What is a School Nurse?
To be a school nurse in New Jersey, you must be a registered nurse and complete a prescribed set of courses and specific fieldwork. School nurses are considered “teaching staff members,” and have all the rights and benefits of any certified teacher working in a public school. Given this background and training, school nurses are uniquely qualified to deliver health services in a school setting and work to ensure that all students come to school healthy and ready to learn.
NJ DOE Proposal to Weaken School Nurse Certification
The New Jersey State Board of Education has proposed weakening the requirements for school nurse certification. Specifically, under their proposal, certified school nurses would no longer be required to serve in a practicum to gain the experience necessary to work as a school nurse
Under the department’s proposed changes, a school nurse with an instructional endorsement (ability to teach health education) would only have to complete 21 credit hours, as opposed to 30. A non-instructional nurse would only have to complete 15, rather than 21 credit hours. The requirements for all school nurses to complete credit hours in human growth and development, fundamentals of substance abuse and dependency, intercultural relations would be eliminated. All school nurses would be required to complete 20 hours of professional development in these areas. Instructional nurses would no longer have a practicum.
Why This Matters
School nurses typically work in isolation, on their own, without other health professionals with whom to problem-solve. They perform health services in a non-clinical setting and are expected to be a first responder without much of the equipment or manpower that is sometimes needed. This is best summed up by the words of New Jersey State School Nurses Association President Brenda Porter:
“The certified school nurse has to balance law, code and nursing practice all independently of other school nurses. None of this is learned in nursing school, but through experience and a well-rounded certification program.”
What You Can Do
School nurses are asking for your help to reach out to the New Jersey State Board of Education to express your concern about these changes.
Letters to State Board members can be sent to the State Board office at Riverview Plaza, PO Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625. The members, their counties, and the office address are below.
|Arcelio Aponte, President
|Mr. Ilan Plawker, Vice President
|Dr. Ronald Butcher
|Claire Chamberlin Eckert
|Robert P. Haney
|J. Peter Simon
|Dr. Dorothy S. Strickland
Be sure to:
- Send a handwritten or individually typed letter.
- Mention your full name and position in your school. Include contact information, in case a board member has further questions for you.
- Identify school nurse certification as the issue you’re discussing at the beginning of your letter. State your position in your introductory paragraph.
- Be concise and straightforward. One page is sufficient.
- Offer to provide any additional information the board member might want or need.
- Remember to THANK the board member for considering your view.
- Proofread carefully!