College is a time for many firsts. For some students, one of those “firsts” may include going to the gynecologist for the first time.
“National guidelines suggest the first PAP smear at age 21. For some patients, their first time in a gynecological exam room is at the University Health Center. We understand that, and we do everything possible to make it a positive and stress-free experience for our patients,” said Missy Jackson, Director of Nursing Services at the University Health Center. “From the time any patient walks in the door, they are made to feel comfortable and respected. Extended appointment windows allow time for the caregiver to spend time with each patient to address any and all concerns.”
“We’ve worked hard to be inclusive of everyone. We understand that not every patient who has gynecological healthcare needs identifies as a woman, so last year we changed our name from the Women’s Clinic to the Gynecology Clinic in an effort to help all patients feel comfortable,” states Jackson.
The resources of a large university, including a robust team of clinicians, nurses, and staff, allow the Gynecology Clinic at the University Health Center to provide care not found on many campuses. “In addition to routine exams and treatment of common conditions found in the college population, we also offer lab work, STI and pregnancy testing, abnormal PAP smear diagnostic testing, orders for mammograms, and birth control options including intrauterine devices (IUD) and Nexplanon,” says Jackson.
“The vast majority of patients that come to the Gynecology Clinic are college-aged students. This allows us to focus our practice in this specialized cohort of medicine. We do, however, provide care to patients of all ages, including to peri-menopausal and menopausal patients. Gynecologists in private practice outside of the college health setting have a more broad practice, as they also manage obstetric patients and provide surgical care, whereas the Gynecology Clinic is able to specialize in treating the young adult patients we routinely see,” says clinic Lead Physician, Dr. Sarah Smith-Thompson.
In addition to the obvious advantage of convenience the clinic offers by being located on campus, its proximity to other well-being resources in the building can be a huge asset to patient care. Jackson explains, “All of our exam rooms are safe spaces. Occasionally, a patient may share information with the healthcare provider about an experience or mental health issue that might be affecting the patient’s overall well-being. In these cases, if the patient chooses, we can have an advocate from Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP), a program which can assist victims of interpersonal violence or sexual assault, come in to offer their expertise or connect the patient with mental health or well-being resources. Having these resources in the building is extremely helpful in getting patients access to immediate help.”
Just like the Primary Care clinics at the Health Center, there is no charge for an office visit for fees-paid students, and lab work is competitively priced with private practice labs. Telehealth appointments are also available to address routine issues such as birth control questions. In-person appointments with the Gynecology Clinic can be scheduled via the UHC Patient Portal at healthcenter.uga.edu, and telehealth and in-person appointments can be scheduled by calling 706.542.8691.
Written by: Steven Rose, UHC Marketing and Communications