Every school district should have a school physician and every school building a school nurse, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The policy statement, “Role of the School Physician,” is published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics (released online Dec. 31, 2012).
Ideally, a school physician should be board-certified in pediatrics or a physician with an expertise in pediatrics. A school physician can enhance student achievement by encouraging physical activity and better nutrition, and can improve student attendance by assisting in managing asthma and diabetes and paying attention to chronic school absenteeism. School physicians can bring valuable health services to a school and can prevent potential district liability issues by implementing concussion management programs, and recommending climate safety standards for outdoor activity and emergency response procedures. A school physician can also promote strong alliances among the medical home, the family home, and the educational home.
The policy statement also makes several recommendations for pediatricians to support and work with schools in their communities to develop sound health policies.