Your Guide to School Nurse Salaries

School nursing began in the United States in 1902, when the first school nurse was hired to reduced absenteeism by helping students and families with healthcare needs related to communicable diseases, according to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). Since then, the specialty continues to provide communicable disease management, but it has expanded and the role is increasingly diverse.

The following sections explore more details about this nursing specialty, including roles and responsibilities, salary, and education requirements.

What Is a School Nurse?

A school nurse provides healthcare assessment, intervention, and follow-up for children in the school setting. By addressing the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of students, school nurses support a student’s ability to learn and engage in the educational process.

According to the NASN, services provided by a school nurse include leadership, community/public health, care coordination, and quality improvement.

  • Leadership: A school nurse assumes leadership in the development of policies, programs and procedures for the provision of school health services at an individual or district level. The school nurse also leads delivery of care to preserve and protect student and family autonomy, dignity, privacy, and other rights. Other leadership roles include serving as an advocate for individual students (for self-empowerment, problem solving, effective communication, self-management, and safety) and providing system-level leadership for  policy development and implementation (promoting education and healthcare reform, improving issues related to healthcare, customer care, health, and wellness).
  • Community/Public Health: A primary role of the school nurse moves beyond the individual to focus on community health promotion and disease prevention. The school nurse provides multiple prevention strategies through health education, detecting and treating health-related issues, and addressing health conditions and concerns. The school nurse employs cultural competency in delivering effective care. And the school nurse promotes health equity by assisting students and families with connecting them to healthcare services, financial resources, shelter, food, and health promotion.
  • Care Coordination: As a member of two divergent communities (educational and medical/nursing), school nurses communicate and collaborate with practitioners with both fields. The school nurse is a vital member of interdisciplinary teams, bringing expertise necessary to develop a student’s Individualized Education Plan or Section 504 plan designed to reduce health-related barriers to learning.
  • Quality Improvement: The school nurse engages in the continuous and systematic process of quality improvement that leads to measurable improvements and outcomes. Data collection and utilizing formal school nursing research helps support this goal.

School Nurse Salary

The average base pay for school nurses is $67,302 per year, based on real-time data from Glassdoor at time of publication.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track salary information for nursing specialties. The median annual wage for all registered nurses is $68,450. The highest 10 percent earn more than $102,990 and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $47,120.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent by 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Education Requirements for School Nurse Jobs

Educational preparation for a school nurse should be at the baccalaureate level, according to the NASN, and nurses should continue to pursue professional development and continuing nursing education.

The BLS notes that licensed graduates for any of the three types of education programs (bachelor’s, associate, or diploma) may quality for entry-level positions as a staff nurse. However, some employers require a bachelor’s degree, and this is especially true in hospitals.

School nursing is a specialty that typically requires candidates to have prior experience. And given the trend toward some entry-level positions preferring a bachelor’s degree, current or prospective nurses interested in a school nursing career should pursue at least a bachelor’s degree.

Becoming a School Nurse

Rivier University offers a fully online RN-BSN program for students who already have an ADN and want to enhance their nursing careers. In this program, you’ll have access to experienced professors, peer mentors, and many more resources. And since all class content is available online, you can complete coursework when and where it’s convenient for you.

Take that first step– Contact an enrollment counselor today to get started.

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