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Navigating College Life with Diabetes

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Starting college involves a great deal of preparation for any student. For those with diabetes, university life presents unique challenges as students may be managing their care independently for the first time.

To help students with type 1 diabetes have access to the resources they need at school, Edgepark has partnered with the College Diabetes Network (CDN). We support CDN’s vision to create a college community, which will enable students with diabetes to thrive in all of their personal, health care and scholastic goals.

Edgepark asked Jo Treitman, Program Director for CDN, to share some of her organization’s tips for students with type 1 diabetes on getting ready for life at school.

Think through your diabetes supplies. “Plan out how you’re going to get the supplies you need long before you get to school,” explains Treitman. Where are you going to get your supplies? Are you going to have your supplies mailed to you or are you going to take a three-month supply with you? You should also find a pharmacy nearby so if you need medication or supplies immediately, you know where to go. You don’t want to get to school only to discover that you don’t have the right supplies.

Keep it cool. Find out where to refrigerate your supplies once you get to school. You may even have a refrigerator in your dorm room. Treitman cautions students to check the refrigerator temperature before storing your supplies in it. “You don’t want it set so high that your supplies freeze.”

Arrange for care. Along with figuring out a provider for your supplies, make sure you know who to contact about your health care. Will it be your health care provider at home? Or, are you going to find someone near campus?

Involve parents. It can be difficult for parents to feel reassured that students will be healthy and safe while at school. By keeping an open dialogue about how you’re going to manage your diabetes care, your parents will be more relaxed about you heading off to school. The CDN offers support and resources for parents on their Web site.

Wear a medical ID bracelet. In the event of an emergency, having a medical ID bracelet can be an invaluable tool for getting the care you need in a hurry.

Let your roommate know. Chances are you will be living with one or more roommates at college. You might connect with them before you meet to let them know about your condition. “Start with the basics,” says Treitman, who notes that you don’t need to go into great detail since that might be overwhelming for your roommates. Just let roommates know enough so that they’ll have some idea what to expect.

Connect on campus. You can find a college chapter of the CDN on their Web site. If there’s not a chapter, consider starting one.

To learn more about the CDN visit their Web site at www.collegediabetesnetwork.org.