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Helping your child navigate the health care system at MIT

MIT students are considered adults, even if they are younger than 18. Legally, they are on their own when it comes to making medical decisions and navigating the health care system. But in reality, parents can do a lot to help:
  • Help your student choose a PCP: Ask your student if they would like help choosing a primary care provider at MIT Medical. Remind your student that if the PCP they choose initially turns out not to be a good fit, it’s easy to go online again and make a change. 
  • Provide tips for getting the most out of an appointment: As a parent, you’ve been making medical appointments for your child since they were born. You’ve been the one to communicate important information to your child’s care providers. But this is a responsibility your student now needs to assume. Remind your student to:
    • Tell us why they are making the appointment. If we know the reason for the appointment, we can book an appointment of the right length, and we can make sure your student gets care when they need it. There might be a wait of up to a month for a routine physical, but if your student is sick or hurt, we’ll see them right away.
    • Schedule an appointment when they have enough time in their schedule. Your student needs to have time to arrive early for the appointment and, if necessary, visit the lab or pharmacy afterwards. 
    • Ask questions. Your student will get the most from the appointment if they voice the most important concerns right away, and reassure your student that no matter what it is, we’ve heard it before. Your student should also be sure to understand the plans for follow-up—does your student need another appointment? A lab test? A prescription? If there’s any confusion, just ask for clarification.
  • Remind your student that they can involve you. While your student can’t give you blanket permission to speak with clinicians at any time, they can fill out a form that gives a provider permission to speak with you about a specific episode of care—for example, a specific illness or injury.

    These permission forms are valid for six months. If your student would like their provider to continue speaking with you about an ongoing medical issue or chronic condition, they will need to fill out a new form every six months.

Remember that we are always available to speak with you. While we may not be able to answer direct questions about your child, we can listen to your concerns, suggest approaches for communicating with your child about health-related topics, and point you to additional resources.