What Does a School Nurse Do?
Chances are that when you were a child, you made several trips to the school nurse due to stomach aches, headaches, or a bad cold. School nurses are an integral part of keeping schoolchildren healthy. They are responsible for caring for students who get sick or injured during school hours. School nurses who work at universities may even be available at all hours of the day just in case a student needs medical attention on campus. They perform the same duties as any other nurse, including taking vital signs such as the patient’s temperature, recording symptoms, and administering basic medical aid. School nurses can handle common illnesses and injuries, though if the case is severe, they may make the decision to send the student home or to a hospital. In addition, school nurses educate students about health care and growth development. They also often administer routine check-ups, such as testing the auditory health of students and examining vision health.
How Can I Become a School Nurse?
Only registered nurses can become school nurses, so those interested in joining the field should look into earning licensure to practice as a registered nurse. This is different than earning licensure to practice as a licensed practical or vocational nurse, so be sure that you are completing the correct program if you wish to join the school nursing specialty. To become a registered nurse, prospective nurses need to earn a diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. During the nursing program, students should take as many classes as possible related to the development of children and adolescents to prepare for a career in this specialty. After completing an accredited and approved nursing program, nursing students will need to successfully complete the NCLEX-RN examination to gain licensure. After earning a nursing license, new nurses will also need to become certified as a school nurse. This can be obtained through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, which ensures that all certified school nurses meet a standard for education and work skills.
What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a School Nurse?
There is reason to celebrate if you are looking to join the nursing field. Employment opportunities for registered nurses are projected to increase 22 percent during the 2008-18 decade, pouring approximately 581,500 more jobs into the market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, registered nurses make up the biggest group in the health care occupation, which means that there are more registered nurses in the health care industry than any other job, including physicians and technicians. With such good prospects, the career outlook for school nurses should be similarly sunny. An increasing number of students and schools should also add to the demand for school nurses, meaning that school nurses looking for work after completing a nursing program are likely to find a job fairly easily. The school nursing profession is a rewarding one that allows for nurses to work with children and young adults to promote healthy living choices and basic care. The earnings for school nurses vary greatly depending on the nurse’s employer, level of experience, and geographic location.