A teen going away to school will be away from their primary care providers, such as their gastroenterologist. Rather than trying to get adequate care for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at home during breaks, or skipping regular appointments altogether, students should plan ahead to receive medical care while away at college.
The Health Center
Many college campuses have health centers, and it's likely the new student with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis will be spending some time there. A new student will want to know where the health center is located, what services are available, and how much they cost. Health center staff may even be available during orientation week for a "meet and greet" session or during a special health fair. Taking advantage of these programs can result in the first steps toward building a good relationship with the medical and support staff.
It may also be helpful for a student's hometown doctor to provide medical records to the health center. Patients always have a right to a copy of their medical records. Ask, in writing, for records to either be provided to the college’s health center by fax or mail, or for a copy that can be picked up and hand delivered by the student. This way, when flare-ups do happen, the health center staff will be prepared. If more specialized treatment is necessary, the health center should be able to recommend a local gastroenterologist or hospital.
Staff Members and Profs
A sticky question is whether or not to discuss IBD with professors, advisors, and other college staff. This will be a very personal decision for every student. An advisor is usually a good choice as a confidant, as they will be most helpful in scheduling courses and making the most of the services the college offers. Advisors get to know their students well, as they will be working together for the students' entire college career, rather than just a semester or two. Professors may also need to know, especially if classes or tests are missed because of illness. It may feel like being back in grade school, but professors often ask for a note from a doctor for missing a class or an exam, so students should have one available.