A school nurse is a registered nurse whose main focus is the health and well-being of the students and staff members in his jurisdiction. He is expected to address immediate student health issues concurrent with planning and implementing programs to promote good health. He is required to provide basic health and first aid services on a daily basis.
One of his primary goals is often to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, a common problem in school environments. He is required to be aware of impending epidemics and educate parents and students on practices that may prevent undue contamination. He may be responsible for only one location or for several schools in the district for which he works. The scope of his job generally is dictated by regulatory nursing association agency guidelines and the school district’s policies and procedures. These guidelines and policies can vary by country.
School nursing can be a demanding career, requiring much more than maintaining the daily health of students in some cases. A school nurse’s concerns may be expected to include the students’ daily and long-term academic achievement and how physical and mental health issues affect it. This may require communication with family members and professionals as well as with the student.
Typically, the school nurse supplies bandages for scraped knees and safely administers prescription and over-the-counter medication to students who have provided him with written authorization from their parents and family physicians to do so. If a student appears too ill to be in class, the school nurse contacts the student’s parents and arranges for transport home. Tact, empathy and good communication skills are helpful tools for a school nurse.
Physical, mental and psychological development are sometimes monitored by the school nurse. The same applies for physical symptoms and signs the nurse may perceive as becoming health problems. In some cases, the school nurse may engage the services of outside agencies to assist in properly treating students.
The school nurse relies on the school staff to help him recognize health and safety problems. These issues may involve equipment or environments that may pose dangers to students. He also relies on the staff to report concerns about individual students and, if necessary, assist in providing first aid.
The minimum requirements for this position vary by country. In the United States, one must be a licensed, registered nurse (RN). Many in this position also are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). Additional licensing for school nursing may be required. Specific requirements for the position often vary, and school districts may impose more restrictions at their discretion.