Do you love kids and the medical field? Have you ever dreamt of positively contributing to children’s education and school life by using your natural healing qualities and love for biology and science?
Well, a school nurse may be the profession for you.
School nurses work with school children in an educational setting. If students experience an injury or illness while at school, they’re usually reported to the school nurse for an assessment and/or treatment.
What exactly does this require?
A school nurse salary is dependent on a number of responsibilities.
These duties include administering routine medications and taking care of a child who has a virus, and stabilizing a child who’s been involved in a more serious injury until emergency services arrive.
Since medical resources are usually limited in a school, the nurse should know when a student requires a higher level of care or when the parents should be called.
Lastly, a school nurse may also be asked to educate students and staff on health issues.
Basically, a school nurse stands as a health professional, educator, and employee with professional and clear decision-making abilities.
In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about becoming a school nurse, and more importantly, what the average school nurse salary is, how it differs from state to state, and what you can do to nab this inspiring and important job position.
Becoming a School Nurse: the Basics
If you’re thinking of becoming a school nurse and you’re already a registered nurse, all you need to do is apply to work at a school of your choice. If you’re not yet an RN, completion of this education will be your first step.
Besides needing physical health experience and education in order to successfully becoming a school nurse, qualified and promising candidates also may have experience in school policy, law, or mental health, and should be comfortable working with children.
Since school nurses are required to handle a range of different health situations in children and sometimes staff, including mental health and education, a school nurse should be knowledgeable in as many areas as possible.
It also helps for school nurses to be good communicators since they work with administrators, teachers, and parents on a regular basis. This will help everyone involved understand the important subject of children's health more clearly and effectively.
It will also help the school nurse enjoy their job as speaking with other adults and professionals will happen on a regular basis.
As a nurse in a school setting, people in this profession will need to take care of students’ well-being in social situations from time to time as well. This includes anti-bullying measures and being comfortable enough with handling this type of conflict.
If you’re a registered nurse, but you’re not confident in one or a number of these additional skills and requirements, you can always look at taking an online course or training session in your neighborhood or area.
What Are the Education Requirements?
If you have an associate’s degree or if you’re a Licensed Professional Nurse, you’ll be able to apply at a school as a school nurse.
While the National Association of School Nurses pushes to hire nurses with a 4-year BSN degree and who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, this isn’t the case for all schools.
Most schools will hire nurses who have obtained 2-3 years of experience in a clinical setting, seeing as school nurses are required to make important decisions without any doctor on site to help them.
Do School Nurses Require Any Certifications or Credentials?
While certifications aren’t required in every state, besides the required credentials and education mentioned above, any extra certifications or credentials will always help your chances of getting hired –especially if you have education, but lack a lot of hands-on experience.
The National Board of Certification for School Nurses (NBCSN) provides a certification for school nurses.
Enrollments of this certification requires a Bachelor's degree and an RN license from the soon-to-be school nurse, along with 1,00 hours of clinical experience at least within 3 years before sitting down to take the test.
School nursing services are operated at a state level, which means every state has a specific set of licensing or certification requirements. If you’re wondering if you need a certification in your state, check out the National Association of School Nurses. They supply chapters on each state which can help you figure out what requirements you’ll need to become a school nurse in your area.
Where Do School Nurses Work?
Although this may seem like a silly question, there are a number of different educational institutions that look for nurses to join their faculty.
In fact, school nurses can be found in almost all educational facilities. This includes public and private schools, alternative and vocational schools, and more.
School nurses also have the ability to work on US military bases or in international schools.
School nurses have worked in a health office on a school campus, traditionally for years. However, with recent budget cuts, employed school nurses have been forced to travel around schools within a certain district.
School nurses work during the day, or during school hours. Since they follow the traditional school year schedule, school nurses will have summers, school breaks, and holidays free.
School nurses are given the task to take care of the mental and physical well-being of children on their school campus.
This includes helping injured or sick students, giving treatment or first aid and deciding whether or not a student’s parents or a higher level of help such as emergency services should be informed about the state of the child.
Due to these responsibilities, school nurses are usually placed in offices where they’re equipped with the tools and resources required for certain health assessments and mild treatments.
Students who have been diagnosed with chronic issues such as allergies or asthma may need the school nurse to help them with specific medications and/or treatments regularly, along with any coaching or education along the way.
That means the nurses’ place of work, or office, will also be equipped with specific children’s medications and their schedules.
On top of this, school nurses may also need to assess and help treat students who suffer from mental health issues such as ADHD.
School Nurse Salary and Employment
Finally, we’ve made it to the meat of the article. Given all the information on what a school nurse is expected to do on a daily basis and what her/his responsibilities are, it’s time to look at the salary that meets these duties.
The median salary of a school nurse is $48,506 as of June 2018. This school nurse salary ranges between $38,758 to $61,241, depending on a number of factors.
Location, experience, type of school and various certifications can all affect a school nurse’s salary.
While RN employment is generally looking positive these days, school nurses may not experience the level of growth that other nursing specialities do. This is because of the increase in school system budget cuts.
However, that being said, school nursing positions are, for the most part, not stressful. They provide good hours and a relaxed environment, which makes it a great option for nurses who don’t want to work in stressful and quick-paced hospitals.
According to Pay by Experience, school nurses lead a positive trend.
As an entry-level nurse with under 5 years of experience, you can earn an average compensation of $43,000. This compensation includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay.
As a mid-career nurse, employers can expect to be looking at an average compensation of $42,000. This is based on a total of 116 salaries.
Experienced school nurses with 10-20 years of experience can earn an average compensation of $45,000.
Late-career experience nurses with more than 20 years experience can earn a total compensation of $47,000.
School Nurse Salary Grade: Final Thoughts
While a school nurse salary isn’t as appealing as a hospital nurse’s salary, there are a few extra benefits in becoming a school nurse.
Not only will you be working in a reasonably relaxed environment with lots of vacation time, but you’ll be exercising more skills than other types of nurses.
Not only are you the go-to health professional on campus, but a school nurse is also an educator, a mentor and a beacon of hope for many children experiencing mental or physical difficulties or pain.
Check out the National Association of School Nurses for more information and inspiration on this exciting profession!