Proud nurse Candace at her nursing graduation – Photo Courtesy: Tony Alter
Everyone remembers the school nurse from when they were growing up. She would take temperatures, apply ice packs, and call your parents if you got hurt and needed to go home. Being a school nurse involves watching over the health and wellness of an entire school.
If you are considering this rewarding job, here is an overview of both the job and its requirements.
What Does a School Nurse Do?
Beyond checking for fever and applying ice packs to boo boos, a school nurse plays a vital role in a school. The school nurse is the dedicated enforcer of school health rules: a nurse checks for lice, evaluates if a child is too ill to stay in class and administers medication to students who need it during the school day.
A school nurse is also a health advocate and educator for both the children and the families in their school district. Nurses in secondary schools may, depending on school policy, administer prophylactic devices to students who request them. Not all school districts can afford a full time nurse in each school, and there may be some travel involved so that a nurse can visit several schools in a day.
Unique Challenges For School Nurses
Along with the wonderful interactions that a school nurse has with the parents and students in her care, there is a unique drawback that all school nurses have to deal with. In a hospital setting, a nurse has peers and management with a medical background. Working in schools, a nurse has to contend with management that is non-medical and has to explain the reasons for the treatments and care that the nurse has administered.
There is also a lot more paperwork for a school nurse to fill out. It is necessary to document action that was taken in the course of a school day. Also, since a school nurse is a public employee, there is usually many more rules and policies restricting the care that a school nurse can give.
How Do You Become A School Nurse?
Most states require that a school nurse has earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing, has become a registered nurse, and has earned a school nurse certification. Many colleges and universities, as well as accredited online schools, offer all the degrees and certificates necessary for a career as a nurse.
After earning the required degrees to become a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Bear in mind that the requirements to be a school nurse may vary slightly from state to state, and it is best to confirm with your local department of education.
A School Nurse is an ‘Asset’
A school nurse is an asset to both the school and the community in which they work. If you are thinking about nursing, consider being a school nurse. This nursing specialty allows for the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health of children. School nurses can form lasting relationships with both students and their families over the course of their career.
You may find a real life nursing experience of a school nurse helpful in making your decision here.
Gia Hammond is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in education. Go here to read her work and check out degree programs in health.