School-Based Health Clinics, Guidelines

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) strongly believes that all children and adolescents should have access to a medical home that provides high-quality, continuous, and comprehensive health care services. The AAFP supports the selective implementation of school-based health clinic programs in areas where the health care needs of the school-age population are not being met.

School-based health clinic programs have a positive impact on academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and student engagement at school. They can improve adolescent access to health care and health education when integrated with the medical home. School-based health clinic programs should cooperate and communicate with the medical home to assure consistent and quality care.

Clinical services in school-based clinics should be provided by a professionally prepared school nurse or similarly qualified health professional and supervised by family physicians or other physicians trained in the care of children and adolescents. These services can include contraceptive care, sexually transmitted infection, and risk screenings, as well as serving as an access point for subsequent interventions.

Written policies for school health services should be developed by a health council consisting of school and community-based physicians, nurses, faculty, parents, and community leaders. This policy should include a carefully prepared, well-integrated health education curriculum emphasizing positive health practices. School-based health centers must comply with applicable law and other regulatory guidelines to meet the complex needs of adolescents, while respecting their right to confidentiality. (1989) (March 2019 BOD)