As a Michigan University student, even though I had insurance through my father, the easiest way to see a doctor was to go to the university provided doctor’s office. But sometimes the easiest solution is not even a solution at all.
I had two major experiences with my school’s health system, neither of which left me feeling very sure of the service I was getting. Then there were those experiences that my friends had that only added to my skepticism. By the end of my freshmen year I had completely given up on the university’s doctors and vowed that for every illness I encountered after that, I would visit my family doctor in hopes of avoiding my illnesses getting worse while time passed as I took the university prescribed medication.
My first semester of freshmen year was spent with a roommate in a hall that had both girls and boys. As a hall we spent lots of time together in each other’s rooms just hanging out and talking about our latest school-related stresses. My first experience with the university doctors wasn’t really my own. A boy who lived in our hall suddenly became very sick with chest congestion, exhaustion, and an ache body. My first thought was, I hope he doesn’t have mono. I had had a bout with mono in high school, and to me (a non-doctor) he looked very similar to how I looked when I was battling the illness. We immediately told him to go to the doctor because any serious illness during college can only add to the stress of school. Since many of us had felt that it could be mono that is what he told the doctor that mono was what he was concerned about. The doctor quickly jumped on the mono train and gave him some medication to help with his pain, since mono can’t be treated with antibiotics, and sent him back to the dorms to rest. When his illness continued to worsen, his parents insisted that he come home for a weekend and visit his family doctor. When he returned we all learned that after performing some laboratory tests his family doctor has diagnosed him with strep throat and had given him some antibiotics, he was already feeling better by the time he had returned to school. I soon found out through my own experiences with the university’s doctor’s office that self-diagnosis was often the name of the game there.
My first first-hand run-in with the university’s doctors came when my roommate discovered that after a month of crazy itching she had scabies. Our whole hall freaked out with this revelation since we all hung out in each other’s rooms, and therefore had been exposed time and time again. We decided that we would make a hall visit to the university doctor to get checked for scabies and to see what measures needed to be taken to rid our rooms of the little bugs. We went in to see the doctor one-by-one. I was last to see the doctor, everyone before me got a clean bill of health so I was very hopeful, but still a little uneasy since I was the one spending the most time with the original source.
When I came into the room the doctor asked me how I knew the infected, if I had been experiencing as unusual symptoms (I hadn’t), and then proceeded to examine the areas where scabies are usually easiest to detect. After looking between my fingers the doctor concluded that I hadn’t been infected with the annoying pests and sent me on my way. All of us were in the waiting room talking about how relieved we were about being given a clean bill of health when the doctor’s door opened and she called me back in. She told me that after consulting a book she realized that she was supposed to treat me as if I was infected since I was living with someone who had scabies. She wrote me a prescription for some cream and sent me home. I was a little disturbed that she didn’t really know what to do without consulting a book. I gave her the benefit of the doubt though by telling myself that perhaps she didn’t see a whole lost of cases of scabies and that is why she didn’t know that she was supposed to treat me for scabies even though I didn’t show any signs of having it. This still didn’t really make me feel all that much better about my experience with the university’s doctor.
The second semester of my freshmen year was spent in my own room, which I quickly became grateful for when the reason for my second trip to the university doctor came about. About halfway through second semester I started to experience some really weird symptoms, symptoms I had never experienced before. I was experience an obnoxious itch “down there” as well as a funky discharge. To avoid getting to graphic, let’s just say I was so miserable I couldn’t even make it to class. After doing some research on the internet I began to think that I might have a yeast infection. I decided to go the university’s doctor to get checked out. I think it is important to mention here that I didn’t have to just visit a general doctor, I actually saw a gynecologist. When I described my symptoms to the doctor and told her that I suspected it might be a yeast infection, but that I had never had one before so I couldn’t be sure, she proceeded to perform an exam and take a culture to be looked at under the microscope. After going through all of this she told me that while she didn’t really see any strong indicators of a yeast infection that that must be what it was and wrote me a prescription to treat my supposed yeast infection. I went back to the dorms hopeful for some relief. I took the medication she had prescribed for a week, all the while my infection was getting worse. I finally decided it was time to call home and beg to be taken to the family doctor. I didn’t even have to beg, once I got my mom on the phone I began to cry uncontrollably from all the frustration and she immediately sent my dad to pick me up. Once I got to the family doctor I was so infected that the family doctor actually expressed sympathy for my situation. She quickly diagnosed me with a version of vaginitis that WASN’T a yeast infection as well as a urinary tract infection that was a result of having the vaginitis for so long. She wrote me a prescription so strong that it made me throw up, and within a couple of days I was back to normal.
After the hallmate with strep, the scabies run-in, and the misdiagnosed vaginitis, I decided that the university’s doctor was not the best option for me. Every time that I went to the university’s health system looking for a solution, all I really got was an uneasy feeling and in the case of the last experience, a worsening infection. My recommendation to university students with insurance is to investigate local doctor’s offices and choose one. If you live within a reasonably distance from your family doctor, visit that office when dealing with an illness or other health concern.