Students confused, intimidated by UHS services

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Photo Credit: Mel Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Confusion, intimidation, ignorance — these emotions are often felt by freshmen who have never scheduled their own doctor’s appointment or filled out medical forms.

Journalism freshman Anysa Hernandez said she was scared to book her first appointment with University Health Services. Like all new patients at healthcare clinics, Hernandez needed to upload her insurance and fill out medical history and consent forms.

“I thought it was going to be worse,” Hernandez said. “But after you fill them out once, it’s not as bad as it seems at first and you don’t have to do it again. It was pretty easy.”

UHS operates in the Student Services Building weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides resources to students, including general medicine, women’s health and urgent care. There is also a nurse advice line, which students may call outside of hours of operation for medical advice.

Students can schedule appointments online through MyUHS or by calling the appointments line during operating hours. Sherry Bell, UHS consumer education and outreach coordinator, said a common misconception students have is assuming they must know what type of appointment they need.

“You don’t have to know about all the different kinds of appointments or where you need to go in our system,” Bell said. “Just call our appointments number when we’re open and they’re going to help you out with that.”

Hernandez said because the appointment times online did not fit with her schedule, she decided to miss class to attend her appointment. 

“I had to skip my FIG if I wanted to go (to my appointment),” Hernandez said. “When I’m out of class, I don’t have time because (UHS is) closed.”

Dr. Melinda McMichael, UHS interim medical director, said she wants students to always call and ask about scheduling appointments, because more times not be shown online might be available.

“It’s important for students to know not all of our appointments are online, for good reason,” McMichael said. “If they’re all online, then all of our appointments will book up, and then we’ll have people show up who are really sick and need to be seen and we don’t have room.”

Electrical engineering sophomore Luke Norrell said he fell ill last Sunday, but did not try to schedule an appointment because of the amount of homework he had.

“I think the main thing that was holding me back was thinking I was going to be at a two hour doctor’s appointment,” Norrell said.

McMichael said the duration of an appointment is estimated to last an hour, but extras such as paperwork, labs and x-rays may add time.

Interpersonal communications junior Cameo Jones said her appointment with UT’s women’s health services was timely and the staff were friendly. 

“I thought it was a good experience for your first doctor’s appointment without your parents,” Jones said. “The doctors, nurses and receptionists were all super helpful and explained things. I felt like it was a welcoming environment.”