If you are considering making a switch and working as a school nurse, you have a lot to consider. Working in a school setting is very different than working in a clinical setting, such as a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center. While it may be nice to work during school hours and possibly have summers and holidays off, school nursing is not a walk in the park.
There are several misconceptions about what a school nurse does and what working in a school involves. Continue reading to separate myths from the facts.
Myth: School nurses mostly pass out Band-Aids and cough drops.
Reality: Some people who have not worked in a school setting may not realize how much a school nurse truly does. There is more to school nursing than passing out cough drops. In addition to the daily illness and conditions that can occur, such as bumps and bruises, nurses may care for students with complex medical needs. It’s common for nurses to deal with students with conditions, such as diabetes, allergies, and asthma. School nurses are also involved in mandatory state screenings and health education programs. They also respond to emergencies and assist ill staff members.
Myth: You don’t need any experience to work as a school nurse.
Reality: School nursing is not the best place for rookie nurses without any experience. School nurses often work independently. They assess and treat students. They may have to deal with situations including life-threatening allergic reactions and conditions, such as fractures and hypoglycemia. A school nurse should have the experience and confidence to handle a wide variety of medical illnesses and conditions.
Myth: School nursing in not challenging.
Reality: School nursing often involves diverse responsibilities including medical care, screenings, prevention programs, and education. Budget cuts in schools may leave some school nurses caring for a large student population. Juggling the varied duties can be rewarding and challenging.
Myth: School nurses only work in elementary schools.
Reality: Although school nurses work in elementary schools, that is not the only setting they are employed. School nurses work in a variety of educational settings. Nurses are hired in both public and private institutions. Jobs can be found in early education programs, elementary, middle, and high school. Nurses are also employed at colleges, universities, and boarding schools.
Myth: School nursing never changes.
Reality: Through the years, school nursing has changed. Although specific issues may vary, nurses working in schools may deal with children with medically complex issues ranging from autism to physical disabilities. There is also a higher incidence of school violence, drug abuse, and mental health problems that affect students. In today’s world, school nurses often work with students with these different problems.
Myth: School nurses work in isolation.
Reality: In many cases, a school nurse may be the only healthcare provider on campus at a given time, but that does not mean a nurse sits alone in a clinic all day. School nurses do not work in isolation. Instead, nurses are part of a team of professionals working together to help students maintain good health. School nurses collaborate with teachers, counselors, administrators, and special education staff.