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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 the best ways to prepare for good health abroad.

1. Learn About Our Global Health Services

As an International Programs participant*, you will be automatically enrolled in GeoBlue Health Services which will be accessible through contacting International SOS (our trusted international travel concierge services company).

Key points to know about GeoBlue Health Services:

  • GeoBlue provides coverage up to $250,000 per person, per year, and covers routine, preexisting, and emergency care globally (except in the United States).
  • There is no deductible or co-pay 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 for GeoBlue Health Services at the beginning of the semester. This charge will be posted to your student account. Details on specific costs will are available on our finances page.

*If you are attending the Washington, D.C. Internship Summer program, you will need to utilize your personal health insurance for your health care needs. Participants are responsible to pay for their own health care. It is important that you communicate with your health care provider(s) to ensure your health needs will be met. Here are some good questions to ask your health insurance provider before you depart: 

  • How will I access health care while in D.C. and the places I plan to personally travel to?
  • What are my co-pays/deductibles and how are they managed?
  • Are out-of-network providers allowed in the insurance plan? If so, what is the process?
  • How can I access my prescriptions while studying away?

Still have questions about health insurance? Visit our health page for the most up-to-date information.

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

Before you embark on your study away 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:

  • When you are directed to do so by International Programs, 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. 
  • When your health clearance form is complete, take a photo or scan and upload it to etrieve (log in to etrieve and search for "IP Study Abroad Health Clearance" then follow the prompts). You must turn in your health clearance form between 90 and 45 days prior to your program departure. The exact deadline to complete this varies by program. 


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

Health Clearance Forms are valid for 365 days 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 etrieve.

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.

Am I required to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Learn more regarding current COVID-19 vaccination requirements on  International Programs' Global Policies page

3. Prep Prescriptions

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

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, 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

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