Whitman College strongly recommends that students who intend to participate in off-campus studies consider the suitability of the destinations they are considering in terms of health and safety risks. Please be aware that in many countries the conditions are very different from the United States. The availability of medical care, mental health counseling and resources for the disabled, for example, may be more limited in other countries. The physical environment may be severely polluted and attitudes about race, sexual orientation, religion and diet may be very different from attitudes in the United States.
UnitedHealthcare Global is an excellent source of specific, up to date information on health and safety issues country by country. Whitman students have access to UnitedHealthcare Global and are urged to explore the site and look up information about your OCS destination. Features include ratings of hospitals and clinics, cultural dos and don'ts, women's travel safety, prohibited prescription medications, and much more.
To access UnitedHealthcare Global, navigate to my.whitman.edu and log in. You should see a resource link entitled "Global Health and Security Updates" that will redirect you to the UnitedHealthcare Global website.
Security - Whitman takes the safety of our students abroad seriously. When assessing the suitability of particular study abroad destinations, the Off-Campus Studies (OCS) Committee takes into consideration U.S. State Department advisories, information from the program provider, and independent information. The College reserves the right to deny approval for study abroad or withdraw approval for study abroad if the situation in the host country is deemed risky for any reason.
MedicalExaminations - We highly recommend that students have a full physical exam prior to studying abroad and a dental check up to ensure that you are healthy prior to departure. If your program requires that a medical examination form be completed prior to departure, those medical forms can usually either be completed by your family physician or a physician at the Whitman Health Center.
Some countries require medical examinations, and possibly even chest X-rays and an HIV test, as a requirement to apply for the student visa. Please contact an OCS staff member or your program provider if you have questions regarding visa requirements for the country where you plan to study.
Immunizations - Before studying abroad, we recommend that you consult with your family doctor about obtaining immunizations according to the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the recommendations of your specific program. There are also nurses available at the Whitman College Welty Health Center and Walla Walla County Health Department who are familiar with travel immunizations and can be of assistance. Please note that some vaccines require a six-month lead time, so you should look into what immunizations you need well before your study abroad departure date. Immunizations may be obtained in Walla Walla at the following locations. We recommend calling in advance about hours, fees, and availability of immunizations.
iNext Travel Insurance - As part of the OCS program tuition, Whitman College will be purchasing iNext Supplemental Premium Travel Insurance, offering worldwide travel assistance and international medical insurance for all study abroad students who attend Whitman Partner Programs during the academic year. iNext Supplemental Premium Travel Insurance does not cover medical expenses in the United States. Therefore, students should maintain their current U.S. medical insurance that covers them in the U.S. in case they need to return home for treatment. Please visit http://www.inext.com/plans/supplemental/premium.aspx for detailed information about iNext coverage.
Disabilities and Special Needs - If you have a disability or chronic medical condition, you should inform an OCS Adviser and/or your off-campus studies program about it when you are selecting your program. We will then discuss with you how your needs can be accommodated and what arrangements can be made. In some situations your options of countries to study abroad in may be limited as some countries do not have the resources available to sufficiently aid a student with a disability or special need. It is especially important for the program staff abroad to understand any special need that you have in case you encounter health or other problems abroad. In the months leading up to your semester or year off-campus, the OCS staff recommends that you work closely with the Whitman Academic Resource Center (ARC) to develop a suitable plan to accommodate your needs. They can best help you to assess what accommodations you will need during your off-campus study experience.
Mental Health - Students who have mental health conditions or see a counselor on a regular basis are urged to consult with the Whitman Counseling Center early about their intentions to study abroad because counseling services in English are much more limited in certain foreign destinations.
Medications - If you are currently taking any prescription medicines, ask your physician whether you can take along a supply adequate for your stay abroad, as it is not possible to fill U.S. prescriptions in other countries. If it is possible, be sure to keep your medication in its original packaging and take a copy of the prescription with you for custom officials. Also, it would be a good idea to carry a letter from your physician indicating the names, including the generic names and the ingredient lists, of the medications and the reason for each medication, not only will the letter help you if you get asked questions upon entering the country but also if you need to see a doctor while abroad. The medications and any documentation from your physician should be packed in your carry-on luggage.
If it is not possible to take such a supply (because of limitations of your insurance or because of the shelf life of the medications), you may need to have your medications express mailed (FedEx or DHL) to you while you are away. Since some drugs now commonly prescribed in the U.S., such as Ritalin and Adderall, are banned in some countries, it is a good idea to check with your program to make sure that you can bring your prescription medications legally into your host county. If you suffer from allergies, be especially sure to take an adequate supply of medication. Big cities may even have more airborne pollutants than you are used to and may trigger severe reactions.
Further resources for your health and safety.