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School nursing may be right for you

If you are a team player, comfortable practicing in an independent role, ready to use every lesson you learned in nursing school, and love working with children, youth and families, then we have a job for you!

This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2022 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.

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People are drawn to the profession of nursing for different reasons, making it one of the most flexible careers you can pursue. However, school nursing was one of the best kept secrets until we found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, school nurses focused their attention on care of students with chronic health conditions, teaching school staff to identify and care for urgent and emergent issues associated with those conditions. We focused on injury and illness prevention — making sure school activities were safe, promoting compliance with immunization mandates and teaching children (well and those with health issues) how to be healthy now and into their future. We supported risk management, making sure that delegated medications were administered safely and that emergency care plans were in place for the wide variety of student health conditions seen in schools. We assured safe and legal episodic care in the health room overseeing the injuries and illnesses — routine and serious — seen in school health rooms.

On a daily basis, school nurses are tasked with the health and safety of a community that is primarily made up of pediatric students and the staff that care for them. Children from every clinic in the most comprehensive health care centers all attend school. We see students who are perfectly well to students with life-threatening health conditions including those who require 1:1 nurses and ventilators to survive.

It is a proven fact that children must be healthy to learn and educated children grow up to be healthier, more financially secure adults. The children of educated parents become healthier and more financially secure. School nurses make sure that health conditions do not limit a student’s right to their education.

During the pandemic, school nurses were the eyes and hands of public health — monitoring outbreaks, instructing school staff, students, parents and the community on how to safely navigate COVID-19. While we practice independently in a non-health setting, we coordinated guidance with the Department of Health, Labor & Industries, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The visibility, competence and leadership of school nurses during this crisis brought attention to our specialty. As a result, the State Legislature just passed HB 1664, which will greatly increase the state funding for school nursing positions statewide beginning in September.

Now, post-pandemic, we are looking for new school nurses. If you are a team player, comfortable practicing in an independent role, ready to use every lesson you learned in nursing school, and love working with children, youth and families, then we have a job for you! School nurses come from their communities. We have a “family friendly” schedule (no nights or weekends!) and focus on illness prevention and health promotion.

We are guided by the same nurse practice act as in any setting. We have access to a specialty professional organization at the national (National Association of School Nurses) and state (School Nurse Organization of WA) levels. If you are interested in a career working as a school nurse, please contact your local school district or learn more about school nursing at nasn.org.

We’re looking forward to meeting you!

The School Nurse Organization of Washington was founded 65 years ago as the professional organization for school nurses. Our mission is to support school nurses in the delivery of health services designed to improve the health and academic success of the 1.1 million students of Washington state.