School nurses have been around forever. Ask any parent or grandparent and chances are they’ve made an occasional trip or two to the nurse’s office during their school days. Of all the nursing careers out there, the role of the school nurse is still very much in demand.
With the change in times, the responsibilities and daily routine for a school nurse has shifted slightly. In addition to tending to scrapes and cuts, this kind of nurse has moved into an educator role. They don’t just treat students for various ailments or injuries that occur on campus, they work to ensure and promote a healthy and safe lifestyle for students to follow.
What Does a School Nurse Do?
School nurses work with students in a one-on-one setting, similar to the doctor-patient relationship. While specific responsibilities vary, common tasks include but are not limited to making sure students meet the criteria for school entry health requirements, maintaining health records and cases, caring for students suffering from chronic pain or conditions and providing health, wellness and safety information to staff and students by implementing programs or speaking at meetings.
Educating staff and students about how to live healthy has become one of the biggest priorities for school nurses.
Where Do School Nurses Get Hired?
Aside from the standard elementary, middle school and high school environments, school nurses could find themselves employed at any number of places, such as a college or university campus, within a public health agency or department, hospital, private school, charter school, parochial school or department of health, to name a few.
This role involves interacting with students in a medical setting but may also require operating within an office environment. From time to time, school nurses also get outside of their natural work environment to speak in classrooms, lecture halls or other locations where their expertise and insight is needed.
How to Become a School Nurse?
To have the best chance at starting a career as a school nurse, candidates should ideally graduate with a 4-year Bachelor’s degree from an approved training program or academic institution, as well as obtain their license by successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
As an added step, earning an RN certification is also highly recommended by the National Association of School Nurses. While voluntary, having this certification listed on a resume is an effective way to stand out among other candidates.
After completing the educational requirements, it is important for aspiring school nurses to gain work experience–preferably in acute care. While the amount of work experience employers call for varies, a minimum of two years working in a real world medical setting is typically more than enough to be seriously considered.
The Future of School Nursing
Similar to other healthcare professions, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for school nurses will continue to grow by as much as 26% until 2020. This promises a bright outlook for future school nurses. However, with many schools suffering from major budget cuts, it is important that school nurses choose their employers wisely.