Can a school nurse find a hospital job?

  1. Hello everyone, I would love some input from either school nurses who later worked in a hospital or hospital nurses who either themselves came from school nursing first or have coworkers who did. My issue is, I recently graduated from nursing school (with my Masters, I did a direct-entry program) and am interviewing this week for a school nurse position. Ideally I'd like to work on an in-patient floor one day, but the way the job market is in my area, it is almost impossible to get a decent hospital job straight out of school with no experience. My question is, do you think if I got ~ 1 year of school nursing experience, that would count toward the minimum 1 year hospitals seem to be looking for and I could go work on an in-patient unit?? Or is it not "clinical" enough experience. I know school nurses do a lot in regards to meds, diabetes management, handling respiratory emergencies, etc., but do HR departments and nurse managers in hospitals see it that way???

    Also, ultimately I want to get my NP anyway, if anyone can speak on if NP programs accept school nurses (most programs require like 1-2 years of "professional nursing experience") I would love to hear!

    Any input would be much appreciated!!
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    About natka303

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 11


  3. by   SoCalGalRN
    The only people I know who went into school nursing after nursing school did not want to go into acute care. I think you would do better to get experience in a snf if you can't get acute care now but want to eventually. And even then, you basically need to know someone to get you into acute care after non acute care experience.
  4. by   nurseak0
    I am not discouraging you or anything but experience wise- your school nurse work experience might put you on a tight spot
    in competing with other nurses who have actual acute care experience.. but hey, I am no HR or nurse manager. You can
    figure it out somehow and land the job by impressing them in an interview or something
  5. by   AJPV
    It's not that hospitals necessarily think that hospital nursing is superior to other specialties. They simply think (and rightly so) that hospital experience is more relevant for hospital nursing jobs. School nursing is so different that if they were to later hire you as a floor nurse, they would need to give you a much longer orientation - probably the same length as what new grads get. But you you probably wouldn't be looked at as favorably as a new grad applicant since your nursing school acute care clinical experience would be dated. Hospitals are focusing more than ever on the bottom line right now and they are realizing that RN orientation is very costly. If your goal is hospital nursing, I strongly advise doing whatever it takes to get a hospital job - even if it involves moving to a region with a better new grad job market.
  6. by   Meriwhen
    Short answer: yes, a school nurse could find a hospital job.

    Reality: it won't be very easy or very fast, and may require A LOT of work and effort on your part...especially since the competition is stiff. You may have to gain experience via SNF or LTACH first.

    If your goal is a hospital, then look towards hospital jobs even if you need to relocate as the PP suggested. Or take the school nursing job if you get it, and see if you can pick up PRN shifts somwhere or look for the hospital job while working as a school nurse.
  7. by   Nurse ABC
    I am a school nurse who went back to the hospital two different times after working as a school nurse (i had been out of the hospital for over 10 yrs the first time). However, no it is not considered the acute experience hospitals want. I was basically treated like a new grad both times.

    I would be very hesitant working independently as a school nurse without any experience though. I had 1 1/2 yrs hospital experience before working as a school nurse and there were times I felt like I still didn't have enough. You are the sole medical person in the school so you have to have excellent assessment skills and be able to handle emergencies on your own with little to no orientation. You will get things like broken bones, concussions, tube feedings, nebulizer treatments, asthma attacks, insulin pumps, catherizations, child abuse, and many other things you are expected to know how to handle from the first day. However, this is not considered acute care because in the hospital you need to know how to do IV's, interpret labs, collaborate with dr's, hang blood, and a zillion other things that you don't do in a school.

    If I were you I'd try to find a hospital job to get your experience. If jobs are scarce then a school nurse job will at least give you nursing experience of some type which is better than unemployment. Even without experience the school nurse job would be doable. You should call the nursing programs to see if they would accept school nursing as the type of experience they want. I kind of doubt it since as a NP you're going to need more of the hospital type knowledge but I can't say for sure-it may depend on the area of NP you want to do. If its community health it may work in your favor. Good luck!
  8. by   SoDakRN
    It can be done! I started in Psych, then transitioned to school nursing full time and worked PRN at Urgent Care. I am starting a job on an Ortho Neuro Surgical floor now that my kids are older and we can swing rotating shifts in my family life. School nursing is very rewarding and complex, and as Nurse ABC said you are expected to know everything right away since you are the medical expert in the facility. You learn how to quickly assess a situation and have to make fast decisions for the kids, and sometimes staff too.

    I am transitioning to acute care because I too am working on an advanced degree, and want the hospital experience. It also allows more flexibility, as my master's program requires some class time that falls right in the school day when school nursing.

    Good luck!