School nursing is an independent specialty practice that combines the best of public health and pediatric nursing. School nurses are responsible for the health and safety of their students, staff, and school community. The National Association of School Nurses says, “School nursing, a specialized practice of nursing, protects and promotes student health, facilitates optimal development, and advances academic success. School nurses, grounded in ethical and evidence-based practice, are the leaders who bridge healthcare and education, provide care coordination, advocate for quality student-centered care, and collaborate to design systems that allow individuals and communities to develop their full potential.”
Characteristics needed. Successful school nurses are flexible and can practice independently.
Rewards. Watching children grow and flourish throughout their most formative years and connecting with families are just a few of the rewards of school nursing.
Challenges. Working in isolation with limited resources is one of the greatest challenges, along with nurse-to-student ratios that can be unsafe and untenable. One school nurse responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of students, sometimes in multiple buildings, isn’t unusual.
Education requirements. No universal education requirements exist for school nurses. Many states require state certification through the department of education, much like a teacher, while other school nurses work for the department of health. The Nationally Certified School Nurse credential involves taking a rigorous exam through the National Board of Certification of School Nurses. The credential reflects competence and professionalism.
Professional associations. The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) supports school nurses across the country through ongoing, high-level, professional development that includes continuing nurse education via online courses, webinars, podcasts, and an annual conference. NASN has two peer-reviewed journals: The Journal of School Nursing and NASN School Nurse.
Bottom line. “School nursing is an independent specialty practice that ensures our nation’s 56 million students are safe, healthy, and ready to learn.”
Robin Cogan, The Relentless School Nurse, blogs at relentlessschoolnurse.com and serves as a Nurse Influencer for American Nurse Journal. She’s a Nationally Certified School Nurse, currently in her 19th year as a New Jersey school nurse in the Camden City School District.