Personnel Improvement Center
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School Nurse

Nature of Work:

  • performs vision, hearing, dental and scoliosis health screening tests;
  • provides emergency first aid;
  • monitors student compliance with state immunization laws;
  • assesses the health needs of students and faculty and coordinates appropriate curriculum or activities for them;
  • counsels students about chronic illnesses, nutrition, disease prevention, and positive lifestyles;
  • interprets medical data and contributes to the health component of individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities;
  • participates with the school administration in investigating cases of suspected child abuse and neglect;
  • trains teachers and staff members to perform standard procedures that might be needed for students with disabilities; and
  • serves as a liaison to the community

Education Required:

To become a registered nurse (RN) in any state, a student must graduate from an accredited nursing school and pass a national licensing examination. Students can earn an associate degree, a diploma, or a bachelor of science degree in nursing. (Some nurses' training programs specialize even further. Millikin University in Illinois, for example, teaches courses specifically for nurses who plan to work in school settings.) RNs holding bachelor's or master's degrees have the broadest advancement opportunities. Once a degree is received, it is recommended that you continue taking professional education courses to maintain and upgrade knowledge in the rapidly changing and expanding field of school nursing.

Personal Qualities:

School nurses are caring and sympathetic, and are concerned with the physical, mental, and emotional needs of their students. They have excellent listening skills and can instruct both children and adults about a variety of health issues and treatments. School nurses follow a code of ethics and deal with sensitive and/or confidential information in an appropriate manner. They are mature and trustworthy individuals, and should keep meticulous written records.

Job Outlook and Advancement:

  • Employment opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow faster than other types of employment through 2005
  • School nursing positions are growing steadily in demand, especially to work with the growing number of students with special needs

How to Prepare for a Career:

Aspiring school nurses need strong academic backgrounds in science, biology, chemistry, psychology, mathematics, and communications. During high school, volunteer to work in hospitals with children, with your school nurse, or volunteer to be a teacher assistant in a special education class to learn more about special needs students. Consider summer employment as a receptionist in a clinic or as a camp counselor who can assist the camp nurse working with various disabilities and needs of campers. Contact the county school nurse supervisor in your town and ask about volunteer opportunities in immunization projects, community health programs, or public health screening.

Resource Information:

Nursing Degree Guide

National Association of School Nurses, Inc.
8484 Georgia Avenue
Suite 420
Silver Spring, MD 20910
1-301-585-1791 (FAX)

American Nurses' Association
600 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20024-2571
(202) 651-7000
(202) 651-7001 Fax


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The National Center to Improve the Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center). A Cooperative Agreement, H325C080001, between the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Project Officer: Maryann McDermott
NASDSE | 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone 703.519.3800 | Fax 703.519.3808