Is becoming a school nurse the next path in your career? If you are currently working in acute care and considering a switch to becoming a school nurse, we are here to say YES! A school nurse plays a special role in students’ lives and along with it comes a different routine and impact, plus some touching stories from your students.

Although the skillsets and knowledge you have gained while working at the bedside will transition well to working in a school setting, there are some differences in the job that you can prepare for as well. In this article, we explore what making the transition looks like and how you can find support throughout the process.

What Is It Like Being A School Nurse?

School nursing is a specialty that demands diverse nursing skills as students and teachers within the facility have different medical needs. The school nurse is responsible for treating students with injuries or illnesses that pop up during the school day, communicating with parents, guardians, and school staff, administering daily medications, monitoring students with chronic illnesses and disabilities, executing health policies, and a variety of other tasks that arise.

Many of these skills you have acquired through experience in other settings, like the hospital floor, so in your transition, focus on leaning on your support, taking additional training, and assessing yourself throughout the process to create a successful transition.

What Is Different About School Nursing?

Co-Workers

The biggest difference when you switch to being a school-based clinician is that there is not as large of a staffing circle of specialists and peers available at all times of work.

When coming from a hospital floor, you’re used to your co-workers being nurses, doctors, administrative employees, and other healthcare staff, but when you transition to a school-based role, most of your co-workers will be teachers. It might feel different at first, but you will work alongside the teachers as you both are putting the health and well-being of your students a priority. Teachers will be able to provide insight into a student’s daily life and potential health problems they may face. 

Patients

In that same light, your patients will be elementary, middle school, or high school students. There might be an occasional accident with a teacher but transitioning to school means transitioning from adult patients to adolescents.

If you have not worked with children before, don’t be afraid. Although children might get a tough rep, they are more often the strongest and kindest patients you will meet in your career. Plus, there is never a dull moment when a kid is sharing a funny story with you or pulling at your heartstrings when they ask for help.

Lessons

You might have experienced previously educating or leading nurses on your floor, or this might be a brand-new responsibility for you, but nurses often lead health education projects within their school district. Teaching students about hygiene, human anatomy, diet and exercise, and so many other aspects of childhood development is an essential role of the nurse.

You are the students’ go-to for anything healthcare related! This might be one-on-one with a student in need or in arranged group settings along with the teacher’s lesson plans.  This is an opportunity to really connect with the students and make a difference.

Routine

As opposed to 12-hour shifts and overnights at the hospital, you’ll find that your days may get some structure to them depending on how your school district operates. Most school nurses work the typical school hours which are roughly 7 am – 3 pm, but schedules vary depending on the district and state.

The beginning of the day starts with parent drop-off which can include some medication collection, paperwork, and any questions parents might have. Throughout the day, the nurse will distribute morning and lunchtime medications to students and student drop-in visits peak during recess hours.

You might have a teary-eyed kindergartener with a bleeding cut, or a 10-year-old feeling anxious about a test. As a school nurse, you often never know what a kid will need from you next, but you know that you are always there and ready to help!

School-Based Nursing Community

Although you may not have an entire staff of nurses working alongside you during the school day, the school nursing community is supportive and helpful during a transition that most of them have done prior. Consider joining the National Association of School Nurses or research community nurse groups in your district.

Your Therapia team will be with you every step of the way too. You can always reach out to your recruiter with questions or when you need a little boost in morale.

Should I do It?

If this question is going through your head, the answer is probably yes, but don’t just take our word for it, hear what other nurses say.

One of our school-based clinicians shared, “My favorite part of my job is knowing I’ve helped several children throughout the course of the day. I have always loved helping children learn and grow, and of course, keep them healthy!”

Another nurse shared, “I love that I can be creative in this role. I created a “Coping Bag” for children who are feeling anxious and use it to educate them on ways they can help themselves while they are in school. I keep little things like bubbles, stress balls, and a book about feeling worried in the bag and the kids love it!”

Work With Therapia

Connect with a Therapia Recruiter and learn more about how you can transition from the bedside to the classroom!