We’re well into the school year, a time when parents gear themselves up for spending money and chauffeuring kids from one event or activity to another, like going from practice for a sports team to a party. Or, if the kids are older, it’s time for even more spending — far more — as well as early tastes of independence and a greater opportunity to make mental, physical, and emotional blunders.
It’s also that recurring time when medical professionals and organizations need to consider the sudden changes in patient behavior and practice patterns that are likely to happen. You need to monitor the activity and decide how your organization can best respond.
For example, at least one past study by the American College Health Association noted that between 2006 and 2010, 49 percent of eligible students in private colleges had occasion to use campus medical services. At public universities, the number was 43 percent.
That should be no surprise, given that the late teens and early 20s are a prime time for risky behavior, whether drinking, sexual activity, or playing sports on college teams. And that doesn’t even begin to address conditions brought on by stress and worry. In addition, the students often are away from home and far from their usual medical professionals, so have limited information about providers they can trust.
Even when students are home, chances are strong that they could see an increase in injury, illness, and psychological issues. So healthcare organizations in areas with institutions of higher education could see an increase in activity for college-aged patients.
Two great pieces of advice address the attitude with which professionals need to work. One is to listen carefully. Your organization may be dealing with patients it hasn’t seen before, where there may not be an accurate history. Active listening, which includes careful questioning and observation, will be critical.
Also important is patience. Young adults of this age may feel uncomfortable talking to people they know, let alone strangers. They might be embarrassed about behavior that led to a problem, or they may literally be in unfamiliar surroundings and worried about getting lost or being late to a class.
Consider having drop-in hours at times that might be convenient for students. Boost the amount of educational material available. Make it easier for young people to open up and get the care they need.
In the process you may find that the steps you take for students are those you need to take to promote better patient health overall.
Are you interested in finding a rewarding and lucrative healthcare career that fits your individual strengths and interests? Find out how education can help you adapt to the changing healthcare landscape. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of nursing and healthcare management degrees, including an MBA Healthcare and MSN in Nursing Informatics.