Working as a school nurse can be an immensely-rewarding career and often is far less stressful than emergency room or other forms of hospital nursing.
School nurses work in an office in a school building, either for an individual school or for an entire district rotating among schools. A school nurse is responsible for performing screening tests on children, including hearing, vision, dental, and scoliosis tests, tracking height and weight, monitoring the school's compliance with state laws on immunization, counseling students on healthy lifestyles and disease prevention, and providing emergency first aid and other as-needed nursing services.
School nurses also work closely with disabled students to ensure their health needs are being met, and they may also develop health education programs for school faculty and students.
To become a school nurse, one must already be a registered nurse (RN) with appropriate state licensure.
Many, but not all, states require school nurses to have special school nurse certification. Many nursing schools have programs specifically designed for nurses who want to work in schools, and students earn a school nursing certificate in conjunction with their nursing degree. For those aspiring school nurses who do not have access to specific school nursing training, it's important to look into your state's requirements (visit the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) for a list of state contacts). Some may seek college-level certification, while others might want national certification. Still others may not require more than a current RN license.
NBCSN also offers an examination for voluntary school nurse certification. This is an excellent credential for all school nurses to pursue, especially those working in states that lack specific requirements for school nurses. In addition to certification, school nurses should also have a background check and current CPR certification.
Some school nursing programs prepare nurses for teaching roles in addition to nursing roles. They may be called upon to teach traditional health classes or special classes for particular groups of students on health issues. Nurses with a teaching role often must meet additional requirements, such as student teaching experience or dedicated teacher preparation courses.