What Role Should Schools Play in Community Healthcare?

Updated on September 28, 2023

Community healthcare doesn’t just happen in hospitals or doctor’s offices — it also happens in local schools. Public schools provide a wide range of healthcare services for students at crucial points in their development, as well as valuable resources for parents and teachers. 

Today, public schools in America are under tremendous strain. Budget constraints and labor shortages have left schools struggling to keep up, and healthcare services often fall by the wayside. 

Now is the time to re-evaluate school healthcare solutions to ensure that students, teachers, and families are all getting the care they need. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of in-school healthcare, as well as innovative healthcare solutions that community schools can implement today. 

Why is Healthcare So Important for Public Schools?

Making healthcare available on campus creates a variety of benefits for the entire community. On-site care keeps both students and teachers in the classroom and prevents illnesses and injuries from disrupting important educational moments.

This care also reduces the overall rate of absences across the entire school and minimizes the spread of colds and flus among students. On-site established healthcare services also means schools will be better equipped to respond to larger health crises like COVID-19, should they arise again in the future. 

Unfortunately, many students today don’t have access to regular healthcare outside of school– whether it’s due to a lack of insurance or just a lack of appropriate care providers nearby. 

Nearly one-third of all Americans state that they don’t have access to primary care services. Having basic healthcare services available in school ensures that every student has access to these essential services, even if they otherwise wouldn’t. On-site care is also much more convenient and cost-effective for busy families. 

By offering healthcare services, schools also have the power to identify both physical and mental health conditions in students at an early age. 

For example, many families first learn that their child needs glasses or hearing aids as a result of in-school screenings. Catching these issues early gives families the opportunity to address them right away, and it also ensures that these health issues won’t interfere with their child’s learning and development. 

The Changing State of In-School Healthcare

Healthcare has been a key component of public schools for decades. In fact, most US states started mandating in-school healthcare between 1918 and 1921. Many of these school healthcare laws are still in effect or have even been strengthened, but since 2020, many students have struggled to get the care they need. 

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that schools around the country shifted from in-person learning to online learning, and in many cases, schools had to make this transition in a matter of days. This meant that students no longer had access to in-person healthcare resources. 

While most schools have fully returned to in-person learning as of 2023, in-school healthcare hasn’t quite caught up yet. Many schools had to lay off their nurses and other healthcare staff during the pandemic and haven’t been able to re-fill those roles due to labor shortages. 

Additionally, many school districts have seen their budgets cut, and high rates of inflation mean that funds don’t go as far as they used to. Unfortunately, healthcare services are often one of the first school services to go. Rather than look for a more cost-efficient approach, many schools have instead opted to cut back to the bare minimum when it comes to healthcare services. 

Reprioritizing Healthcare: Strategies For Community Schools

Instead of cutting healthcare services, local public schools should look for a more modern and cost-efficient approach. Now is not the time to skimp on student healthcare services. 

While the spread of COVID-19 has certainly slowed down, the virus is still present, and new health threats could emerge in the future. Additionally, most states still have legislation in place requiring schools to offer at least some healthcare to students. 

Partnering with an external education healthcare provider is one of the most effective ways to do this. Third-party providers have the resources to offer more comprehensive services than you might be able to offer on your own. For example, these healthcare partners already have the technology and training to conduct screenings for a variety of physical and mental health conditions. 

Education-focused healthcare providers can also provide support for immunizations, COVID-19 testing, and other large-scale initiatives that are difficult for schools to implement on their own. These providers can also train teachers and other full-time staff to provide support for healthcare initiatives, which keeps everything running smoothly. 

Additionally, working with a third-party provider tends to be more affordable in the long run than hiring full-time healthcare staff for the same services. You can even customize your healthcare service plan to suit your school’s unique needs. If these services are still outside your school’s budget, consider applying for grants or working with nonprofits to secure additional funding. 

Healthcare Options for Everyone

When your school’s students and staff are healthy and happy, the entire community benefits. Investing in on-campus healthcare solutions is a must for any local school. Reliable healthcare access levels the playing field for students of all backgrounds while saving families time and money. 

Now that students are back in person, it’s time to develop a comprehensive in-school healthcare strategy. For more information on this initiative, connect with Campus Clinic– a trailblazing organization dedicated to providing convenient access to healthcare on school campuses. They’ve already covered more than 600 schools and 650K students, and they’re ready to help your school find the resources it needs. 

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.