Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

College Health Care Providers' Student-Centered Care

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

College Health Care Providers' Student-Centered Care

Article excerpt

Young university students are at a critical stage of life. They must not only begin making choices about their lives that were previously managed by their parents, but they must do so in an environment that places fewer restrictions on their self-care decisions. The health habits these students develop have implications beyond minimizing preventable illness. Such habits also have implications for academic success because student illness can lead to absenteeism and impaired levels of academic performance (Nichol, D'Heilly, & Ehlinger, 2005). University-based health resources designed to foster student well-being are readily accessible, and yet students are rarely engaged with these campus resources (Lambert, 2012).

College health care providers are valuable resources because they can assist students in practical health related issues, such as re-learning coping behaviors, resisting maladaptive strategies for coping with stress, and building students' decision-making capabilities so that they can eventually become their own health advocates (Trieu et. al, 2011; Zaleski, Levey-Thors, & Schiaffino, 1998). Students have consistently ranked college health care providers among the most believable sources of health information (Vader et al., 2011). Despite the essential role college health care providers play in students' lives as advisors rather than decision-makers (Becker et al., 2002; DeMaria, 2013; Vader et al., 2011), scholars in the field of health care seem to have neglected the lived realities of college health care providers in patient care research.

The patient care experiences of college health care providers have perhaps remained unknown because of the ubiquity of empirical research in behavioral science which seeks to discover causes in order to generate explanations (Knoll, Meiers, & Honeck, 2006; McBride et al., 2010). Yet the positivistic worldview is incompatible with the constructivist philosophy that seeks understanding through examining lived realities. The expansive amount of research focused on patient care experiences of health care providers outside the university setting--primary-care physicians, osteopathic doctors, medical students, nurses, and campus mental health clinicians--(Brann, 2007; Caitta-Zuiffery & Schultz, 2012; Hathorn & Tillman, 2009; Parry, 2003; Penner & McClement, 2008; Persson et al., 2013; Jodoin & Ayers, 2013), could also lead to the presumption of knowledge that is, in actuality, unique to college health care providers.

A focus on lived experiences of college health care providers refines the current understanding of patient care, establishes the importance of provider-patient interactions, and draws attention to the significance of patient-centered care at university. The significance of this study is the increased understanding of the life world of college health care providers.

Misunderstanding college health care providers' patient care experience holds several practical implications. Providers might not receive funding for treatment protocols and interventions if university administrators do not know what disorders are unique to the student population (Trieu et al., 2011). Students could pursue services outside of campus that they do not know are a standard part of the health center visit (Swinford, 2002). Lamenting the lack of benchmarking data on student health centers, McBride et al. (2010) stated the matter succinctly: "Better information is needed to understand the contribution of SHS to young adult health care services as well as for campus health service planning and administration" (p. 2).

To address the current gap of knowledge in this area, the present study began with a review of studies in which researchers examined health care provider experiences to capture the meaning of patient care. Next, the authors investigated the lived experiences of 11 United States (U.S.) college health care providers, providing a foundation from which to understand the essence of patient care. …

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