Helping your child navigate the health care system at MIT

According to federal law, MIT students are considered adults once they turn 18. Legally, they are on their own when it comes to making medical decisions and navigating the health care system. 

But in reality, parents can do a lot to help:

  • Help your student get the most out of an appointment: As a parent, you’ve been making medical appointments for your child since they were born. You’ve been the one to communicate important information to your child’s care providers. But this is a responsibility your student now needs to assume. Remind your student to:
    • Tell us why they are making the appointment. If we know the reason for the appointment, we can book an appointment of the right length, and we can make sure your student gets care when they need it. There might be a wait of up to a month for a routine physical, but if your student is sick or hurt, we’ll see them right away.
    • Schedule an appointment when they have enough time in their schedule. Your student needs to have time to arrive early for the appointment and, if necessary, visit the lab or go to a pharmacy afterwards. 
    • Ask questions. Your student will get the most from the appointment if they voice their most important concerns right away. They also need to understand the plans for follow-up — do they need another appointment? A lab test? A prescription? Remind them to ask for clarification if anything is unclear.
  • Remind your student that they can involve you. While your student can’t give you blanket permission to speak with clinicians at any time, they can fill out a form that gives a provider permission to speak with you about a specific episode of care — for example, a specific illness or injury.

These permission forms for a specific episode of care are valid for six months. If your student would like their provider to continue speaking with you about an ongoing medical issue or chronic condition, they will need to fill out a new form every six months.

Remember that we are always available to speak with you. While we may not be able to answer direct questions about your child, we can listen to your concerns, suggest approaches for communicating with your child about health-related topics, and point you to additional resources.