Being a school nurse can be a very rewarding employment opportunity. The functions of the school nurse are to create a health plan for the school which involves treatment of common illnesses (such as the seasonal flu), administering medications, checking for headlice, and treating injuries. This job requires giving both emergency and non-emergency care. Following the right plan will allow anyone trying to break into the school nursing field be successful.
The first step in becoming a school nurse is to get into an educational program that will allow for the completion of a registered nursing program while getting a Bachelor’s degree. There are many two-year programs that award a registered nursing degree, but a four-year degree which exposes a nurse to a broader range of knowledge and is required before taking the national exam for school nurses.
After graduating from a four-year program, a person wishing to become a school nurse has to take the registered nursing national exam called the NCLEX-RN. Passing this exam will give the student registered nursing certification and they will be able to be employed in a variety of medical settings.
Before being able to take the national exam for school nurses, one has to obtain experience within the field of school nursing. Many substitute school nurse positions can be found which only require an RN, a Bachelor’s degree, and the required security clearances (such as fingerprinting and a background check). Another way to gain the experience required to take the exam is by teaching nursing at the college level.
The national exam for school nurses is given twice annually. Upon passing this examination, a person will be have a school nurse certification and will be able to look for a more permanent job with a school district. Being a substitute may already give someone many opportunities within a given school district. Substituting for a few different school districts is the best way to get experience because it increases the chances of that person getting in actual work days. It can be difficult to rely on just one district when the number of school nurse positions are so limited (there is usually only one in every school). Another benefit of substituting for a few different school districts is that the nurse will get to know more people and will have gained valuable contacts for when she is pursuing a full-time position. Newspapers and school district websites are two other ways that someone can find employment as a school nurse.
Following this path will help anyone trying to become a school nurse reach their dream. As with every dream, it takes some work and sweat, but in the end it is very rewarding to work with children in this capacity.