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Too much to learn for non-peds nurse? How long to earn retirement?

buckmarko buckmarko (New) New

Specializes in OR, School Nurse. Has 22 years experience.

Hello. I’ve been pondering about applying for a school nurse position. I’m almost 51. I’m still in a hospital,(27 years now). I’ve been interested in school nursing for at least 5 years, but have just been to insecure to leave my current “secure” job. I’m finally ready to get out of the hospital! I’ve been reading on school nursing forums about what it’s going to look like once schools do open back up. Do you thing it would be too much to learn a new position like school nursing along side trying to learn and keep up with new protocols in place? Do schools have an orientation process, or do they just show you your office and say “welcome”? I’ve never done peds. I only have surgery background and Pre-admission testing. But I do have a child with type one diabetes, so I’m very comfortable with that. How old were you when you started school nursing? How long do you have to work to be eligible for retirement with state position?

No matter what your previous nursing experience is, there is a steep learning curve the first year in school nursing. But if you switch to a different specialty within a hospital, you would still have a learning curve. That is just the nature of the beast of nursing. In school nursing you must be a self motivator, and you need to know what you don't know and ask questions. I remember my first year I did not know squat about immunizations. I must have learned it for a pedi exam in school, but did not use it since so forgot it all. So, yep, I was confused that first year on shots, among many other things. I would self talk "OK I don't know the spacing of Hep B's, but I know how to take care of a post op liver transplant" reminding myself I am capable, persevere, and learn. Now-a-days a post op liver would not be fun; it is just that first year of any change in nursing specialty can be daunting and challenging.

A lot depends on your district on how well you adjust. In my district, we have one day (we wish we could do more) of new nurse orientation, plus several days of district wide inservices (including CPR, screening certifications.) We also assign a mentor to the new nurse. That way she has a designated person who willingly helps her anytime, checks in with her to make sure she is on target with what must be done, can be a sympathetic ear when the new nurse hears "well, the old nurse used to do it this way", etc.; however, most of all our nurses are willing to help each other. But that is my district. We have an RN in every school, and we have an RN as our director. I understand not all districts are like this.

In school nursing there are things you must do - immunization compliance, screenings, physical care of the students. There are also things you may do, depending on your interests - introducing different health programs, teaching, "Project Adam", etc. You get to make the position your own.

Seek out school nurses in your district and ask them the questions you have. Check out NASN's website - National Association of School Nurses. There are a lot of resources for us. Check out your state's school nurse organization website. It is a great specialty. I hope you make the switch and enjoy it.


Specializes in OR, School Nurse. Has 22 years experience.

Thank you Lyrern for your reply. I appreciate it.

Flare, ASN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing, ortho, trauma.

So a few things to consider:

many districts do not advance on the salary guide with time spent in the hospital in mind. Meaning that if you had worked for 3 years as a school nurse and decided to change districts, you could expect to begin at a district as a step 3 or higher. If all you've had is hospital experience, it doesn't translate the same, and in some districts not at all.

This may be a good argument for going to work for a private school, but those positions are not generally pensioned.

As far as retirement, again it has a lot to do with the state. The pension system allows teaching staff (which the nurse is considered here in NJ) to retire anywhere from 55-65, but it depends on which tier you're in. All new employees into the pension I believe are tier 5, which required 30 years and retirement after 65 (I think... I'm tier one, so my rules are different.) Anyway you slice it, you'd have to get 10 years paid in to be vested. You could technically retire after that if you have met the age requirement.