Health Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  How do schools insure that students have the proper vaccinations and physicals? Do required vaccinations vary by the student’s country of origin?
A:  The school should require medical records, translated into English (use a translation company like OPI – Optimal Phone Interpreters – to translate documents and phone conversations). Required vaccinations do vary by country.  Have the Health Office or School Nurse arrange vaccinations onsite for students who are missing vaccinations.

Q:  What if students bring prescription medicines?  What if the medicine is prescribed here and is over-the-counter in the home country?
A:  Follow the school’s policy for distributing prescribed medicines during school hours.  If the student  is under 18, the host family parent should be distributing medicines outside of school hours.

Q:  What is the best course of action for getting a student a prescription-only medicine in the US that is an over-the-counter medicine in their home country?
A:  The Health Office or School Nurse should arrange to have the student see a doctor for a prescription.

Q:  What should a school do if medical records are not in English?
A:  The school should have a policy that requires all medical records be sent translated into English. If they are not, use a translation company like OPI – Optimal Phone Interpreters – to translate documents and phone conversations.

Q:  If a health scare breaks out while a student is visiting his/her home country, what is the protocol for allowing that student back on campus?
A: The school should have a policy that covers this eventuality. They should consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and follow government guidelines. If the school is concerned about liability, administrators should consult the school lawyer.

Q:  What is the role of a US social worker in regards to international students on campus?
A:  It is the same for all students, US or international.

Q:  What is the best course of action in supporting a student that has received bad news from home, such as a death in the family or political/humanitarian/natural disaster?
A:  Make sure the student knows where to go for support, and that adults understand the cultural differences that can arise (personal loss in some cultures is kept very private – literally no one knows about the loss/crisis.)

Create safe spaces for talking, and opportunities for help.  Keep everyone in the loop as needed: advisor, health services, host families, dorm personnel etc.

Sometimes, a political/humanitarian/natural disaster can be an opportunity for the entire community to become aware and be of service. Letting the community know of such issues in countries where students are represented in the community can be a way to globalize the community.

Q:  How should one talk about issues such as Suicide Awareness/Prevention, Drug/Alcohol Awareness, Sex Education, Eating Disorders?
A:  Ascertain what the student(s) already know. Be aware that cultural norms around all of these issues vary wildly; many of the programs that schools consider normal in the US are shockingly frank and taboo in other cultures. School faculty should be aware of these differences, be sensitive to the need to perhaps discuss the issues in a different setting and context and at a different pace from the rest of the community, and be able to reassure students that all can learn from the education even if they do not see it as relevant to themselves (they have friends from other cultures).  A sensitive and careful approach needs to be taken in talking with parents about their student’s needs in these areas.



  • When possible, build a network of therapists or counselors on staff or on call through school partnerships with fluency in the student’s native language for ease of communication and full-expression.  Working with other schools (public and private), hospitals (who are required to have translators) and reaching out to the community can be helpful.

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Commissioned Agents and NACAC's Guide to Ethical Practice Series

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