What is a School Nurse?

A school nurse works in a school, college, or university environment, delivering medical care and education assistance.

These healthcare specialists provide medical care to injured or ill students and faculty within an educational setting.

School nurses also educate students, faculty, and communities on how to improve their health and safety.

These specialists teach students the importance of proper healthcare through classroom lectures, educational material, healthcare promotion, videos, counseling, and other forms of academic training.

What Do School Nurses Do?

School nurses perform numerous duties to ensure students, faculty, and communities receive education and medical care.

For instance, they interpret and analyze healthcare issues within a school or community setting.

It enables them to understand health trends and improve the health of the communities they serve.

School nurses also teach students proper healthcare, safety, and sex education.

They provide family education and research potential healthcare problems that may affect students’ health.

It enables them to prevent the spread of specific illnesses or diseases.

As previously mentioned, these healthcare professionals offer medical assistance to injured or ill students and faculty.

They’ll provide medical care and first aid and determine whether students have an injury or illness requiring further treatment.

If students require further care, the school nurses will assist them with getting help at a hospital or urgent care facility.

Ultimately school nurses are in charge of improving the healthcare system of their schools and communities.

They improve student/family education, research new healthcare standards, and provide interventions for better healthcare-related decisions.

They also spend more time on what’s essential to prevent illness rather than waiting for illness and injury.

School Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Educate students and communities about healthcare practices
  • Research health trends and data
  • Implement better healthcare and safety standards
  • Reduce the spread of illnesses through safety and education
  • Determine the injuries/illnesses of students and staff
  • Provide first aid/medical assistance to students and faculty
  • Manage existing medical conditions among students and staff
  • Help staff and students requiring further medical assistance
  • Administer approved OTC drugs (with parental approval)

Below I’ll explore some of the responsibilities and tasks school nurses perform in an academic setting.

Student Education

Through lectures, educational material, and counseling, school nurses educate students about sex education, potential healthcare risks, the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle, and proper healthcare safety.

They also educate faculty and staff to follow proper safety and healthcare procedures.

School nurses provide education to help students live healthier lives, perform safe sex, and reduce the spread of illnesses/diseases.

Family Education

In addition to educating students, school nurses may also provide education and training at the family level.

It ensures that the student and their family promote healthy living within the household.

Some individuals’ healthcare is strongly related to the entire family’s health.

For instance, in homes where an individual is a heavy smoker, bad eating habits may cause illnesses or obesity.

Provide Primary Healthcare to Students

School nurses may perform first aid and non-invasive procedures to provide medical care for sick or injured students.

It includes checking blood pressure, dressing wounds, administering medications, assessing injuries, and assisting students in rehabilitation programs.

They also provide medical assistance to faculty and staff requiring help with injuries and illnesses.

A school nurse’s scope of practice is restricted due to specialization and healthcare supplies.

As a result, they may need to help those with more severe injuries or illnesses receive additional care at a medical facility.

Manage Existing Medical Conditions

Numerous students and faculties may have medical conditions requiring specific care, education, and support.

As a result, school nurses may assist students and staff with distinct medical issues and healthcare needs.

It includes helping students and staff manage diabetes, obesity, asthma, and other long-term health issues.

The Importance of School Nurses

Without school nurses, students’ healthcare standards would dramatically decrease.

Their education and ability to make informed healthcare decisions enable them to reduce health errors and mistakes.

Their education also decreases the odds of preventable injuries, illnesses, and diseases.

School nurses are crucial for keeping their communities educated and safe.

Students and families often decide whether to see a healthcare professional when sick or injured.

However, school nurses are always available and present to assist with their medical needs and provide education and support.

As a result, these experts help bridge the gap in healthcare and education among students, families, and communities.

School nurses play a distinct role in supporting their communities, enabling individuals and families to lead healthier lives.

How to Become a School Nurse

Becoming a school nurse is fantastic for those who want to play a vital role in their community’s education and health.

Nevertheless, there are numerous steps individuals must complete to enter the school nurse profession.

It includes joining a nursing program, Obtaining a degree, passing the NCLEX-RN, and acquiring work experience.

The following section explores each step further to help aspiring school nurses join this incredible profession.

  1. Join a nursing program
  2. Obtain a BSN degree
  3. Pass the NCLEX
  4. Acquire work experience
  5. Get NBCSN certified

1. Join a Nursing Program

The first step to becoming a school nurse is to join a nursing program.

Joining the nursing program requires students to complete numerous prerequisite courses and maintain a good GPA.

The GPA requirements vary depending on the nursing school the student wants to enter.

Joining a nursing program can be challenging for specific schools due to limited seating and intense competition.

As a result, many aspiring nursing students apply to multiple nursing programs to maximize their acceptance odds.

Aspiring nursing students may begin their application for nursing school within their last semester of prerequisites.

Nevertheless, each nursing school is different, and the application requirements may vary.

It’s highly beneficial for students to consult a guidance counselor or teacher to determine the school’s requirements.

2. Obtain a BSN Degree

Students accepted into the nursing program can pursue an ADN or BSN degree.

The ADN degree takes approximately 18 – 24 months to complete and provides a fundamental nursing education.

It prepares students for fast entry into entry-level registered nursing jobs.

This degree is excellent for students who want to quickly enter the field, earn an income and gain work experience.

Nevertheless, many healthcare institutions and academic settings prefer nurses with a BSN for specialized careers.

Aspiring school nurses will want to acquire their BSN degree to obtain a career in this domain.

The BSN takes about 36 – 48 months to complete and provides a more comprehensive nursing education.

It prepares students for more specialized nursing roles and ensures they have sufficient training for advanced care.

That said, some students may obtain an ADN to gain fast entry into healthcare and make a living.

While developing their work experience, they may continue taking an online nursing program to obtain their BSN.

Online nursing programs allow registered nurses more flexibility regarding their time and education.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN

Successful nursing school graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain their licensure.

Becoming licensed is necessary for individuals who want to secure careers as registered nurses.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops the NCLEX exam.

It tests the competencies of nursing graduates to ensure they have sufficient education/training for their nursing roles.

The test is also mandatory to obtain licensing in their state.

Licensing is state-specific, so nurses must apply for new licenses in other states unless they have multi-state licensure.

4. Gain Work Experience

Most schools, colleges, and universities require registered nurses with several years of clinical experience.

It ensures they have the skills to adequately assess and treat students and faculty requiring medical care.

As a result, registered nurses will want to operate in a direct patient care setting to develop first-hand training.

It’s also beneficial to take continuing education courses and obtain certifications that benefit the school nursing job.

No formal work experience is necessary to work as a school nurse.

However, obtaining at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience over three years is recommended.

5. Get Certified

The last step to becoming a school nurse is to acquire NBCSN certification.

Registered nurses must acquire 1,000 hours of clinical experience or three years of full-time academic experience.

Candidates must also satisfy their state’s requirements to become school nurses.

The National Board for Certification of School Nurses administers the exam.

This test ensures that registered nurses have adequate training and experience to operate competently in this field.

It also demonstrates the nurse’s talents, expertise, and dedication to school nursing to schools, colleges, and universities.