Sep 4 2013

Healthcare 101: College Students and Advance Medical Directives

A wild party, a winning football game or a new circle of friends can all be wonderful experiences to celebrate, but can also result in new situations and unintended consequences.

As colleges and universities nationwide fill with new students starting their freshman year this week, the members of the class of 2017 have something else they need to be planning for besides their class schedules and extracurricular activities. As students begin to weigh their academic careers and professional futures, they also should be considering the future of their health and well-being.

Step one for being prepared is to draft an advance medical directive.

Taking this initiative means students can take personal responsibility for making clear how they prefer to be treated in the event of an unforeseeable accident. More broadly, it ties into a personal journey all college “kids” must take from adolescence to adulthood as they become more independent and make decisions that will impact their future.

Leaving the nest can be equal parts exciting and bittersweet, but it also opens up college freshmen to a whole new world of challenges and – let’s be honest – dangers. Part of the transition to adulthood means not just accepting these realities but planning to address them in the rare event some catastrophe came to pass.

At least 70 percent of students polled at the five schools in the University of Minnesota system—more than 11,000 students in all—drank alcohol, lacked adequate sleep or were sexually active, according to the 2007 “University of Minnesota Systemwide Student Health Report.” Often, students first encounter such potentially dangerous activities when they get to college.

With an advance medical directive, students have a say in the aftermath of medical incidents and emergencies, allowing them to be firmly in control of their own medical treatment and affording their loved ones peace of mind – no small thing when students are often several states or thousands of miles away from home.

These directives are much easier to write than an English 101 paper and allow a person to delineate exactly how she would prefer to be treated in the event that she becomes unable to speak for herself in a medical situation.

It took a lot of planning to get to that freshman year dorm door. Applying this practical mentality to personal healthcare decisions means being prepared in order to expect the unexpected.

Students, get to work on your directives fast… class is about to start!


College Students University

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