Healthcare Jobs in School Settings

Interested in healthcare? Enjoy working with kids in a collaborative environment? If you’re considering a career in healthcare, you may be surprised to learn that you can find positions in K-12 school settings. 

This blog will highlight three healthcare-related fields that are needed in schools: speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. These professionals address health concerns that can impact a child’s ability to access their education and provide accommodations and services that help them succeed. Below, you will find more details about what these positions entail, as well as examples of students they may support.

Speech Language Pathologists

Speech language pathologists (SLPs) play an important role on school teams. They work with students to assess and treat speech, language, social communication, and swallowing or feeding needs. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one in every twelve kids between the ages of three and seventeen will have a speech, voice, or swallowing disorder. More than half of SLPs work in a school environment, where their role may involve:

  • Conducting screenings and evaluations of students presenting with speech or language concerns
  • Providing individual or group interventions
  • Training school personnel or family members to implement intervention strategies
  • Providing services to general and special education students on skills related to listening, speaking, reading, and writing

Examples of students who may be supported by an SLP include:

  • A student with a developmental delay who has deficits in pragmatic language, such as social communication
  • A student with a hearing impairment who requires an FM system or hearing aids
  • A student with dyslexia who needs support with reading skills

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists (OTs) are members of a school team who help students to access day-to-day activities. This may include activities of daily living, such as feeding, dressing, or personal hygiene; recess, physical education class, or extracurricular activities; or vocational training. In schools, OTs often support students with physical, cognitive, developmental, or learning disabilities to achieve increased independence. Typical work activities for an OT in the school setting may include:

  • Assessing the school environment and making recommendations to improve access and opportunities for participation
  • Completing evaluations and developing individualized intervention plans and goals
  • Providing assistive technology, such as communication devices
  • Working with school staff and parents on strategies to support the student across different settings
  • Recommending environmental adaptations to support access to the school building

Students that an OT may support could include:

  • A student with an orthopedic impairment who has difficulty navigating the school building
  • A student with an intellectual disability who requires support developing vocational skills
  • A student with a poor visual motor coordination that affects handwriting and participation in sports during physical education class

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PTs) support students with physical and functional impairments to improve physical access to their education. School-based PTs collaborate with other members of the school team to support students in developing motor skills or remediating skill deficits. PTs work closely with occupational therapists and speech therapists, as well as teachers, classroom aides, and family members. Typical work activities may include:

  • Assessing and developing individualized interventions for students
  • Modifying the environment to maximize the extent to which students are able to participate in class activities
  • Training and strengthening targeted muscle groups for students recovering from injury
  • Refining motor skills like walking, running, throwing, or catching
  • Educating school staff in strategies for working with a particular student’s needs
  • Supporting parents in developing skills needed to implement exercises at home

Students who may require PT support could include:

  • A student with poor muscle tone who has difficulty maintaining a seated posture at a desk
  • A student with gross motor delays who struggles to to participate in games during recess
  • A student who walks on their tiptoes and is prone to tripping as they navigate the hallway

If you’re interested in exploring school-based healthcare positions, consider scheduling a career coaching appointment through Handshake or connecting with UConn alumni in the field through Husky Mentor Network.

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By Alexandra Pierce
Alexandra Pierce Graduate Assistant, College to Career Transitions & Alumni Services Alexandra Pierce