How to Become a School Nurse: Requirements & Certification

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A school nurse is an essential member of a school site. Not only do they ensure the health and safety of all students, but they also are trusted sources of information and expert guidance for the educational community. School nurses serve a more critical role than ever with increasing factors, such as stress and disease, affecting students’ physical well-being.

What a School Nurse Does

School nurses are the go-to whenever students feel ill, suffer an injury, or are concerned about their health. When a child doesn’t feel well, it directly impacts their educational progress. By providing the specialized care that each student needs, these nurses help all children succeed in school. They have many roles and responsibilities, including:

  • Provide healthcare services to students. The nurse provides assessment, intervention, and evaluation of all students. Besides analyzing the physical condition of children, nurses check in on the emotional, mental, and social demands affecting kids.
  • Serve the school community. As integral community members, school nurses design and implement individual, school-wide, and district policies and procedures. They also participate in school safety plans, help coordinate emergency drills and procedures, and confront bullying and violence issues.
  • Focus on community health, care coordination, and quality improvement. A critical role of the position is to inform and protect the greater community, helping to educate and guide others in disease prevention and health promotion. They also coordinate care between medical professionals, the family, and the school, including specialized situations such as IEP implementation. They also work on quality improvement, a repeating and systematic process, to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Have unique responsibilities. School nurses span the worlds of education and medicine. Like other nurses, they deal with physical ailments, but also tackle school-based concerns such as social problems and conditions that interfere with learning. As a result, they have diverse roles separate from nurses in other settings. For example, leadership is a primary requirement in school nursing, involving teaching physical and mental health programs.

How to Become a School Nurse

Below we take a look at some of the requirements for becoming a school nurse.

Earn A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Becoming a school nurse is challenging yet straightforward. Candidates must graduate from an accredited nursing program, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. However, many school districts require additional education and certification. The National Association of School Nurses recommends schools and facilities hire Registered Nurses with a 4-year BSN degree or higher, meaning you would benefit from becoming an RN.

Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)

To become a registered nurse, you must first complete prerequisites for your BSN degree. The next step is to attain your BSN degree by completing four years of comprehensive nursing education, including coursework in leadership, interpersonal communication, and clinical nursing. Additionally, all RNs need to pass the National Council Licensure Exam – or NCLEX. Finally, one must apply with the state’s board of nurses.

Meet The State’s Requirements of Becoming a School Nurse

School nurse requirements vary by state, it is a good idea to check your state’s regulations. After you have achieved your RN status, you may need to be certified. Depending on the location, nurses may be required to get certification by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. To be eligible for the School Nurse Certification Exam, students must have at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience or three years of full-time academic experience. Upon passing the exam, you may apply to school nurse positions.

Where Do School Nurses Work?

School nurses work in a variety of school-based positions. Depending on the candidate’s preferences and where jobs are available, there are several options to pursue. Some of these locations include:

  • Daycare centers
  • Public elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Private schools
  • Summer camps
  • Charter schools
  • Colleges and universities

As you can see, if there are children or students present at the site, school nurses can work there.

School Nurse Salary

The salary of a school nurse can vary depending on several factors. Your location, experience, academic setting, and your educational and certification levels all play a role. However, the average school nurse’s salary across the country is $48,330. Obtaining an RN license boosts your pay, as do other certifications that you can add to bolster yourself professionally.

Ready to Become a School Nurse?

So, you want to become a school nurse, which is an excellent decision. Remember to obtain your BSN degree, get your RN license, apply to the state board of nurses, and ideally become certified via the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. After those steps, you will be on your way to the school nurse position of your dreams.

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Tera Rowland
Contributor Tera Rowland

Tera Rowland is the vice president of Soliant and has worked in the healthcare staffing industry for almost 20 years in public relations, social media, marketing and operations. In addition to Soliant, Tera worked at the Mayo Clinic as an internal communication manager and for the Children’s Miracle Network. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and the American Staffing Association. Also, Tera has served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Forum as part of the communication committee. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations as well as a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of North Florida and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare Traveler Magazine, and Scrubs Magazine. Make sure to read the rest of Tera's blogs!