Do your college-age kids know when to see a doctor?

One day after class one my college students said “Can I ask you a mom question?”

I said sure. She said, “I have this pain in my chest. “

So I started asking her questions like I would with one of my kids. I asked her if her chest hurt or if her heart was beating quickly? And I immediately thought she’s probably had too much caffeine and asked her about her consumption.  But then she started pointing to an area more under her ribs. After asking if her bra underwire was sticking her in the chest (she said no) I worried it was asthma/breathing-related problems. At this point, I told her she needed to see the doctor on campus. I asked her if she had enough money to see the doctor and if she knew how to make an appointment and she said yes.  And I said, OK well you need to go because I have no idea what is wrong with you.

It made me wonder what most college students do when they have ailments other than the obvious head cold. Do they know when they need to see a doctor?

One of my roommates in college was terribly ill one night. She was throwing up the whole night. I was taking care of her and just assumed it was the flu. (I kept praying dear Lord please don’t let me catch this.) The next morning I had to go to class, and I put her at the bus stop to go to the health center. Another friend saw her and picked her up from there and carried to the health center. I met her there after class and then took her to a private doctor and then checked her into the hospital where she had to have an emergency appendectomy!

Neither of us had any idea that violently throwing up was a symptom of appendicitis. We both just thought she had the flu! Also looking back, I am sure I could have called the RA and she would have helped get my friend to the hospital immediately. I am sure they are trained for stuff like that. I was so dumb!

So I am wondering did you have any discussion with your college kids about when they need to seek medical help? Do they call you with questions about whether they should go to the health center?

27 comments Add your comment


November 1st, 2013
5:26 am

No, but they do know when to throw a kegger, and how to mix golden grain punch, both important skills for college.


November 1st, 2013
5:45 am

We had Student Health right on campus, walking distance, so no bus or transpo needed. And I don’t remember ever having to pay anything. I only had to go a couple of times in 4 years (strep, mono) but I believe the visits/treatment were covered through tuition or student fees. So it should be pretty easy for college kids to get medical attention if they need it. It probably helped that my campus is home to one of the best medical schools in the country, but all I needed was the regular clinic.


November 1st, 2013
5:52 am

My kids seemed to do it fine. I never got a bill for an “unnecessary” visit.

Now that they are adults, my son, who does not have insurance, has not gone, even to the point of duct taping his face closed when an old wound ripped open in an ATV flip. He also has a serious health condition that needs addressing. I am hoping he will be able to get a plan, but I am not sure they make enough money, and they may fall in no man’s land, because their governor has also refused to expand Medicaid.


November 1st, 2013
6:34 am

With Obamacare in palce no one can see a doctor now,

Mother of 2

November 1st, 2013
6:46 am

Campus health is very convenient for my son. He usually calls me, listing his symptoms, to ask if he should see the doctor. We’ve been fortunate – no serious health problems.

Avid Reader

November 1st, 2013
7:23 am

My firends and I all went to the student health center in college for various things from a sinus infection to strep. It was a joke. They always saw and treated you but you always knew what they were going to prescribe. Keflex, Cough Medicine with Coedine, and 800mg of Ibprofen. We never had to pay anything, as A said, it was all included in tuition and fees. You could even get put on birth control and buy your pills there if it was easier.


November 1st, 2013
7:58 am

Having the option and going…are two different things in my house. My daughter has been once or twice in almost four years. We pay for the coverage at UGA and it is not optional. She sees our family doctor for her annual check up and they had a clinic in Monroe. Not sure if our son ever went. We have been pretty lucky about nothing serious, around here.

Since it is November and some of us are thinking about being thankful, I will claim our immediate family’s health as something to be thankful about. We are all good and three of us just has our check ups. Siblings and parents have/had cancer ( on both sides) but so far not us: throat, ovarian, breast and pancreatic.


November 1st, 2013
8:51 am

@MJG I cannot believe your daughter has been in college for almost 4 years now! Where does the time go? I remember you saying you took her for her last day of HS like it was just last May. LOL


November 1st, 2013
9:05 am

Student Health Services, slam-dunk! The only thing it didn’t work well for is dealing with a pre-existing dermatological condition — she would come back to Atlanta to see her regular dermatologist for that. The first time she went in to see them (and tell them what the treatment was :-), they wanted to send her to a dermatologist 30 miles away, on her dime, so she never went back to them for that issue. But otherwise, they took care of sinus infections, bronchitis, knee injury, etc. very nicely, and was able to pick up meds easily. They took good care of her. :-) She even went to the on-campus dental clinic for teeth cleanings and a filling — much more convenient than coming back home to a dentist who needs two months in advance scheduling!


November 1st, 2013
9:07 am

@catlady: Is your son under 26? He could be included on your plan, if he is. (I get the feeling he’s older than that, but I may be wrong)


November 1st, 2013
9:44 am

So far, so good. The student health center is literally across the street from my son’s dorm so hopefully he’ll use it if he has to and the regular hospital is only about a mile down the road as well. He is generally healthy though so hopefully there won’t be a need. I also have the added benefit that he’s going to school in a town we used to live in and my best friend from HS is a nurse at that local hospital. She’s our “emergency contact” should we ever need her.


November 1st, 2013
10:04 am

Any grown person too stupid to realize when to see a doctor has absolutely no business wasting the resources of a universtiy.


November 1st, 2013
10:57 am

Probably not. Mom should probably just move into Junior’s dorm room. That way, she’ll be prepared when she inevitably drives him to his first job interview and then calls back and express her outrage to the hiring manager when Junior doesn’t get it. Junior will probably never get it.


November 1st, 2013
11:17 am

@xxx.not to be sexist but plenty of grown men ignore going to the Doctor unless their wife insists. I am married to one. He was so sick a while back and kept ignoring me. FINALLY he called me from work and told me that his boss was sending him to the Doctor with a co worker driving him. His boss is a man and insisted. He had pneumonia.

Another 40 plus year old man I know has had high blood pressure for years and did not go. I was told he may now need to go on dialysis for life as his kidneys are in bad shape. SAD.


November 1st, 2013
11:57 am

Sad, but he did not go for reasons other than not realizing he needed to go which is the point of discussion. Knowing you need to go and ignoring it is a different, although more interesting topic.


November 1st, 2013
12:02 pm

DB, no he is 33. I would glady have had him on my insurance if he were younger. I was able to insure his younger sister till she turned 26, and that was,a,great $250 per month that I was thrilled to pay.

Teachers are being crammed into a much, much worse “plan” for next year. When I look back at what we had in 1973, I cannot help but shake my head.

Real Life

November 1st, 2013
2:26 pm

When I reached college age in the 70s I certainly knew when I was ill enough to need the doctor. If you are not familiar enough with your own body to know when you should seed medical attention then you should not be on your own. Even the flu-like symptoms TWG mentions were enough to warn you to go to a doctor–because they were so severe.


November 1st, 2013
2:38 pm

No, my daughter is a big baby and that is why I am glad she choose to stay in state.


November 1st, 2013
5:49 pm

Asked my daughter and she told me that while she has been to the UGA health center once or twice, everyone she knows ( who has used it) says it is a great place and the staff is helpful and efficient. Good to know.

Who let the dogs in

November 1st, 2013
6:33 pm

I want to know how I can get a college aged girl to ask me about her chest pains so I may ask her to remove her bra in case it is the under wire…..


November 2nd, 2013
9:08 am

Do NOT be fooled by the reassurance of the student health center in college. Acute Leukemia? Astrocytoma? Ketoacidosis? Trauma (Gun Shot, Auto Accident)? Drug Overdose? Student Health ships one to the nearest, least expensive hospital. E.R.? – yes they save your life but they also send a bill, attach future wages, liquidate holdings. In-patient care? Large unpayed bills to drain all savings, destroy any future credit, limit access to life saving medications, and shorten life. If the parents are insured, the student will now be covered to age 26 by the parent’s health insurance (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).


November 2nd, 2013
10:08 am

Knowing when to seek medical treatment seems like a life skill that parents should teach BEFORE sending their kids off to college, along with other practical things like doing their own laundry and balancing a checkbook (or properly managing their accounts online, since they probably don’t write many paper checks). Use teachable moments while they are teens to help them understand when and why they need to see a doctor, instead of just scheduling everything for them with no explanation.


November 2nd, 2013
4:58 pm

When I was in college in the mid 90’s, I did not have insurance and so I went to a local planned parenthood every 3 months for my supply of birth control pills. I had a full check up every time. If I had any other ailments (coughing/flu etc), I would mention them at that time. Of course, now college women have implantable forms of birth control and don’t need to see a doctor as often.


November 3rd, 2013
4:12 pm

If they don’t know when to see a doctor then they are too dumb to be in college.


November 3rd, 2013
4:13 pm

What difference does it make?!

OMG!!! That bowling ball is my wife!!!!

November 3rd, 2013
7:39 pm

But then she started pointing to an area more under her ribs. After asking if her bra underwire was sticking her in the chest (she said no)


So you can show us photos of your wrinkly eyes, but you can’t show us a photo of this girls chest?


November 4th, 2013
9:00 am

Of course. When they are sick.

Even though I often go to just talk about the weather and sports. Well…… I have to get “something” out of the $200,000 I’ve been giving insurance companies the last 30 years.