AAP: Each School District Should Have a School Physician

(HealthDay News) – School physicians play an important role in promoting the biopsychosocial well-being of children in school settings, and every school district should have a school physician, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement published online Dec. 31 in Pediatrics.

Noting that the school physician can be involved in a range of mandated services, including as an advisor to a school health group or leading school health programs, as well as carrying out physical evaluations and consultations, Cynthia Dilaura Devore, MD, and colleagues from the AAP Council on School Health, have made recommendations for school physicians.

The Council recommends that pediatricians should advocate for a school physician in all school districts to oversee health services, and that these physicians should have defined roles and responsibilities outlined in a written contract. In districts without school physicians, pediatricians should provide education about the benefit of a school physician and the value to the child when there is a coordinated effort among the child’s medical home, school, and family. Pediatricians should work closely with the school health services team. School physicians should be experts in key health topics and should learn about the medical-legal environment in which they work. Community pediatricians should also be knowledgeable about key school topics and how to function effectively with the schools of their patients. AAP districts should advocate for additional research on the benefits of school physicians.

“By understanding the roles and contributions physicians can make to schools, pediatricians can support and promote school physicians in their communities and improve health and safety for children,” the authors write.

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