Texas A&M Student Health Services offers preventive care to keep traveling students safe from overseas illness, while protecting their classmates from any infectious diseases they could bring back from abroad.
Preventive medicine can immunize a student from a certain disease or infection, and SHS can also provide screenings, examinations and blood work. But it is not only important for students going abroad to keep themselves safe and healthy. Taking these steps can also protect the A&M community at large from any possible diseases that may have been caught overseas and could be brought back to campus.
Claire Kolb, a physician assistant at Beutel Health Center, said SHS’s goal is for students to stay well and do well, and preventive medicine does much to keep the campus community safe.
“[It] helps to support that mission and increase screening and prevention of disease to keep our students and community healthy,” Kolb said. “We are able to do that through screening for communicable diseases, providing vaccinations, travel medicine and allergy [immunotherapy] injections.”
Holly Hudson, executive director of Education Abroad, said it is not up to the students or the university whether they get any immunizations when studying abroad.
“If the [Centers for Disease Control] requires those immunizations, then students actually have to get those in order to obtain a visa or entry into the country where they want to study,” Hudson said. “In any case where immunizations are required, it is not optional.”
For those who study abroad, Hudson said they will be provided with a form of health insurance to be used should they get sick, injured or in any way hurt.
“We enroll all our students who are studying abroad in international health insurance,” Hudson said. “Students … are enrolled in insurance that will treat any sort of emergency situation they may have in regards to health. It will cover any medical expenses while abroad and will pay for them to come home should they require additional medical care.”
Despite many students going overseas for an extended period of time, Hudson said it is not often that students get severely sick while studying abroad.
“Usually, we see injuries the same way that we’d see here, like a broken leg, falling or just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hudson said. “Any operational issues we may see, such as a kidney or respiratory infection, are generally treatable wherever they are. It’s very rare for a student to get very sick abroad and need to return home as a result of that.”
On top of medications and screenings provided for students, Kolb said there are numerous other well-being efforts students can engage in.
“[Student Health Services] provides immunizations as needed,” Kolb said. “We also provide free STI screening at our monthly STI events. We work with our integrated behavioral health providers to assist patients with mental health awareness.”
There are also other general health campaigns that SHS holds, Kolb said, which are generally inexpensive and easy to access.
“We have a free flu shot campaign in early October to prevent an influenza epidemic on campus,” Kolb said. “Our immunizations are covered for all students with the TAMU student health insurance, and we offer low cost payment options as well.”