School Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
A school nurse is one of the most important nursing jobs there is because parents put their trust in the nurse to care for anything that may happen to their child while at school. Nurses practicing in a school are somewhat of general practitioners as their roles are multifaceted. They deal with all types of illnesses and injuries ranging from headaches and upset stomachs, to falls and broken bones.
The nurse is also responsible for helping to ensure that students and their parents take ongoing health precautions to guard against communicable diseases and outbreaks that can occur in a school setting. Most often the nurse is the only medical professional on site at the school and must have a wide range of knowledge and experience as well as the ability to deal well with children.
How to Become a School Nurse
In order to become a nurse at a school you must first be a registered nurse. When choosing an educational path it is important to concentrate on general and pediatric coursework. A public health nurse is a general nurse that will need to have a great deal of knowledge in a wide variety of medical areas. After first attaining registered nurse status, the aspiring nurse will need to gain experience. The best place to begin getting this experience is by taking an entry level nursing position at a hospital, pediatric doctor’s office, or a general clinic. This will expose you to the many various types of illnesses and disorders that may affect children on a regular basis.
Nurses who practice in schools may elect to join the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). This non-profit organization is designed to assist nursing professionals in promoting student health.
School Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
The first step in becoming a nurse for a school is to enroll in an accredited undergraduate nursing program to attain a nursing degree. Some nurses begin by attaining an associate nursing degree and progress to the Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Many students go on to attain a Master’s degree in nursing with a specialty in general or pediatric nursing. While taking undergraduate courses you should concentrate on taking classes related to general health and to children’s health. It is also important to take some courses that teach how to relate to children and their parents.
The National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) endorses certification for school nurses. To be eligible, applicants should meet the preferred requirement of three years full-time experience working in an academic clinical setting or in a school. The board will consider other combinations of experience and education upon an individual basis. The four-hour exam covers subjects such as health appraisal, health problems, health promotion, special health issues and professional issues. School nurses are organized and mentored through the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). The NASN encourages voluntary certification for school nurses.
School Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
More and more schools are requiring on-site nursing professionals. The position is required at every school including elementary, middle, and high schools across the country. The need for nurses has been climbing and is expected to rise over the coming decades. Students who choose a nursing career can expect a higher than average need for their career throughout their lifetimes. Registered nurses are always in demand and there is reason to believe that the need will increase over time. As the number of schools increases, there will also be an increase in the number of professionals necessary to attend to these students. The salary for a nurse practicing at a school typically ranges from about $48,000 to $62,000 annually based on experience and knowledge.