5 Benefits of Getting Involved with Schools: for Health Professionals

Healthy Food Choices in Schools December 23, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

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Health professionals are busy people.  With everything they have to do already, many ask: why should I get involved with one more thing?  Getting involved with school systems will provide many benefits to a health professional while also helping the student body. Here are reasons why getting involved with schools is a great idea!

Children Learn Better

One of the biggest areas of focus for health care professionals is on their clients’ obesity rates and physical activity. Researchers found that children who were active in school, took ‘short breaks’ to do some physical activity, and had their full amount of PE and recess, had higher test scores than those who were less physically active.  “By informing school officials about the health and educational benefits of physical activity and fitness, pediatricians are likely to have a bigger effect on the health of children in the community than would be possible through brief counseling in the office" (4).

Publicity

As professionals are seen working with and in schools, parents, students, teachers, and volunteers will see them and become aware of the many services that health professionals provide to the community. It’s an opportunity to both increase individuals’ competencies and promote the programs each professional offers (1).

Our Future

Collaboration between health professionals and schools can have long-lasting positive effects on youth. For example, a partnership between health care providers and schools in Jackson, Mississippi, researchers found that children became more consistent in their school attendance and their achievement levels went up. The research team attributes this to the fact that “when students feel better, they learn better” (2). When children attend school more frequently, students glean more information which helps them secure a better education and creates more possibilities for their future.

Equal Health Opportunities

Some states use School-Based Health Centers in schools, which brings health care providers to the students. “Maryland children under age 18 had no health insurance and 1 out of every 4 Maryland children under age 18 lived in poverty (3). Uninsured and poor children have less access to health care and often have more chronic health problems than other children”(3). Health care providers looking to help children be healthy will find ample opportunities to help through involvement in schools. 

Broader Clientele Base

As providers work in the schools, they “can deliver primary health care to students, staff, and sometimes the community, through school-based health centers” (5). By increasing publicity and involvement with schools, health care providers accomplish great good because they reach staff members and a broad spectrum of the community. 


Contributor

Sarah RansomUniversity of Tennessee FCS Extension Agent

Sources

  1. American Public Health Association. (2013). Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems & Partnerships.
  2. Jackson Public Schools, Jackson Mississippi. Student health services. (2013, April 30).
  3. Maryland State Department of Education. School based health centers in Maryland. (2003).
  4. Sallis, J. F. (2010, May). We do not have to sacrifice children’s health to achieve academic goals. Journal of pediatrics, 156(5), 696-697.
  5. West Virginia School Based Health Assembly. For medical providers. (2012). 

For More Information

School-Based Health Centers and Obesity Prevention: Changing Practice Through Quality Improvement

School-Based Health Centers: Improving Access and Quality of Care for Low-Income Adolescents

School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

School-Based Health Centers and Pediatric Practice 


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.