School Nurse

A school nurse provides health care services to students in all grade levels. More and more students with complex medical problems are attending mainstream schools, and it is often up to the school nurse to provide daily treatment and basic medical care. For many children, a school nurse may be the only medical practitioner they see on a regular basis.

While the educational requirements may vary from state to state, school nurses must first earn a degree as a registered nurse and then choose school nursing as their specialty. They can then earn certification from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses once they are ready to start down this career path.

Degrees for School Nurses

A school nurse will first earn a degree as a registered nurse using a combination of clinical study and classroom or online instruction. They may start with an associate’s degree or a diploma from a certified nursing program, but most school nurses choose to earn a bachelor’s degree both for the additional training in leadership and communication, as well as the increase in job opportunities.

Those students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field can find schools that offer an accelerated nursing degree that can be completed in less time.

School Nurse Job Description

A school nurse will provide health care services as well as plan school health education programs with school administrators and local medical authorities. They examine children with sudden illnesses or injuries and offer advice as to follow-up care. A school nurse may also:

  • Teach courses on health-related topics such as first aid, nutrition or childcare.
  • Participate in basic medical exams, including vision and hearing tests, and review the results to analyze the success of school health programs.
  • Establish the school’s medical emergency policies.
  • Work with the school administration to identify the physical, social and emotional needs of the students.
  • Help those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma follow their care plans.
  • Administer medications and immunizations.
  • Assist disabled students with feeding, medication and other personal care issues.
  • Work with community agencies to meet the health and welfare needs of students.

As money in schools continues to shrink, school nurses may divide their time between two or more schools in a district. There will probably be a very high nurse to student ratio, and the average day is very busy. One of the perks of the job is that a school nurse will usually only work during regular school hours.

School Nurse Salary

According to a survey by, the median earnings for a school nurse is between $34,162 and $53,986. Earnings will vary depending on the school district and location.

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