How to Become a School Nurse

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Overall general health and well being is essential to all school-aged children to promote their academic success. Healthcare professionals are required to be present in school settings to ensure the health, wellness, and safety of students. School nurses are registered nurses that provide care to children in educational settings.


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What does a school nurse do?

School nurses provide essential care to children in educational environments. They promote health by providing basic health education to students, faculty, and staff. They perform routine vision and hearing screenings and provide the necessary emergency and non-emergency care when health issues arise. They evaluate and monitor all immunizations for each student and make sure the school is meeting the state health regulations. Sometimes school nurses provide care for students with chronic health problems and administer medications. School nurses also organize health fairs and lectures and act as a medical resource by providing essential health information to students, faculty, staff, parents, and the community.

What kind of training does a school nurse need?

School nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree program in nursing. All nursing programs provide intensive classroom and laboratory instruction and supervised clinical experiences. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Some states require school nurses to become certified from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN). Certification requirements include at least a bachelor degree, sufficient work experience, and passing a written examination. School nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills current, and stay up to date on advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a school nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increase in school enrollment will drive job growth of school nurses.

Job prospects should be excellent especially for school nurses with professional certification and extensive experience. Many job opportunities will result from the need to replace school nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do school nurses make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of school nurses earn annual salaries between $35,077 and $55,422. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $65,908 (2).

A career as a school nurse is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care to school-aged children. School nurses must have a thorough understanding of nursing practices and the policies and procedures of educational settings. Patience, compassion, detail orientation, and good decision-making are necessary characteristics. School nurses must have excellent communication skills and the ability to interact with a variety of students, faculty, staff, and other professionals. They must be able to help students feel at ease and they must make effective decisions in emergency situations.

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