Education and Training Requirements
To prepare for future work as a school nurse, take as many science classes as possible, such as biology and chemistry. Math, health, psychology, computer science, and English classes are also important. Foreign language courses can also be useful in communicating with students and parents from other countries.
State requirements for school nurses vary. Some states have a certification requirement. Others require that their school nurses have bachelor's degrees while some do not require a bachelor's degree but do have specific educational requirements. Some states require their school nurses to be registered nurses. There are three basic kinds of training programs that you may choose from in order to become a registered nurse: associate's degree, diploma, and bachelor's degree. Your career goals will help you determine which training program to opt for. A bachelor's degree in nursing is the most popular method, however, as such a degree is required for most supervisory or administrative positions, for jobs in public health agencies, and for admission to graduate nursing programs. Diplomas are offered by three-year programs at schools of nursing and hospitals, and an associate's degree is obtained from a two-year college.
There is no special program for school nursing; however, most nursing programs have courses geared to the specialty such as health education, child or adolescent psychology, crisis intervention, community health, and growth and development.
Many school nurses are graduates of practical nursing programs, which involve about one year of classroom instruction and supervised clinical practice, which usually takes place in a hospital.
Other Education or Training
The National Association of School Nurses offers online continuing education (CE) classes on topics such as immunizations, infectious diseases, mental health issues, and dealing with the media. It also offers in-person CE classes on specialized topics such as diabetes management and childhood obesity. Contact the association for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Many states have certification requirements for school nurses, and some have certification programs but they are not required in all circumstances. National certification is available through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
Both licensed practical nurses and registered nurses must pass an examination after they have completed a state-approved nursing program. This is required by all states and the District of Columbia.
In addition, some state education agencies set requirements such as nursing experience and competency in specified areas of health and education. Local or regional boards of education may also have certain qualifications that they require of their school nurses.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Nursing students gain experience by completing several nursing internships, or clinical rotations, as part of their postsecondary training. Many school nurses have also obtained experience in a non-school nursing setting before specializing in school nursing.
School nurses must have patience and like working with children and teens. They must also be able to work well with teachers, parents, administrators, and other health personnel. School nurses should be able to work independently since they often work alone.