Navigating the Health Care System

Nemours Children’s Health System developed Navigating the Health Care System to engage, educate and empower adolescents to be their own health care advocates. The program, which aligns with national and state education standards, was originally piloted and refined in collaboration with schools and other community sites in Delaware. In three academic years of expanded testing, involving nearly 3,500 students in four states, the evaluation showed significant knowledge gains among students as well as high satisfaction among the teachers presenting the curriculum and the teens receiving it. Inspired by the curriculum’s strong evaluation outcomes, Nemours is seeking expansion partners to help us expand our reach, bringing the curriculum to adolescents across the nation via in-class and after-school settings. Nemours is making the curriculum available at no cost.

Why health literacy?

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, and American Academy of Family Physicians recognize that all adolescents require guidance, education and planning to manage their own health care as they become adults.(1) Health literacy is an important life skill. As health literacy increases, people are more likely to seek preventive services and enter the health system healthier, have lower rates of preventable hospital and emergency department visits, and are less likely to report their health as poor.(2)

How does Navigating the Health Care System define health literacy?

For the purpose of NTHCS, health literacy is defined as:

  1. Knowing what to expect as you move through the health care system and as you interact with health care professionals
  2. Having the skills to successfully navigate the health care system, including:
    • Skills for communicating effectively with care providers
    • Skills for self-advocacy

Who is the curriculum intended for?

The curriculum was designed by Nemours for use with high-school-aged adolescents and evaluated based on its use with this population. (It has also been used with 8th grade and undergraduate college students by some of Nemours’ expansion partners- though its use with these age groups has not been evaluated by Nemours.)

Where should the curriculum be taught?

The content can be used in classrooms or in community settings.

Who is using NTHCS?

As of February 2019 the NTHCS user community includes 177 registered users, representing 44 US states/territories + international registrant. The map below reflects the number of registered users per state.


0 Users
1  User
2 Users
3, 4, or 5 Users
More than 6 Users

The map sorts the states equally into five groups.  Map last updated4/28/2020.

How long does it take to present the modules?

The presentation format is flexible, and can be tailored to suit the needs and time frames of users. Each of the four modules can be presented in its entirety in roughly 45 minutes. Several modules can be combined and presented within one session if a longer block of time is available. Each module is made up of multiple 10-15 minute activities and discussions. Modules can be presented in these smaller segments if a 45 minute block of time is not available for an entire module.

What content is included in the modules?

The curriculum includes 4 core modules. Optional add-on modules and activities are also offered.

Module 1: Definitions (health, health care, self-advocacy, health literacy), types of care (emergency department, urgent care, primary care provider), self-advocacy, and personal/family medical history
Module 2: Symptoms, diagnosis, medications and vaccinations
Module 3: Health insurance and adolescents’ right to privacy
Module 4: Practical application of the skills covered through real-life scenarios and role-plays

How do I get trained to present the curriculum?

Presenters can orient and train themselves by using our Facilitator’s Guide, which serves as a dashboard for learning and presenting the curriculum. Links to all curriculum materials are embedded, along with screen shots and sample scripts for each slide within each module. Links to videos of activities being presented are embedded in the guide, to provide a visual for how each activity should flow. In addition to providing all of the links and scripts you’ll need to present the content, the Facilitator’s Guide includes planning prompts to help you prepare for each session. Nemours associates are also available to train presenters. Training can be requested and coordinated by emailing

What types of instructor materials will be provided?

Partners are given access to electronic versions of: training materials, the participant workbook, PowerPoint slides for each module, supplemental videos and activities, and optional pre/post tests. Most materials are available in Spanish.

How do I access materials?

All materials are web-based. Once partners agree to the terms and conditions within the User Agreement, they are given access to materials. Nemours associates will schedule an orientation call with each new partner to walk through all of the materials.

What are the costs?

There are no fees to utilize Navigating the Health Care System materials.

Can I modify the materials?

Yes. Partners can add or omit activities as they see fit.

How do I get started? How can I learn more?

Please email or call (302) 298-7604.

1 American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Physicians; Transitions Clinical Report Authoring Group, Cooley WC, Sagerman PJ. Supporting the health care transition from adolescence to adulthood in the medical home. Pediatrics. 2011;128(1):182-200.


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