Op-Ed: Why does Vaden always ask if I’m pregnant?

Opinion by and
Nov. 19, 2010, 12:09 a.m.

Have you ever wondered how Vaden Health Center gets feedback from students? Or how you can provide input on services and new directions you’d like to see implemented at Vaden? That’s why we’re here.

We are members of the Vaden Student Advisory Committee, an ASSU-appointed committee that has been charged to serve as a well-informed link between Vaden and the student body, providing advice to the director of the Vaden Health Center. The committee provides feedback on Vaden’s services and programs, suggests new directions to ensure alignment with students’ core values and needs and works to educate and inform the student body about Vaden services and programs. In short, our goal is to improve health care for students on campus and ensure that student feedback is relayed directly to Vaden.

The Vaden Student Advisory Committee consists of three undergraduate students, three graduate students, Vaden staff members and the Vaden director. Current projects of the committee include improving bike safety through a coordinated effort with other on-campus organizations, increasing awareness of mental health issues and resources on campus and improving communication between Vaden and the student body.

The three of us are writing on behalf of the committee to provide answers to commonly asked questions by the student body about Vaden.

Have you ever wondered…

Why do they always ask me if I’m pregnant?

We can see how this could be an odd question if you’re coming in because of a bike accident, but it’s actually a standard question when providing comprehensive, primary medical care to ask all women of child-bearing years the date of their last menstrual period at the beginning of the visit.

1) Regular menstruation is an indicator of good health, just like having normal blood pressure (which the clinicians also check at each visit). Many women skip periods because they are stressed, over-exercise or have poor nutrition, which is detrimental to their health. The providers at Vaden pick up on this at a routine visit because they inquire about their last menstrual period in an effort to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

2) If the clinicians are going to prescribe medication or take an x-ray, they are obligated to ask if there is any chance of pregnancy, as there can be potential harm to a baby from these procedures.

3) Women often come in because of missed periods, and it would be an obvious oversight if the provider didn’t inquire about a possible pregnancy as the cause.

Can I form an on-going relationship with a doctor at Vaden?

Yes! Clinicians really enjoy when students develop an ongoing relationship with them. They love to educate students about their health, help students through illnesses and challenges and ultimately celebrate their success. It is especially important if they have an ongoing or chronic medical condition to have the continuity of seeing the same provider, rather than starting over with a new provider at each visit. Of course there may be times when a student is injured or ill and needs to see a doctor right away. In that case, it is fine to see any available clinician. Since Vaden is equipped to handle electronic medical records, it’s easy for clinicians to stay up-to-date with a student’s records.

Why do I need insurance if I’ve already paid the Health Fee?

Insurance is needed for those rare, unpredictable situations in which you need care outside of Vaden. It’s a safety net that we all appreciate when we need it, even though we don’t often do.

The Campus Health Service Fee of $167 is charged quarterly to your account and allows students to come to Vaden for primary care services at no cost. The fee covers visits with clinicians and any labs or x-rays that are ordered. Your insurance is billed if you need specialty care, in which case you would be referred to the Stanford Hospital & Clinics, or if you do not go to Vaden for primary care services (and instead go on your own to a contracted provider within your insurance plan).

Did you know?

1) Vaden medical services handle more than 40,000 outpatient visits per year.

2) More than 1,780 flu shots have been given for free to the Stanford community this year alone. Have you gotten yours? If not, there’s still time to get one. For schedules, visit: flu.stanford.edu.

Jessica Tsai, Bryan Chen and Zack Wettstein

Vaden Student Advisory Committee

If you have a question of you own that you’d like answered, we encourage you to post it in the comments section.  For all other news or to give feedback, visit the Vaden page on Facebook.

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