Change of Heart

  1. Hi everyone. I'm writing this out of extreme frustration and pure burn out. I am a critical care float pool nurse. I've only been a nurse for a little over a year, but I am already burnt out from getting dumped on by the ICU and ER. I have learned so much, and I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've been given, but I am in desperate need of a change. In total, I've worked in emergency services as an EMT and ER tech for 6 years, and a CC RN for 1 year. I was essentially burnt our before I even became an RN.

    Right now I'm working on my BSN and taking a community health class. I am in love with the goal of keeping people out of acute care, and in particular, I love working with kids when I'm in the ER. I think school nursing may be my dream job.

    Can you experienced nurses lend me some advice? Where do I start and what education will I need? What is a typical day like and what are the responsibilities? What do you do during the summer to support your income? I'm in Oregon.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   GdBSN
    Welcome! You could first start by finding the state requirements and individual district requirements. NASN is a great resource. Look through the endless posts here in the school nurse section to get an idea of what we deal with everyday. IMO school nursing is the best job ever, but it does come with its own set of frustrations. This is the best site to ask questions. Good luck on whatever you decide.
  4. by   Jen-Elizabeth
    Look into becoming a sub. It is the best way to spend a day in the school and see what is all about before making a commitment. Check with your state, as some don't require certification to become a sub. It is how I started.

    I second NASN as a resource.

    My job pays me over 12 months, so I don't have to supplement, per say. But it will depend on your pay. My state, while way less than a hospital RN, pays school nurses much better than some other states (of course, factor in my state's cost of living and...) But lots of us work summer school, at a summer camp, or PRN at a hospital. Me, I leave nursing behind for a couple of months and work as a technical director for a couple of weeks at kids' theater camp .
  5. by   Cattz
    Oh good luck. We are so glad you came here. This job has own very own unique set of frustrations. Paperwork and not ever having the same kind of day 2 days in a row! Some are crazy and some are really crazy. Check what your state requires. This is my bottom line. I will take the worst day as a school nurse over the best day I ever had working in the hospital. Keep us updated! And come back and hang around with us!
  6. by   GdBSN
    Quote from Cattz
    This is my bottom line. I will take the worst day as a school nurse over the best day I ever had working in the hospital.
    ^^^^This...all day long!!!^^^^
  7. by   ruby_jane
    Whether you need your BSN in OR to be a nurse, I can't tell you. But that's easy to look up. Your critical care background will make you an asset for sure. The only problem I had (and it wasn't really a problem) coming from ICU was that I tended to see the zebras instead of the horses...I was looking for the really bad when it was almost never really bad. A couple years of school nursing fixed that but the first year I sure was jumpy.

    Typical day - there is no such thing: depending on how many daily medications you have, how many diabetics you have (younger ones will likely need one-to-one assistance, some of the older ones can do it all for themselves). Your months will flow something like this: get all the vaccinations in order prior to the school starting/within 30 days (in TX we have provisional enrollment for certain students); get all the health and medication forms in for kids with anaphylactic allergies, asthma, sickle cell, etc.; screening (hearing, vision, acanthosis for pre-diabetes in TX); do your rescreens of all the kids who failed; report all the flu....And you might get to do prevention education if you're lucky but not often.

    I second the recommendation for substituting to see if you like it. You are changing one environment and its miseries for another. School nursing is a lot of PR work with the parents. However, good day or bad day, I leave at 3:15 and I'm not lifting 300 pound patients. Good luck.
  8. by   SullyRN
    Agree with all of the above. You also want to check and see if your state requires you to become a certified school nurse, as that is additional education. My state does not, but I'm not sure about yours.

    Good luck. School nursing is by far the best decision I ever made. For me and my family.
  9. by   ambz13
    Thank you all for being so helpful! I looked into becoming a sub, but they require you to be on call for 2 shifts a week. I just can't do that and continue to work my job, or quit my job and only be a sub. It looks like I'd have to dive right into a full time position. I asked to see if it would be possible to do a shadow day, but haven't heard back.
  10. by   ambz13
    The job postings say BSN preferred. I'm currently working on my BSN classes, so I'm hoping that will help.
    I think the kind of stress that you describe is preferred to the current stress of my job. I know it may not be perfect every day and it will be different kinds of stress, but I have a herniated disc (L4-L5) already, and I've been physically and verbally assaulted to my breaking point something really has to change
  11. by   moreoreo
    All those years of emergency and critical care experience that burned you out are going to be SO HANDY in school nursing!

    I left bedside nursing for similar reasons to yours (after only 2.5 years) on my husband's suggestion. He thought I would love being a school nurse. I told him he had no idea what school nursing really was (the liability and worry of being the only medical professional for hundreds of children, the possible emergencies without hospital technology, the lower pay, among other concerns) but decided to go for it, mostly after reading around this forum. I could never have worked in hospital peds because I don't have the fortitude for it but I love children and found a good district with a district nurse whose experience and knowledge I get to pick at when I am unsure of myself.

    While I am having a rough start to my first full year (started in January) due to super busy days, I still fully agree with the popular opinion here of "my worst day at this job is still better than my best day in the hospital." Even on days when I see way more students than I should (like seeing 90+ children of whom only 5 are legitimately ill or injured), I get to teach about smart health habits and see children learning. I get to advocate for kiddos who need medication at school or to see the doctor for something that has been bothering them for a long time. Most days (I work in elementary), I get to help at least one child switch from crying to smiling before they leave my office. Although you may feel under-appreciated or wrongly utilized at times (we did not work hard for our nursing licenses just to put ice packs on every single discomfort in the student body or to panic over lice . sometimes the hardest part of school nursing is that we not being surrounded by other health people who understand what we actually do), at the end of the day the children really do appreciate having a nurse. And you will also appreciate being that nurse.

    I am in a different state from yours but I simply looked up all the school districts in my area and checked for job postings. I applied for quite a few and interviewed with three before picking the best fit for me. It was a fruitful search in the middle of the school year, so that's possible. I am also in the middle of my BSN, which limited my options (despite having a non-nursing Bachelor's) but still got a great job. Keep a good eye out--from what you've shared I really do think you would be happy and more than capable working in this role! Also, summer camps and summer schools are always an option for summer income (that's what I did, but now that I will be a parent soon I intend to take advantage of summers off). Best of luck!!
    Last edit by moreoreo on Sep 19
  12. by   ambz13
    I just wanted to throw in an update: I was just offered a school nurse position in my area! I am so excited. It's a big cut in pay, but I think it will be so worth it. It looks like I'll be in a somewhat rural area outside of medium sized city. I don't think the assignment has health aids, but it's only 2 schools. Is this going to make the job much harder? Thanks for all your great advice. I'm excited to learn this new area of nursing
  13. by   AdobeRN
    Welcome to the Tribe!
  14. by   SullyRN
    Quote from ambz13
    I just wanted to throw in an update: I was just offered a school nurse position in my area! I am so excited. It's a big cut in pay, but I think it will be so worth it. It looks like I'll be in a somewhat rural area outside of medium sized city. I don't think the assignment has health aids, but it's only 2 schools. Is this going to make the job much harder? Thanks for all your great advice. I'm excited to learn this new area of nursing
    None of our schools in my district have health aides.

    I've had to go between schools before, I did today actually) and there are pros and cons. Pros:The day goes by super fast. Cons:The schools like to "hoard" kids until you get there then want you to see the masses when you really don't have time. You need to put your foot down immediately and let them know that unless it is an injury, they can handle fevers, pukes, and kids that just don't feel good. Another con is I sometimes feel discombobulated once I get back to "my" school and have to regroup.

    And congratulations!!!

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