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School Nurses: Employment Information & Requirements

School nurses provide health services to public and private school populations that range from toddlers to university students. Read on for more information about how to enter this career.

Career Definition for a School Nurse

School nurses monitor students' physical and mental health, assess injuries and intervene when necessary by contacting medical care specialists, therapists or legal guardians. They are also responsible for implementing comprehensive, age-appropriate health and wellness education programs. School nurses may also assist in developing Individualized Education Plans for students with special needs.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in nursing recommended, vocational to doctorate degrees acceptable
Necessary Skills Wide knowledge of general health and related laws, communication, critical thinking, assessment, passion
Median Salary (2015) $46,134 for school nurses
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% for registered nurses

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Salary.com

Required Education

The National Association of School Nurses (www.nasn.org) recommends that school nurses hold at least a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program. However, because this career lacks standardized requirements, school nurses attain education ranging from vocational to doctorate degrees. School nurses must however, hold state certification as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or higher in order to administer medicine, perform simple diagnostic tests, monitor responses to medication and keep patients' medical files.

Required Skills

School nurses must be knowledgeable in mental, pediatric and public health to be able to work independently as educators and health care providers in a school setting. School nurses must possess strong assessment, critical thinking, and communication and referral skills. They also need the passion to act as child advocates and a firm knowledge of school policies and education laws.

Career and Economic Outlook

Growing demands in the areas of health assessment, referral, education and health promotion have resulted in a near decade-long shortage of school nurses. According to the Healthy Schools Campaign, only half of all public schools have a full-time nurse. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for all registered nurses (RNs), including school nurses, will increase 16% between 2014 and 2024, creating more than 400,000 new jobs. The outlook for LPNs includes a projected growth of 16%. According to Salary.com, school nurses earned a median salary of $46,134 as of February 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary for a career as a school nurse will help prepare you for jobs in other areas.

Surgical Technologist

Usually having an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate, these techs assist doctors during surgeries. They may also prepare the operating room and arrange necessary surgical equipment. Much faster than average employment growth of 15% was forecast by the BLS for the 2014-2024 decade, and surgical technologists earned an annual median wage of $44,330 as of 2015.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic

These technicians and paramedics complete postsecondary programs and earn state licensing in order to secure employment. Typical job duties include caring for and transporting injured or sick people in emergency situations. In 2015, the BLS revealed an annual median salary of $31,980 for these professionals. From 2014-2024, much faster than average expansion of jobs was projected by the BLS, with 24% growth expected.

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