Healthcare is often referred to as a hot-button topic in American society right now. Complaints of skyrocketing healthcare costs and the need for healthcare reform dominate the headlines surrounding medicine, but there is good news to be found within healthcare as well. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the industry will lead the way in job growth and creation through at least 2018. At the heart of that growth will be the largest career field within healthcare, nursing. Nursing positions are expected to grow by roughly 587,000 jobs among registered nurses alone. One of the more unique positions available will be school nurse jobs.
A school nurse job is unique because it offers a working environment that is drastically different from the typical hospital or clinic. Instead of working among a team of healthcare officials, many school nurses work on their own within an educational institution to meet the medical needs of that institution.
School nurse jobs require applicants to meet many of the same educational requirements as more traditional nursing positions. The vast majority of school nurse jobs require applicants to be Registered Nurses (RN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). These individuals have completed one of four degrees in order to become eligible for a school nurse job:
- Diploma program (RN)
- Associate’s program (RN)
- Bachelor’s program (RN)
- Master’s program (APRN)
In addition to the completion of a degree program, those interested in a school nurse job will have to obtain a school nurse certification from the governing body that oversees school nurse jobs across the country. This certification, the National Certified School Nurse (NCSN) is provided by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN), under the guidance of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). This certification exists to provide national standards within the profession and ensure a high quality of practice.
Once individuals are fully qualified and ready to apply for a school nurse job, they need to begin considering what kind of setting they wish to work in. School nurse jobs are available in a variety of educational settings that include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
- Private and public schools
- County and state Boards of Education
- Colleges and universities
- Public Health Departments and Agencies
- Departments of Health
The role of a school nurse can vary from school to school and setting to setting, but there are a few roles that are performed at almost all locations. These roles include:
- Oversee the institution’s compliance with immunization requirements
- Help enforce disaster preparedness and emergency protocols
- Provide care for students with chronic medical conditions
- Educate the students and staff on health related matters
A school nurse job is just like any other job, it comes with benefits and drawbacks that have to be weighed before applying for any position. The advantages and disadvantages of a school nurse job include:
- Firm schedules, especially compared to nurses in other settings
- No weekends, no nights, and summers off!
- Although relatively stable and secure, school nurse jobs can be subject to government budget cuts
- Lower earning potential compared to other nursing positions
While a school nurse job seems like a great opportunity, many will pass on it due to the lower earning potential compared to nurses in hospital and clinic settings. Nevertheless, school nurses earn a very livable wage. The average salary for a school nurse is $43,753 per year. The highest paying school nurse jobs can pay upwards of $55,000 annually.