Practical Tips and Advice

Navigating and accessing health care services while studying in Canada can be overwhelming. There are, however, a number of resources to help you get the medical services you need, when you need them.

The following are additional tips and advice to keep in mind when accessing medical care:

Find out what will/will not be covered

Discuss payment options and insurance coverage with your health provider before receiving treatment.

Keep your personal health information safe

It is important to keep your information safe while accessing your personal medical information and seeking medical attention. As a way to maintain the confidentiality and safety of your personal medical information, avoid sharing it with other students.

Maintain the safety of others

Sharing medications or health products with others could lead to unforeseeable safety issues, such as allergic reactions, negative drug reactions, or wrong medication usage. It is best to avoid sharing any medical products and medications with others.

Bring necessary medical documentation and information

Take your health care insurance card to the medical clinic or treatment centre you are visiting. You can also bring your medications or a list of your medications, along with an updated record of your vaccinations (English version) when visiting a health professional. Important note about visiting on-campus health centres: If you are visiting a health centre at the University of Alberta (including the UHC and UHC Pharmacy), you will need to bring your OneCard, and your personal health care card (e.g., AHCIP and/or UAHIP).

Get health advice from a registered health professional

Phone Health Link at 8-1-1. This line is available 24/7, and allows you to quickly and easily access health advice or health information. A registered nurse will ask your relevant questions, assess your symptoms, and determine the best care for you.

Discuss your medical options

Ask a health professional to write down the diagnosis and treatment options related to your medical concerns.

Use a medical translator

With your consent, a friend or a family member can visit the medical clinic or appointment with you and serve as a translator. Using a translator can be help you understand the information you receive and relay your health-related concerns to a health provider. Your personal medical information will remain private and safe while using a translator. Patient confidentiality is governed by the Health Information Act in Alberta and is taken very seriously among all health professionals.

AHS and Covenant Health hospitals (e.g., University of Alberta Hospital and Grey Nuns Hospital) provide interpreter services to help patients and their families communicate with healthcare professionals. This service can be provided by an over-the-phone interpreter. For more details, ask a staff member at the hospital. Important note for U of A students needing interpreter services: Smaller AHS sites and the University Health Centre do not provide interpreter services.

Drop-in/walk-in clinic
If you have a medical concern, you can visit medical centres without booking appointments (e.g., University Health Centre in SUB 2-200).
Registered nurse
A nurse who is licensed to practice after receiving 4 years of university-level training.
This terms refers to health professionals who assess patients and determine who should be treated first. The priority in this case is not first-come, first-serve. Instead, priority is based on the severity of the medical situation.
Additional prescribing authority
Alberta pharmacists have a unique ability to obtain this type of authority. This authority allows them to write prescriptions for certain medications (e.g., antibiotics, antidepressants, inhalers, birth control drugs, heart medications, and diabetes medications) as a way to provide ongoing patient care.
Referral health care system
This means there is more than one level of health care service where, upon assessment from a health provider, you may be referred to additional medical services. In Canada, there is primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of health care services.
Ongoing medical care
Receiving ongoing medical care means that you are receiving continuous care, and/or coming back to the same doctor as other medical issues come up. This term can also indicate that you have a designated family doctor.
Private practice
Canada's health care system is publicly funded. However, some health practitioners offer services that are either partially covered or not covered at all (as outlined in your insurance plan) because they are not "medically necessary" services (e.g., cosmetic surgery). These health practitioners have a private practice.