According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022. However, as schools don't need as many nurses as general medical and surgical hospitals, school nurses may face more employment challenges than their hospital counterparts.Being one of the oldest professions associated with the education system, school nurses have played an important role in providing medical care in an academic setting since 1902. Sick leaves and students being infected with communicable diseases were some of the reasons behind absenteeism in preschools, elementary schools, and high schools. To counter this medical threat to a school's curriculum, the idea of having a school nurse on campus was introduced, and since then, a school nurse has been an integral part of the American education system.
The role of a school nurse has evolved since its start, today a school nurse job description ranges from counseling, sex education, personalized health programs, preventive health care, nutrition teaching, management of emergencies, and first aid. The school nurse salary is on the rise, and the job outlook for the future also looks bright with substantial growth projections. Since the environment is not as stressful as operation theaters or nursing homes, and since the atmosphere is always cheerful, older nurses who do not want to work in hospitals, prefer working in schools.
- According to the BLS, the average salary for nurses is $66,640 ($32.04 per hour). To some, this might not sound much, but couple it with summer holidays and other vacations, it is a good number.
- According to Indeed, the average salary of a private school nurse working in New York is $88,000. A school nurse working in Dallas takes home $66,000 annually. The average annual salary of a school nurse is $66,000.
- Median salaries of private school nurses working in New York and San Francisco are about 36% higher than the salaries of school nurses nationwide.
- According to PayScale, the salary figures for a certified school nurse can be in the range of US $34,286 to US $61,042.
- Experience is a big factor when it comes to salaries, and more so in the case of a school nurse. Some with an experience of 4-9 years can earn as much as $70,000. This also depends on the size of the school in terms of student capacity and financial strength.
- A school nurse also enjoys health benefits and short/long-term disability benefits. Nearly 50% of school nurses get dental benefits.
Duties and Responsibilities
- The school nurse job description involves taking height and weight, checking vision and vital signs like blood pressure and pulse rate.
- The duties require them to partake in immunization programs along with sex education for children and good parenting habit lectures that revolve around hygiene and medical care.
- They treat minor playground injuries.
- In case of a serious injury, they stabilize and take care of the child until he/she is transported to the nearby hospital.
- They provide teachers, students, and parents with relevant health information.
- Most school nurses are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), to apply for a LPN course you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. The course lasts for a year and is offered by nursing schools, vocational training schools, or community colleges.
- Upon successful completion of the program which gives classroom and practical training in medical care, first aid, pediatrics, orthopedics, anatomy and pharmacology, a student needs to give an examination to obtain a license of a LPN. This examination is known as The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN, which is conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
- Registered Nurses (RN) can also get into the school nurse profession. To become a RN, you need to have a bachelor's of science degree or an associate degree in nursing. The students are also required to give an examination known as NCLEX-RN to practice as licensed registered nurse.
- To get a job in a renowned private school, you should have a Bachelor's degree in nursing and post-baccalaureate School Nurse Services Credential (SNSC) (you can apply to this program if you have one year of work experience), national certification to work as a registered nurse, and registered nurse license by passing the NCLEX-RN examination.
- Renewal of license at regular intervals is mandatory.
- Many states require a School Nursing Certification presented by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
Skills and Qualities
- Providing primary medical help to kids can be a challenging prospect, and anyone who wants to get into a school nurse profession needs to have patience and good communication skills. Many think that this is one of the easiest medical jobs available, but in reality, it is not as easy as it looks.
- A school nurse has to have enough knowledge of pediatric problems, allergies, vaccinations, and counseling to be successful and to command a good pay package.
- She should be able to detect mental illnesses and disorders. To handle problems like violence and drug abuse, she needs to be caring, compassionate, and competent. She should be able to work both independently and collaboratively.
- She should have excellent communication skills, and a non-judgmental approach towards problems. By winning the trust of children, she should be able to encourage them to talk about their problems.
- She should have good administrative skills too.
So if you have chosen this profession, are there any ways to allow you to up your salary, and reach the $75k mark or above that? One way would be to stop putting in extra hours just to get paid extra, rather do a bit of research, look for the places providing a high salary, and see if you can move to a place where you can get paid better as a school nurse. To name a few, New York, New Jersey, Alaska, etc., are some possible options to consider. Another tip would be to try your luck at private schools in your state or even abroad, for that matter, to obtain a salary that will appeal to you. There are several opportunities for school nurses, it is only up to an individual to cover all the leads, and opt for best alternative.
If you have an inclination to help and work with children, the school nurse salary is quite worthy of comparison, and the other benefits that you get, like holidays, make it worthwhile. Making a wise decision of choosing the right school will bear fruit in the long run.