How to Become a School Nurse

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How to Become a School Nurse: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a school nurse, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a school nurse:

 

• You have knowledge of pediatric, public health and mental health nursing

• You are able to accurately assess rapidly changing health conditions

• You have basic knowledge of immunology and vaccinology

• You have confidence when presenting ideas to students, their families and school staff

• You enjoy working with children, teens, family members, educators and administrators of diverse backgrounds

• You enjoy frequent, meaningful contact with students and families

• You have an interest in serving the individual student as well as the community at large

 

Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a school nurse. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!

 

 

Education Needed to Become a School Nurse

To become a school nurse, you must first become a registered nurse (RN)*. There are different educational requirements for becoming an RN in Canada and the United States.

 

Canada: In Canada, you must first earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree in order to qualify for becoming a Registered Nurse.

 

United States: In the United States, you can qualify for becoming a Registered Nurse by earning a Nursing Diploma, an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

 

Registered nursing education covers classroom instruction in the life and social sciences as well as extended clinical experience in a variety of health care settings.

 

*Although some schools do hire licensed practical nurses (LPNs) for school nurse jobs, they are mainly hired to carry out specific functions, such as administering immunizations or giving presentations. Schools that employ school nurses are typically looking for registered nurses (RNs).

 

 

 

What is a School Nurse?

School nurses are nursing professionals who develop and implement health plans within a school or multiple schools within a district, dispense medications to students, and serve as a resource for teachers, students and their families with regards to health information.

 

School nurses are typically registered nurses (RNs), although some may be licensed practical nurses (LPNs). RNs are responsible for the overall coordination and direction of nursing care, whereas LPNs have the limited responsibility of assisting in the delivery of nursing care under the direction of an RN. For example, their primary function may be to carry out immunization services in schools.

 

 

School Nurse Job Description

The main responsibilities of a school nurse are to provide nursing care and health counseling to students and staff. This involves intervening with actual and potential health problems, providing case management services, and promoting health and safety within the school.

 

The scope of providing nursing care and health counseling involves working closely with school administrators, teachers and the families of students to develop and implement nursing care plans, creating goals for the plans, and monitoring them in order to ensure they are achieving the desired outcomes.

 

The plans that school nurses typically develop include goals such as creating a learning environment that meets the physical, mental and emotional health needs of students. For example, may initiate or help develop anti-bullying campaigns and other programs, and help develop and teach health classes.

 

Other goals typically involve building student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self-advocacy, and learning, all within a mental, physical and emotional health capacity.

 

 

School Nurse Job Duties

• Develop and administer health care initiatives within the school or school district

• May develop and/or instruct health and nutrition classes

• Serve as resources for faculty who are teaching health-related content

• Administer regular dental, hearing and vision screenings

• Assess the status of a student’s immunization documentation

• Create health plans for individuals with specific health needs

• Administer specific immunizations, such as Tetanus shots

• Handle minor health issue that occur on a daily basis

• Initiate or participate in the creation of anti-bullying campaigns and other programs

• Liaise with parents regarding the health of children

 

 

Who Hires School Nurses?

Not all school nurses are hired as a dedicated, full-time nurse for a specific school. For budgetary reasons, many school nurses cover several schools within a certain school district. The following types of organizations hire school nurses on a part-time, full-time, contractual or on-call basis:

 

• Public, vocational and alternative schools primary, middle and secondary schools

• Private, Parochial and Charter schools

• Local Boards of Education

• Public Health Departments and Agencies

• Hospitals and other health care facilities

• Universities and colleges

 

 

 

Find School Nurse Job Opportunities

School Nurse Jobs - Canada

 

School Nurse Jobs - United States

 

 


 

 

Certification/Licensing Needed to Become a School Nurse

In all Canadian provinces and territories (except Québec) and all American states, registered nurses (RNs) must be licensed by their provincial/territorial/state regulating body.

 

While licensing standards vary by region, candidates must usually hold a degree from an approved nursing educational program and pass the qualifying exam, which in Canada is the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE), and in the United States is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

 

Those who wish to become school nurses may pursue voluntary national certification (United States), which is jointly administered by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN). Candidates for this certification must meet education and experience requirements and pass an exam.

 

 

Skills Needed to Become a School Nurse

In order to become effective in a career as a school nurse, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:

 

• Knowledge of pediatric, public health and mental health nursing

• Able to promptly and accurately assess rapidly changing health conditions

• Basic knowledge of immunology and vaccinology

• Knowledge of relevant legislation, as well as school law and policy

• The ability to work both independently and collaboratively

• Strong organizational skills and accurate record keeping ability

• Able to manage health programs effectively

• Able to advocate for change, when needed

• Able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with school administrators and the families of students

 

 

Characteristics Needed to Become a School Nurse

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a school nurse, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as a school nurse is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.

 

• Leadership, initiative and accountability

• Confidence when presenting ideas to students, their families and school staff

• Enjoy working with children, teens, family members, educators and administrators of diverse backgrounds

• Enjoy frequent, meaningful contact with students and families

• An interest in serving the individual student as well as the community at large

• An interest in working in a school environment 

 

 

School Nurse Salary

The salary level of school nurses can vary, depending on the following factors:

 

• Their level of education

• Their level of experience and aptitude

• Their level of responsibility

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work

 

School Nurse Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Registered Nurses occupational group earn an average salary of $63,922 per year.

 

School Nurse Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary of Canadian workers in the Registered Nurses occupational group is $51,038 per year.

 

School Nurse Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of American workers in the Registered Nurses occupational group is $68,910.

 

 

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School Nurse Career: Work Environment

Working Hours: School nurses typically work during school hours, although they may have to work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, statutory holidays and on call hours, in order to fulfill some of their job duties.

 

Work Setting: School nurses spend the majority of their workday in school health offices, which may be spacious and well-stocked, or cramped and lacking supplies. School nurses also spend some of their working day moving around the school in order to assist students, attend meetings, give presentations and observe learning. School nurses may occasionally meet outside of the school in order to meet with health care providers, public health professionals, and parent groups.

 

 

Careers Similar to School Nurse

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to School Nurse, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Child Life Specialist

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Sexual Health Educator

Registered Nurse

School Counselor

 

 

References: School Nurse Career Information

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a school nurse.

 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

National Board for Certification of School Nurses website: www.nbcsn.org

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

National Careers Service website: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

 

 

Scholarships for Becoming a School Nurse

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a School Nurse can be found on our Nursing Scholarships page.

 

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!

 

 

Becoming a School Nurse: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a school nurse. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 

Nursing  

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