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School Nursing

What is School Nursing?

School nursing is the specialization that refers to working as a nurse in a school. School nurses care for sick and injured students, take preventative health measures, and provide health education. These nurses work in elementary, middle, and high school, and in colleges and universities. School nurses must be especially knowledgeable about diseases and conditions that are common in school-age children and adolescents, such as influenza, norovirus, broken bones, eating disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases.

What are the Typical Duties of a School Nurse?

The duties of school nurses vary. They spend much of their time taking vital signs and caring for students who come to see them due to illness or injury. They may send students home or to the hospital, depending on the severity. When infectious disease is present in the school, the nurse is responsible for educating students about preventative measures and giving infected students permission to leave school. School nurses also conduct routine tests, such as auditory and visual tests. They may also, in some cases, administer medications and vaccinations. According to Johnson & Johnson, these nurses may also teach health and nutrition classes in some schools.

What are the Education and Certification Requirements?

The first step in becoming a school nurse is to become a registered nurse. This requires one to earn a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing, and then to pass the NCLEX-RN to become licensed. School nurse certification requires at least a bachelor's degree, though it is not necessary to get a job as a school nurse. Those who are already certified and do not have a bachelor's degree are able to renew their certification.

School nurse certification is available through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. In addition to the bachelor's degree requirement, one must have practiced at least 1,000 hours in the past 3 years in school nursing. He or she must apply to take the certification examination and pay the required fee.

What is the Average Salary for a School Nurse?

The exact salary of a school nurse depends on many factors, including geographic location, employer, and the individual's experience and education. In a 2012 report, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimated the median salary for registered nurses to be $65,470. According to Johnson & Johnson, school nurses make between $29,000 and $37,000 annually. This estimate is significantly lower than the BLS's.

What is the Job Outlook?

Though the employment outlook for school nurses is unclear, the BLS states that the outlook for registered nurses is positive. The BLS predicts 19% job growth for registered nurses from 2012-2022.