School nurses are so essential to keeping students healthy and their parents in the loop about the kinds of germs that are currently traveling through the area so that moms and dads can keep their eyes peeled for any potential signs that their child is feeling crummy.
Ideally, a good school nurse should have all the necessary degrees, licensing, hours and experience. Study points out that a certified school nurse should have a state license that shows they’re a registered nurse, have over 1,000 hours of work experience in the field and have gone to college to get a degree in either nursing or a health-related field.
Nurse adds that the reason why the rules and regulations are so strict is due to the fact that the school nurse is a parent’s first line of defense against their child coming down with an illness.
They should be able to instruct the principal and their co-workers in proper disinfecting techniques, make sure that their office is routinely cleaned to get rid of all of those pesky germs, and work with the state to submit all the necessary vaccination records.
For parents that suspect that their child’s school nurse isn’t up to par, here’s a list of signs to watch out for.
Study points out that the bare minimum requirement for any nurse (or student studying to become a nurse while in college) is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in nursing or another related field such as biochemistry, counseling, social work, health education, chemistry and nutrition, so if the school nurse didn’t major in one of the aforementioned fields before getting their degree, that’s not a good sign.
In order to become a legitimate certified school nurse, he or she needs at least a Bachelor’s degree in one of those fields, although there are many that go on to graduate school in order to get their Master’s degree in nursing or sometimes even in education.
Study adds that in order to become qualified to take the exam that is offered by the National Board of Certifications of School Nurses (AKA the NBCSN), the nurse hopeful in question needs a minimum of at least 1,000 hours of work experience in the field.
This might seem excessive to some, but given the fact that school nurses are going to be working around children and they really need to be prepared for all sorts of different kinds of health scenarios, it makes perfect sense that they need to have far more hands-on experience than someone like me that eventually wants to sit for the dog training certification test offered by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers and only needs 300 hours of teaching my own classes.
Much like dog trainers that gain their CPDT-KA certificate through the Council of Professional Dog Trainers, school nurses are also required to get their CE (continuing credits) every five years or so, which means it’s a no-no if the school nurse in your child’s school is slacking off on renewing this certificate.
Study adds that the reason why the NBCSN requires school nurses to take continuing education credits every five years is due to the fact that medical field is always changing and they want to see proof that the nurse in question has kept up with the latest health information, practices, etc.
Nurse writes that it is not a good look if your child’s school nurse hasn’t sat yet for the National Certified School Nurse (NCSN) exam that is offered through the National Board for Certification of School Nurses.
Sure, some schools are a bit more lax when writing up the application for potential school nurses, but a dedicated nurse will want to take the exam as soon as he or she has all the necessary requirements, which includes a current RN license, a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in nursing and the necessary hours of work experience so they can get it out of the way. Plus, it makes their resume stand out from others that haven’t taken the test yet.
Lifehacker points out that a good nurse is very strict about sending out the necessary medical forms and emergency contact information for parents of the students to fill out and return where as one that only has the done the bare minimum to qualify for the position will be a bit more laid-back about sending the forms out and getting them back.
A good nurse would want the contact information for the student’s parents or the number for their emergency contact as back-up just incase; plus the medical forms will help them remember which child has food allergies and which one has something like asthma.
Lifehacker points out that a red flag for a school nurse is one that promotes outdated treatment for lice, such as staying home until their parents are one hundred percent sure that their child is free of the annoying nits that decided to make their hair their home.
Dealing with lice certainly isn’t fun, but a school nurse that truly knows his or her stuff will tell you that it is truly not a big deal and can be easily dealt with by combing them out with a fine-toothed comb or by applying a special shampoo and washing your child’s hair.
Lifehacker points out that if your school nurse seems just a little too blasé about your child not feeling well, then that’s a good sign that the principal might want to find another person to fill the position for next year.
A good school nurse will be able to immediately tell if your child isn’t feeling well and their current state of health is going to be a huge distraction if they even try to attempt to power through the rest of their classes and will call their parents ASAP to let them know that they should really pick their son or daughter up early.
Romper adds that it is perfectly all right for parents to side-eye the heck out of the current school nurse if they don’t send their children home with reminders for students and their families to get the flu vaccine the minute flu season officially starts.
A competent school nurse knows that catching the flu is nothing to laugh about and it is really important for people of all ages to make sure that they get the vaccination as soon as humanly possible, because you really don’t want to spend a week or two curled up in bed and feeling like crud warmed up or spread it to others.
Nurse writes that it’s not cool if your child’s school nurse can’t really tell your little one or even you much more than the bare minimum of common childhood illnesses that get passed around schools, summer camps and daycares faster than Barry Allen/The Flash from DC Comics can even run.
School nurses should ideally be a wealth of information about subjects such as the common cold, the flu, sinus infections, etc. and how parents and their children can implement effective preventative measures instead of just reciting something that they obviously memorized off of a brief textbook paragraph or an online dictionary.
I remember when I was in third or fourth grade being irritated because I had to wait for what felt like forever in line when my class was herded into formation for our yearly scoliosis screenings that were performed by our school nurse and I always breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got the whole process over with and was allowed to sit down.
Nurse writes that parents should be aware that another sign of a less-than-competent school nurse is if they don’t appear to bother to organize yearly scoliosis screenings for the students that are currently enrolled in the school.
According to Nurse, it is very important for the school nurse that is currently working at your little one’s school or even at their daycare center to make sure that they send all of the necessary documentation about the students’ vaccination records to the state by the required deadline.
If your child’s school nurse slacks off on their important duty, it’s not a good sign because that means that the state won’t be able to tell how many children are up-to-date with the required vaccinations and which need to head to their pediatrician’s office with their parents in tow ASAP.
The National Association of School Nurses points out that a good nurse not only should be able to disinfect a minor boo-boo like a student’s scraped knee from rough housing a little too much with his or her friends during recess and send reminders to get one vaccination or another, but they should also be the liaison to the school staff and make sure that they educate their colleagues about common illnesses in children so that the teachers can go to their office ASAP to let them know if they suspect something’s up
A school nurse that is asleep at the wheel as the saying goes won’t tell his or her co-workers what to look for if they suspect that a student has the beginnings of something like a sinus infection or the flu.
I’ve always been grateful for my school nurse that worked at my elementary school because she organized yearly audio and visual screenings. It was at one of these screenings when I was in the fifth grade that she discovered I could have hearing loss and wrote a letter urging my parents to have me evaluated by a professional audiologist. They took this seriously, sent me to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor that had an audiologist on staff, and what do you know—I have moderate hearing loss in my right ear and was fitted for a hearing aid later on.
Nurse writes that a school nurse that doesn’t place an emphasis on yearly audio and visual screenings and has to be reminded to do so by the principal is one to be avoided, since the professional school nurses would insist on it to make sure that their students don’t wind up falling behind in class due to a fixable issue.
The National Association of School Nurses adds that another red flag to be wary of with regards to the nurse working at your child’s school is if they have poor infection control protocols.
Nurses should know better than anyone else in the school about how quickly germs can get passed around in a confined area and ideally should go the whole hog in terms of establishing excellent disinfection protocols so that a student that comes in for a band-aid doesn’t wind up coming down with a sore throat from the other student that came in five minutes prior to their visit and had to be sent home because they weren’t feeling well.
There are always going to be some students in a school that have to taken medication for one reason or another, so Nurse points out that it’s not cool if the student arrives on time to get some help with administering whatever they were given by their pediatrician and the school nurse is outside chatting on the phone or took a long lunch and hasn’t gotten back yet.
A professional nurse should have a good idea of which student needs which kind of medication administered at the appropriate times and make an effort to be on time to help them through the entire process.
Nurse writes that disinfecting their office shouldn’t even be something that a school nurse has to even think about because it is just so ingrained in them as part of their daily routine and another red flag is if one of their co-workers or even the principal has to keep reminding them day in and day out to at least spray some Lysol around just to try and keep the germs at bay.
Ideally, not only should they be using Lysol and things like disinfectant wipes, but they should also try to mop it down with cleaner (or ask the janitor to do so) to make sure that the students don’t pass germs around in their office.
I don’t have too many memories of my kindergarten experience, but the ones I have are fairly memorable. The most ironic one is that not even two days after our school nurse sent home an alert for parents because chicken pox was spreading amongst the students, I got it. Having itchy skin and trying to keep it at bay by using Aveeno was not fun for a young child, let me tell you.
Very Well Health notes that parents have every right to be annoyed if their child winds up not feeling well because of some bug that’s going around and they didn’t even get a head’s up about this issue from the school nurse.
Let’s face it, even with the help of the Internet and calling help lines to speak with a worker, enrolling in health insurance during the exchange can be incredibly frustrating and confusing. Nurse writes that a sign of a good school nurse is someone that can smooth the process for parents by helping them navigate through the exchanges and find something that works for their family.
It’s definitely not a good look if you ask your child’s school nurse for help during the open enrollment period and they can’t do much to escort you through the quagmire that is health insurance or tell you to talk to a navigator instead.
According to Nurse, while your child’s school nurse is certainly not a pediatrician, ideally they should be able to give you a list of three and four specialists. For example, when I flunked my hearing test during the fifth grade, my school nurse at the time was able to rattle off a long list of Ear, Nose and Throat doctors my parents could try and make an appointment with.
If your child’s school nurse can only list off one or two specialists, that’s not good because they’re the liaison between the school and the students’ parents so they should be on the top of their game and know of at least a handful of specialists in various practices that they can recommend to a concerned mother and father.
When I was in high school, our school nurse was excellent and always made sure that her office was well stocked with necessary items such as the usual assortment of feminine products just in case Aunt Flo made a surprise call and the poor teenager in question was so not prepared for the visit.
Nurse writes that a good school nurse should routinely replenish their supplies of feminine products so that they don’t run out. If the nurse at your child’s school doesn’t do this, then it’s not going to be a good situation because there’s nothing more annoying than a surprise visit from Aunt Flo when you’re lacking the necessary supplies to deal with her presence.