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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Questions frequently asked by applicants and NCSNs are listed below and are posted here for your convenience. Additional questions may be directed to certification@nbcsn.org.

Questions regarding the examination

Do I have to be working full time to be eligible to take the exam?
To be eligible to sit for the examination the applicant must show a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical practice in the area of school nursing during the past three years. 1,000 hours is the equivalent of one academic year; hence, one can be employed as a school nurse full time in one of the three years or part time for two or three years prior to application, so long as the total adds up to 1000 hours.

Clinical Practice in school nursing means actively employed or contracted to provide a direct or indirect professional contribution to the health and education of students and their families in public or private school settings.

Direct clinical practice in school nursing is defined as involvement in the nursing process in a school setting where the nursing actions and judgments are focused on a particular student, family, school community, or group of students or their families where there is continuing professional responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of these actions.

Indirect clinical practice in school nursing is defined as involvement that:

  • includes clinical supervision of school nurses, education and clinical supervision of baccalaureate/master's nursing students in school health, administration of school health services, research, consultation or other engagement in the field of school nursing that contributes to the specialty's body of knowledge or enhances the quality of school nursing practice;
  • entails continuing professional responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of the involvement.

Not eligible as clinical practice in school nursing includes: substitute nursing in a school, except as a full time substitute working consecutive days for the required clinical practice hours; one-to-one nursing as the nurse's sole responsibility within a school; employment in the direct sales, marketing or distribution of school nursing-related products or services in pharmaceutical, technology or other school health-related industries; community health screenings; work in a camp setting; preceptorship/mentor; and jobs unrelated to school nursing.

What are acceptable degrees to sit for the examination?

Until January 1, 2020:

  1. A Bachelors Degree in Nursing (including Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science with a major in Nursing; OR
  2. A health-related bachelor’s or master’s degree plus a total of six (6) undergraduate or graduate course credits in any combination of the following subjects:
    • Management of primary health care problems of children and/ or adolescents
    • Health assessment of children and/ or adolescents
    • Public health/community health/epidemiology
    These course credits may be part of the candidate’s health-related degree program, or courses taken in addition to the degree program.
A transcript of the degree, plus the additional courses if applicable, must be submitted with the candidate’s application.
Starting January 1, 2020, a candidate applying to take the NCSN exam will be required to submit a transcript showing satisfactory completion of a Bachelors Degree in Nursing (including Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science with a major in Nursing)

I am interested in taking the examination to become an NCSN. Is there a class available to prepare for the exam?
There are no review classes or written preparation materials for the exam that are supported or approved by the NBCSN. Data provided by school nurses sitting for the NCSN exam indicate that small group study where school nurses informally join together to study and review the content outlined in the exam brochure is a successful mode of preparation.

Although not endorsed by NBCSN, many NASN affiliate organizations have study groups and review courses to assist school nurses prepare for the examination; some colleges offer online and graduate courses related to school nurse preparation and content; and the National Association of School Nurses publishes a manual, School Nursing Certification Review, available through its book store.

Questions regarding liaisons

Can you give me contact information for the NBCSN liaisons?
You can find your state liaison on the liaison page of this site.

I am interested in becoming a liaison, what is the next step?
We allow a maximum of two state liaisons per state. Please fill out an application to become a state liaison from the Forms & Applications page and return to the board office. The Vice President reviews your application. You are required to submit an annual report which can also be downloaded from the Forms & Applications page. For further information please visit the Liaison page.

Questions regarding recertification

What type of continuing education credits are acceptable for re-certification?
NCSNs are required to renew their certification in order to demonstrate that they have kept current with new practices, methodologies, equipment, medications, and terminology in the field.

To apply for recertification through continuing education, 75 hours of continuing education (CE) related to school nursing practice must be reported. These hours of CE must be related to the practice of school nursing, sponsored by an approved national or state accrediting agency, and must have been completed during the five (5) years prior to the expiration date of the candidate's certification. Continuing education programs may include workshops, seminars, professional development offerings, on-line courses, and state or national conferences that are related to the specialty practice of school nursing and approved by a national or state accrediting body.

CE hours may be accumulated in any combination of the following:

  • Continuing Education Credits
    • All contact hours must be in subjects related to school nursing practice and approved by a national accrediting agency, state department of health or education, accredited universities or colleges, etc. These may include workshops, seminars, professional development offerings, and state/national conferences. Online courses, teleconferences, and "webinars" are acceptable, provided they are approved by a national or state accrediting agency. See our Recertification page for more information on approved CEs credits.
    • Single–offering courses, seminars, workshops or conferences listed as twenty (20) hours or greater must be accompanied by a course outline or content agenda attached to the recertification application.
    • For conferences with multiple concurrent sessions, each session attended must be identified individually on the certificate or agenda.
    • Self-paced or online CE programs are acceptable for credit if approved by one of the accrediting organizations recognized by NBCSN.
  • Courses that are considered basic nursing preparation or staff development are not accepted. Activities NOT ACCEPTABLE for continuing education credit include:
    • Basic CPR, first aid, blood-borne pathogens training and other state certification and screening courses, as vision, hearing, Acanthosis Nigricans, spinal assessment, etc.
    • PALS, ATLS, ACLS will be accepted for credit only one time during the five-year recertification period.
    • Basic computer technology courses, such as Windows, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, including computer training for district specific record keeping.
    • In-service programs that provide specific information about the work setting’s philosophy and procedures, including orientation to a work setting, department and district staff development courses, workshops and committee meetings—unless pre-approved by an accredited provider.
    • On-the-job training and equipment demonstration.
    • Refresher courses designed to update knowledge.
    • Courses that focus on self-improvement, changes in attitude, self-therapy, self-awareness.
    • Personal weight loss, yoga or personal appearance, etc.
    • Economic courses for financial gain, such as investments, retirement, preparing resumes and techniques for job interviews.
    • Liberal Arts course in music, art, philosophy, etc, when unrelated to patient/client/student care.
    • Courses for lay people.
  • Academic Credits
    • Academic courses must be taken within the framework of a curriculum that leads to an academic degree in nursing or any academic course relevant to nursing practice. An academic course taken for credit may be used to meet NBCSN requirements if a grade of "C" or better or "pass" on a pass/fail system is achieved.
    • Each individual academic credit, from an accredited institution of higher learning, will be considered as ten (10) contact hours.
    • A transcript of successful completion of each course must be submitted with recertification documentation.
    • On-line academic courses from accredited institutions will be accepted.
    • Prerequisite courses, such as mathematics, government, anatomy, physiology, languages, literature, etc. cannot be accepted to meet any part of the continuing education requirements for a registered nurse.
  • Miscellaneous activities
    • The NBCSN recognizes and supports endeavors that promote and enhance the role of the certified school nurse and grants credits to non-academic or typical continuing education events.
    • Additional activities are listed on the Recertification page and in the recertification guidelines.

All courses are subject to review. Applicants may be requested to demonstrate how the course content promotes expertise in school health or is relevant to the school nursing practice of the certificant.

All CE information must be added to your individual online NCSN account, the first step in the online recertification application process. You will need to include the date, program title, CE provider or sponsor (i.e. approved national or state accrediting agency), and the number of CE hours awarded. If you have not already done so, please contact certification@nbcsn.org or call 844.808.6276 (toll free) to find out how to sign into your own account where you can add CE programs as you attend them, change contact information, and complete the recertification application when it is due.

Certified school nurses need to select courses that help to ensure their continuing competence in school nursing. This is not to limit a school nurse from taking any course for re-licensure, but courses submitted for NCSN recertification must be related to the specialty practice of school nursing. Continuing competence in school nursing may require continuing education in a wide range of content areas related to school health, including pertinent topics in medicine, sociology, psychology, and education that provide content related to the knowledge and skills required today of a competent school nurse. Documentation of attendance at any course should include the number of contact hours and the name of the accrediting provider, such as the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center), CME (Continuing Medical Education organization), university, etc.

For more information, see our recertification page.

How do I contact someone if I have questions or concerns, or am having a problem with my application?

Follow the link to contact the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, Inc. with any questions, concerns, or problems.