David Braun is a lucky man. He recently had a dream come true when he accepted an offer last September to become the new director of the University’s Student Health Service, a primary care facility that provides student health care and education and wellness programs. And, actually, it was a second dream fulfilled. The first was attending medical school at Iowa. The Dubuque native enrolled in the Carver College of Medicine after earning a BA from Marquette University in 1993. He previously practiced in urgent care and occupational medicine and was a staff physician at Illinois State University’s Student Health Service.
The married father of three is excited to be back on the Iowa campus, which he says has a great reputation for health care services. Braun recently spoke with Parent Times about campus health care concerns and how parents can help their students stay healthy.
Who provides what services at Student Health?
We have over 60 employees in a clinic at Westlawn. Our physicians and a physician assistant deliver primary care services such as general physical exams; manage and diagnose new medical problems; and provide care for chronic medical problems. We also have two psychiatrists, a gynecologist, and RNs who specialize in travel and allergy, as well as a laboratory and a pharmacy.
The Health Iowa division of Student Health is involved with education and outreach and includes a drug-and-alcohol counselor who sees individuals and also organizes classes about the dangers of alcohol.
All of our health care providers are board-certified; parents can read their staff bios on our web site at www.uiowa.edu/~shs.
What is the relationship between Student Health and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics?
Student Health is part of the Division of Student Services at The University of Iowa. Although we are mostly supported by student fees, we have a close physical proximity and a close working relationship with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), and we often refer students there for specialty care. It is a tremendous asset to have this affiliation, as UIHC is widely known for excellence in health care.
What are the biggest health care concerns regarding college students?
The three biggest concerns in college health—around the country and at The University of Iowa—are binge drinking and alcohol misuse; tobacco abuse; and awareness and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. A fourth area of concern is nutrition, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits.
The University is working on a Healthy Living Network initiative to teach lifestyle habits to students—habits they can develop and then pass along to others. Our Health Iowa team goes out to residence halls and other places on campus to educate on these areas. We also work on peer-education programs such as the Health Ninjas, a program started last fall where student leaders help us communicate on health topics in a nontraditional manner. We have more than 30 Health Ninjas already, and are excited about the possibilities.
What can parents do to help their students stay healthy?
First, parents can write down insurance information for their student to carry with them. Although initial evaluations at Student Health are covered by the Student Health fee, certain lab tests and hospital referrals may involve additional costs. Relaying this information ahead of time may prevent frantic calls, for example, when a student requires emergency room care for a broken leg or appendicitis. It’s also important to transmit immunization records to the University.
Parents also can encourage preventive health care such as meningitis shots and yearly flu shots. Parents of female students should be aware of the new HPV vaccine, which is available at Student Health.
Most important, parents can be a reservoir of information for students and remind them that a great place to start evaluating health concerns is Student Health. Our web site has many components, including information on how to make an appointment, where we’re located, and who to call if it’s after hours. We have a question-and-answer section run by Health Iowa that provides great information on common health concerns for students. It’s a good bookmark for both parents and students.
What surprises you the most about the health and wellness practices of college students in general? Are UI students different than other college students in terms of health and wellness?
In my experience, University of Iowa students are similar to students across the country. The biggest surprise for me is the number of preventable injuries, most of which are related to the inappropriate use of alcohol. These injuries—fractures, lacerations, and others—are inconvenient, costly, and disruptive to students’ academic pursuits. And some may involve legal consequences.
by Sara Epstein Moninger