Community Health Workers: Connecting Communities and Supporting School Nurses

NASN Sch Nurse. 2021 Mar;36(2):99-103. doi: 10.1177/1942602X20976545. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Abstract

For over a century, community health workers (CHWs) have acted as agents of social justice, health care promotion, and change for the underresourced communities they serve and come from. Over 50,000 CHWs are employed in the United States, and this number is growing with the need for CHWs to help fight both the COVID-19 pandemic and social injustice plaguing our nation. Even with many students learning from home, it is crucial that healthcare be integrated into the school system since a child's health greatly affects their ability to learn. CHWs in schools can help overcome community and cultural barriers to connect families to various community resources and provide important health screenings and education. On return to the traditional classroom, the myriad of tasks such as infection prevention, contact tracing, and temperature screening are not feasible for a school nurse to do alone. CHWs may be just the leaders we need to help schools address the challenges faced in 2020.

Keywords: CHW; community health workers; school health care.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / nursing
  • Child
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Health Workers / education*
  • Community Health Workers / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nursing Assistants / education
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • School Nursing / organization & administration
  • United States