Understanding The Role Of A School Nurse

July 18, 2014

Teaching and paediatric nursing are two of the most rewarding professions for anyone who is interested in spending time with and caring for children. While teachers help mould tomorrow’s young minds, paediatric nurses help keep children as healthy as possible.

If you find yourself torn between these two professions, a career as a school nurse may be the perfect solution.

To work as a school nurse, you should have a true desire to work with and help children and strive to help students reach their full potential. An unwritten but essential requirement for this role is the ability to communicate effectively not only with children but also their parents.

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in Tanzania. Job Description Of A School Nurse

A school nurse is a qualified paediatric nurse who works in schools and other educational facilities. In the past, school nurses were simply nurses who happened to work in schools. They were responsible for caring for ill and injured children, as well as containing communicable diseases. Today’s school nurse however shoulders far more responsibilities as compared to their earlier peers. In addition to caring for ill and injured students, they also help teachers create a more effective and efficient learning environment by recognising students’ developmental abilities.

As a school nurse you will tackle issues such as the physical and emotional health of the students. There are also several common physical problems that you may encounter each and every day, from common health issues such as runny noses, stomach aches and fever to more serious issues such as asthma or food allergies. You should also be prepared to treat all kinds of injuries, which could range from minor bruises to major emergencies such as broken bones.

You will also be responsible for checking the physical health of new students. This may involve giving new students a brief physical examination and discussing their medical history with their parents to ensure that all students are healthy enough to attend school.

Communication with parents is an important aspect of being a school nurse. You will be required to notify parents of unexpected injuries illnesses and injuries. You will also need to be aware of the special care or medication that some students may need for treating chronic illnesses, such as asthma or ADHD. For this, it is important to have open communication channel between you and the parents.

Besides treating injuries and illnesses, you will also be responsible for preventing the outbreak of contagious illnesses as well. This could involve quarantining sick students and making sure all students they are up to date on vaccinations and immunisations.

A school nurse also acts as a health educator and organises programs addressing common health issues that may affect students. Issues that school nurses may address may include good hygiene, learning disabilities, sexual health, self-esteem and illness prevention.

School nurses work primarily in educational institutions, most commonly public and private elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. Other facilities that employ these specialist nurses are juvenile correctional facilities and children’s homes.