School Nursing is a Professional Specialization

School Nurses are often the only health professional in a school building. There are no doctors down the hall to help in an emergency. There are often no other nurses in the building with whom to confer.

There is no one else on the education team who can interpret the impact of health conditions on learning except the School Nurse. In this setting, with the broad diversity of children and their medical needs, it is critically important that School Nurses be adequately prepared.

The additional education enables the School Nurse to evaluate the impact of health conditions upon the student’s ability to learn. The certification program for School Nurses provides professional training in the management of school age populations:

A baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) is a minimum requirement for becoming a Certified School Nurse. (Not all RNs hold baccalaureates; some RNs hold associate degrees or go through nondegree programs.) Washington State School Nurses also hold Educational Staff Associate certification.

In order to become a Certified School Nurse, the nurse must have training in:

  • child development
  • child abuse
  • educational psychology
  • school organization
  • working with special education students and English language learners
  • writing 504 plans and participating in the IEP process
  • advocating for students with special needs to access their education while attracting as little attention as possible to that student
  • managing school age populations
  • application of the distinct law governing students’ privacy rights in schools, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • the Washington State Public School Code.

School Nurse candidates must complete a practicum in a School Nurse’s office, much as teachers must complete student teaching and doctors complete residencies.

School Nurse Certification provides for standardization of care among Washington’s school districts. Certification ensures that your child’s School Nurse is prepared to work with the school age population. If your child becomes sick at school, or is medically fragile, would you not desperately want your child’s School Nurse to be adequately prepared?

Source: PSEA

School nurses manage medically fragile children…

See testimony to the Washington State House Education Committee by Lori Miller, Mount Vernon School District, on the importance of school nurses in managing medically fragile children.