"The National Association of School Nurses defines school nursing as a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well-being, academic success and lifelong achievement and health of students. To that end, school nurses facilitate normal development and positive student response to interventions; promote health and safety including a healthy environment; intervene with actual and potential health problems; provide case management services; and actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self advocacy, and learning" (NASN, 2010).
Nurses began working in schools in the 1800s to identify and quarantine people with communicable diseases. Today's school nurses not only deal with the typical bruises and tummy aches that have always been part of school life, but must now contend with a student population that is increasingly more medically fragile. Now, their main responsibility is to provide nursing care and health counseling to students with increasingly complex medical conditions and chronic illnesses, disabilities, challenges and special needs such as ADHD and autism, to name a few. Some school nurses are devoted to one-on-one care with medically needy students who otherwise would not be able to attend school.
The enactment of the Affordable Care Act could provide an opportunity to strengthen a nurse program that serves the nation's 52 million school-age children. For many of these students, the school nurse is the sole provider of access to health care.
Health care reform's emphasis on wellness is consistent with the goals of school nurses, who provide continuity of care and promote healthy lifestyles for students during their most critical developmental years. They perform early intervention services such as periodic assessments for vision, hearing and dental problems with the goal of removing barriers to learning.
School nurses spend most of their workday in the school health office in public, private, vocational, alternative and early childhood schools across the United States. They also move around the school assisting students, attending meetings, giving presentations, and observing learning.
Some positions require the school nurse to travel between schools. According to statistics in 2011, only about 45% of public schools employed a full-time nurse. Most school nurses work regular daytime school hours, many of whom enjoy the same summer and holiday vacations as students.
Experienced school nurses may advance to positions of greater responsibility in which they coordinate school health programs at the district or state level. Others go on to work for public health agencies. Nurses who hold a doctorate may conduct research in the field of school nursing or teach classes at the university level.
School nursing has multiple components and the role of the school nurse is a broad one, dependent on many factors, including the school setting (rural, urban, suburban), health needs of the student population and the availability of specialized instructional student support services and programs. Some of the duties include:
- Develop and implement health plans in accordance with federal laws which require schools to develop individualized education plans for students with disabilities.
- Dispense medications and show teachers how to administer care.
- Work with educators to set developmentally appropriate learning standards for physical education programs
- Serve as a resource for faculty teaching health-related content
- Assess the physical as well as emotional status of students
- Provide health assessments of students to determine eye problems, hearing impairment, growth and other health problems that may negatively affect the student's studies.
- Implement plans for intervention and remedies as well as follow ups for students who are ill.
- Provide crisis intervention in cases of injuries and acute illnesses or emotional problems.
- Develop plans for the control of contagious diseases by way of immunizations, timely discovery, and close monitoring
- Facilitate normal development and positive student response to interventions.
- Provide leadership in promoting health and safety, including a healthy environment.
- Provide quality health care and intervene with actual and potential health problems.
- Use clinical judgment in providing case management services.
- Actively collaborate with others to build student and family capacity for adaptation, self-management, self advocacy and learning.
- Some schools employ LPNs. However, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) recommends an RN with a BSN.
- Additional training and background checks may be required in some states.
- School nurses may pursue voluntary national certification, which is administered jointly by the NASN and the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
- Most schools prefer nurses with at least two years experience in an acute care setting.
- Must possess a broad knowledge base that covers pediatric, public health and mental health nursing as well as school law and policy.
- Must have Leadership qualities and the ability to work both independently and collaboratively to manage health programs effectively and advocate for needed change.
- Should have strong interpersonal skills and enjoy working with children, teens, family members, educators and administrators of diverse backgrounds.
School nurses enjoy competitive salaries and benefits as well as flexible hours. According to Payscale, the average salary for a school nurse in the United States is between $24,683 and $63,014 per year, with the average being $42,130. The nationwide hourly rate ranges between $11.38 to $31.00.
American Nurses Credentialing Center
National Association of School Nurses (NASN)
National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN)
The Journal of School Nursing
NASN School Nurse
NASN Weekly Digest
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About tnbutterfly, BSN, RN
tnbutterfly has been in nursing for more than 30 years, with experience in med-surg, pediatrics, psychiatrics, and disaster nursing. She is currently a parish nurse.....a position which she has had for the past 15 years.
tnbutterfly has 'More than 35 years' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Parish Nsg, Disaster Nsg, Peds, Med-Surg'. From 'TN'; Joined Jun '06; Posts: 22,592; Likes: 13,447.
Must Read Topics0Aug 10, '14 by Fiori1020Good Morning to all nurses!
I am a public health nurse seeking to pursue public school nurse. I have 5 kids of my own and find it diff with the schedule, job is endless with its paperwork. I need some peace of mind and more stability despite tje lower salary of school nurse. Any advice of pros and cons of public school nurse? Please advise. Thank you and have a great day!