Primary physicians: are they necessary?

Finding a doctor doctor while away at school can have many benefits, such as quicker appointment scheduling and more personalized healthcare. (Photo Illustration Allison Evans | The Collegian )

College is not only about forming new relationships and obtaining that elusive degree, but also (maybe most importantly) learning how to live on your own.

Sure, we’ve probably all figured out how to get three meals in our stomachs daily. We may have even learned how a washing machine works, too, although getting the clothes out of the dryer may take a few days.

Taking care of ourselves when we’re sick, though, isn’t quite as straightforward. Many of us may treat our illnesses with the trustworthy trifecta of DayQuil, NyQuil and Advil (no matter our ailment) and cross our fingers hoping that it’s nothing more serious. For these students like Rob Sharemet, junior in geography, the doctor’s office is uncharted territory.

“It’s been close to two years since I’ve been to a doctor’s office,” Sharemet said.

For those a little more cautious about their health, or if those aforementioned remedies aren’t getting the job done, a visit to the doctor tends to be the next course of action.

Deciding to see a doctor while at college brings up a few extra considerations. If you’re from somewhere nearby, you could drive home and see your personal doctor, or you could choose to stay in Manhattan. If you decide to stay here, you have the option of seeing any doctor who will see you at the time, or you could begin seeing a specific local doctor.

“Whenever I get sick and the medicine around the house isn’t helping, I go to Lafene and see what they can do for me,” Josh Wilson, junior in food science, said. “I don’t really get sick often enough that I would think about having a personal doctor at school.”

This seemed to be a common course of action for students. Easton Fry, senior in business administration, also uses Lafene and similar services.

“If I need to see a doctor, I just go to Lafene or an urgent care facility,” Fry said. “Whichever can see me the fastest.”

Staying local for your health care can have its benefits. Knowing what types of illnesses are affecting people locally will more than likely help a doctor in diagnosing you, and there are also the ever-important factors of speed and practicality.

Fry, who is from Wichita, addressed the possible decision students face of going home to see a doctor.

“Unless it was something serious, there’s no way I would go all the way home,” Fry said. “Staying in Manhattan is a lot quicker for me than driving back, so it just makes more sense to stay here.”

Though many students choose whichever doctor will see them, there are benefits to having a personal doctor, either in your hometown or in Manhattan.

A doctor who you’ve seen regularly will know much more about your past illnesses and the way your body responds to them. This can help your doctor better understand what medicine to prescribe you and, if needed, what kind of specialists are right for you.

According to a October 2010 Scientific American article, “having a regular clinician of that kind makes you a better patient because you trust the advice you receive and so are more likely to follow it; it also gives you access to someone who attends to the whole person, not just one body part.”

Accessibility is also another huge advantage in that personal doctors are also much easier to contact. Rather than being put on hold and led through a seemingly endless maze of voice prompts, a personal doctor is just a phone call away.

Brady Donahue, junior in agribusiness, only sees a doctor when Walgreen’s doesn’t have the answer like many of his peers. He does, though, see the benefit of having a personal physician.

“I don’t have a personal doctor in Manhattan, but I can see how having one might help make trips to the doctor a little easier,” Donahue said.

Many K-State students make the advantageous decision to stay local for their medical care, but don’t decide to have a personal doctor in the area. While it can be beneficial to have a personal physician to see while away at college, it’s not crucial.

Ultimately, deciding how and where you want to handle your medical needs is your decision. It’s a decision that you should weigh your options for. You owe it to yourself to think about for awhile.

At least think about it longer than those clothes that are still in the dryer.