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The Next Step In Health Services

 The Next Step In Health ServicesTufts is ratcheting up medical services for undergraduate students on the Medford/Somerville campus, according to a recent profile by National Public Radio. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.05.04] As students grow more and more health-conscious, colleges across the country are expanding their services to better meet their students' needs. Tufts is at the forefront of the trend, according to National Public Radio, which profiled the University's efforts to expand physical and mental health services available to its students.

"It's definitely reassuring to students, especially in a college setting, because you're away from home," Tufts sophomore Brian Yun - who received a flu vaccine from health services this year -- told NPR. "It's not a family doctor, but it's pretty similar."

Tufts Health Services - which provided a record 1,800 flu shots to students this year -- has been ramping up services for its patients. Tufts has hired new staff, expanded care and extended Health Services' hours. By tweaking the services it offers to undergrads, Tufts has been able to give students a big bang for their bucks.

"For $500 a year, students get access to a counseling center, three psychiatry visits at no charge, nutritional services at no additional cost and general comprehensive primary care," Michelle Bowdler, director of Tufts Health Services, told NPR.

Universities are also reaping the benefits of a growing number of doctors and medical workers who are eager to enter into the field. Tufts recently added several new top-notch professional to its medical staff.

"I think the impression from 20 years ago was that people came to college health services to retire, because they didn't want to work in hospitals or in the community. Now people are actively choosing it," Bowdler told NPR.

Bowdler heads a staff of 35 on Tufts' Somerville/Medford campus - that not only treats patients, but actively works to educate the community about pertinent health issues. The health service frequently offers screenings and passes out information about issues including breast cancer, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, mental health problems and sexual assault.

Students told NPR that they approve of the expanded services.

"I know a lot of people who have sought out the resources at Health Services," senior Lauren Phillips told NPR, crediting the proactive canvassing of health information to students.

Senior Talia Alexander agreed. "It means that if [someone] comes to their friends with a problem their friends will say ‘Hey, why don't you go to health services?'" she told NPR.

The next step for Tufts' medical services is to undergo an accreditation process - highly unusual for university health centers - that will put the Health Service on par with the nation's hospitals.

"For schools that have made the leap to a full service health center, there is no going back," reported NPR. "The latest indication? A small but growing number of schools - including Tufts - want their student health facilities to be accredited."


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