School nursing can be defined as a specialized practice of public health nursing which seeks to protect and promote student health, foster normal development, and advance academic success. More specifically, a school nurse is a nursing professional who works with students in an educational setting. When a student is sick or injured during the school day, the first person they'll typically go to see for a health assessment is the school nurse. Administering medication to students with ongoing health issues like seizure disorders or juvenile diabetes, stabilizing students until emergency services arrive in the case of a serious injury, and implementing care plans for students with emotional or physical disabilities are all responsibilities of the school nurse.
What Are Some School Nurse Duties?
Tasks and duties that are commonly performed by school nurses include:
Glucose monitoring for students with juvenile diabetes
Carry out hearing and vision screenings as well as other routine health checks
Administer wound care to injured students
Develop and implement strategies to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use by students
Provide resources to students
Teach self-care techniques to students with chronic disorders
Work alongside school faculty to develop a health education curriculum
Assess and treat students with mental health issues
Maintain student health records
Oversee school infection control standards
Assist the families of students to obtain outside healthcare and health insurance in some cases
Respond to health emergencies - performing CPR or other life-saving measures if needed - until emergency services arrive
Educate students on methods that can be used to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
Make sure vaccinations are current and compliant with the school district and state standards
Assist with free and reduced lunch programs
Participate in the educational team which creates and implements an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with learning issues
Where Do School Nurses Work?
While academic settings are the most common workplaces for school nurses, they are occasionally employed in other areas. Typical environments include:
Public school systems (elementary schools, middle/junior high schools, and high schools)
Internationally based schools
S. Department of Health
Overseas military bases
How to Become a School Nurse
Aspiring school nurses will need to obtain a nursing education, become licensed, and gain some experience as a working RN. An interest in children and education is also a big part of this role. Although it's not explicitly required, many school nurses these days will possess a Master's in Science of Nursing (MSN) or a Master's in Education.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
The following are the educational requirements that must be fulfilled before one is eligible for employment as a school nurse:
Hold an ADN degree, BSN degree, and/or bachelor's degree in a health-related field relevant to school nursing from an accredited university or college
Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
Obtain an RN license
Pass the School Nurse Certification Exam
Do School Nurse Need an RN Degree?
Yes, school nurses must possess active and unencumbered RN licenses. In addition to being an RN, school nurses should have a number of years of clinical experience and must be certified by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
Step 2: Required School Nurse Certifications/Credentials
Have no less than 1,000 hours of clinical experience in the previous 3 days
Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
Hold a BSN degree or higher, OR
Hold a bachelor's degree in a health-related field which is relevant to school nursing, with at least 6 total units in the following subjects
Health assessment of children and/or adolescents
Public health/epidemiology/community health
Management of primary health care problems among children and/or adolescents
Certifications must be renewed every five years. Recertifications are based solely on clinical practice hours. In order to be eligible for recertification individuals must maintain an active and unencumbered RN license and have at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the previous 5 years. Of the 2,000 hours, 750 of those hours must have occurred in the previous 3 years.
School Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment
Future demand for school nurses is difficult to predict. With demand for traditional nurses expected to rise substantially over the coming years, it's quite possible that the need for school nurses will also grow. However, it's also possible that school nurses will not see the same kind of growth that other nursing specialties are expected to see in the coming years due to increased budget cuts within the public school system. The good news is that every school needs at least one school nurse, so those who are unable to secure employment in their immediate district can always seek out positions in neighboring districts.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Ability to work well with children/adolescents/young adults, compassion, patience, excellent interpersonal communication skills, strong organizational skills, empathy, emotional intelligence, and dependability
Job Outlook -The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that job opportunities for RNs will increase by at least 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. School nurses, however, are at the mercy of school district budgets, and these will vary based on location.
What Is the Average Salary of a School Nurse?
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for school nurses sits at approximately $47,660. The exact amount a school nurse gets paid will depend on factors like the amount of nursing experience they have, their educational credentials and certifications, the school district who employs them, and the geographical location of their employment. Employment benefit packages will too depend upon similar factors. Although benefits will vary from institution to institution, the vast majority of school nurses can expect health, vision, and dental insurance, and sometimes summers off.