and adequate sleep, for example, are both essential to learning and knowledge recall. We will also be offering plenty of skills-building opportunities for wellness once they arrive.
For more in-depth information about on-campus mental health resources, check out the Mental Health page for parents.
Tufts Network of Support
If your student is dealing with mental health issues or is at risk, have them meet with their therapist or doctor to create a plan for continued care before the start of the school year. They can contact community resources near the university to make sure they have appointments set up for them upon their arrival. If your student has a crisis, they will get better care when they already know a counselor and have a plan in place.
If your student is struggling, encourage them to reach out and ask for help. In addition to CMHS, there is a network of support for your student throughout their time at Tufts:
- Student Support – Our colleagues and professional staff can help with the process of taking a leave, returning from hospitalization, and more.
- Mental Health Reps – A student team that works with CMHS staff to promote mental health and emotional well-being, including creating on-campus programs.
- Ears for Peers – A student run, anonymous hotline to call or text, available 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. every night during the academic year. (Although they do not offer mental health treatment, they are there to listen and to help with all kinds of issues and concerns.)
Conversations about safer sex, reproductive care, and sexually transmitted infections are essential. Though it can be difficult to do, have a conversation about getting and giving consent in sexual and romantic situations. Also, discuss signs of emotional abuse. Make sure your student knows they should never feel threatened, afraid, or controlled by a romantic partner and if they do, they need to seek help and get out of the relationship.
Alcohol and Other Drugs
First year students tend to overestimate how often and how much their peers drink alcohol. While it may be hard to recognize at times, young adults value your guidance as parents. Research suggests that students who talked with their parents about alcohol before they started college were more likely to avoid alcohol, limit its use, and spend less time with heavy drinking peers. Talk about the importance of moderation and the health hazards associated with binge drinking. Explore guidance on how to start these conversations about alcohol with your student and tips on how to frame conversations about drug use from a risk reduction lens.
If your student has struggled with substance use before coming to college, identifies as being in recovery, or you have a concern for a different reason, you are welcome to reach out to our Alcohol and Drug Specialist, Laura Michelson at email@example.com.
Make sure your student has their own health insurance, vision insurance, and dental insurance cards with photos of the front and back on their phone.
If your student will be enrolled in the student health insurance through UnitedHealthcare StudentResources (UHCSR) they can find the steps to access their insurance card on Student Health Insurance.
As a reminder, all students are opted-in to UHCSR insurance. If your student has comparable insurance and wishes to waive enrollment in UHCSR insurance they must do so by July 31 each year. For more information, visit Student Health Insurance.
Review how your insurance will work while in Massachusetts:
· How will your student find in-network providers and in-network pharmacies?
· Tufts University Health Service uses Quest as a reference lab. Is Quest considered an in-network lab with your insurance?
· What is the patient financial responsibility (deductibles, copays, etc.) after a doctor’s visit, medication refill, laboratory test, etc?
Create a small first aid kit with relevant medications and first-aid treatments.
Be sure to walk your student through the kit to familiarize them with the included over-the-counter medication and how to take them. Make a written cheat sheet detailing what to take when, how much, and how often.
Doctor Visits Before Arriving on Campus
Ask your student to make an appointment with their doctor to review their health and any questions. Make your student responsible for scheduling the appointment and completing any paperwork. Your student should ask their doctor for a copy of their immunization record.
Make sure your student is familiar with their own medical history. Yes, they can call you or text you at intake, but this is information they will always need. Make sure they have all the details of any surgeries, allergies, or illnesses they have had.
Consider how they will get their prescriptions, new ones or those preexisting, filled locally.
Make sure your student has enough refills of any prescribed medication to get through the first semester, or whenever they plan to return home, and that they know where they will refill their medications.
Medication should be kept somewhere private and ideally, accessible only by them. It should not be shared with anyone. Also, emphasize how important it is not to take medication prescribed to someone else.
We provide a list of local pharmacies and steps to transfer a prescription to a local pharmacy can be found.
Consider getting duplicates of your student’s glasses or contact prescriptions.
Keep the Conversation Going
Keep the conversation going, even after they leave for school. Remind your student that they can come to you for help. Empower them to become adults but be available when they need a little guidance.
Pay attention to your student if there are any warning bells that start going off in your head about your college student’s health. You know your student best. Provide guidance for the small stuff and act on it if it feels urgent.