So You Want to be a School Nurse?

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School nurseThis year, the Academy of American Pediatrics released a new recommendation that every K-12 school have at least one full-time nurse on staff. Why the change?

Traditionally, school nurses have been shown to decrease absenteeism by helping to keep the student body healthy. That’s still true, but the need has grown, with more and more students requiring medical assistance to handle issues like chronic asthma, allergies, and diabetes.

School nurses’ responsibilities have grown too, as they now work with pediatricians to help manage ongoing conditions or health needs of students. In addition to working with individual children’s health plans, school nurses play an important role in promoting public health, too, by addressing issues like potential child abuse, substance use, immunizations, and healthy eating.

What does a school nurse do all day?

A school nurse’s day-to-day is as varied as any other nursing role, just with the focus on the needs of children while they are at school. The role changes with the age of student population, but there are commonalities.

These include:

  • Assessing injuries or illness
  • Identifying potential health risks to the school population at large, like disease
  • Helping families implement treatment plans in the school environment
  • Administering medicine
  • Providing hearing and vision screenings
  • Assessing the mental and physical health needs of students

What’s the pay?

School nurse salaries fall in a range, and depending on the school, they can come from very different funding sources, like public health departments or boards of education, or religious groups in private school settings. Most school nurses report making $40,000 to $60,000 a year, though some school nurses can work part- or full-time at per diem or hourly rates as well.

Requirements

To be a school nurse, you’ll need to be a registered nurse and probably hold a BSN or higher, as well as certification from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.

To get certified, you’ll need to pass a test, as well as have at least 1,000 hours of clinical practice under your belt. Requirements for school nurses can also vary by state. For example, some states require additional educational credits before you can work in a school. So you’ll want to check out the state board of education requirements in the specific state you want to work in.

Resources

To find out more about what it takes to be a school nurse, check out the National Association of School Nurses site. And for more info on getting certified, the National Board for Certification of School Nurses offers a variety of resources, including how to sign up to take the exam.

And, if you’re ready to start job hunting, be sure to look into your state’s department of education postings, as well as general online job boards – they’re posted in both.

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