Myths

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Heard a rumor about SHS? Allow us to be mythbusters!

"There aren't real doctors or staff at Student Health."

Our entire SHS health care team is comprised of fully licensed, certified and credentialed professionals.  On occasion we may have a medical resident or nurse practitioner student who is completing a clinical rotation here at SHS, but all of our permanent staff are REAL doctors, nurses, lab technicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nursing assistants, pharmacists, and radiology technicians.

"You can't ever get an appointment!"


SHS operates with an Open Access scheduling model, which means the majority of our appointments are reserved for same day use.  This enables us to see a large number of students the same day they are sick or injured, instead of having to wait several days to get an appointment.  Some visits, such as Pap smears, physicals, nutrition consults, allergy injections and immunization visits can be scheduled for future dates, but any illness or injury visit must be made the same day you desire to be seen at SHS.  To ensure that you will get an appointment at the time of day that is most convenient for you, we strongly encourage you to make your appointment as early in the day as possible (online appointments open up at 5am if you do not want to wait for our office to open at 8am).  Be advised that if you wait until the afternoon to try to be seen at SHS, there is a possibility our appointments will be completely booked for that day.


"Every time I go other people in the lobby get called back ahead of me even though I was there first."


Students are seen at SHS with all different types of appointments and they are being treated in various locations (clinic, triage care, rapid care, lab, pharmacy, radiology, etc) in the building but they all share the same lobby area.  Most likely the person called ahead of you is seeing a different provider or is here for a different type of service.  We work very hard to reduce our wait time while still providing excellent care.  Most patients wait less than 10 minutes before being called by the nursing staff. 


"They always assume students have a sexually transmitted infection or are pregnant."

When patients, particularly women, present to SHS with symptoms such as abdominal pain, urinary problems, irregular bleeding, nausea, dizziness, or missed periods, there are many conditions that may cause those symptoms. In order to properly diagnose and treat symptoms, it may be necessary to screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and perform a pregnancy test to rule these conditions out as a potential cause. A pregnancy located outside the uterus can lead to excessive bleeding and possibly death if not diagnosed early. Many medications, even antibiotics or over the counter products, should not be taken during pregnancy.  It is necessary and prudent to find out about the possibility of an STI or ask about the date of a patient’s last menstrual period.

When a healthcare provider recommends STI screening, asks about the date of your last menstrual period, or suggests needing a pregnancy test, it is not because they are judging your behavior; it is to rule out potential causes for your symptoms, prevent complications, and safely prescribe necessary treatments.

"I've had green snot for 2 days!  SHS misdiagnosed me and didn't even give me an antibiotic even though I obviously have an infection."

Ahhh, the green snot myth…one of the most widely held beliefs!  Let us put that one to rest.  Snot can be a wide range of colors from green to brown to yellow to white to clear to even bloody—you can see any of that rainbow of colors with colds, flu, sinus infections, allergies, anything.  Have you ever had a doctor walk in, ask you to blow your nose, look in the tissue and then promptly announce what illness you have?  No…because snot color is not really important.

A COLD is a viral upper respiratory infection that generally goes away on its own in 7-14 days (yes, we said 1-2 WEEKS). Antibiotics should not be given for a cold, since they act against bacteria and not viruses.
A SINUS INFECTION is a bacterial upper respiratory infection confined primarily to the sinuses. A bacterial infection generally produces more inflammation therefore symptoms are more severe. A sinus infection lasts 7 days or longer. Not all sinus infections require antibiotics.

Many patients present very early into their sickness with minor symptoms so at that point, it is very difficult to know if things down the road will develop into some other kind of illness.  We always encourage patients to return if symptoms do not improve in several days with treatment or if things worsen.  There is no crystal ball when dealing with upper respiratory infections—if you take the advice of the provider and you are not getting better, it is much more likely you have developed a secondary infection rather than you were “misdiagnosed”.

"When flu is going around, SHS doesn't even prescribe medication!  They just tell you to go home and rest."


Simply put, that is the best remedy for flu.  Flu is a viral illness, so antibiotics will NOT work.  The virus must run its course, which means you need to do your best to try to alleviate symptoms and let your body do the fighting.  Lots of rest, increasing your intake of clear liquids, using over the counter medications to reduce fever, aches and pains--those are the best things you can do to get better.

"My friend got charged for her lab test and medication.  Why did she have to pay if everything is free?"


The health fee included in tuition pays for the office visit, so coming in to see a provider is free.  However, while we do everything we can to keep costs to students as low as possible, there is a charge for pharmacy items, laboratory tests, xrays, non-academic physicals, orthopedic equipment, and some supplies.  Compared to outside offices and pharmacies though, Student Health is a great bargain!   

"If you send your charges to the cashier's office, your parents will find out about why you went to SHS."


Your privacy is protected when you visit Student Health.  If you choose to send your charges to the cashier's office, there will be a notation that a charge was incurred at Student Health.  However, it will not say what the charge was for, nor will it give any information about diagnosis, symptoms, etc.  No one will know what the charge is for unless you decide to share that information.  Filing insurance works a bit different though, so we do advise students that insurance documentation, if received by your parents, may have more specific details about your visit such as what labs were performed or what diagnosis was given. 

"Your professors can find out if you were really sick or not if they call SHS."


Your health information is protected and you have the right to decide who has access to that information.  Professors cannot call and find out details about your visit.  We cannot  tell your parents or even friends about your care if they call, unless you have given us specific permission to do so.  Your privacy and confidentiality is very important to us, so unless you are involved in an emergency situation, we cannot tell anyone about your visits to Student Health unless you sign a written release of information form allowing us to do so.
East Carolina University Student Health Service
1000 East Fifth Street | Greenville, NC 27858-4353 USA
(252) 328-6841 | Contact Us
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