District School Nurse

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I’m thinking about applying for a position as a District Nurse.  From the looks of things, I would be overseeing the entire school district, creating health plans, making sure the health aids are trained, covid monitoring, etc. I don’t have pediatric experience but I worked on a trauma floor for ten years (had patients as young as 14 sometimes). Anyone have any experience as a district nurse? What does your day to day look like?  Pros/cons of the job?

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 39 years experience. 8 Articles; 4,525 Posts

A lot to unpack there! I would read up on your state nurse practice act, review your state immunization rules, physical rules etc. Reach out to and join your state association as well as NASN (National Association of School Nurses). Maybe contact some local school nurses and introduce yourself to them.  Good Luck!

Haijun

Haijun

51 Posts

Let me preface by saying that I am not a district nurse manager.  However, I feel that the answer to your question will be "it depends."  How big is the district?  How many schools?  How is the hierarchy set up?  What can & can't be delegated under your state's nurse practice act? Urban?  Suburban? Rural? Poor?  Affluent?  Middle class?

I know my district manager in an urban small-to-midsize city district likely spends hours & hours each day in meetings & planning.  She often has to interview & train new hires.  She frequently has to cover for other nurses-sometimes multiple schools & procedures per day.  Her phone & email are constant.  I doubt she has many work days that are less than 10-12 hours.

That said, I'm sure there are many benefits too.  Weekends & holidays off.  Typically some sort of funded retirement.  Likely more vacation than most jobs-even if you do have to work during the Summer.  Awesome colleagues.  Cute kids.

MHDNURSE

MHDNURSE

Specializes in Pediatrics, Community Health, School Health. Has 26 years experience. 701 Posts

I am not clear if you mean District Lead Nurse/Nursing Supervisor, or you mean a school nurse that would cover an entire district and travel from school to school. They are very different.  What the above poster described is Nurse Leader who supervises all the school nurses.  It is an exhausting practically 24/7 job- at least for our Lead Nurse, especially with Covid.  She takes calls/texts all weekend long and not by choice.  She spends a lot of time putting out fires, attending administrative meetings, interviewing, covering schools when she cannot find coverage, planning our professional development days, disciplining when necessary...she gets paid well (three figures) but I would never want her job.  She works year round and gets 5 weeks paid time off but then never feels like she can use it.

The other scenario is a nurse who travels from school to school to essentially cover the district.  If this is what you are describing, then I would hope there is some sort of orientation program and time to familiarize yourself with each school.  I know in my state (MA) there are requirements for number of nurses per building depending on the number of students in the school.  Some states either do not have those rules or just can't hire to those standards because there are not enough nurses to go around.  There are some nurses here who do this and spend certain days in certain schools or travel from school to school for a few hours each day.

CommunityRNBSN

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 4 years experience. 801 Posts

On 5/19/2022 at 12:28 PM, MHDNURSE said:

The other scenario is a nurse who travels from school to school to essentially cover the district.  If this is what you are describing, then I would hope there is some sort of orientation program and time to familiarize yourself with each school.  I know in my state (MA) there are requirements for number of nurses per building depending on the number of students in the school.  Some states either do not have those rules or just can't hire to those standards because there are not enough nurses to go around.  There are some nurses here who do this and spend certain days in certain schools or travel from school to school for a few hours each day.

This is what "district nurse" means in my district, although I definitely think that title could mean a lot of different things!  I am a substitute nurse, which means I get paid as a per diem.  We also employ one "district nurse."  She is a full-time employee, and each day she's doing whatever is needed around the district.  So, often she subs (she's the first line, and they only call me in if two people are out on the same day), but she also will do vision and hearing screenings, which frees up the primary nurse to do other things at the same time, etc.  I don't know if that makes sense, but she operates both as a sub and as an extra pair of hands.

SandIsMyGlitterRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 22 years experience. 108 Posts

On 5/18/2022 at 11:54 AM, Haijun said:

Let me preface by saying that I am not a district nurse manager.  However, I feel that the answer to your question will be "it depends."  How big is the district?  How many schools?  How is the hierarchy set up?  What can & can't be delegated under your state's nurse practice act? Urban?  Suburban? Rural? Poor?  Affluent?  Middle class?

I know my district manager in an urban small-to-midsize city district likely spends hours & hours each day in meetings & planning.  She often has to interview & train new hires.  She frequently has to cover for other nurses-sometimes multiple schools & procedures per day.  Her phone & email are constant.  I doubt she has many work days that are less than 10-12 hours.

That said, I'm sure there are many benefits too.  Weekends & holidays off.  Typically some sort of funded retirement.  Likely more vacation than most jobs-even if you do have to work during the Summer.  Awesome colleagues.  Cute kids.

I am a district school nurse and what this quote above says is very true.  Lots of meetings and planning and long hours for sure.  I did not get a pay raise and I still am responsible for my own school.  The love I have for my job keeps me going but it is quite a task to undertake.  

daisychains11

daisychains11, MSN, RN

Specializes in Family Medicine. Has 3 years experience. 54 Posts

Hi,

It makes a big difference how big the district is, and what the culture is like. I worked for a year at a district with only 2 schools. It could still be incredibly busy, in fact usually I was! Which was good. The culture wasn't a good fit for me. I wouldn't worry about that though as it isn't necessarily a common situation, many school districts are nice environments.

A day looked like working in the nurse's office at one of the schools helping sick/injured kids. When not doing patient care I was either documenting, doing case management in regards to medication and/or medical conditions, setting up or doing staff training, making sure the health room is organized and stocked, immunizations management, attending meetings...

School nursing is rewarding, fun, and interesting.  I do not regret my time as a school nurse. I sure hope you work with nice people and get a lot of reward from it. Your experience will help you a lot, both in terms of your knowledge and in terms of your credibility.