School nurses are responsible for addressing students' health problems, and the position has also grown to include educating students about health risks and designing programs to address these concerns head-on.
School nurses are, first and foremost, fully-qualified nurses. As such, a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing is generally required by employers, as is a registered nursing license, and certain states expect certification from that state’s department of education. Although nursing is an expanding field, many school districts have eliminated the position due to budgetary restraints.
School nurses can expect to deal with basic illnesses and small injuries likely to be seen in a school setting, as well as administer medications to students in need of them, including shots for diabetic students, regularly prescribed doses of medication, and other scheduled medical needs. In addition, it is often the school nurse’s responsibility to provide information and counseling to students and faculty regarding health and medical concerns, such as obesity, teen pregnancy, chronic disease, and mental health issues. They may also help their school or district to devise programs for dealing with such concerns.
With so much direct involvement with students, faculty, and sometimes parents, patience and a strong sense of compassion are important in this position in order to recognize, address, and respond to health needs of both individuals and groups of students. Strong verbal and written communication skills are also beneficial.
Aspiring school nurses often find themselves working indoors, in schools or off-premises, at school-related events. They occasionally attend meetings outside of their school, and sometimes make contact with individual parents of students.
School Nurse Tasks
Interact with students to identify problems and interventions.
Communicate with families, the government and school administration.
Update and maintain student records and inventory.
Work with students and families on preventative and ongoing care for chronic conditions.
Respond to health emergencies, performing CPR or other immediate care.