Student Health, Immunizations, Insurance, & Bloodborne Pathogens
The College of Medicine has a long-standing commitment to protect the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, patients and the general public. Students in the College of Medicine are required to show proof of appropriate immunity, or documented immunization, prior to matriculation and/or the onset of actual patient contact. In addition, the Office of Student Affairs offers educational programming to assist students in the attainment and maintenance of optimal physical and mental health.
The College of Medicine strongly recommends COVID vaccination for a student to matriculate into our program; however, we do not make the decisions regarding COVID vaccination for our clinical education partners. Direct patient care is a required component of our education. At UF we have a robust program with practice partners all over the state providing high quality clinical experiences from the first through the last year of medical school. Each institution determines requirements for student trainees rotating through their establishments. These potentially include background checks, onboarding paperwork, vaccinations, etc. Our practice partners have long required flu vaccination for students, as well as TB, and many, if not all of our clinical site partners currently require or may require COVID vaccination in the future for medical trainees. This currently includes UF Health and the Veterans Administration Health Systems. Requests for exemptions, either medical or religious, are handled by the practice site, not the college of medicine, according to each institutions’ policies and procedures.
Ultimately, each student is responsible for their health and safety in the clinical/educational setting. Therefore, it is the goal of the College of Medicine that all students learn appropriate policies and procedures to follow in the event that they are injured or potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens or other communicable diseases. During the orientation of both first and third year students, presentations are given on universal blood and body fluid precautions, infection control and prevention of the spread of communicable disease. In addition, the Student Advocacy Committee monitors student health policies and procedures, in order to insure compliance with institutional and state health requirements.
Pre-Matriculation Health and Immunization Requirements
Prior to matriculation in the UF College of Medicine, a student must submit the following documentation:
- A screening health history form provided by the Student Health Care Center (SHCC).
- OSHA N95 Fit Test Health Screening Questionnaire:
- A University of Florida College of Medicine Health Agreement form.
- Proof of current health insurance.
- Certification of current health insurance is mandatory for each registered year at the College of Medicine.
- Two MMR vaccinations (measles, mumps, rubella) or serologic tests that confirm immunity to each of these three viral infections.
- Hepatitis B vaccine series (3 doses). If you completed the vaccination series within the last 2 months, you must also provide serologic proof of immunity (i.e., a positive serum titer for hepatitis B surface antibody).
- Two varicella vaccinations or a serologic test that confirms immunity.
- Tdap vaccination (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis).
- Vaccination for meningococcal infection or documentation that you opted out of this vaccination.
- Two tuberculin skin tests within the last year.
- If you previously received the BCG vaccination, an interferon-based TB test is preferred (Quantiferon-Gold or T-Spot assay).
- If you have a positive tuberculin skin test or interferon-based TB test, you must provide documentation of a negative chest x-ray within three months of the start of school.
- Please also note that all students will be required to have a seasonal influenza vaccination in the fall of each year.
- Proof of Covid-19 vaccination is strongly recommended.
Students should submit documentation of these immunizations to the UF Health Compliance Student Self Service portal https://healthcompliance.shcc.ufl.edu/immunization-requirement/immunizations/. Please do not mail these documents. You will not be able to start classes until all documentation is received, so please do not delay in confirming these immunizations.
Health and Disability Insurance
The College of Medicine requires all UF medical students to be covered by major medical insurance. It is not sufficient for the student to seek care through the Student Health Care Center, for the SHCC can offer only primary outpatient care. Insurance may be acquired through a family major medical policy, through a private insurance agency, or by purchasing the University of Florida Student Government Health Insurance. The insurance plan should offer comprehensive coverage in Gainesville and Alachua County, and not simply at a distant city/county/state. Students must realize that medical expenses for care provided by UF Health Shands Hospital System and hospitals affiliated with the College of Medicine, including laboratory procedures and emergency care, are the responsibility of the student and not the College of Medicine or the University. Coverage should also include maternity benefits and coverage for an occupational injury that might put the individual at risk for a bloodborne infection such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV infection.
The College of Medicine also requires all medical students to acquire disability insurance, to provide protection in the event of a long-term illness or injury. This insurance plan is offered by the College of Medicine through Compass Consulting Company at a nominal cost to the students. More information regarding the insurance is available through the College of Medicine Student Affairs Office.
Substance Use Policy
Use of Illegal substances is prohibited. Positive drug screens for substances for which the student does not have a prescription will be considered in violation of this policy. Use of substances including recreational or medical marijuana on personal time may lead to positive urine drug screen and possible subsequent disciplinary actions which may include but are not limited to more random drug screening, placement on leave of absence, referral to Physician Resource Network, suspension, probation or dismissal.
Potential Exposures to Bloodborne Pathogens and Communicable Diseases
Policies and procedures concerning bloodborne pathogen exposures and exposures to communicable diseases are addressed during the orientation sessions for first- and third-year students. In addition, these policies are reinforced during the Surgery and Internal Medicine clerkships.
It is the responsibility of the student to report sharps injuries, needle sticks, or other potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens via blood or body fluids immediately to the supervisor at the facility where the accident occurs.
In the event that the student contracts a communicable disease which potentially poses a risk to patients or co-workers (e.g. tuberculosis, varicella), steps will be taken to prevent dissemination in accordance with Student Health, Public Health and/or CDC protocols. Certain communicable diseases may also be reported to county or state health authorities, as required by law.
Potential Bloodborne Pathogen Exposures
University of Florida’s Occupational Health Program has a dedicated phone line for UF faculty, staff, resident house staff and students who experience a bloodborne pathogen exposure (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV).
This needle stick hotline will ensure that all UF employees and students with an exposure have immediate access to a medical provider. During regular work hours, an operator from the Occupational Health Department of the Student Health Care Center (SHCC) will answer the line and immediately forward the caller to a skilled and knowledgeable medical provider. The medical provider will collect the exposure and source history, arrange for laboratory studies, decide on post-exposure treatment if necessary, and recommend follow-up as appropriate. Afterhours and on weekends, persons with exposure will be triaged to the closest Emergency Room for management.
Follow-up laboratory work and counseling will be conducted at the SHCC Occupational Medicine team (392-294-5700), which is located on the second floor of the Dental Tower in room D2-49. Additional Needle Stick information can be found on the Student Health Care Center site. Questions or comments about this program may be directed to SHCC at 352-265-2727.
Needlestick Protocol (JAX)
If the injury/exposure occurs in JAX during normal business hours, you should report to the Employee Health Office. If the injury/exposure occurs after normal business hours, you should report to the ED in JAX. Additional information for Needle Stick Protocol please refer to the Jacksonville handbook.
Needlestick Procedures (Externships/Non-UF Site)
In the event of an exposure to an infectious or environmental hazard while at the HOST AGENCY, the HOST AGENCY, upon notice of such incident from the student, should provide emergency care. If after normal business hours (or the HOST AGENCY is not cooperative) go to the nearest emergency room.
Needlestick Insurance/Billing Procedures
Students are responsible for submitting any tests and treatments to your insurance company first for all sites. However, if the charges are not covered by the company, the College of Medicine will pay the expenses. No student will suffer any financial hardship as a result of an occupational injury.
If a student’s health insurance carrier has finally determined that it will not cover a medically appropriate course of prophylactic treatment for the student’s potential exposure to HIV (which exposure occurred in the course of the student’s college studies and activities), the College will assist the student and pay for the treatment. A student may request the College’s assistance by discussing their situation with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
Students with Communicable Diseases
In certain situations, students with communicable diseases or conditions may not be allowed to have patient contact. This restriction may be necessary to protect the health and safety of both patients and coworkers.
Persons with the following medical conditions will not be allowed to have patient contact without a medical clearance:
- Active chickenpox, measles, rubella, herpes zoster (shingles), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis
- Oral herpes with draining lesions
- Group A streptococcal disease (i.e., strep throat) until 24 hours of treatment received
- Diarrhea lasting over three days or accompanied by fever or bloody stools.
- Draining or infected skin lesions
- Viral influenza
- COVID 19
If an ill student is unsure whether he/she should participate in patient care, the student should contact the SHCC clinical staff at (352) 294-5700, or the Student Health @ Shands Satellite Clinic at (352) 294-5700.
Standard Universal Precautions
When providing patient care, regardless of the real or perceived communicable disease status of the patient, all students and staff should follow Standard Universal Precautions:
- Wash hands before and after patient contact, according to hospital policy, even if gloves are used.
- Wear gloves when exposure to blood, body fluids, excretions or secretions is likely.
- Use gloves appropriately according to aseptic and/or sterile techniques, and change gloves between patients.
- Wear gowns/aprons when soiling of clothing with blood or body fluids is likely.
- Wear masks, face shields and eye protection when aerosolization of blood or body fluids may occur.
- Dispose of sharps in designated rigid sharps containers.
- Never recap needles or scalpel blades by hand.
- Dispose of waste saturated with blood or body fluids in designated red-bag trash containers.
Airborne and Modified Airborne Precautions
Students will need to be fit-tested for an N95 mask and will be trained to don and doff personal protective equipment prior to initial patient care activities in the firs year and prior to starting their third year.
HIV/AIDS and Other Communicable Diseases
It is the policy of the University of Florida to assess the needs of students or employees with HIV infection or other communicable diseases on a case-by-case basis. If any such infection occurs in a medical student, any recommendations made or actions taken by the College of Medicine will respect the confidentiality and welfare of the student, while also recognizing and responding to issues regarding the welfare of patients, the College of Medicine and the hospital and outpatient clinics. Each student’s situation will be evaluated by the College on a case-by-case basis. With the permission of the affected student, the Director of the Student Health Care Center (a physician) will assist in the coordination of resources and services.
Currently, the UF College of Medicine does not require routine HIV testing of patients, students or healthcare workers. However, it is certainly prudent for individual healthcare workers, including students, to be aware of their own individual HIV status so that they can take appropriate precautions and measures. With current advances in treatment of HIV infection, early intervention can be crucial in maintaining well-being and delaying complications of the illness. If future state or federal legislation were to change guidelines or requirements for HIV testing of healthcare workers or healthcare students, the College of Medicine will comply as required.
In the event of a potential bloodborne pathogen exposure in a student, the medical provider will recommend HIV testing as a baseline and also follow-up intervals of 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. When testing is medically advisable, it is subject to informed consent, and results are treated confidentially.