Nursin’ around

Most students are not aware of the office on campus that offers free health care, counseling and birth control.

All the way up, on the third floor of the University Center, sits Health, Counseling and Prevention Services.

“Every type of student comes into this office,” said Brenda Rigg, a temporary worker who manned the office’s front desk. “Married adults, young students-we see all types.”

Even with the current influx of students, campus nurse Michelle Kay said that many students are not aware that the office even exists.

“The most exciting thing about office that’s under utilized is that our services are even here,” Kay said. “I would be most excited if more people came and used us. You can get health care relatively cheap and sometimes free.”

Besides that, Kay hopes that students will learn to make educated decisions on what exactly they need to when they are feeling sick. “One of our main purposes is to help them (students) know how to make decisions about health care,” Kay said.

She said that many students who come from home had never had to make doctors appointments and might not know when they have a common cold that can be treated with some over the counter medicine or how often they should see a doctor.

“For example,” Kay said, “if you are a woman, you need a Pap smear every month to check to keep yourself healthy.”

Health, Counseling and Prevention Services is run by nurses, nurse practitioners and counselors. Nurse practitioners are nurses who have advanced degrees.

Though nurse practitioners do not have as much medical education as doctors, Kay said that their experience in dealing with symptoms and self-care is very helpful.

“If a nurse works in a hospital, who gives the patients the most care? Nine out of 10 times it’s the nurse,” she said. “As a medical professional, nurses have a caring background.”

Nurses do not diagnose the disease but treat the symptoms. Nurse practitioners can diagnose some diseases but also are familiar with treating the symptoms. “Nurse practitioners are kind of a combination of both,” Kay said. “They can do some diagnosis but still have that nursing background. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.” Nurse practitioners, however, work under the direction of a doctor.

Students may make an appointment to see a nurse practitioner or wait as a walk-in to meet with a registered nurse. There is a $10 fee to see a nurse practitioner. This also includes some medication kept in the office. “We carry most antibiotics and they see the nurse practitioner the medications is included in the price,” Kay said.

Health, Counseling and Prevention Services also offers a health insurance plan for students. “It is not affiliated with the university. Students purchase it through the company-not the university,” Kay said. “It is a major medical plan, (which covers) accidents, doctors visits and medicine-but I tell students to make sure they read the brochure.”