School nurses regularly provide health advice and counsel as well as medical treatment to staff and students. The scope of their duties encompasses the sexual, physical, emotional, and mental health of students. School nurses may also consult with outside professionals, conduct home visits, prepare health reports, secure medications, and maintain compliance with regulations and laws. These professionals should be organized, patient, and compassionate people who enjoy working with others. School nurses may also be tasked with educating the school community about various health concerns and cares.
Earn a High School Diploma
In order to enroll in a nursing program, you will need to earn a high school diploma or GED. Nursing preparatory courses include psychology, English, chemistry, and biology. Some schools may offer nurses’ aid vocational training classes that focus on body mechanics, nutrition, and anatomy.
Earn a Degree
In order to be a school nurse, you must be licensed, so you’ll need to earn an associate or a bachelor’s degree. These degrees may be earned in two or four years, respectively. Nursing programs train you in treatment procedures, patient care, patient evaluation, pharmacology, and medical terminology. Courses may cover topics such as psychology, gerontology, pediatrics, microbiology, and physiology. Since it takes longer to earn a bachelor’s degree than an associate degree, the former allows you more room to explore different clinical nursing environments and specialties. Both programs allow you to gain hands-on work experience through clinical practicum courses.
You must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to earn the Registered Nurse (RN) licensure. The exam tests your medical knowledge and nursing competency, and it emphasizes common duties performed by entry-level nurses. You will also be tested on your ability to make decisions under critical conditions in different care scenarios.
Pass the School Nurse Certification Exam
Although employment requirements vary, many schools mandate that their nurses pass the National Board for Certification of School Nurses’ (NBCSN) certification test. You must be employed by a school, hold a bachelor’s degree, and be a registered nurse in order to sit for the exam. In addition, three years of experience in a school setting is recommended. The 250-question exam is multiple choice and covers five topic areas, including professional issues, special issues, disease prevention, nursing management, and health appraisal.
If working as a school nurse interests you but you don’t want to become a registered nurse, you could become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and help RNs in their tasks. You may become licensed by taking a year-long course at a technical school or community college and passing the appropriate examination. You may also consider a career as a dental hygienist who provides dental care, including examining patients for oral disease and teeth cleaning.
School nurses can work in high, junior high, private elementary, and public elementary schools. Nearly 3 million people were employed as registered nurses in 2016, with approximately 52,600 of them employed in secondary and elementary private and public schools, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are looking to become a school nurse, you can expect strong job growth, diverse employment possibilities, and a comfortable salary.