Working As a Nurse in College Health Services

There comes a time when the hospital environment becomes unbearably depressing that you feel you need a change of scene. If you want to work in a more ‘vibrant’ atmosphere (a bit of a paradox when it comes to healthcare) you may want to consider working in college health services. The university or college setting can be a breath of fresh air, just what you need to recharge yourself.

Varied forms of college health services

Depending on the size of the university or college institution, college health services today are varied. The larger colleges will have a more extensive facility, usually directed by a physician, and have an available staff 24 hours a day so that student patients can stay-in overnight for observation. Smaller colleges are typically directed by a head nurse and a physician only comes to the campus for a few hours every week. The smaller college health services are usually open for five days a week, closed during weekends and do not provide services after-hours or in the late evening. If ever there is a medical problem after clinic hours, the student is referred to a resident assistant who follows a protocol of having the student be seen by a physician or sent to the emergency room in a nearby hospital.

Typical day for nurses in a college health service setting

On a typical day, nurses assigned in college health services will assess a student with a health-related complaint and make a diagnosis. The nurse follows protocols written out by the school’s physician in making a diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the condition, the nurse will treat the student according to the guidelines. Depending on the protocol and whether certain criteria are met, the nurse can administer antibiotics and other non-narcotic medications. If the student has special concerns or a critical condition, the nurse will typically call and consult the physician to get an assessment whether the student should be seen in the physician’s office, sent to the emergency room or be treated there at the health services. Depending on the school’s population, a nurse can see an average of 10 to 30 students with various medical concerns daily. Common complaints that students have are usually injuries such as strains, sprains, lacerations, as well as upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, food poisoning, migraines, and so on. Besides students, nurses will also provide healthcare to staff and faculty.

Medical services provided in college healthcare

As mentioned above, different institutions have different scopes of medical services, and the extensiveness of these can depend on the size and budget of the institution. Besides basic check-up and assessments, services can also include health screenings, drug tests, allergy shots, urine pregnancy tests, immunizations, and laboratory tests and services. Most college health services also have affiliations with local hospitals providing counseling and educational health programs. Some universities or colleges may also have their own hospital or an extensive medical facility and the latest technological equipments, particularly if they specialize in offering medical education or courses.