Student Health Services

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Service-Related Questions

Health-Related Questions


Service-Related Questions

What types of services do you provide?

Services are similar to those provided by your family physician including care for colds, cuts, sprains, infections, and flu. We provide the following services:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and injury
  • Physical examinations
  • Family planning services, including pap smears
  • Pregnancy tests
  • HIV testing
  • STD screening and treatment
  • Immunization/TB testing
  • Health Education
  • Mental health (in conjunction with Personal Counseling Services)
  • Smoking cessation

  Top of page


What do I have to pay?

Professional services at the Student Health and Counseling Center are provided at no additional charge to enrolled students. If needed, fees will be charged for some immunizations, by outside lab service agencies and outside x-rays facilities. Most insurance plans will cover prescriptions, lab tests and x-rays ordered by our medical providers (with the exception of Kaiser). We recommend you contact your insurance plan to determine covered benefits prior to your visit.

Do you need medical assistance but don’t have health insurance coverage?  We may be able to help you. Come to the Student Health & Counseling Center to ask us about the following assistance programs:

  • ACE Program – This program is designed to provide individuals with comprehensive outpatient and inpatient services, including specialty care.  Applicants must show proof of California residency, confirmation of income and evidence of U.S. legal residency.
  • Ventura County Health Care Agency Self Pay Program – Patients who have no insurance coverage and who are not eligible for any of the other available Ventura County Health Care Agency programs may apply for discounted rates.
  • Ventura County Homeless Program – This is a first-come/first-served service (no appointments necessary) offered by the county of Ventura.  The program covers all manner of assistance for the homeless including medical services, medication assistance, Medi-Cal application assistance, housing options, food stamp application assistance, behavioral health assistance and more.
  • Family PACT – Provides no-cost family planning service to eligible low-income men and women who are California residents and do not have insurance which covers family planning or have insurance but need to keep services confidential.  If you qualify, Family PACT will cover the cost of pap smears, STD testing and birth control methods for both men and women.

The Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) does not provide health insurance. Students are strongly encouraged to have an insurance policy that will cover services beyond the scope of Student Health Services (SHS). Information on insurance policies designed especially for students is available at the SHCC and at

 Top of page


Do I need to make an appointment?

If you are experiencing a life threatening medical emergency, please call 911.

Appointments are strongly encouraged whenever possible. Patients arriving more than 10 minutes late for their appointment will have to reschedule for another day. Walk-in visits are accommodated as the schedule allows; however, priority is given to previously scheduled appointments. Every attempt will be made to provide same-day service to students with acute illnesses or urgent concerns. Call (805) 437-8828 to schedule an appointment.

If you are ill and Student Health Services is closed or you cannot get services, health care is available through one of the Ventura County Ambulatory Care Clinics off campus.

 Top of page


Can I get health insurance at the Student Health and Counseling Center?

The Student Health and Counseling Center does not provide health insurance. Students are strongly encouraged to have an insurance policy that will cover services beyond the scope of the SHCC.

Information on an insurance policy designed especially for students is available at the SHCC and at This insurance is administered by Wells Fargo and is provided through Anthem Blue Cross.

SHS participates in the Family PACT program and can bill for applicable services rendered. If you qualify, Family PACT will cover the cost of Pap smears, STD testing and birth control methods for both men and women.

 Top of page


Does the Student Health and Counseling Center provide counseling services?

Yes. Our clinical psychologist and licensed psychotherapist provide personal counseling services to CI students free of charge. If medication is advised, an appointment can be made with a medical provider at SHS or with our contracted psychiatrist.

For more information regarding counseling services, please visit the Personal Counseling Services Web site or call their reception desk at (805) 437-2088.


Health-Related Questions  


"I've had a bad cold for three days. My body aches, my nose is stuffy, my throat is sore and I'm coughing a lot at night. Do I need to come in to the Student Health and Counseling Center?"

It sounds like you've got a "cold." A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus that inflames the membranes in the lining of the nose and throat. Most young adults suffer from two to four colds a year.

There is no cure for the common cold. Because it is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help. Treatment is based on relieving symptoms and supporting your body while your immune system fights the infection. Here are some tips for caring for yourself when you have a cold:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (not including alcohol).
  • Humidify the air by using a cool mist vaporizer, taking a steamy shower, hanging wet towels in the room, breathing steam inhalations (face bowl), or placing a warm, moist towel over your face.
  • Use salt water nose drops (one-half teaspoon of salt in an eight-ounce glass of water or pre-mixed spray from a drug store) to dislodge crusty nasal secretions which block openings into the sinuses and ears.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (available over-the-counter) can relieve muscle aches, pain and fever. Follow the recommended dosage on the package.
  • Do not smoke, and avoid second -hand smoke.
  • Oral decongestants may relieve nasal stuffiness. However, decongestants make some people jittery, can interrupt sleep and may cause a dry mouth.
  • Antihistamines will help alleviate a runny nose and excess respiratory secretions but may cause drowsiness. For daytime, consider a non-sedating antihistamine such as loratadine or cetirizine (both available over-the-counter.)
  • Cough syrups containing dextromethorphan may be used to suppress cough, especially if sleep is disrupted.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (one-half teaspoon in an eight-ounce glass of warm water) every few hours to soothe throat pain.

A visit to SHS is probably not necessary at this point, but you are welcome to make an appointment with one of our providers if you would like us to examine you just to be sure. The following is a list of danger signs that would indicate a need to be seen by a health professional as soon as possible:

Danger Signs for a Cold

Come to the Student Health and Counseling Center if you have:

  • A temperature over 102°F that persists over three days
  • Severe headaches
  • Facial swelling and/or pain
  • Very large neck glands
  • Red or painful joints
  • Skin rash
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing your own saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Symptoms that persist over three weeks or get worse after five to seven days
  • Severe fatigue

 Top of page



"I'm real sick with a cold but when I went to my doctor he said that I didn't need antibiotics. Why is that?"

Antibiotics are strong medicines that can stop some infections and save lives. However, antibiotics can cause more harm than good when they aren't used properly.

Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. They are not effective against infections caused by viruses such as colds or bronchitis. Furthermore, taking antibiotics too often or inappropriately (e.g., for viral illnesses like colds) encourages the development of resistant bacteria, bacteria that are no longer killed by common antibiotics.

Over time, bacteria may develop resistance to many different antibiotics. Infections caused by these “highly resistant” bacteria are very difficult to treat. They often cause more serious illnesses and require stronger antibiotics that may have to be given intravenously (through a vein) in a hospital. These medicines can have significant side effects, entail longer treatment courses and cost a lot more than the usual antibiotics.

Don't expect antibiotics to cure every illness! The best thing you can do for a viral cold or the flu is to let it run its course. Sometimes this can take two weeks or more. Contact your doctor or Student Health Services for suggestions about how to relieve cold and flu symptoms. An appointment is appropriate if the illness gets worse, if it persists for over two weeks, or if you experience any of the danger signs listed above.

 Top of page


Birth Control

"I want to start birth control but I don't know what's available. What are the choices? Which one is best?"

There are many good birth control choices available. Each method has strengths and weaknesses. The choice depends on your needs and personal characteristics. For example, if you have trouble remembering to take a pill every day then the injection, patch or vaginal ring is probably best for you. If you've already had children and want to avoid hormones, an IUD may be your best choice. Schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health Services. They’ll be happy to review the options with you and get you started on an appropriate method . Here are some of the options available:

  • Birth control pills, Ortho Evra® and Nuvaring®all work the same way and have similar benefits and risks. All three methods contain a combination of progestin and estrogen and offer the same high level of protection against pregnancy. They also all tend to lighten, shorten and regulate periods. The differences between them have to do with how the medication gets into your system:
    • NuvaRing® is a clear, flexible vaginal ring which you insert and leave in for three weeks, and then take out for a one-week ring-free period.
    • Ortho Evra® is a patch worn on the skin which you apply once a week for three weeks in a row. During week four, you do not wear a patch.
    • Birth control pills are taken orally and must be taken every day to be maximally effective. They are available in a variety of brands, including some which offer “extended contraception” and reduce your periods to just four times a year.
  • DepoProvera® is a progesterone injection given every three months to prevent pregnancy. It is as effective as the pill, is very safe, and is the most discreet method of contraception available for women.
  • An IUD (intrauterine device) is a soft, plastic T-shaped device which is placed inside the uterus and can be left in for 5-10 years. The ideal candidate for an IUD is a woman who is in a mutually monogamous long-term relationship, has had at least one child, and wants to delay childbearing for several years.
  • The condom is the most popular contraceptive in the world and is the only method that offers protection against sexually transmitted infections in addition to preventing pregnancy.
  • Emergency Contraception (Plan B®) is available if your primary method of birth control fails or you forget to use it. It is most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.

Here are some very helpful links that present additional information on birth control:

Top of page



"I have a toothache. It's really killing me but I don't have any insurance. Can you help me?"

Unfortunately, the Student Health and Counseling Center doesn't have a dental clinic but we can give you a list of dental clinics that will see you on a sliding-fee scale. Students we have sent to the clinics listed below have been very pleased with the services. If you are in pain, let them know and they will see you as soon as possible.

Clinicas del Camino Real – Dental Services

200 South Wells Rd.
(805) 659-0560

650 South Meta St.
(805) 483-3600

Ocean View Clinic (Oxnard)
4400 Olds Rd.
(805) 986-5551

355 Central Ave
(805) 524-4926

Top of page



Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR):

"I’m pretty sure I had the MMR shot before kindergarten. I just can’t find the papers. Why do I have to have it again? I hate shots!"

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly communicable diseases. Before the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1963 there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of measles and at least 500 deaths annually. Outbreaks of both measles and mumps on college campuses have been reported with increasing frequency. Students tend to congregate in close quarters and in large groups (e.g., dormitories, classrooms, and social and sporting events) and any introduction of these viruses can easily cause widespread disease in inadequately immunized populations.

To protect your health and the health of the campus and community, being "pretty sure" you've had the vaccine is not enough. Repeating the vaccination will further boost your immunity even if you've already had the shot. You may even find that shots don't really hurt as much as you might remember from kindergarten!

You also have the option of getting a blood test to see if you carry the antibodies. This would confirm that you have immunity to the disease.

Hepatitis B:

”I’m 22 but I’ve heard that Hepatitis B immunization is good to have. Is there any way I can get the shot and not have to pay for it?”

We definitely recommend vaccination against Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted liver disease that is spread much like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but is 100 times easier to catch than HIV! This is because the Hepatitis B virus is over 100 times more concentrated in an infected person's blood than HIV, it can exist on surfaces outside the body, and one out of every 20 people living in the United States is infected. Hepatitis B infection can cause severe liver disease, including liver failure (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. Over 5,000 people die in the United States every year from Hepatitis B-related liver disease.

You may qualify for a free Hepatitis B vaccine if you are 18 years of age and younger. The cost for students 19 and older is $40 per dose. The complete series requires three doses over a four to six month interval.

Top of page



"I'm late with my period and I'm afraid I might be pregnant. I am so worried; what should I do?"

Schedule an appointment with one of our providers at Student Health Services. They will do a pregnancy test and you'll have the results right away. If you are pregnant the provider can discuss your options with you, – including giving you referrals for prenatal care, termination or adoption. Worrying won't help--come in and find out for sure.

Top of page


Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

"I’m a guy – I want to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. Do you do that at Student Health Services?"

Student Health Services does offer testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) for both women and men . People who are at highest risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection include:

  • Persons who have had multiple sex partners
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Injection drug users and their sex partners
  • Persons who exchange sex for money or drugs
  • Persons who have sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Persons who engage in sex--oral, anal or vaginal-- without using condoms

Men (and women) who are interested in screening usually elect to have a blood test looking for HIV and syphilis, and a urine test for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Herpes and genital warts are best diagnosed by physical exam when there are symptoms present.

The more common symptoms of STI for men include pain with urination, penile discharge, and blisters, sores, bumps or other lesions in the genital area.

We encourage you to come in as soon as possible if you have any suspicious symptoms or are worried about potential exposure to any STI. Diagnosis is easier and treatment more effective when infections are detected early.

STI testing is covered under most insurance plans as well as by the Family PACT program.

Top of page



"How can I tell if a mole on my back is dangerous?"

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States and 90% of all skin cancers can be attributed to the sun. Malignant melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, occurs rarely in childhood but is the most common form of cancer among young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer among adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.

These are the warning signs for melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: one half of the spot does not match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: Normal moles are round or oval. The borders of a melanoma may be uneven or notched.
  • Color: Common moles are usually one color throughout. Melanomas may have several colors or an irregular pattern of colors.
  • Diameter: common moles are generally less than 1/4 inch in diameter (the diameter of a pencil eraser). Melanomas are often larger.

It is a good idea to watch any mole carefully. The most important warning sign is a change in any of the characteristics listed above.

If you have a suspicious mole, schedule an appointment with an SHS provider . They will examine it for you and perform a biopsy if necessary.

For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation site.

"I know I should wear sunscreen but I never know how much to put on. How much do you recommend?"

Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher provides good defense against the sun’s UV rays. Apply at least 1 oz. (approx. a full shot glass) 15-20 minutes before going outdoors and be sure to reapply as necessary, especially after swimming, perspiring heavily, or toweling off.

You should also cover up as often as possible with protective clothing when out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics you can’t see through when held up to a light. It is also a good idea to cover your head with a wide brim hat, shading your face, neck, and ears. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your face, ears, and neck with sunscreen. Wrap-around sunglasses with 99-100% UV absorption provide the best protection for the eyes and surrounding skin.

Top of page 


Top of page

  Do you have questions not covered here?
Click on the image or this link to Ask the Doc.