If you’ve ever wondered what a school nurse does, the simplest answer is everything possible to keep the students and staff emotionally, mentally and physically healthy. They also help teachers develop a curriculum for health and physical education programs. Here is an overview of school nurses, including how to become one, their career outlook and a list of what a school nurse does.
What is a School Nurse?
A school nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who works in a school or for a school district. The school nurse is not only educated on the basics of nursing but is also trained to work with children and recognize health issues and determine the best health treatment plan. School nurses work as health care leaders in their communities.
What a School Nurse Does
The responsibilities of a school nurse may vary depending on the school district, the school size and the state requirements. School nurses often share similar responsibilities and perform the following tasks:
- Evaluate and monitor sick or injured children.
- Act as child advocate in recognizing families in need of social services intervention.
- Recognize potentially serious health problems
- Create and implement disease prevention programs
- Promote health wellness, hygienic health measures and disease management
- Communicate with parents and family doctors
- Administer prescription medicine and education teachers on correct procedure
- Administer basic first aid
- Create and manage individualized education plans
- Perform medical procedures for physically disabled students
School nurses typically oversee health services departments, offer outreach programs that promote wellness among students and their family members. School nurses also offer their professional opinion on physical education, athletic and nutrition programs. When answering the question of what a school nurse does, the duties and responsibilities seems to be almost overwhelming.
How to Become a School Nurse
To become a school nurse, the individual must be a registered nurse, which can be accomplished by completing an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the RN exam. However, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommends that school nurses complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program and have RN certification.
Nurses are required to be licensed in every state, but each state may also have specific requirements regarding school nurses. Students in a nursing program complete classroom instructions and an extensive clinical internship in a health care setting. Once the student completes the training, he or she must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain licensure. While it may not be a legal requirement, the NASN recommends that the aspiring school nurse become nationally certified by earning the National Certified School Nurse credential.
In addition to passing the exam, the RN must meet both educational and work experience requirements to be eligible for the NCSN certification. Some schools also like to employ school nurses who have at least two years of experience working in an acute care setting.
Related Resource: 5 Jobs With a Master’s in Public Health Degree
Career Outlook for School Nurses
In an effort to keep our children healthy, school nurses are highly in demand. Registered nurses in general are expected to see a 15 percent increase in job growth between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on a March 2018 report by Salary.com, school nurses earned a median annual wage of $48,195. Because of everything a school nurse does, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every school have at least one registered school nurse employed.