The Relationship of Education, Years of Experience, and School Nursing Practice to the Importance of School Nursing Knowledge
Problem: Because of the complex nature and autonomy of school nursing practice, multiple professional organizations recommend a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as the minimum level of education for entry into this specialty. Despite research demonstrating benefits to patients and nurses with this level of education, school nurses across the U.S. vary widely in their educational and experiential preparation for this critical role. Benner's Novice-to-Expert Framework emphasizes the importance of experience in nursing or in a specialty practice to developing the skill needed to provide expert nursing care. This study investigated what knowledge school nurses considered important to competent practice when responding to the National Board for Certification of School Nurses 2007 Role Delineation Survey and whether there are differences in how school nurses responded to these questions based on their educational and experiential backgrounds.
Methods: This was a quantitative, non-experimental exploratory study involving secondary analysis of the survey data. Demographics were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Non-parametric statistical procedures (Fisher's Exact Test) were used to see if the 399 subjects' answers to 32 knowledge questions on the survey differed based on education level, years of general nursing experience, and years of school nursing experience.
Results: Most subjects indicated that 27 of the 32 knowledge areas were moderately or extremely important for competent school nursing practice. Results of Fisher's Exact Test indicated differences on two items based on the education level of the respondents and differences on two items based on years of experience in school nursing, but no significant differences were found based on years of overall nursing experience. Communication skills in counseling had a significant difference based on both education level and years of school nursing experience; but it was impossible to tell which was more significant.
Conclusions: This study contributes to the body of knowledge about school nursing and what this sample of school nurses perceived as important knowledge for competent practice. However, this analysis of differences in answers given to the survey knowledge questions does not settle the debate of whether there are differences in nurse perceptions based on education level or experience.