Navigating the Health Care System

Nemours Children’s Health developed Navigating the Health Care System (NTHCS) 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, in 2018 Nemours Children’s began making the curriculum available at no cost, nation-wide. Materials are suitable for in-class, in-home, after-school, and community settings, and can be taught virtually.

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?

Content within NTHCS focuses on the following aspects of health literacy:

  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

What age groups is the content intended for?

The original curriculum was designed by Nemours Children’s for use with high-school-aged adolescents and evaluated based on its use with this population. Since national expansion began, the original curriculum has been presented to undergraduate college students and middle school students by members of the NTHCS user community. (Use with these age groups has not been evaluated by Nemours Children’s.)

A one-hour version for adults was released in 2020.

Where can the curriculum be taught?

Materials are suitable for in-class, in-home, afterschool, and community settings. They can be taught in person or virtually.

Who is using NTHCS?

The NTHCS user community includes 800+ registered users, representing 53 US states and territories.

How long does it take to present the modules?

Each of the four modules can be presented in its entirety in roughly 45 minutes. However, it is not necessary to present each module in its entirety in one session. Each module is made up of multiple 10-15 minute activities and discussions. Presenters can combine a many, or as few, activities they want based on the time available.

The adult version of Navigating the Health Care System can be presented in one hour.

What topics are covered?

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, read/interpret 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.  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 Children’s associates are always happy to answer questions, provide technical assistance, and orient users. Please contact us at [email protected] or (302) 650-2328.

What types of materials are provided?

The Navigating the Health Care System suite of materials includes: Facilitator’s Guide, participant workbook, PowerPoint slides for each module including speaker notes, supplemental videos and activities, and optional pre/post tests.

The adult version of Navigating the Health Care System consists of a PowerPoint slide deck that includes fully scripted speaker notes.

What are the costs?

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

How should I acknowledge Nemours Children’s Health if I develop a presentation or publication?

If you mention Navigating the Health Care System in presentations or publications, please use the following acknowledgement:  Navigating the Health Care System is a four-module adolescent health literacy curriculum created by Nemours Children’s Health. Materials are designed to prepare high school and college-age teens to be responsible for managing their own health care as they transition into adulthood. For more information, please email [email protected].

Can I modify the materials?

Yes. Users can add or omit activities as they see fit.  If modifications have been made to Navigating the Health Care System materials, any/all publications and presentations should clearly and consistently indicate that a modified version of the materials was utilized. Why? Navigating the Health Care System is an evidence-based, research informed curriculum. The positive results of Nemours’ evaluation were generated through use of the materials as-is. Modification may result in different outcomes. Users who choose to modify content are strongly encouraged to ensure that modifications reflect current research and best practice.

How can I learn more?

Please email [email protected]

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.


The content contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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