Answers to frequently asked medical questions
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED MEDICAL QUESTIONS
What inoculations, if any, should a practitioner administer to my child before departure?
SYA sends a special “Medical Care and Inoculations” document to SYA China families. For
students going to Europe, we do not have firm recommendations. Therefore, we suggest you
use the CDC Web site as a reference and consult with your personal physician and/or a travel
clinic professional for answer to your questions.
What type of medical system is in the host country?
School Year Abroad students have access to modern medical facilities in all of our host cities.
The sickness and injury insurance policy included in tuition allows students to engage private
medical practitioners and facilities. Students do not rely on the public medical insurance
What type of practitioners and specialists are available to students?
Each SYA site has identified one or more English-speaking general practitioners to whom
students have easy access. The Resident Director has identified a wide range of specialists,
including but not limited to orthodontists, dermatologists, optometrists and neurologists who
are available to students. Students with special medical conditions should bring records abroad
How will my child obtain prescription medication while abroad?
Please consult with your physician regarding the international availability of the medication
or the possibility of obtaining a multi-month supply before departure. If you have difficulty
filling more than a one-month supply of medication, call your current insurance company to
explain the unusual circumstances of extended international travel. We have found that some
medications are difficult or impossible to obtain abroad. These may include: Adderall,
Bupropion, Concerta, Dextro-amphetamine, Lexapro, Ritalin and Trazadone.
Students carrying medication with them on the plane must also carry a statement from a
doctor identifying the generic name or chemical components. This letter will help avoid
difficulties at customs and help our doctors abroad. Do not mail prescriptions. If you mail
prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines or vitamins abroad, you risk having them
How are medications dispensed?
Students may keep and self-dispense over-the-counter medications with written authorization
from their parent. Examples include non-prescription medications, dietary supplements,
vitamins and herbal remedies. Parents of students taking over-the-counter medications are
asked to inform School Year Abroad of the type of medication and dosage amount during the
Students taking prescription medications not classified as DEA Schedule I-V must provide
written authorization from both the parents and the U.S. physician and will be allowed to
keep and self-dispense these medications. School Year Abroad should be informed of the type
of medication, the dosage amount and the indications. Examples include topical creams, oral
antibiotics, oral allergy medications, oral contraceptives, asthma inhalers, epinephrine auto-
Students will not be allowed to control supplies of prescribed DEA Schedule I through V
medications. They must turn them in to the Resident Director, who will in turn ensure that
they are dispensed appropriately. Additional details are described in the Medication Management
sent to students and parents in the May Pre-Departure Mailing.
What if my child is sick on a school day?
Students who are ill and unable to attend classes should have their host family inform the
Resident Director before their first class of the morning. They may be treated by their host
family's physician or by the school doctor.
How is the language barrier handled during medical procedures for the patient and the
In most cases, students have access to English-speaking physicians. If communication is a
problem, the school will ensure that an appropriate interpreter is available.
In the event of a major medical emergency, how are decisions made and by whom?
The Resident Director is empowered to act on behalf of the parents in the event of an
emergency. Of course, every attempt to contact the parents is made as soon as possible. SYA’s
Executive Director is immediately notified in any emergency and is actively involved in every
How is the need for a medical evacuation determined?
Thanks to the ever-increasing availability of appropriate medical facilities abroad, medical
evacuations are rarely necessary. If evacuation is required, SYA’s insurance carrier makes the
arrangements and covers the cost. In most cases, the decision to evacuate is made by the
attending physician in consultation with the Resident Director, the student and the student’s
What if my child needs to continue orthodontic care abroad?
Please ask your current orthodontist to look up and contact an orthodontist practicing in the
city in which your child will be living. Your doctor is responsible for transferring important
dental records and treatment plans to the orthodontist overseas. SYA’s Resident Director will
help the student make an appointment and find the office once abroad. The cost of treatment
will be the U.S. family’s responsibility.
Is it possible for my child to go to the dentist for teeth cleaning while abroad?
Yes. Although most students elect to have a cleaning completed prior to departure, SYA has
identified dentists at our sites who can see students for routine cleanings and check-ups.
Will my child be able to see a therapist while abroad?
Special services we provide as a school are limited. That said, the Resident Directors have
identified counselors who have assisted our students in the past. It is important to keep in mind
that although therapists may be available, we recommend keeping in contact with your child’s
current mental health care provider, as the accommodations (linguistic, social, etc.) abroad vary
from site to site. There are some mental and nervous benefits included in the insurance plan we
provide for each student; however, expenses not covered by the plan will be the U.S. family’s
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