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New to university, how do I get a doctor?

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read
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Moving away from home is always a big step, full of celebration and excitement, but also some anxiety and feeling a bit overwhelmed. One of the boring jobs that should be on the list once that first week is out of the way is thinking about getting registered with a local doctor. Fingers crossed you won’t need to see your doctor, but if you do then it’s good to know where you can go.

Your doctor can be your route to hospital specialists, your travel and vaccination expert, or even just a reassuring person to talk to if things are difficult. Here the Healthwords medical team goes into a bit more detail about how to look after your health when arriving at the university.

How do I find a local doctor?

Most universities have a health center based inside or very close to the campus, union building or lecture halls. You are able to register with any local doctor you choose, but the university health centers have services tailor-made for you and other students, with practitioners attuned to your health problems or concerns.

You should get registered with a doctor as soon as possible after arriving at the university. This will mean you can access appointments, referrals and medications from the doctors working there whenever you need them.

It can be hard juggling health needs when you’re spending the long holidays back at your parents’ house and term-time at university. Because university students spend long periods at home as well as at university, one solution to this is to know that you are able to access services from more than one practice.

I have a long-term condition, where should I register?

It is even more important to register promptly with a doctor at the university if you have any long-term health conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease or epilepsy. You may wish to retain your specialist consultant and team at your home hospital but also establish a connection with a doctor at the university so that you have easy access to a medical review, should it be needed.

If you are on long-term medications, your university doctor will be able to prescribe them and ensure you continue with no interruptions. Most of the medication records will be transferred electronically after a few weeks, but may need prescribing again by your new practice. Make sure you have a good supply before leaving for university. Check with your new doctor’s office.

Where can I access contraception and sexual health services?

Your local doctor is knowledgeable and skilled at providing contraceptive and sexual health services. They will be happy to talk you through the options for different contraceptives, emergency contraception, and sexual health tests and provide any treatments you need.

You may feel more comfortable going to a specific sexual health service in the local area. Sexual health services are completely confidential. Sexual health center notes and treatments will not be shared with your doctor unless you specifically request that, so it is up to you if you want to tell your usual doctor. You can usually access daily weekday walk-in services for urgent problems such as emergency contraception, and HIV risk assessments for post-exposure prophylaxis.

How do I find a dentist?

Contrary to popular belief, most doctors are pretty useless with teeth. To keep your pearly whites whiter than white and ensure you don’t end up with a toothache before a big exam, be sure to get registered with a local dentist.

Even if you keep going to your dentist at home during the holidays, it is worth having a local university dentist that you could access in an emergency.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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