What is a School Nurse?

A nursing professional who advocates for children's health and safety within the educational setting

What Preparation Does a School Nurse Need?
  • A registered nurse (RN) license to practice nursing by the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing
  • A baccalaureate degree in nursing from an accredited college or university
  • School Nurse certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Education

A School Nurse needs expertise in the following areas:

  • Pediatric, public health and mental health nursing with strong health promotion, assessment and referral skills
  • Education and health laws impacting children
  • Teaching strategies for the delivery of health education to students and staff

What Does a School Nurse Do?

  • The primary role of the School Nurse is to support student learning. The nurse accomplishes this by implementing strategies that promote student and staff health and safety.
  • A School Nurse, with appropriate preparation, takes a leadership role in serving as the coordinator of school health programs in the following manner:
  • Health Services -- serves as the coordinator of the health services program and provides nursing care
  • Health Education -- provides health education to students, staff and parents
  • Healthy Environment -- identifies health and safety concerns in the school environment and promotes a nurturing school environment
  • Nutritional Services -- supports healthy food services programs
  • Physical Education/Mental Health -- provides health counseling, assesses mental health needs, provides interventions and refers students to appropriate school staff or community agencies
  • Parent/Community Involvement -- promotes community involvement in assuring a healthy school
  • Staff Wellness -- provides health education and counseling, promotes health activities and environment for school staff

What Services Do School Nurses Provide?

  • As the health services expert, the School Nurse serves as the health professional for the school community and provides the following services:
  • Illness, injury assessments and interventions
  • Identification, assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of student health concerns
  • Health assessments
  • Individualized Health Planning for chronic conditions to include nursing assessment, nursing diagnosis, goals, nursing interventions, and expected outcomes.  
  • Pediatric nursing procedures: ventilators, gastrostomy feedings, tracheotomy care, catheterization
  • Screening for health factors impacting student education
  • Activities and education to promote health and prevent teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, tobacco use and alcohol and substance abuse
  • Chronic disease management and education
  • Individualized Nursing Care Plans and services for students with disabilities and/or health conditions that interfere with learning
  • Medication administration
  • Assessment and interventions for students with mental health needs
  • Crisis team participation
  • Health curriculum recommendation
  • School/community/health care provider liaison

What Difference Does a School Nurse Make?

  • School nursing interventions improve student health to impact achievement and success.
  • School Nurses collaborate with administrators to promote a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment.
  • Parents are confident their student's health needs and injuries are appropriately handled during the school day.
  • Teachers are freed up to devote their time to educating students because the School Nurse coordinates the health care needed by students.

According to a recent survey of School Nurses:

98% - Have saved a child's life

82% - Have identified an abused child

67% - Have counseled a depressed/suicidal student

School nurses: 

Decrease absenteeism

Decrease discipline referrals

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