What does a school nurse do? He or she provides preventive health services to facilitate the student’s optimal physical, mental, emotional, and social growth and development. She identifies problems and disabilities and provides such services as case finding, health education, referring and care in order to help prevent serious health problems which could later be more difficult and costly to address. A school nurse supports the education process by working to assure the overall health of the students.
The following examples are intended as illustrations of various types of work performed by school nurses:
- Promotes and protects the optimal health status of school age children.
- Provides health assessments.
- Obtains a health history.
- Screens and evaluates findings of deficit in vision, hearing, scoliosis, growth, etc.
- Observes the child for development and health patterns in making nursing assessment.
- Identifies abnormal health findings.
- Develops and implements a student health plan.
- Interprets the health status of students to parents and school personnel.
- Initiates referral to parents, school personnel or community health resources for intervention, remediation and follow through.
- Provides ongoing health counseling with students, parents, school personnel or health agencies.
- Utilizes existing health resources to provide appropriate care of students.
- Maintains, evaluates and interprets cumulative health data to accommodate the individual needs of students.
- Plans and implements school health management protocols.
- Participates in home visits to assess the family needs as related to the child’s health.
- Develops procedures and provides for emergency nursing management for injuries and illnesses.
- Promotes and assists in the control of communicable diseases.
- Provides health education and anticipatory guidance.
- Provides direct health education, and health counseling to assist students and families in making decisions on health and lifestyles that affect health.
- Participates in health education directly and indirectly for the improvement of health by teaching persons to become more assertive health consumers and to assume greater responsibility for their own health.
- Counsels with students concerning problems such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse in order to facilitate responsible decision making practices.
- Serves as a resource person to the school staff members in health instruction.
- Coordinates school and community health activities and serves as a liaison health professional between the home, school and community.
- Acts as a resource person in promoting health careers.
- Engages in research and evaluation of school health services to act as a change agent for school health programs and school nursing practices.
- Provides consultation in the formation of health policies, goals and objectives for the school district.
In addition to working with students, school nurses have other responsibilities, including making home visits, attending conferences, completing medical paperwork, and attending various school meetings. The school nurse is aware of potential health epidemics and disease outbreaks and is prepared to respond to them while advising school officials and parents.
Most states require a four-year degree for school nurses. School nursing services are governed on the state level and are, therefore, subject to state requirements. Many states have specific and/or unique state certification or licensing requirements related to additional preparation beyond RN licensing and/or undergraduate educational degrees.
Most School Nurses are also registered members of the National Association of School Nurses. Founded in 1977, the National Association of School Nurses is the leading specialty nursing organization exclusively representing school nurses. The National Association of School Nurses has a number of member benefits designed specifically to ensure that members are attracted to the organization and that their careers and educational aspirations can be adequately facilitated, thereby enhancing the profession as a whole.
One of the primary ways in which organizations like the National Association of School Nurses can help you if you choose to become a member is by providing you with educational opportunities. The National Association of School Nurses also offers a number of Live Continuing Education Programs specifically designed to provide you with those CEU credits that you need in order to renew your license and remain current as a school nurse. This is available for members of the National Association of School Nurses at vastly discounted rates in comparison to non members.
More on the National Association of School Nurses can be found here: http://www.nasn.org/Home
Educational requirements for the school nurse can vary from state-to-state and even school district to school district. In general, most school districts require that a school nurse be a registered nurse holding either an associate’s degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Most likely the district will want him or her to hold a bachelor’s degree and, perhaps, a master’s degree.
Salaries differ from state to state for school nurses. The median salary for the school nurse, according to Salary.com, is $43,854 with the high end of the salary scale reaching $55,361 and the low end dipping to $35,037. However, just as with the licensing and certification requirements, school nurse salaries vary widely depending on the geographic location of the job.
Are you a school nurse? Are you interested in becoming one? We would love to hear from you, if you leave a comment below.
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