Is School Nursing For YOU?


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