Connecting to Off-Campus Services

If your school has a student health center, you may not need an off-campus service for health and wellness care. However, there may be times when you will want to go off-campus for care. For example, if your student health center is closed or if you have a medical issue that can’t be treated at the student health center, you may need to go off campus. Often, colleges and universities can connect students with off-campus services. Some may partner with local emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, specialists, and pharmacies for an easy transition and referral for students. Your campus health service should be able to tell you what your options are for seeking care off campus and how they can assist you in accessing that care. Be sure to check your school’s website, too; many schools post local services for after-hours care, for both emergency and non-emergency care when the health service is closed.

When to go to ER vs urgent care

Urgent Care Centers

An urgent care clinic can be used for non-emergency services when you are not able to see your usual health care provider—for example, if there are no same-day appointments available at the student health center or if the campus health center is closed. Examples of times when you might visit an urgent care clinic include: cold/flu, minor burns, ear infections, urinary tract infections, and more. The student health center staff may be able to provide you with information about the nearest urgent care clinic. This information is also typically located on the student health center website. 

Hospital/Emergency Services

Hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s always a good idea to know where the nearest hospital and emergency department is. 

An emergency department should be used only for emergencies. These include things like broken bones or other serious injuries, difficulty breathing, serious burns, alcohol poisoning, or head or eye injuries. A visit to an emergency room usually costs much more than a visit to an urgent care clinic or a primary care provider. Make sure you know in advance where the emergency department is located and what the cost of emergency services might be.

If you require health care that is outside of the care provided by your student health center or a local health care clinic or provider, you may be referred to the local hospital. Depending on where your school is located, you may have several options for nearby hospitals or you may only have one option. You should check in advance (of an emergency) to see if there is a hospital in the area that is covered on your health insurance plan. You should also check to see what the costs are for visiting that hospital. The student health center staff or your health insurance company can help you navigate the referral process and help ensure that the care is covered by your insurance.