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Do I have to complete the full curriculum for school nurse certification in order to practice?



Dear Donna,

I have been a pediatric nurse practitioner in New Jersey for the past 22 years and would like to find a position as a school nurse. Will I need to complete the full curriculum for school nurse certification in order to practice?

Pedi NP

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Pedi NP,

Noncertified school nurses, also referred to as supplemental nurses, can work in New Jersey under the supervision of a certified school nurse. That might mean that there is a certified nurse who is employed by the district, but not necessarily working with you on a day-to-day basis. This applies to primary and secondary public schools, grades K-12.

Private and parochial schools, other than schools specifically for the disabled, are not required to hire any certified nurses. Nor are college health departments. In fact, many NPs work in college health centers in an advanced practice role, so be sure to look into that. Check out the American College Health Association

You can learn more about school nursing in New Jersey at Also, I urge you to do some informational interviewing ( with board members of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association before making any decisions or even considering taking any courses or certification preparation. This is a good way to learn more about state-specific trends and issues, make valuable contacts in the specialty and learn more about school nursing in general.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit

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