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How to Become a Substitute School Nurse

Many recent nursing school graduates want to become school nurses. And it’s no mystery why they want to go down this route either. Unlike working in the intensive care unit at a hospital, working in a school setting is not as overwhelming. In fact, because you work with students, you get the additional benefits of having school-related working hours and extra holidays. For example, you have weekends off, no late hours, and you get both a winter and spring break vacation. But unfortunately school nursing jobs are very limited, and when openings do arise, they are given to applicants you have the most experience and are already familiar with the school district’s procedures and policies. Thus, if you are currently looking to be employed as a school nurse, a good way to get your foot in the door is to become a school nurse substitute. Yes, school nurse subs exist. After all, school nurses may work to ensure kids health and well being but they’re only human—they get sick too.

Qualifications to become a school nurse vary by state and school district, however typically in addition to having your RN license in the state you wish to be employed in, you must also have your CPR certification and have some sort of prior experience. Some districts will accept any sort of nursing-related experience; others are more specific, requiring sub candidates to have experience working in a clinical setting in a pediatric practice, school health, community health or adolescent health care setting. Be aware that some districts may require that applicants be specifically nurse certified, which can take an additional 12 to 18 months to complete. Some districts also might require additional documentations and procedures such as a criminal background check, a photocopy of his or her valid RN license and provide proof that he or she is negative of Mantoux (TB). Some special requests may be asked of recent graduates, such as official transcripts. For specific requirements and qualifications it’s best to contact your state’s school nurse association and the school district.

Pay will vary depending on the state and school district, but typically sub school nurses earn anywhere from $12 to $20 an hour. Since you are a substitute school nurse, the probability of you receiving benefits is low.

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