School Nurse: Occupational Outlook and Career Profile

School nurses provide a variety of medical services to the academic communities in which they work. They oversee the overall health of the students in academic institutions. Read on to learn about the job description, educational requirements and job outlook for school nurses.

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School Nurse Occupational Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses, including those working in schools, will see a growth in their chosen career field from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). An employment increase of 26% is expected, which is faster than the average for most careers. A growing population and construction of new schools will attribute to the growth of employment opportunities for school nurses.

However, school nurses may face more employment challenges than their hospital, health clinic and nursing home counterparts. That's primarily because schools don't need as many nurses as medical facilities. Since the environment is not as stressful as other medical facilities, the jobs are attractive to older nurses or those who do not want to work in a hospital.

Career Profile for a School Nurse

School nurses are medical professionals who work in an academic environment. According to the National Association of School Nurses, responsibilities include performing routine screenings on students and providing as-needed emergency and non-emergency care to students (www.nasn.org). They also serve as a medical resource to the community, providing teachers, students and parents with relevant health information.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for becoming a school nurse vary among states; however, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is usually a minimum requirement. These 4-year BSN programs prepare students for a career in nursing, as well as provide the basis for preparation for national certification. Students gain education in both the classroom and medical facilities, such as hospitals or clinics. Common courses in these programs include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Health assessment

Post-bachelor's education in school nursing can also be obtained and may be required by employers. Many schools offer a School Nurse Services Credential (SNSC). A bachelor's degree and at least one year of experience are required in order to apply to SNSC programs. These courses focus on treating children and working in a school environment. Common courses include:

  • Health education for school nurses
  • Community nursing
  • School nurse practices
  • Health assessment of youth and children

Certification Information

National certification is needed in order to work as a registered nurse. Nurses must obtain their registered nurse license by passing the National Council Licensing Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). This license needs to be renewed regularly and continuing education is often required as part of licensing.

Many states require school nurses to own a specific school nurse certificate, which can be obtained after becoming licensed as a professional nurse. Nurses may voluntarily obtain this credential on their own to better their employment opportunities. A School Nursing Certification is offered through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (www.nbcsn.org). This certification verifies a school nurse's knowledge and skills in the field.

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