In light of last year's low sexual health ranking on Trojan's annual Sexual Health Report Card, the Women's Clinic, located on 1800 Volunteer Boulevard, understood it's importance to the campus community.
"We are very willing to meet our student's reproductive health needs," said Anita Blatnik, advanced nurse practitioner at the Women's Clinic.
A branch of Student Health, the Women's Clinic provides a variety of contraceptive resources in-house and can also prescribe virtually any contraceptive available within the community, including birth control pills, NUVA rings or IUDs. With the UT Pharmacy on campus as well as the clinic, students can often have prescriptions filled within the same day as an appointment with a UT physician.
Condoms are the only contraceptive resource on campus that is available without charge. However, condoms are only offered to students seeking other forms of contraception, and are encouraged to be used solely as a back-up. Condoms are generally given to students at appointments.
"Condoms are part of having them here for students that are here for a visit," Blatnik said. "(Students that) just want to talk about birth control or are not starting it that day, but there are condoms available so they can protect themselves. ... It's a service for students who are coming in any way for an appointment."
Yet, Blatnik stated the center does want condoms to be readily available.
At the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, located on 1547 West Clinch Avenue, however, Alice Mooreland, the office manager, frequently doles out free condoms to any needing male or female who requests them, no questions asked.
"There is a jar at the front desk, and males and females may come in and grab some," Mooreland said. "It is not sitting out, but it's a very 'open and friendly' environment."
The UT Women's Clinic generally provides condoms by necessity.
"Our approach to that is if people can't afford condoms, we want to make sure that that is not a barrier," Blatnik said.
Both the UT Women's Clinic and KCRH also provide STD testing. Through a free appointment on campus, chlamydia and gonorrhea are tested jointly for a cost of $32, a test for syphilis tests cost $6 and herpes testing costs $31. KCRH offers the same selection of tests costing $50, $20 and $25 respectively. These costs are paid in addition to an office visit fee which amounts to $62 for first-time visitors and $57 for returning patients.
To receive a birth control prescription from the UT Women's Clinic or Student Health Center, a student must first make an appointment with a physician. This appointment will consist of an interview to discuss various options for birth control, a physical exam, and, if necessary, a pelvic exam. PAP smears start when a woman is 21, and are not always necessary when prescribing birth control, Blatnik said.
Because the university is unable to bill various private insurances, students with private insurance are generally referred to an office within the community. However, Student Health and the Women's Clinic can accept the United Health Care Insurance offered through UT, which is commonly used by UT graduate students.
Students without private insurance have access to the wide variety of generic birth control brands stocked in the UT Pharmacy. A birth control pack which lasts 4 weeks is available for $15 without insurance. Students with private insurance that already have prescriptions for birth control and do not need one written by UT physicians can have their prescriptions filled for free at the UT pharmacy, if permitted by their insurer.
Due to convenience, Blatnik confirms that students generally use the UT Pharmacy after receiving their prescription. Most often, Blatnik sees students seeking oral contraceptives, NUVA ring and IUDs.
Mooreland at KCRH also confirmed that students come in seeking birth control pills "all the time," and that is what is most commonly asked for. Mooreland also stated she sees students using KCRH as an alternative to Student Health simply because they may feel that the university clinic is "too close to home."
For many years, the reproductive health needs of the campus population were served by the Knox County Women's Health Clinic, an entity located on campus grounds but unaffiliated with UT.
"When I became director in 2000 we weren't allowed to hire a nurse practitioner until 2007 for the first time and were able to start a Women's Clinic," Boyle said. "We were the only college this size that didn't have a women's clinic."
After years of competing with the Women's Clinic established in March 2007, the Family Planning Clinic was no longer a necessity on campus by 2011 and closed its doors for good.
"It's a real gold star for us to have the Women's Clinic," said Jim Boyle, the director of Student Health at UT. "It has been well received by the ladies on campus, and I think we fill the niche."