I went to a Walk-In STI Clinic at the Wellness Center. Here’s how it went.

Editor’s note: This article begins an ongoing series by the Scribe where we explore services on campus in an effort to make other students feel comfortable using health resources available on campus. If there is something you would like us to cover in this series, please email us at [email protected] or reach out to us on Instagram. 

I see emails from the Wellness Center about Walk-In STI Clinics constantly, and I have always wondered what the clinics were like. I decided to see for myself  at the March 20 clinic.  

I’ve had STI testing done off-campus before. I always felt intimidated walking into a lab with an order form for a comprehensive list of STIs. I had never been in the Wellness Center before, so I wanted to see if the experience was different.  

The clinic ran from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. I arrived around 12:15 p.m. TheWellness Center is located to the left of the Rec Center entrance, through a set of silver double doors with green windows.  

The clinic offered chlamydia and gonorrhea tests. A single test was $25 and two were $45, billable to insurance. Students can choose to have samples collected orally, genitally or rectally, depending on where transmission likely happened. Results take 3-5 days to return and are published in the Wellness Center Portal as a secure message.  

According to the CDC, chlamydia and gonorrhea are both bacterial infections that can be treated with antibiotics but can cause permanent damage if untreated overtime. The CDC lists chlamydia and gonorrhea as common STIs, with over 1.5 million chlamydia cases per year since 2018, and over 500,000 gonorrhea cases yearly since 2018.   

The lobby of the Wellness Center is a good size, with brightly colored walls, tea and coffee available to enjoy and many educational brochures. There were no other students in the lobby when I arrived, something I’m sure many students getting tested for the first time are worried about.  

I went straight to the receptionist desk to check in, exactly like any doctor’s office. The receptionist asked for my name, date of birth and if I was here for an appointment.  

I told him I was there for the STI clinic, and he gave me some short paperwork to fill out while I waited for a nurse. The paperwork gave me some important information about when to get an STI test and asked for my home address and preferred pharmacy. The Wellness Center can provide medication, too, so students don’t have to go to an off-campus pharmacy.  

After filling out the paperwork, I waited a few minutes before a nurse called me back. We walked to an exam room, where she went over my paperwork with me to ensure I understood what I was signing. 

Then, she collected my insurance information and had me sign a consent form to be billed for any lab charges not covered by insurance. She offered to answer any questions I had before collecting samples.  

I opted to be tested for both chlamydia and gonorrhea and had oral and genital samples collected. The oral swab was just like a strep test. The nurse took a long cotton swab to the back of my throat, which felt dry and tickly but not uncomfortable.

For the genital sample, the nurse had me choose between a urine sample or a vaginal swab. For the sake of comfort, I elected to collect a urine sample. The nurse walked me back to the bathroom and gave me a cup to collect the sample.  

On the wall, there were instructions on best practices of how to collect the sample. I noticed a red marker on the back of the door, and a note telling patients they could write their initials in red on their sample if they were experiencing partner violence and needed help.  

I collected my sample and left it behind a small metal door in the wall — standard practice of any lab collection site I have been to. The nurse then walked me back to the exam room, had me grab my things and showed me to check-out. Insurance covered the entirety of my test, so I didn’t have to make any payments before heading out.  

I left the clinic at 12:41 p.m., taking less than half an hour for the entire ordeal. By then, other students were in the waiting room.  

I wish the Wellness Center offered more STD tests, like HPV. Viral STIs like HPV require a blood draw, but HPV is another common STI. The CDC reports 13 million new cases of HPV a year, and the virus often goes undetected.  

Overall, I felt good about the clinic. The process took a lot less time than it did at Planned Parenthood. It was far more comfortable and less expensive than ordering lab tests online and going to a busy LabCorp.  

Although this was my first time going to the Wellness Center, it didn’t seem like a scary doctor’s office. I felt safe around the nurse who helped me. She didn’t ask any questions about my sexual practices or make me feel guilty about getting tested.  

The Wellness Center offers STI testing by appointment year-round, along with other services, just like a primary care office. Notices of the upcoming walk-in clinics are typically sent via email, but information about any services offered can be found on their website.

A Wellness Center exam room. Photo by Kaylie Foster.