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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Universities present lifestyle challenges due to distance from families and familiar medical care (even if only a few miles), changes in physical activity level, dining in a cafeteria, exposure to alcohol, and changes in friends and relationships. You may have considered many of these factors already, but if you have not you may begin to think about how these will affect the management of your IBD.  There may be additional challenges with managing your IBD and your busy schedule.

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There are resources at Stanford available to assist you along this transition.  Vaden Health Center is available to provide Primary Care Services.  In addition, Vaden offers general nutrition and wellness counseling as well as Counseling and Psychologic Services (CAPS). The Continuity of Care Nurse at Vaden is available to assist you with managing your medical needs. You may contact her at 650.725.0984 for help obtaining the care you need while on campus.

Some things to consider as you prepare for Stanford

Topic Recommendations

Medication and supplies

  • Bring all of the medication you need to manage your condition. 
  • If you typically use nutritional supplements, make sure you have an adequate supply until you can locate a source on or near campus. If special storage is needed, you will need to plan for this.
  •  A Walgreens Pharmacy is located at Vaden Health Center.  You may use this pharmacy for your medications.  In addition, there are other pharmacies located within 1 mile of campus. 


  • The campus cafeterias and food shops include healthy choices.  Whether you are relying on cafeteria food, or cooking on your own there will be freedom to choose unhealthy choices also.  Keep in mind that dietary changes could have a negative impact on your condition. Avoid foods that have caused you problems in the past. If you choose to experiment with new foods, monitor the effect they may have on your digestion. You may not want to make too many changes at once.
  • If you have any diet triggers that limit what you can eat, be sure to consult with the dining services nutritionist.
  • Alcohol use may have a negative impact on your digestive tract.


  • If you believe you need special accommodations related to your living space, classrooms, or nutritional needs you should contact the Office of Accessible Education prior to coming to campus. 
  • While familiarizing yourself with your dorm, classrooms locations and the general campus, note the locations of bathroom facilities and find out when they’re not accessible.

Social Considerations


  • You may be tempted to do “normal” things with your new friends.  Consider the consequences of eating things with the gang which usually cause problems.
  • Don’t feel like you need to “tough things out” and ignore your medical condition. This may have negative consequences and increase your stress.
  • Communication:  Consider how to discuss your condition with others, how much and the timing of your disclosure.
  • Communicating proactively with professors is advised.  They are very supportive of students who have medical issues during the term.
  • It is important for you to know that the University has policies in place to help students in case they have flare ups or have a medical emergency mid-quarter.

Managing stress

  • When you're stressed, your normal digestive process changes. Your stomach empties more slowly and secretes more acid. Stress can also speed or slow the passage of intestinal contents. It may also cause changes in intestinal tissue itself.
  • Change is often a stress inducer.  You will experience many changes here at Stanford.
  • Identify strategies on managing stress which have been successful for you in your past.  These may include exercise, enjoying unscheduled “down time” with friends, relaxation exercises, counseling, and or joining support groups. (See Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America)
  •  CAPS is available to provides a broad range of services including: crisis counseling, individual therapy, medication assessment and management, and group therapy.

Medical appointments

  • Incoming students with IBD may schedule an appointment with a Vaden clinician to establish care. This is the best way to receive referrals to specialists (if needed).
  • Illnesses may affect your digestive management.  Do not wait to schedule an appointment at Vaden if you are ill. If you are not sure whether you need a visit, Vaden has a nurse who is available by phone. In addition, a physician on call is available after hours.
  • You should consider getting a flu shot when available in the fall. Vaden offers the flu vaccine at no charge for registered students.
  • If you need a referral to a gastroenterologist while you are on campus, you will have access to Stanford Medical Center and Menlo Medical Clinic. These specialists are covered in Cardinal Care Insurance.  A co-payment will be required. If you do not have Cardinal Care, you will have to check your insurance for covered providers.


  • If you are not planning to sign up for Cardinal Care Insurance, you should check to make sure your current insurance covers care at Stanford Health Care and Stanford Specialty Clinics.  If it does not, we strongly encourage you to enroll in Cardinal Care. This is especially important for students with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Undergraduate students on full financial aid should check with the Financial Aid Office at 888.326.3773 regarding coverage of the cost of Cardinal Care prior to making a decision to waive coverage.
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Medical Condition Note

If your medical condition has specific treatment recommendations from your current provider, we recommend that you request a Transition of Care Summary from your current clinician. This document should include:

• Your diagnosis with ICD-10 code
• Your current status
• A brief history of treatments including those which failed
• Recommendations for care while at Stanford (including medical management and diagnostic tests)