Ask Dr. Jeff: studying away?
Dear Dr. Jeff: Can I get a TB skin test at the Health
Center? I need one for my Study Away. J.Y.
Dear J.Y.: You sure can! You can get your TB skin test-AND
a whole lot more-at the Health Center in preparation for your travels
and studies abroad.
We offer vaccinations (at cost), TB skin tests (free), chest
x-rays, HIV antibody tests (required by some programs and free at the
Health Center), physical exams (free), and help completing health and
You should also check out the Centers for Disease Control
website for very complete and official
information. The site has links to health information on specific destinations,
illness outbreaks of concern to international travelers, information about
specific diseases that can affect travelers, tips on avoiding food-borne
and water-borne illnesses, and, of course, vaccine recommendations and
requirements. You should also take a look at this
State Department site, where you can find consular and visa information
and up-to-the-minute advisories on political and security situations abroad.
There are other issues to consider. If you take prescription
medication, you'll want to pick up all that you'll need while away, before
you leave. We can help you get a waiver from the insurance company to
obtain more than the usual one month supply. You should carry prescription
medications in their original containers and also have copies which list
the generic name of the written prescription for each medication.
As many of you already know, the Health Center stocks a
birth control pill called Zovia. If you've been getting Zovia from us,
you should come in to pick up the packs you'll need while you're away.
All women should have their own Emergency Contraceptive
pills on hand when they travel. You can pick those up (with directions
for use) free of charge at the Health Center.
Take some condoms along as well. STD's, especially HIV,
may be far more prevalent where you're going than here at home.
If a regular health care visit will fall due while you're
away (e.g. Pap smear or dental exam), you might try to take care of it
before you leave. Similarly, if you have any chronic medical problems
or conditions, you should come in to the Health Center to discuss your
care and needs while away.
Unless your program specifically requires you to purchase
their health insurance policy, you'll be covered by Bowdoin's policy.
You may also be covered under your parents' policy. In any case, you might
consider obtaining the additional health, accident and medical evacuation
coverage offered through the International Student Identity Card (full
coverage for medical evacuation might prove particularly important).
One final point about safety while traveling: in this country,
we take for granted a great many safeguards, whether environmental, legal,
or cultural. These safeguards may not exist in other countries. It only
makes sense to follow those that your program-and the State Department-recommends
about safe behaviors and activities. Women may be particularly vulnerable
to harassment and assault in certain countries.
Be especially careful about alcohol or drug use. Most problems
students have while studying abroad, especially accidental injuries and
criminal misadventures, occur in conjunction with drinking. And, needless
to say, you do NOT want to be busted in a foreign country on drug charges!
Be well! Come in to see us! And Bon Voyage!
Jeff Benson, M.D.