Juggling Heightened Demands, College Health Centers Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Juggling Heightened Demands, College Health Centers Promote Healthy Lifestyles

June 02, 2013

Many colleges are embracing a broader view of health care as students turn to health centers with more complex physical and mental health needs and national policies increasingly emphasize disease prevention. College health centers have traditionally focused more on treating medical problems rather than on continuity of care, managing serious conditions, and promoting wellness.

Colleges are now focusing more on promoting healthy lifestyles due to rising health care costs and a new federal health law's premium on prevention. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives incentives for providers to keep patients healthier and preventing diseases before they strike. College practitioners say a campus is an ecosystem of young people still developing personal habits that can be influenced by nutritious food options or appealing recreation centers. Some colleges have banned all tobacco products on their campuses. Schools are also trying to curb alcohol consumption. Despite tight budgets and students™ preexisting health issues, college officials believe they can make a difference. "Students are not coming to us as clean slates," says Patricia Maguire Meservey, president of Salem State University, which went tobacco-free in 2011. "But we've got some time where we have an opportunity to provide them with information. What they do with it is going to be their choice."

Juggling Heightened Demands, College Health Centers for the Long View
Libby Sander
The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 29, 2013