Pessimistic policies plague student health



Column by Austin Hill

Health care has been such a hot button topic lately, but what happens when health care providers don’t help us when we need the care they provide or the documentation?

The concept of a doctor’s note is nothing new, as most employers or professors require the documentation of health care providers to vouch for people’s illnesses.

Students here on campus who use University Health Services, either because of convenience or because it is their only health care option, are not fortunate enough to receive such a note, however.

No, the note you will be given to take to your professor or employer is a yellow piece of paper with a stamp on it that will get you a 100 bad looks, and a sigh of disappointment.

I have been the lucky recipient of some viral or bacteria infection that has been circulating over the last few weeks.

This infection starts out feeling like seasonal allergies, sore throat, runny nose, which is probably what whoever I received it from thought as classrooms are filled with coughs and sneezes this time a year.

After two or three days though, those symptoms beat you like a whole new monster. Bottom line, I knew I was sick, and this ravenous disease caused me to miss three days of class.

I have teachers who tell students if you are sick to stay home. They don’t want this stuff whipping through the classrooms like a brush fire. These professors also require a doctor’s note.

I was able to get a ride to my appointment on my second day of sickness, and the nurse was very kind in getting me help.

I actually have always enjoyed my experiences at UHS. The nurses are all great, the administrative staff is always nice and efficient and most of the doctors I have seen have always been knowledgeable and helpful.

I was prescribed antibiotics, along with some scrutiny for not being excited enough about graduating. I thanked the doctor for the grief and the medicine, and then asked her for a doctor’s note.

Not anything exempting me from class, just a note saying “Austin has a viral, or bacteria infection, can’t figure out which, treating him for both,” signed by the doctor.

I was told the policy for Student Health Services prohibits doctors from writing notes and if professors want to know if their students are indeed sick, they can contact her by phone.

I then told her that my professors have hundreds, even thousands of students who sometimes are all sick, and they don’t have time to make calls on those students to check on illnesses.

She then told me of why the policy was put in place, explaining that 17 years ago, kids were just coming to the doctor for the notes.

I then replied only a pessimist would go that far back into history to punish students today for what occurred 17 years ago. Furthermore any stranger off the street can walk up and stamp a piece a paper that verifies a visit to the clinic, I just needed something vouching for why my voice sounds so bad and my coughing might be a distraction.

I know the little yellow cards say  they are indeed not excuses, but again, since UHS is there for many as a primary-care clinic, it has to do the job.

Teachers don’t take these things. I can’t show it to my employer and it is not possible to fake a fever or plant a pile of phlegm in my lungs to get out of an exam.

If a student is sick and a doctor prescribes medicine, then give them a note. If they are not sick, tell them so and don’t give them one.

Laying on the couch, feeling like death warmed over, falling behind in homework and fighting bad daytime television is hard enough, and shouldn’t have to result in unexcused absences or punishment for keeping others away from your swine flu.

Some people do go to the doctor just for the notes; it is because they are required by others.

Over-the-counter drugs are prescribed half the time and when people don’t have insurance they treat themselves with sleep and Sudafed. The note is vouching for a professional diagnosis and that is what some people need. Not to be punished by a stupid policy and pessimist ideals.