Are you the parent of school-aged children looking for a family friendly nursing career? Or maybe you are looking to continue your nursing career in a role that takes advantage of your many years of experience but is not as physically demanding as nursing in a hospital. Have we got a job for you!
School Nursing is a “specialized practice … that advances the well-being, academic success, and life-long achievement and health of students” (NASN Scope and Standards of School Nursing, 2011). School nurses are typically the only health professional in the school, providing nurses with a high degree of autonomous practice, a focus on prevention work, and a family friendly schedule (no more working nights, weekends, summers or holidays.)
A school nurse’s typical day may start with a meeting with the multi-disciplinary education team, the student and their family. For a student with a health condition that limits their ability to participate fully in their education, the school nurse has a critical role in making sure that appropriate accommodations are in place to assure the student’s health and academic success. The satisfaction of supporting students with chronic health conditions in the place where they spend half of their waking hours is a large part of the reason why school nurses enjoy the highest job satisfaction of any nursing specialty.
Care coordination for students with chronic health conditions is another important role of the school nurse. From training staff to recognize and respond to emergencies for students with life threatening conditions, to monitoring medication response for students with conditions like asthma and Type I Diabetes, to teaching students developmentally appropriate self-management, school nurses have the satisfaction of supporting improved student health and educational outcomes. Healthy students learn better and educated children grow up to have healthier families. School nurses make that happen.
Finally, the prevention work of school nurses is an especially gratifying aspect of our role. Every interaction with a student is an opportunity to teach them about health and wellness. School nurses provide health lessons in classrooms. We teach health to our communities through interactions with families in the PTA, in school newsletters, and face-to-face. And we promote community health by facilitating immunization compliance and flu clinics in our communities. School nurses are from their community and are trusted resources for health. School nurses love the ability to work on prevention with a mostly well population of children.
School nurses must have a minimum of a BSN, complete 30 hours of instruction in school nursing, and obtain an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) Certificate from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). For more information please see the websites at the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) School Nurse Organization of Washington (SNOW) or OSPI Health Services.
Many school districts have openings now and more will be hiring in June for next school year. For more information about open school nursing positions in your community contact your local school district.
Katie Johnson, DNP, RN-BC, NCSN
Manager Student Health Services
Seattle Public Schools