College students' health is an essential function for the efficient administration and management of educational institutions for the best outcomes of the learners. Addressing the health of college students is more complicated as compared to lowers levels of education due to several factors previously highlighted. For instance, the instances of drug abuse increased stress due to more tests and exams, and other factors all play a critical role in making it difficult for the health of students to be managed well. Further, the decentralized nature of colleges where the management has less control over the activities of students makes the management of the health of learners difficult. In recognition to the critical role of the health of students not only to the learners but also to the institutions and the general population, the State of Kentucky has several laws and policies that guide the management of health.
The health management and administrative laws for schools in the State of Kentucky are covered under the Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 156, which was adopted in 2014 following numerous amendments that ensured that the legislation in the regions filled gaps in existing laws of the time. Firstly, KRS 156:501 is a section of the legislation in Kentucky that discusses the responsibilities of the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health in filling positions as well as funding towards health services in institutions of learning in the State (Turner & Hurley, 2015). According to the legislation, the role of the Department of Education is to provide leadership and assistance to location school districts towards the management of the health of students in the region. On the other hand, the Department of Public Health identifies and supports the management of health resources that can facilitate better student health services in the state through various activities. For instance, it provides protocols and guidelines that health professionals and school employees should follow in managing and delivering health services to students. Some of these guidelines focus on the ensuring that the medical staffs meet the requirements of the Kentucky Board of Nursing, institutions have well trained medical and non-medical team, and that the facilities have well-established documentation and recordkeeping approaches (Kisner, Colby, & Borstad, 2017). The other important parts of the legislation are the role of Department of Health in offering consultation assistance, a collection of student health information, and development of quality improvement programs, and offering of information and resources that can support the management of the health needs of learners and staff.
The KRS 156:502 is another section of the legislation regarding the health of students in Kentucky, which highlights guidelines for the appointment of personnel to drive the management of health services in Kentucky. Firstly, the guidelines define "health services" as the provision of direct healthcare such as administration of medication, operation, and maintenance of a patient using medical equipment and application of clinical procedures. Further, the legislation highlights the qualifications of individuals that are allowed to offer medical services to students in the State (Knowles, Littleton, & Rhrib, 2010). For instance, a physician must be licensed as required under the provisions of the KRS Chapter 311. On the other hand, KRS Chapter 314 guides the qualifications of an advanced practice registered nurse. Additionally, the physicians and the registered nurses have the mandate to train nonmedical staff to ensure that they have the right competencies to support the administration of health at the facility. The legislation makes it clear the essence of providing that no student is prohibited or denied from accessing the health services offered by the institution.
Proposed Changes in Health Policy
The management of the health of college students remains a significant challenge in the State of Kentucky. While there are no policies and recommended changes that specifically target the population in the colleges and universities in the State, several proposed changes covering the delivery of services to schools across the region present far-reaching consequences that will lead to the improvement of healthcare delivery to not only public schools but also the institutions of higher education (Turner & Keller, 2015). For instance, in 2010, the "School Health Services Report for Students with Chronic Conditions" report offered essential insights into the challenges that affect numerous students in public schools as well as colleges in the state (Knowles et al., 2010). Indeed, these changes led to the adoption of numerous amendments in 2014 that facilitated the Kentucky Revised Statutes. However, further changes are recommended to ensure that the health of students in colleges and beyond.
Firstly, while the mandate of health in colleges remains under the control of the institution management, the proposed guidelines present an opportunity for accountability and better services to be provided. The 2010 report emerged based on the recognition of the gaps in policies and laws that can protect and ensure the offering of health care services to learners with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and severe allergy (Knowles et al., 2010). The report recommends six critical actions that can ensure that the delivery of health services for better outcomes in the state. The first recommendation requires the adoptions of strategies that will increase the sharing of health information between schools and the local health departments (Knowles et al., 2010). The step will be facilitated through the enactment of policies that will meet the requirements of federal and state laws on school health services (Sommers, Gunja, Finegold, & Musco, 2015(Turner & Keller, 2015). The second recommendation is based on the need to establish and clarify existing health policies on minimum staffing requirements, protection of physicians and nurses in their place of work, the management of emergency services on students, and so on (Knowles et al., 2010). The recommended changes, further, advocate for the increased role of the Department of Health in advising schools and colleges in meeting the health needs of the populations. For increased accountability, it is also recommended for health service providers to provide frequent reports and health policies in their institutions, which will be critical in determining whether institutions of education meet their obligations (Knowles et al., 2010). Another important recommendation is the role of the Kentucky Board of Education and Kentucky Department of Education to take the task of ensuring compliance with current and future laws on health in the department. The report also advises for an approach to facilitate the achievement of an equitable method of covering students under the Medicaid.
Secondly, as college students are majorly young adults between the ages of 18-25 years, it has been found that they have the highest risk of lack of being uninsured. Based on this, several significant legislative changes have occurred at the federal level to increase their coverage, and thus ensure better outcomes for the health. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law provides expanded health insurance options for young adults within which college students are covered (Sommers et al., 2015). For example, in the developed concepts, the students or young adults can now be covered under the health insurance of their parents. Such an approach is very crucial for college students as they are now more able to access health services through their colleges. Indeed, the legislation empowers institutions of higher education to offer student health plans that meet the requirements of federal and local laws (Kisner et al., 2017). Such an approach will ensure that the college can devise programs and strategies that can enable the achievement of better health outcomes for the student population.
Advocacy Plan for the College Students Health Policy
POSSIBLE SUPPORTIVE STAKEHOLDERS TO ENGAGE
- Campus Stakeholders
- The various college departments
- The college departments management
- College Health Departments
- Community, State, and National Stakeholders
- Local, State, and Federal legislative authorities
- The Department of Education
- The Department of Public Health
- Local community
- College Fitness Advocacy groups
The high autonomy exercised by institutions of education may hinder the achievement of state-wide health plans and approaches for students
Working closely with institutions may make it easier for the recommended laws and policies to be implemented to the benefit of the students
RESEARCH AND POLICY ANALYSIS
The undertaking of in-depth studies on the health status of the students in colleges to facilitate the implementation of effective policies:
- Information on lifestyle conditions among students
- Information on the access to health insurance among students
Legislations that increase the access to health insurance and empower institutions to implement approaches that can enable the achievement of better health outcomes that meet the local and federal laws would be viable
Increasing the coverage of ACA on students would make health access more affordable, and less a burden to the students and the colleges
THE IMMEDIATE NEXT 3 STEPS IN STARTING ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN
- Ensure the support of the educational institutions throughout the state
- Ensure the support of the local, state, and education authorities
- Engage students in colleges through the administration to promote health activities in the institutions
- Work closely with local communities and partners to ensure support for the proposed legislation
- Seek the access to legal advisory services to ensure the success of the proposed policy changes
Kisner, C., Colby, L. A., & Borstad, J. (2017). Therapeutic exercise: foundations and techniques. Philadelphia, PA: Fa Davis.
Knowles, V., Littleton, L., & Rhrib, R., (2010). School health services for students with chronic health conditions. Legislative Research Commission, the State of Kentucky.
Sommers, B. D., Gunja, M. Z., Finegold, K., & Musco, T. (2015). Changes in self-reported insurance coverage, access to care, and health under the Affordable Care Act. Jama, 314(4), 366-374.
Turner, H. S., & Hurley, J. L. (Eds.). (2015). The history and practice of college health. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
Turner, J. C., & Keller, A. (2015). College health surveillance network: Epidemiology and health care utilization of college students at US 4-year universities. Journal of American College Health, 63(8), 530-538.
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