Among the most important responsibilities of a faculty leader is the health and well-being of all program participants. Leaders must take every reasonable precaution to prepare for and monitor any health issues that may face their students and themselves.
Health Consultations and Immunizations
Education Abroad recommends that all participants consult with the Lafene Travel Clinic or another medical professional to determine whether immunizations are recommended or required for the countries to which they will travel. Lafene recommends that their consultations take place at least two months prior to the study tour’s departure, in case a series of shots or other longer-term care is required.
To schedule an appointment at Lafene Travel Clinic, call (785) 532-6544. The clinic is located at 1105 Sunset Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas. There is no charge for travel clinic appointments. Charges do apply for immunizations, physical exams, or medications purchased through the Lafene Pharmacy For more information, please visit the Lafene Travel Clinic website.
Please note that some vaccinations, such as the Yellow Fever vaccine, may be in limited supply in the U.S. and require more advanced planning.
International Health Insurance
Kansas State University requires that all participants on faculty-led programs have active international health insurance policies for the duration of the study tour and any University-sponsored travel abroad. Education Abroad administers insurance for all committed participants.
KSU's global assistance and insurance program has the ability to make payments for medical expenses directly to the health care facility in-country. All KSU students have access to an International Health Insurance Card, which includes information on the payment process. In some cases participants will need to pay at the time of medical treatment and submit a claim to the university provider for reimbursement. For this reason all students are instructed to carry emergency funding, preferably in the form of a credit or ATM card, to pay for medical services they may need. Please remember to advise students to keep all medical receipts as these will be required for reimbursement from the insurance provider. Any questions on these processes can be directed to Education Abroad.
As part of students' Education Abroad online application they are required to register for insurance. This is found in students' online applications as a post-decision requirement titled K-State International Global Assistance and Insurance Program.
Region-Specific Health Issues
Faculty leaders and participants should familiarize themselves with specific health issues for the world regions to which they will travel. Issues of concern may include diphtheria/tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio, rabies, SARS, typhoid, tuberculosis, yellow fever, Zika, or other diseases and conditions. Even if you have traveled to your destination previously, be aware that prevailing conditions can and often do change rapidly. Notices, precautions, and warnings of region-specific health issues are routinely updated on the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
Education Abroad recommends, and the Lafene Travel Clinic requests, that Lafene representatives present region-specific health information to your students at one of your pre-departure meetings. To arrange Lafene’s participation, simply contact Education Abroad at (785) 532-5990 or Lafene directly at (785) 532-6544.
Additional Health Policies and Procedures
Kansas State University does not permit the use, possession, or distribution of alcohol during any University-sponsored study abroad program time, unless it is pre-approved by Education Abroad based upon demonstrated educational and cultural benefits to the student(s). Participants shall be allowed to opt out of participation in any such event. Other than these pre-approved events, use, possession, or distribution of alcohol is not permitted during program time and is not a reimbursable expense for the faculty leader. Participants should also inform themselves and abide by the host country’s laws and customs related to alcohol consumption. Education Abroad recommends that faculty with pre-approved alcohol-related events communicate transparently and explicitly with students the academic outcomes and rationale for such events.
Probably the most common illness for travelers abroad is diarrhea. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe and can come on quickly. The faculty leader should make sure that participants understand how to avoid and treat traveler’s diarrhea.
In the event a participant requires emergency surgery, the faculty leader should make every effort to put the individual directly in contact with his or her emergency contact(s) and U.S. health care provider. It is ideal if the participant’s family and health care provider can discuss the situation with medical personnel in the host country to determine a treatment plan. The faculty leader should not, under any circumstances, give medical advice.
First Aid Kit
Faculty leaders should prepare their own and encourage all program participants to travel with small first aid kits appropriate for the destination and length of stay of the study tour. Unless the faculty leader is a licensed physician, students should determine on their own what medications to take in their kits and how to administer these medications to themselves.
Suggested items to include in a first aid kit for your tour include:
- Pain medicines, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen
- Cough and cold medicines
- Antacids and anti-diarrheals
- Decongestants and antihistamines
- Medicine for motion sickness or altitude sickness
- Skin care products like antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, hydrocortisone cream, lip balm, and sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15
- Hand wipes and hand sanitizers
- Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
- First aid equipment, including scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, a pocket knife, earplugs, and a thermometer
Insect bites always should cause concern, not only on account of physical discomfort but also because of insect-borne infectious diseases such as malaria. The faculty leader should make sure that all participants take precautions to minimize exposure depending on local conditions.
Kansas State prohibits participants from using, carrying, and trafficking illegal drugs during the program. Participants are subject to the laws of the countries to which they travel, so laws differ greatly as to which drugs are considered legal. They be arrested for possession of illegal prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers and amphetamines, that they purchased legally in the United States or elsewhere. Travelers may be arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. When in doubt about drug law, ask local authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Jet lag is a form of sleep disturbance that results in fatigue, irritability, and sometimes disorientation. The faculty leader should address how to adjust to the daylight patterns of the host destination with participants. While not dangerous in and of itself, jet lag can impair your awareness and judgment and increase health or safety risks.
Participants with serious conditions (such as allergies, diabetes, and epilepsy) may want to wear a Medic Alert emblem. For more information, visit the Medic Alert Foundation International website.
Medical Facilities Abroad
Medical treatment varies throughout the world in terms of cultural practices, medical training, supplies, and facilities. Faculty leaders should familiarize themselves with health care practices in the countries to which they will travel and help acquaint students with these practices. Obtaining and internalizing this information prior to program departure will save you valuable time in the event of a health emergency. Prior to a program's departure, Education Abroad will provide the faculty leader with a list of hospitals in or near locations on the study tour itinerary. The faculty leader is responsible for familiarizing themselves with this information prior to the study tour.
Faculty leaders should ask participants to plan carefully the prescription medications they may need while abroad. Encourage participants to meet with a physician before departure for advice on traveling with prescription medications and how to adjust taking prescription medications in order to reduce the risk of overdosing or under-dosing as a result of time zone changes.
Prescription medicines are not always as readily available abroad as in the United States. Your participants and you should plan for additional refills of a prescription before departure and avoid, if at all possible, filling prescriptions while abroad.
All medications should be transported in their original, labeled container along with documentation of the prescription to avoid problems with customs law and officials. If carrying a prescription, be sure it is up-to-date and includes drug’s generic name, instructions, dosage, and reason for prescribing the drug.
Always keep prescription medications in your carry-on bags while in transit. Once at your destination, it is a good idea to keep a few pills on your person and then the remainder in a secured location at your lodging.
Check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting to make sure that none of the prescription medications are considered illegal in that country.
It is not always the case that a student experiencing emotional distress will warrant an emergency response. Visiting a new country with a different culture and different cultural norms, even if just for a short period of time, can result in the student experiencing “culture shock”. This includes feelings of homesickness, changes in sleep patterns, changes in academic performance, feelings of isolation, or changes in mood and outlook toward the host country. For most students, this is a completely normal part of studying abroad through which they eventually transition. However, it is important for faculty leaders to be observant of these mood and behavioral changes in their students, and to recognize if there are more serious indicators related to the safety of a student, such as depression, self-destructive behavior, thoughts of suicide, or physical changes affecting a student’s health.
If a faculty leader has a concern about a student's mental health, there are several resources you may want to utilize:
- K-State Counseling services. Though they likely would not be able to diagnose or provide direct advice to the student while abroad, Counseling Services can provide recommendations to faculty or assist faculty in finding ways to support the student
- K-State Global Assistance and Insurance Program. Faculty leaders or students can contact K-State's international insurance provider to discuss any in-person or tele-health counseling services they may be able to provide abroad
- Education Abroad. Faculty leaders will want to reach out to Education Abroad and keep the office informed of any concerns the leader may have about a student's mental health, as well as recommendations the office might have
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Hepatitis B, herpes, and HIV/AIDS pose health risks in every country, as does the HIV virus. The faculty leader should inform students of these risks and urge them to make wise decisions.
Student Health Information and Special Needs Questionnaire
We ask all students participating on a Kansas State University faculty-led programs to complete a Voluntary Disclosure of Health Information and Special Needs Questionnaire as part of their online application. Education Abroad reviews these forms to determine if a staff member should discuss a disclosed health issue with a student. We also will grant the faculty leader reviewer’s permission to review these applications.
Is climbing Mt. Fuji part of your program? Will you conduct field research in hot weather? What about hiking in an area with poisonous snakes? Are traffic conditions hazardous? Faculty leaders should outline any special risks and appropriate precautions to participants.