The role of the school nurse has evolved since the late 1800s, when the first school nurse was hired. While it is true that the school nurse handles the daily illnesses and injuries that occur to students throughout the school day, there are many other responsibilities that rest with the school nurse. For students who require an individual education plan due to illness or disability, the school nurse plays an integral role in ensuring the child's health needs are addressed. The school nurse may also play a role in health education, teaching such topics as nutrition, sex education, and mental health issues, as well. At the district level, the school nurse may take a more active role in curriculum development and other health education jobs.
The typical daily tasks of a school nurse might include:
Perform routine health screening such as vision and hearing tests
Provide first aid and medical assistance in the event of an injury
Assess and provide nursing care for students who are ill
Administer medications to students and maintain accurate records
Evaluate student records for compliance with immunization guidelines
Teach students about proper nutrition
Counsel students who have questions about their health
Maintain all medical equipment and order appropriate supplies
Train school staff on OSHA guidelines for handling blood and other infectious material in a school environment
School Nurse Job Education Requirements
The minimum education required to become a school nurse is a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field. Candidates must also become licensed registered nurses and have at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience before becoming a certified school nurse.
Some school nurses take a more administrative role in health education and work at the district level. School nurses with advanced degrees and years of experience in school nursing often go on to become nurse consultants to local and state education boards.
School Nurse Job Market
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for school nurses will grow by 26 percent in the coming decade, similar to many other healthcare careers. However, the recent federal education accountability standards have caused some school districts to focus resources on standardized testing achievement, leading them to consolidate school nursing services. There is a growing trend toward school nurses rotating between campuses to cut costs. However, registered nursing in general has a very positive job outlook.
School Nurse Job Salary Information
The median salary for a school nurse is $45,517; however, most of these jobs come with the generous benefits package that usually accompany jobs in education; these can be worth $20,000 or more per year. The top 10 percent of school nurses make $68,000 or more annually.