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About Certification and Credentialing:

Unlike state requirements that mandate a certificate for the completion of a specialized course of study for entry into an employment track, the NCSN is a trademarked credential, granted to registered nurses who meet educational, employment, and other criteria, and who have successfully passed the national examination managed by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. The NCSN process is accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties, whose rigorous standards ensure that the credentialing process of the NBCSN meet or exceed industry standards for certification and that its examination is reflective of the knowledge expected of the proficient school nurse.

In addition, professional school nurses credentialed by the NBCSN are required to document a minimum of 75 continuing education units in school health-related issues every five years, or retake the examination, and to continue to meet employment criteria, in order to maintain the use of the NCSN credential.

While research is limited in the area of the value of nursing certification, initial studies by the ABNS using value statements indicate that certification validates a specialized knowledge and indicates a level of clinical competence and the attainment of a practice standard. [1] "The weighted NCSN examination gives surety that the successful candidate demonstrates excellence and experience in the areas of health appraisal, health problems and nursing management, health promotion and disease prevention, special health issues, and professional issues, including research." [2]

In all phases of the item development and examination review, the target is to utilize the exam format to validate the expectations of the certified school nurse, including:

  • To practice safely, independently and proactively in the isolated non-health care environment,
  • To apply and integrate broad areas of nursing and scientific knowledge, public health principles, and legal parameters to school populations,
  • To interact and provide leadership within the broader community to promote family-centered care,
  • To work with school and community stakeholders to assess, plan and evaluate community interventions for the health problems of school populations, including emergency preparations,
  • To advocate effectively in the school and community setting for the health and education needs of all students, including those with physical and mental disabilities,
  • To participate in research, revise and initiate policies that reflect best practices, and
  • To utilize resources to become knowledgeable about national standards of practice and emerging issues of concern for the health and welfare of students and staff within the educational arena.

For employers, certification also increases consumer confidence and indicates professional growth among its employees. [3] Physicians and hospitals have identified this trend and included the certification of its professional employees as criteria to achieve "Magnet Status" for recognition in the health care industry. While the education community is quick to support the continued professional growth, its teaching staff, for the most part, has been slow to acknowledge the accomplishments of its other licensed and specialized staff, including school nurses.

For most school nurses, the challenge to attain the NCSN credential is a voluntary, personal and professional goal. Most employers do not offer incentives for certification, but some organizations do promote and recognize certification through increasing salary and reimbursing exam fees or continuing education. These district or state rewards are closely tied to teacher compensation policies. Institutional recognition and permission to display the certification credential on a business card or name tag rank among the top three rewards described by the certified school nurse.

For information related to recognition and rewards for certified school nurses, please contact

  1. American Board of Nursing Specialties Value of Certification Survey, 2006.
  2. Dot Warner, NBCSN Board member in response to ABNS Accreditation request for information re: differentiation for nationally certified school nurse. March 2008.
  3. American Board of Nursing Specialties, Value of Certification Survey, 2006.
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