School Nurse Job Description
A school nurse is a registered nurse who works on one or more school sites, providing basic first aid as needed, overseeing the implementation of health regulations stipulated by the state (e.g. students’ vaccination statuses) and coordinating the treatment of students who require such care in order to be able to be able to attend school regularly.
School nurses need to be well versed in the essentials of pediatric and public health nursing. Additionally, they need to be familiar with the laws and statutes of the school district for which they work that pertain to the student population they serve.
School nurses work in both public, parochial and private elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. School nurses do not commonly dispense medications, even over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, without the prior, written consent of parents or guardians. If a student takes a prescription medication that must be administered around the clock, however, the school nurse is responsible for administering those doses that are due to be administered during school hours.
School Nursing: Education and Certification
In most areas, school nurses need to be registered nurses: They need to graduate either from a four-year baccalaureate program or from a certified two-year associate degree program, and to pass a national licensing examination. Most school districts prefer to hire school nurses with baccalaureate degrees.
Apart from that, requirements for school nursing are as varied as the school districts that write those requirements.
Two independently credited organizations, The National Association of School Nurses and The National Board for Certification of School Nurses, offer School Nurse certifications in order to assure students a standardized level of care. Some states and school districts require this certification for practice; others do not.
A Day In the Life of a Triage Nurse
There is no “typical day” in the life of a school nurse. Should a student complain of feeling sick in a classroom, or sustain an injury, or exhibit an allergic reaction, that child will be referred to the school nurse. The school nurse will question the student to ascertain the history of his or her complaint, and may take the student’s temperature and other vital signs. If emergency treatment is warranted, the school nurse will call 911. If the school nurse determines the child is too ill to remain in school, he or she will call the child’s parents to take the child home.
The school nurse is also responsible for administering medications prescribed to students that need to be scheduled at certain intervals.
How Much Does a School Nurse Earn?
School nurses generally sign the same nine month contract that teachers do with the school district. They typically receive a salary of between $28,000 and $49,000 a year, based on experience.
Job Outlook For School Nurses
Unfortunately the job outlook for school nurses in public school is not good as more and more school districts, dealing with the current economic slowdown, are seeing their budgets sharply curtailed. School districts have dealt with the current economic crunch by cutting back on non-teaching staff, and in many cases, that includes school nurses. Parochial and private schools are similarly feeling the effects of the economic slowdown; however, administrators there typically have more leeway over the employees they choose to retain.