I am interested in school nursing but cant find out if I need to be certified or not. I am getting different responses from different people. I dont want to spend the time and money on getting the certification if it isnt absolutely necessary. Maybe I can do it at a later time, but Im a single parent and my time and financial resources are limited right now. No one seems to have a definitive answer
Interested In School Nursing
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Interested In School Nursing,
The National Association of School Nurses (www.nasn.org) supports certification for school nurses but it is not required of all school nurses to have for employment. It depends somewhat on what state you live in and which school district you plan to work. For example, some districts may require that at least one nurse be certified but not all nurses. The best way to get an answer for your particular situation/geographic location is to contact an officer(s) of NASN in your home state (nasn.org/AboutNASN/NASNAffiliatesChapters) to see what the laws and trends are there.
You should do an informational interview with these officers to learn more about the specialty before moving forward. Read The scoop on information interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) to learn how to make the most out of the experience. Not only is this a good way to learn more about the specialty to be sure it is right for you, but it is also a great way to make some professional connections in the specialty.
Speaking of connections, you also should attend a local chapter meeting of NASN as a guest. You dont have to be a member or even working in school nursing to do so. Even though your time is tight, when theres something you want to do it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. Networking is well known to be a most effective way to find and get a job. Read How to change specialties (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Change-Specialties).
Keep in mind that you can look for substitute school nurse positions (if you have a flexible schedule) and/or look for school nurse assignments through some nursing agencies. Both of these are avenues to try out the specialty to see if you like it. Additionally, these assignments often are a way to get a foot in the door somewhere, which can lead to regular, full-time employment.
I never recommend that a nurse pursue certification in any specialty before first working in the specialty. I have heard from many nurses who spend the time and money to be certified in a specialty and then start working in it, only to discover its not for them.