Some nurses prefer to work in a school environment, which is less hectic than a hospital. The emphasis in a school setting is on safety and health maintenance for students, rather than on life or death situations. The overall goal of a certified school nurse is to promote the health of the school community, through health education and assessment, and intervention with students. The philosophy behind school health programs is that healthier students are able to learn better, something that bodes well for the healthy future of the nation.
Registered nurses who want to work in a school setting can take the appropriate coursework at an accredited university, which culminates in school nurse certification. Online programs that lead to this certification are also available to prepare you for the exam. In most parts of the United States, the interested nurse needs to hold the equivalent of a bachelor's degree from an accredited hospital or university nursing program to qualify for enrollment in classes toward this certification, even though many candidates have master's degrees, or even PhDs, in nursing, or in a field related to school nursing.
The required coursework leading to certification varies from state to state. Typical coursework is concerned with an overview of public health settings, human growth and development, and teaching and learning theories, since a school nurse is responsible for coordinating student health care inside of the instructional environment. Many nurses who apply for school nurse certification will have earned a master's or PhD in education or educational psychology. Since students are under ever-increasing social and psychological pressures, nurses who seek post-graduate certification often take courses in psychiatric nursing. The postgraduate track typically culminates in an internship carried out under an experienced, certified nurse.
In the United States, nurses can take the voluntary certification exam offered by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN). A candidate for NBCSN school nursing certification has to have practiced as a nurse in a school setting for at least three years before he or she can apply to take the exam. Typically, school nurse certification is valid for a period of three years, at which time it can be renewed. School nurses, as is true for every type of practicing nurse in the United States, must first be certified by the Department of Health and Education.