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What’s Up Doc? 4 Health Steps to Take Before You Go Abroad

Maintaining a healthy routine takes planning and persistence. So how will your health habits transfer to your upcoming international lifestyle? Read on to discover our newly adopted global health services and the best ways to prepare for good health abroad.

1. Learn About Our New & Improved Global Health Services

In the past, Pepperdine provided study abroad students with emergency health insurance at $100 per use and required students to search for and purchase their own international health insurance for non-emergency care. While this solution sought to best utilize students' existing insurance plans, the feedback we received from students and parents was that their U.S.-based health insurance only provided emergency care abroad. This created a situation where students and families searched for an international health policy on their own which can be a daunting task.

After an extensive research process, we are pleased to announce Pepperdine's University Management Committee agreed in June 2020 to enact a new affordable and high quality global health plan that all IP students will use. Starting in fall 2020, all Pepperdine International Programs students will be automatically enrolled in GeoBlue Health Services which will be accessible through contacting International SOS (our trusted international travel concierge services company).

Below are key points about GeoBlue Health Services:

  • GeoBlue provides coverage up to $250k per person per year and covers routine, preexisting, and emergency care globally (except in the U.S.)
  • No deductible or copay for office visits, inpatient/outpatient hospital services, or emergency services (if reasonable expenses)
  • Students simply contact International SOS through a phone call, email, or chat message through an app and International SOS will provide health advice, telemedicine, or can arrange for an appointment with a local medical provider
  • Students will be charged $250 (or possibly less depending on program length) for GeoBlue Health Services for the fall 2020 semester. This charge will be posted to your student account. Washington, D.C. students are exempted from this charge for fall 2020.

More information about this policy will be shared with students over the coming weeks. Visit our health page for the most up-to-date information.

2. Dr. Fill (Out Your Health Clearance Form)

Before you embark on your international adventure, you need to get some professional medical advice to ensure that you are physically and mentally prepared for the journey ahead. That's why we require you to complete your Health Clearance Form prior to your departure. Instructions are on the first page of the form, but here's the quick version:

  • About 90 days before your departure (or as soon as possible, if you're departing this fall), make an appointment with the student health center, your doctor, a local urgent care center, or at another facility of your choice.
  • Print out the Health Clearance Form and bring it to your appointment. This is a good time to discuss questions like:
    • Do I need any additional vaccines or other medications before my trip?
    • What is the best way for me to access my prescriptions abroad?
    • How can I stay healthy while traveling in this location and in surrounding countries?
    • Are there any particular health concerns related to this location that I should be aware of?
    • Will I need additional clearance from a specialist before going abroad?
  • Follow the instructions on page one. Be sure that the medical practitioner completes page two, including signing, dating and stamping the form. Be sure that you have signed and dated page two of the form. If your doctor asks you to see a specialist, you will need to get additional authorization from them on page two. Complete page three and place it in your emergency envelope (see page 33 of the Student Handbook for more information about the emergency envelope).
  • When your health clearance form is complete, take a photo or scan and upload it to the IP Document Submission Form. The deadline to complete this varies by program, so see below to find out when yours is due:
    • Programs departing in Fall 2020: July 31, 2020
    • Programs departing in Spring 2021: TBA


I attended an IP program in the past. Is my old Health Form still valid?

Health Clearance Forms are valid for one year from the date the doctor signed them, and must be valid for the entirety of your time abroad. If you think your previous health form is still valid, please contact us to confirm.

I'm going abroad this summer and next year. Will my Health Form cover both programs?

See previous question. Your health form must cover you for the entire time you are abroad. Contact us if you have additional questions about this.

How will I know when you have received and approved my Health Form?

We will process Health Forms on a rolling basis and will contact you if there are any issues with your submission.

Can I email it to you/turn in a paper form?

No. We only accept Health Clearance Forms via the IP Document Submission Form.

What if I have additional questions about accessing healthcare in my abroad location?

We encourage all students to call our international travel concierge service, International SOS, before going abroad. It's free! Just call 1-215-942-8226.

3. Prep Prescriptions

If you take prescription medications, it's important to consider how you will access your medications abroad.

If possible, you should bring enough medications to last for the entire time you are abroad, and obtain a letter from your doctor describing your medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Keep this handy in your emergency envelope.

If you have to fill your prescription while abroad, contact your doctor to discuss logistics. Some U.S. prescription medications are illegal in foreign countries and may subject you to arrest (yikes!), so you should also contact International SOS, the travel health and safety concierge service that we work with, to discuss the countries you are visiting or transiting en-route to make sure your medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics in that country. Their number is: 1-215-942-8226. You can learn more about International SOS on our health page.

4. Make a Plan!

It goes without saying that things will be different abroad and especially in a COVID-19 reality. Your access to the same exercise facilities, food options, and U.S. based healthcare solutions that you have at your fingertips in Malibu will change. Fear not - we have adequate health solutions for students at all IP locations! This process starts with making a plan. Take a minute to jot down the most important health questions and concerns you have related to studying abroad. Think about how you might have to alter your routine and habits. Next, break your questions into categories. Here are some resources to help you get the answers you need:

health resources pre abroad

*Click here to view this image as a PDF with clickable links!

Still have questions? Review additional health and safety information on our health and safety page, or contact International Programs.