Student Voices

Grinnell: Inside Student Healthcare

Healthcare is probably the least-fun thing about college besides the week right before finals, but it’s also one of the most important and potentially the most confusing. Here’s some insider info on the Grinnell College student healthcare system.The student healthcare system at Grinnell College is made up of several different parts. Some are for Grinnell students only, and others can be found within the community. 

The main college-run health resource is SHAW, which stands for Student Health and Wellness. SHAW offers services for both physical and mental health.  Inside the SHAW office is a large, comfortable waiting room with several smaller examination rooms nearby. SHAW is well-run and has plenty of resources, but it’s a bit understaffed, especially in the mental health counseling department. Students may need to wait a long time to get an appointment. The physical health department is much better; they almost always have appointments open, even at short notice, and can treat minor illnesses and injuries, recommend medical care, and administer pregnancy tests. 

All of SHAW’s services are included in the cost of your tuition. However, SHAW is only open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so if you have an issue outside of that time you will need to either call their hotline or use a community resource. SHAW can provide rides to nearby community services free of charge, but only when it’s open.

Your Options

If you need help after hours, or if you need long-term physical or mental healthcare SHAW isn’t able to provide, there are several resources in the community for you to choose from:

  • GRMC: If you’re having an emergency or need  testing ,  head to Grinnell Regional Medical Center, or GRMC. The GRMC is a fairly small local hospital, and, while it doesn’t have all the resources of larger hospitals, it’s where to go if you need emergency medical attention.
  • Off-Campus: The town of Grinnell also has several doctors, dentists, optometrists, therapists, and other medical specialists. There’s also some excellent resources located a bit farther away, such as the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City and the Des Moines Walk-in Mental Health Clinic. 
  • Student Health Insurance: One last key component of healthcare at Grinnell is the college-provided student health insurance. Every Grinnell student is automatically enrolled in the student health insurance, and, in order to waive your enrollment, you will need to send in a form that says you already have equivalent or better health insurance. International students cannot waive the student health insurance. The insurance costs $1,841 per school year, and dental insurance needs to be purchased separately. The student insurance basically only covers new or temporary problems, and excludes both regular/yearly examinations and medical supplies for most chronic health conditions, as well as most preventative care. You can find more detailed information here. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Your Healthcare

Healthcare at Grinnell definitely has its pros and cons. Both the college and the town of Grinnell have a decent amount of resources, but they’re often understaffed or difficult to access.  If you choose to go to Grinnell, you’ll get a pretty detailed explanation of the college’s healthcare system after you enroll. For now, your best bet is to do some research to determine how far Grinnell’s healthcare system will go towards meeting your personal healthcare needs.