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With the start of the fall semester, thoughts of classes, studying and work may be overpowering and pushing an important part of a student's life off the spectrum — health.

Located on Libra Drive near Counseling and Psychological Services, UCF's Student Health Services provides care and treatment directly on campus, and is available to all students.

UCF's Health Center, which was recently ranked No. 6 in the nation by the Princeton Review for having the best Student Health Services, employs about 18 primary care providers, two sports medicine providers, six mental health providers, two clinical dieticians, three licensed clinical social workers and two dentists.

Megan Pabian, the UCF Health Center spokeswoman, said the medical staff is trained in a very broad scope of medicine to assist students with various medical concerns, including colds, infections, chronic-disease management, mental health, skin concerns, injuries and health maintenance. Massage therapy services have also been made available for students through the Health Center as of Aug. 1.

"The services we offer are tailored to meet the unique needs of college students," Pabian said. "Our medical professionals specialize in the 18 to 24 age range. They understand college students and the challenges they face in maintaining a healthy lifestyle."

For all new students, a mandatory online educational program is required for the fall semester. The interactive AlcoholEdu program can be located on the myUCF portal, and students who have signed up for their Knights email and registered for classes have access to the link. The deadline for part one of the program is Monday, and students must complete the exam with an 80 percent or better to continue to part two, which is due no later than Nov. 16.

"If AlcoholEdu is not completed, there will be a hold placed on your account and you won't be able to register for your spring classes until it has been completed," the Health Center's website states.

New students must also complete the immunization requirement. All students are asked to complete the Health History Immunization form and upload their documents through the Health Center site's online system. Only documents submitted through the system will be accepted.

"It's important for students to understand that Student Health Services plays an important role in their academic success in that we can help keep them well, or get well, as fast as possible so that being hurt or sick does not negatively affect their classes," Pabian said.

Kathryn Moses, a junior international and global studies major, currently works on the third floor of the Health Center as an Other Personnel Services student. Having initially worked in the appointments department and then the insurance office, Moses said she is now able to practice using different languages with her current job to help international students.

"I have gotten to use my French, Arabic and Russian on occasion, which has been a fun experience for me," she said. "It also helps some of the students understand our department better, which is always my goal."

Students are welcome to meet with a medical provider and get an expert opinion about their health, with no charge. Moses said students can also take advantage of the free flu shots that are available every flu season.

"Students should go to the Health Center as soon as they come to the campus for the first time. They should put their insurance on file with both the insurance department and our pharmacy on the first floor," she said.

Even without insurance, Moses said self-paying students will likely find better prices at the Health Center than off-campus clinics for the same services, procedures or immunizations.

If labs or X-rays have to be performed, Pabian said the visit will be billed to the student's insurance, or paid out of pocket if the student doesn't have health insurance.

"Health insurance is not required for students to access our services, but insurance does help pay for the materials that we use to take care of you," Pabian said. "You want health insurance in case we need to refer you to a specialist."

For students looking for health insurance, Pabian suggests checking out the UCF-endorsed student health insurance plan online. Additional information can be found on the Health Center's website.

Senior computer science major Simon Pacheco said the Health Center has provided him with great experiences so far. He said he believes it's important for students to receive an annual checkup to stay in great health.

"Students have a tendency to feel invincible, but life happens, things get in the way. That's why we are here. To help students through all those struggles so that you can be the best you," Pabian said.

From colds to stomach flus and ear infections to flu shots, senior hospitality major Sweetu Shah said she has been to the Health Center many times throughout her college years.

"You pay for the Health Center in tuition; use it to your advantage," she said.

Being away from home has also made Shah appreciate the services that the Health Center has to offer. Many students may be so bombarded with school work that it may be almost impossible to go back home and visit a local clinic.

"You are never going to have it this good again in your life, so take advantage of all the services that are available to you while here at UCF," Pabian said. "We want to see all students achieve their full potential, and we can help."

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Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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