School nurses play an integral part in both our education and health care systems, working to lower health care costs and associated stresses by administering care to students who may not otherwise have access to it. Helping individuals manage their health challenges by providing support, resources and care strategies, school nurses are able to encourage students, minimize absenteeism and contribute to improving students’ academic performance.
For individuals interested in how much a school nurse makes and what a school nurse does on a daily basis, the first thing to know is that school nurse positions are available in a variety of institutions and systems, where they assist students of all ages. Whether it is approached as a steppingstone for nursing students to gain valuable experience while pursuing an advanced education such as a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) or as a way to make a positive impact on a school system, the school nurse role is a crucial one that can make a world of difference in the lives of students.
What Does a School Nurse Do?
School nurses play a vital role in our education system. For many students, access to health care outside of school can be both costly and limited, making the care they receive from their school nurse an essential service. What a school nurse does on a daily basis entails much more than simply bandaging bumps and bruises; many have responsibilities such as the following:
- Evaluating illnesses and injuries
- Storing and keeping track of medications for students with chronic conditions or allergies
- Providing health care education and resources to teachers, students, and families
- Keeping records of and administering vaccinations
- Responding to various health care emergencies
- Detecting potential health issues and providing resources to manage those issues
- Providing health screenings for students and faculty
In many cases, the services that school nurses provide can be the first step in addressing more serious conditions for students and faculty, guiding them toward the professional care they need.
Often working in a proactive and preventive role, school nurses are able to implement valuable programs for health and sexual education, disease prevention, and mental health care, while also supporting students with chronic conditions. These resources can contribute to improved attendance rates by providing students with a safe space to seek help and giving them the guidance and strategies they need to focus on their education.
School Nurse Salary Expectations
Exactly how much a school nurse makes can be influenced by a multitude of factors, including the type of school system they work in, their level of education, their years of experience, and their job location. The approximate median annual school nurse salary was $48,000 as of July 2022, with those at the high end of their survey earning approximately $76,000 after bonuses and additional compensation, according to Payscale.
School nurses are required, at minimum, to be registered nurses (RNs). However, prospective candidates can work to increase their school nurse salary through advanced education or certifications. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nurse practitioners have a median annual salary of $123,780 per year as of May 2021, school nurses have other advantages such as the opportunity to take summer break off and working set hours.
How to Become a School Nurse
Learning how to become a school nurse means learning how to become a registered nurse, since that is an essential requirement. The process begins with earning at minimum an associate degree in nursing, though most nurses choose to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program. With their nursing school foundation, school nurses must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed RN.
While each state has its own certification and licensure requirements, school nurses commonly gain experience by completing clinical nursing hours as well as earning an additional school nursing certification offered by an accreditation board such as the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. With these qualifications, school nurses are prepared to fill a much-needed space in our health care system while taking advantage of the flexibility of working within the typical nine-month school schedule.
By pursuing an advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.), nursing leaders are able to make a positive and long-lasting difference in the lives of students and faculty. Utilizing the advanced skills and knowledge gained during their nursing education, school nurses are able to help students build health- and wellness-conscious lifestyles, and improve the habits of future generations.
Advance Your Skills to Deliver Quality Care
The care that school nurses provide can make all the difference in the lives of students. Through this fulfilling career, school nurses can play a key role in the trajectory of their students’ lives.
For prospective nurses who are passionate about combining work in both health care and education, becoming a school nurse can be a fantastic opportunity. However, building the essential nursing skills required to pursue a career in the field takes both time and dedication.
The University of North Dakota’s online Master of Science in Nursing program provides a clinical placement and allows students to choose between Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specializations. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the program was designed to provide you with the foundation you need to build a successful career. Discover how the University of North Dakota’s online M.S.N. can help you pursue your nursing goals.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Nursing?
Supporting Mental Health for Nurses: Why It Matters
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, School Nurses Help Keep Students Healthy
Healthychildren.org, “Health Problems at School: How School Nurses Can Help”
Indeed, “How to Become a School Nurse (with Skills and Salary)”
Indeed, “The Pros and Cons of Being a School Nurse”
National Association of School Nurses, Education, Licensure, and Certification of School Nurses
National Board for Certification of School Nurses, Examination
Payscale, Average School Nurse Salary
Society for Human Resource Management, School Nurse
TravelNursing.com, “Top 7 Benefits of Being a School Nurse”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners