The first school nurse, Lina Lavanceh Rogers, treats children in school circa 1897.
Today is National School Nurse Day – an exclusive day to recognize the specialty practice of school nursing and the important role school nurses play in education and wellbeing of school-aged adolescents. This year’s specific theme for National School Nurse Day is School Nurses: Better Health. Better Learning. The theme reflects how important school nurses are to the health of their school communities.
The history of nurses employed in school settings dates back to the late 1800s, when nurses were called upon to provide checkups and spot students with communicable diseases who needed treatment. Today, school nurses play an important role in defending against epidemics and monitoring the health of school-age children; with modern antibiotics and preventative vaccines, the role of the school nurse has evolved.
Responsibilities now include caring for students with chronic diseases, mental health issues and behavioral disorders. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on adolescents and school health shows the academic success of today’s youth is closely linked to their overall health. There is a need to promote health and wellbeing within the educational environment for all students, because healthy children are better learners.
The United States has more than 73,000 school nurses working to remove barriers to learning, make students and staff feel safe and healthy, and help all students realize academic success.
“School nurses collaborate with students, the school community, families, the health care community, the community at large and government agencies so that children are in school, healthy, safe, and ready to learn,” said NASN President Beth Mattey, MSN, RN, NCSN. “A professional school nurse is needed in every school to care for every child because school nursing is the foundation for student health.”
The NASN supports a teacher’s right to have school nurses in their buildings, understanding that a teacher’s first priority is to focus on instruction and a student’s educational needs. School nurses have the training and skills to care for children with complex medical conditions, and the presence of a nurse means teachers, parents and students feel secure knowing that children are safe at school because their health needs are met.
“It is a tremendous privilege to honor our nation’s school nurses as we celebrate National School Nurse Day,” said NASN Executive Director Donna Mazyck, MS, RN, NCSN. “School nurses influence wellness and disease prevention practices as change agents in schools and communities.”
How to become a school nurse
- Get your RN diploma, Associate of Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
- Pass your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
- Get three years of full-time academic experience, or at least 4,000 hours of clinical practice.
- Pass your School Nurse certification exam through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.