Last Updated on May 9, 2023
A school may not be the setting that most people think of when they think of nurses. But school nursing, therapy, psychology and other clinical jobs aren’t just an essential part of education, but rewarding career paths on their own. For healthcare professionals who haven’t yet considered this rewarding job option, here are four benefits of working as a school nurse or clinician — and a quick guide on how to become one.
4 Benefits of Working as a School Nurse or Clinician
Benefit #1: The chance to help kids in need
The job of a school nurse or clinician is to care for students within a school or district, helping with initiatives to keep them healthy throughout the year. That means providing care to people who really need it — not just kids but teachers, too. With the ongoing nursing shortage, and the difficulties kids have faced due to the pandemic, those schools need nurses and psychologists more than ever before.
In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “school nurses or other school health services staff may also be the first to identify chronic health conditions in students during routine health exams.”
So, stepping up and working one of the nation’s many school nursing and clinical jobs means helping a district that might otherwise have to go without that professional for the rest of the school year. That could make a big difference in someone’s life! It also means taking the opportunity to move into a profession that’s traditionally been difficult to break into, but that now offers many openings.
Benefit #2: A way to gain new experience in an essential setting
There’s no doubt that working as a school nurse or clinician can be a challenge. But then again, most clinical jobs are! For healthcare professionals who are really motivated to help others, or who want to work with kids in a non-hospital setting, the variety of tasks involved in working in a school setting can help develop some very important skills.
So, even if your goal isn’t to work as a school nurse for the rest of your career, getting experience in this setting could be a big boost to your future career. The skills earned here can easily transfer to lucrative assignments in charter schools, universities, even high-paying corporate educational settings — and could even be the deciding factor in someday landing your dream job.
Benefit #3: An opportunity to develop essential skills
Besides skills that are specific to the school setting, school jobs also help healthcare professionals develop expertise in other essential areas. Quick thinking skills, adaptability and resourcefulness under pressure, the ability to plan, comfort working with a broad age range — these are all valuable skills to have in any setting. However, they’re especially large parts of working as a school nurse or clinician.
For example, school nurses gain experience not only in emergency response, but also in setting day-to-day standards in nutrition and wellness. That requires the ability to lead, communicate, organize, and plan. All of which are skills that employers look to in nurses of all types, and across all settings.
Benefit #4: A chance to work a clinical job with a different pace
Finally, if you’re concerned about the challenges of working as a school nurse or clinician, consider this. Compared to working in a hospital or clinical setting where one shift can seemingly follow another, the school setting is a segmented work environment. That is, it gives you (for the most part) your evenings, weekends and even summers to yourself.
Because of this, many nurses and clinicians approach retirement by easing out of their primary jobs into school jobs. Many school nurses choose to work travel assignments during the summer to help boost their income — or as a way to earn cash while traveling across the United States! You can learn more about the benefits of travel nursing here.
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How Can You Become a School Nurse or Clinician?
If you’d like to pursue a career as a school nurse, or are interested in trying an assignment, your path is a pretty simple one. For one, school nurses must be registered nurses. This requires an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and then successful completion of the NCLEX-RN exam. From there, you’ll need to apply to your state’s nursing board for a license.
After 1-2 years as an RN, you should be able to land an assignment working as a school nurse. However, some states, cities, or jobs may require additional certification. Earning a certification as a school nurse, such as the Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN) certification, can help your chances (and probably raise your pay prospects). For this certification, nurses must have worked 1,000 hours or clinical experience. But even before earning the NCESN, you may want to gain some experience in a school setting, if possible.
The career path for other school clinicians like psychologists or occupational therapists is essentially the same. You’ll be expected to be licensed in your field, and will be better positioned to land an assignment with some school experience. Mental health professionals who want to work in a school setting should consider earning a school psychology degree.
Start Working as a School Nurse or Clinician with CareerStaff Unlimited
There are countless benefits of working as a school nurse! If you’re interested in working as a school nurse or clinician, CareerStaff Unlimited has opportunities across the United States! Check out our job search page to see the many available opportunities we have, or get the ball rolling by filling out a quick application now.