Defining the role and scope of a School Nurse

  • 30 August 2021

The role of the school nurse is unquestionably a valuable one to improve student wellbeing and provide necessary care to a adolescent population. 

But what exactly are the parameters of the role? Does every school nurse work the same?! 


The tasks performed by School Nurses vary greatly, and are dependent upon such things as competency, job description, community need, the number of schools a school nurse services, the presence or absence of a GP (who may provide standing orders which increase a Nurse’s scope), registration with labtests /ACC, and the nurses own clinical background and experience.

Furthermore, All health services in schools must work within boundaries set by the school principal and governing Board of Trustees (Denny et al, 2014). Designated Special Character Schools may have further requirements/expectations of what their SBHS can provide to align with the schools particular character, eg faith schools. 

In Dec 2018 we undertook some research examining the employment and working conditions of School Nurses in NZ. 

The table below shows the variation in the role and scope of specific clinical tasks relating to the role of the School Nurse in NZ. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and further analysis of the data by employment model will follow. 

While it stands to reason that the role and scope of School Nurses varies internationally, its clear that the variation in role within NZ could be improved. Putting adequate National School Nursing Governance and Professional Development frameworks in place would see School Nurses sufficiently supported to work at the top of their scope, resulting in improved healthcare for youth across NZ. 


Denny, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, R., & Clark, T. C. (2014). Health services in New Zealand secondary schools and the associated health outcomes for students. University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.


(This information can be referenced in APA 7 as: Cammell, C. (2021). Defining the role and Scope of a School Nurse. New Zealand School Nurses.

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