What my ‘summer book club’ taught me about student health centers

Cami Slavkin, summer intern at The L.A. Trust, has been studying the importance of school-based health centers to student health.

 

By Cami Slavkin

As a recent graduate from LACES, a Title I L.A. Unified school without a school-based health center, my knowledge of these health centers was slim. But I was aware of the vital need for their existence, and I knew many of my classmates did not have access to private insurance and quality healthcare, a luxury I took for granted.

Not only was I unfamiliar with how SBHCs were implemented and utilized on campuses, I was didn’t realize the planning, funding and analysis that went into them.

My understanding of these SBHCs greatly increased during the first month of my summer internship at The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health. I had the invaluable opportunity to join the “June Journal Club” with several members of The L.A. Trust staff. Each week we met via Zoom to discuss academic journal articles that made the case for SBHCs and demonstrated the crucial role they play on school campuses.

During these four weeks, we read and discussed a variety of articles, including “Twenty Years of School-Based Health Care Growth and Expansion,” published by Health Affairs, and “School-based Health Services and Educational Attainment,” based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health.

Evolution of SBHCs

I learned about the history of SBHCs, how they’ve evolved over the past 20 years, what services they provide and how they are funded. We read about longitudinal studies discussing the correlation between the presence of SBHCs and students’ school connectedness and future educational attainment. These journal articles showed me how SBHCs impact students and communities, and gave me valuable experience in reading academic peer-reviewed journals.

While I gained a wealth of knowledge from these readings, the group discussions were what really helped strengthen my understanding. These discussions with accomplished members of The L.A. Trust staff delved deep into a variety of topics, and included their first-hand experience working directly with these SBHCs and the students they serve. Their experiences and analysis of each reading gave me a deeper insight into how school-based healthcare works. Hearing of the staff’s encounters at these schools enhanced my understanding of SBHCs and allowed me to better comprehend the studies we read.

I also learned about the importance of the relationship between SBHCs and schools, the power of self-consent, and the influence of public policy. The June Journal Club was a powerful experience.  The knowledge I gained will support me not just during my internship with The L.A. Trust, but throughout my future endeavors. While I not sure what career path I’ll pursue, I am certain I want to make a difference. My experience at The L.A. Trust and the June Journal Club is sure to help me do that.

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