Remember the times when we wanted to skip all the mundane discussion or get a pass through with nerve wracking school presentations by pretending that we need to take a visit to the school nurse for an upset stomach? Those where the days, but do we all realize how impactful school nurses have been in our early years?
Some people try to undermine their role in the aspect of healthcare but only a few see how they have been a vital foundation for our early awareness in leading a healthy lifestyle and a huge role model in fortifying the importance of being concern of the welfare of other people, especially their health.
If you are planning on becoming a school nurse, this article will give you important insights of their roles as well as the educational background you need to go through before becoming one.
What is a School Nurse?
To make things simple, school nurses are professionals that work in the academe that are responsible for caring for ill or injured students. They play a vital role in the normal health functioning of the academe and the faculty.
School nurses also help make programs or training methods to help contain or prevent communicable diseases that are very common to children.
They also help create or mold a better and more holistic teaching environment for teachers as well as a convenient learning environment for children. They do this by examining students’ developmental abilities and then provide teachers with a better approach in teaching them.
Being a school nurse requires an intense zeal to work with children as well as have enough patience to understand children with behavioral issues. It takes a lot of effective communication with both the children and parents.
What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a School Nurse?
According to the National Association of School Nurses, School Nurses are leaders in the academic community who help oversee health policies and programs of the school. They are expected to provide well rounded skills to help promote health education among students and the faculty.
The aim of school nurses is to maintain good health for the students. This is because the more healthy the children, the more they perform better in school. This encompasses physical, emotional, mental and social health.
The specific tasks done by school nurses include the following:
- Utilize clinical knowledge to provide basic healthcare delivery to students and faculty
- Perform health screenings
- Decide upon referrals to higher facilities or hospitals
- Function as liaison for the school, parents as well as the community healthcare providers to help maintain a normal, healthy academic environment
- Formulate programs for student welfare by performing assessment, interventions as well as assessment of possible outcomes stemming from student intervention
- Function as consultants for other school staff which include nutrition and food personnel, physical education experts, coaches as well as guidance counselors
- Provide regular health education among students and teachers
- Monitor immunizations, help control communicable diseases
- Oversight the surroundings of the school for possible sources of injury and threat to safety of the students
- Participate in various programs that help prevent violence, bullying and other issues that may arise in the school
- Monitor vital signs and other important stats of students such as body mass index among others
- Facilitate in the administration of healthcare services as directed by the school administration or the state
- Provide health advice to varsity teams or atheletes
Aside from the academe, school nurses can also work in a wide array of settings:
- Department of Health
- Public Health Agencies
- Primary hospitals
- Public school departments
- Company settings
- Private, parochial and charter school
How Important are School Nurses in Today’s School Environment?
It is evident that the school contributes to a large bulk when it comes to our early years of influence. According to the National Asssociation for School Nurses, the school serves as a child’s “most influential” environment, secondary to their own home.
With a vast change in culture in today’s youth, we see a lot of violence and bullying in several schools across the globe. Because of this inevitable shift in the youth’s behavior, a lot of students have fall victim to the ill effects of violence and bullying. As a result, physical and mental health issues have greatly arisen over recent years.
Since it is difficult for pediatricians or psychologists to monitor the wellbeing of their patients 24/7, the role rests upon the school nurse to maintain a holistic and well rounded health status for the children. If children are constantly monitored and educated about the consequences of untoward behavior to their classmates, then a healthy and peaceful school environment is attained.
The major role school nurses play in molding the early years of students encompass providing health screening services, preventive services, health education, immunizations, among others. Together with teachers, they serve as good role models that students can look up to in terms of leading a healthy and productive lifestyle.
Among the most common interventions provided by school nurses, include:
- Acute and Chronic Diseases
- Teenage pregnancy
- Infectious diseases
- Dental health problems
- Injuries and emergencies
- Mental Issues
- Growth Stunting
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Substance, alcohol and drug abuse
- Special needs
- Disabilities of Various Degree of Severity
Among the common programs initiated or facilitated by school nurses include:
- Teenage pregnancy prevention
- Prevention of Cardiovascular or Lifestyle Related Diseases
- Dental health programs
- Sex Education/ Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Smoking Prevention
- Substance Abuse Programs
- Infectious Disease Control Programs
How To Become A School Nurse
To become a school nurse, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to learn the basics as well as memorize a lot of terms that are needed in the actual setting. In addition, the complicated skills needed to properly give the services required.
In the United states, all nurses, including school nurses are required to hold a license as a registered nurse. In order to do this, you must first earn your bachelor’s degree in science of nursing. In the process, you come across several courses in the pediatric and family health department. After doing so, you need to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
If you want to tread into greener pastures or for self improvement in the field, you can always pursue a Master’s and eventually a PHD degree in Nursing. These degrees span different fields such as Science in Nursing, Hospital Administration, Public Health and many more. However, post graduate courses are usually not required to work as school nurse.
School Nurse certification can be attained through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. Most educational institutions however, require you to have 1,000 hours of clinical nursing experience before applying as a school nurse.