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Navigating the U.S. Healthcare System
An important part of your life at the University of New Hampshire is maintaining your health and well-being while pursuing your academics. The Health & Wellness staff is aware that the U.S. healthcare system may be very different from what you have experienced in your own country and may be a challenge for you to understand. We will provide you with the highest quality care while respecting your individual needs.
Health & Wellness is here to help you get well if you become sick or injured and to help you learn ways to stay healthy. Physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, radiology technologists and well-being educator/counselors are available to work with you to help you take care of yourself and to get well.
Health & Wellness treats students as active participants in their health care. We encourage you to ask questions, to tell us your concerns and to work with us to determine how best to provide care to you.
About UNH Health & Wellness
- We provide medical care, well-being education/counseling, and complementary health services (such as massage therapy, biofeedback, meditation, etc.). However, we are not an emergency room, and students are not able to stay overnight as they can in a hospital.
- We also have pharmacy, laboratory services, and radiology services in our building.
- We are open during the academic year as well as during school breaks and the summer. View our hours.
What You Need to Know: Frequently Asked Questions
What happens when I come to or call Health & Wellness to make an appointment to see a clinician or educator/counselor?
When you call or come to Health & Wellness to make an appointment, you will first talk with a triage nurse who will ask questions concerning your health and symptoms you are experiencing. The triage nurse will determine if you need to see a medical clinician, or if you can care for yourself with some information and advice. The questions asked are customary and not meant to be intrusive. In addition to helping determine if you should see a medical clinician, these questions will assist in determining how quickly you need to be seen and to prepare us for your visit. This information is only shared with the medical clinician (if an appointment is made) and brief notes about the conversation are written in your electronic health record.
What happens during a medical appointment?
When you come for your appointment, you will first “check-in” at the front desk/registration desk. You will be asked for your student identification (ID) card. You will then be given verbal instructions to the appropriate waiting area where you will sit. When the medical clinician is ready to see you, a clinical support staff member will talk with you briefly about your health concern and check your vital signs (such as your blood pressure) and then bring you into an exam room. You may need to change into a dressing gown for certain examinations.
You will then see the physician or nurse practitioner, who will knock on the door to see if you are ready (if you have had to undress for the exam). The medical clinician will greet you and ask you to talk about the reason(s) you are there and will ask questions for details that will help him/her diagnose the problem.
You will be examined, if an exam is indicated. If you want a chaperone in the room for the exam, you are allowed to ask for one or your clinician may ask you if you want one.
After the discussion and exam, the medical clinician will discuss his/her impression about what the problem is and will discuss whether any tests, such as blood tests or x-rays, are needed to help confirm the diagnosis or determine the extent of the problem. Treatment recommendations will be discussed and you may or may not be prescribed medication.
At the end of the visit, you may need to see a nurse who may perform tests, help you find the lab or x-ray department, and/or make a follow-up visit for you to see the clinician again or help you get an appointment to see a specialist.
You are encouraged to ask questions at any time if you need further information, are confused or don’t understand something.
Can I bring someone with me to my appointment, if it would be of assistance to me?
Yes, you can bring someone with you to your appointment, if that would be of assistance to you either to increase your comfort or to assist with communication. The medical clinician may ask the person with you to leave the room if you have to be physically examined, but that will only be for a short time and would require your approval.
What if a medical clinician recommends a medication, lab work or x-ray and I am not sure I want to follow this recommendation?
If a medical clinician recommends lab tests, x-rays or medications to help you get or stay well, he/she will provide information on the reasons for the recommendations and any information on cost for these services.
You have the right to ask questions about these recommendations and you can decide whether or not you want to follow/proceed with them. If you choose not to follow your clinician's recommendation, s/he will let you know the potential risks/consequences of that choice.
What do I do if I have a medical emergency?
Dial 911 and the dispatcher, the person who answers the phone, will gather some brief information on you, your medical need and location. They will then send an ambulance to your location to take you to a local hospital. There is a charge for this service, but the UNH Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) will cover the cost of transportation by ambulance for you or family members covered by the plan.
What if I need services when Health & Wellness is not open?
Visit our Emergency & After-Hours Care page.
Where is the closest hospital?
The closest hospital is Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire which is about 15 – 20 minutes away from Durham. Please know that if you go to an emergency room for minor health problems, you will probably have a long wait and a large bill. Whenever possible use services provided by Health & Wellness. Visit our Emergency & After-Hours Care page for more information.
What type of health care providers work at Health & Wellness?
Health & Wellness has a variety of health care providers:
- Medical Providers: Health & Wellness uses the terms medical clinicians and health care providers to refer to both our physicians and nurse practitioners.
- Physicians/Doctors: A physician/doctor is someone licensed to practice medicine. Our physicians provide primary health care, and can diagnosis and treat illnesses. Physicians can have various areas of specialized training. Here at Health & Wellness, we have physicians who have training in gynecology, internal medicine and general medicine.
- Nurse Practitioners: A nurse practitioner is a nurse with advanced training. Nurse practitioners’ education and experience enables them to diagnose and manage common acute and chronic illnesses, do screenings, diagnostic testing and prescribe medications. A nurse practitioner focuses on wellness and prevention and provides continuous and comprehensive health care which includes the coordination of all services necessary for the prevention and treatment of disease and disability. Nurse Practitioners at Health & Wellness are certified and licensed as Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in the state of New Hampshire.
- Registered Nurses: A registered nurse (RN) has graduated from a two or four-year program of nursing and is trained to assess, evaluate, but not treat medical problems. The focus of a registered nurse is to educate patients concerning their illnesses. A registered nurse can administer injections, perform a variety of diagnostic tests, care for wounds and assist medical clinicians.
- Health Resource Nurses: A health resource nurse is usually a registered nurse who has had additional experience in assessment skills. They are trained to prioritize patients (based on severity of illness/injury), who call or come in for care. After assessment, the health resource nurse either gives advice regarding how to care for oneself or will make an appointment for a patient to see a medical clinician, depending on the severity or urgency of the problem.
- Licensed Practical Nurses: A licensed practical nurse (LPN) has graduated from an accredited practical nursing program and works under the direction of a registered nurse, nurse practitioner and/or physician. They are trained to assess, evaluate, educate and assist in patient care. They can also administer injections and perform a variety of procedures and diagnostic tests.
- Medical Assistants: A medical assistant completes a two-year training program, and is trained to assist medical clinicians in basic tasks. A medical assistant is not trained to give medical advice, but can follow orders given by a medical clinician such as giving injections, taking vital signs, performing certain diagnostic tests.
- Pharmacists: A pharmacist is trained and licensed to prepare and dispense drugs and medicine. A registered pharmacist (R.Ph.) is a health professional who has earned a degree in pharmacy from an accredited college or university and who holds a license to practice pharmacy. The pharmacist will process, fill, and dispense a prescription medication written by a health care provider. The pharmacist will also counsel a patient about the use and potential side effects of prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications.
- Pharmacy Technician: A pharmacy technician must be registered with the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy. A pharmacy technician’s duties include any pharmaceutical task assigned by, and supervised by a licensed pharmacist. The technician answers the phone, checks patients in and performs cashier duties. They are also responsible for checking in the pharmacy order and reconciling the inventory.
- Radiologic Technologists: A radiologic technologist is trained to take x-rays to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and injuries.
Living Well Services Staff:
- Registered Dietitian: A registered dietitian with expertise in nutrition, body image, and eating concerns and disorders. In the U.S., dietitians are registered with the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and are only able to use the label "dietitian" when they have met strict, specific educational and experiential prerequisites and passed a national registration examination.
- Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Drug Educator/Counselors: Provide education on campus and meet with students individually to discuss concerns about one’s own or another’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs. These counselors are also available to work with those who want to quit smoking or using tobacco products.
- Well-Being Educator/Counselors: Provide education on campus and are available to meet individually with students to discuss concerns, provide information, teach skill-building, and offer support in areas such as stress, sexuality, sleep, nutrition and how to take care of yourself using a Wellness Coaching model.
- Massage Therapists: A licensed massage therapist (LMT) is a professional whose role in the field of health is treatment of soft tissues and body joints primarily by performing therapeutic massage. The goals of therapeutic massage are general wellness, injury recovery, stress management and preventive care.
- Health & Wellness also has administrative staff members who provide support to the many healthcare providers and to students.
How do I pay for care I received at Health & Wellness?
Much of the care you receive at Health & Wellness is covered by the health fee which is part of the mandatory fees all students are required to pay with tuition. If you receive care that is not covered by the health fee, Health & Wellness can bill your Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). Under the SHBP, there is a co-payment (a portion of the overall cost for the visit) that you would be responsible for paying, but not until after the SHBP has been billed.
Why do I need to have health insurance?
Having adequate health insurance ensures that a student will be able to receive medical care beyond what is available on campus without worrying about how to pay for that care.
What is the difference between the UNH Health and Counseling Fee and health insurance?
The Health Fee is part of the UNH Health and Counseling Fee which covers on-campus services offered at Health & Wellness and Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS). When combined with a student's health insurance plan, a student is provided a complete health care package. The services that are available on the UNH Durham campus are broad, but there are limits. Having adequate health insurance ensures that a student will be able to receive the care that he or she needs - beyond the scope available on campus – without worrying about how to pay for that care. A student’s health insurance company is never billed for services covered by the Health Fee. However, Health & Wellness provides some services that are not covered by the Health Fee. If requested, these chargeable services can be billed to an individual’s insurance company.
Who do I contact if I have questions about the Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP)?
For questions regarding the Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP), you can contact Arlene Bisson, Business Operations & Student Health Benefits Plan Specialist at Health & Wellness at (603) 862-0066.
Who do I contact if I have questions about the health fee or cost of care provided at Health & Wellness?
For questions regarding the health fee or cost of care provided at Health & Wellness, you can contact the Business Office Main Number at (603) 862-0066.
How do I get remedies that I have used at home or purchased from a pharmacy to treat common or minor illnesses?
Different countries have different laws about which medications may be sold without a prescription from a medical provider. Here, in the United States, medications available without a prescription are called, "non-prescription" or "over-the counter" medications and are available at pharmacies, supermarkets and other stores. Some remedies you brought from home may not be available in the United States or may be sold at a different strength or may require a prescription from a medical provider.Please talk with any of our pharmacists. They can answer questions about non-prescription and prescription medications.
Can I bring medication from my home country to the United States?
Yes, you can bring medication from your home country to the United States as long as the medication has a legally recognized use in this country.
How can I get more of a medication that was given to me by a provider at home?
To obtain more medication you would have to get a prescription written by a medical clinician that is licensed in the United States. That prescription could then be filled by a pharmacy.
What if I need dental care (care for my teeth)?
Health & Wellness does not provide dental care. If this is needed, we can refer you to a local dentist (tooth doctor). The Student Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) does not provide coverage for dental care, but can save you money on dental services obtained by providers within the Basix network. Any cost for this service will need to be provided by you at the time of the appointment.
What if I have problems with my vision and need eyeglasses or contact lenses?
Health & Wellness does not provide routine eye exams for visual problems and does not provide eyeglasses or contact lenses. The Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) does not provide coverage for these services, but can save you money through the Davis Vision Affinity Discount Program. Students save money on eye wear, eye exams and other services at locations nationwide. Any costs for these services will need to be paid by you at the time of the appointment.
Our health care providers can assist with eye symptoms such as eye pain, redness, discharge or anything else that might indicate an acute eye problem.
Who will you share my health information with?
By law, the information you share with Health & Wellness staff must be kept confidential. We are not permitted to contact your family, friends or anyone else to discuss your medical condition, illness, symptoms or treatment without your written permission. There are only rare exceptions where we can share information about you, or are required by law to do so, for example if you make a serious threat of physical violence towards yourself or another person.