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Washington State School Nurse Certification

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Certification of School Nurses in Washington State

This is SNOW’s shortened version/option of the information available on

OSPI’s site which should be your official resource for ESA information.
https://www.k12.wa.us/certification/ESAMain.aspx


 

What type of professional certification is available for school nurses in Washington State?

What are the different types of ESA certification available to school nurses in Washington State?

What are the requirements for an Initial ESA Certificate?

What is the best way to fulfill the Initial ESA Coursework?

How do I maintain my ESA certificate (includes PGP information)?

What do I need to get a Continuing ESA Certificate?

Clock Hours vs College Credit- what do I need? 

 

What type of professional certification is available for school nurses in Washington State?

Certification is available at both the state and national level for School Nurses in Washington State.

·       State Level Certification: Educational Staff Associate (ESA) is the name of the Washington state level certificate awarded to qualified nurses (and also SLPs, OT/PTs, school psychologists and school counselors) by Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and governed by the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (http://www.pesb.wa.gov/). There are no Washington State laws requiring nurses working in schools to be ESA certified however the title of School Nurse is protected to those nurses with ESA certification (State of Washington Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, 1997). Many districts do recognize ESA certification and hire the ESA school nurse into a certified (verses classified) position which typically puts the nurse on the same pay scale as teachers.

·       National Level Certification: National Certification of School Nurses (NCSN) is provided by The National Board for Certification of School Nurses (http://www.nbcsn.org/home). Although a mark of distinction, many Washington State school districts do not compensate school nurses for having this. SNOW took an informal survey in May of 2014 to get an idea of which Washington school districts were compensating school nurses for NCSN. Here is a link to those results SNOW NCSN survey.docx. SNOW encourages and supports national certification through having a NCSN Liaison to our Board (see Board of Directors page) and SNOW awards yearly scholarships for members that can be applied to national certification.

 

What are the different types of ESA certification available to school nurses in Washington State?

There are currently 3 ESA Certifications available to nurses. These are:

·       Initial ESA Certificate - this is the first level regular certificate that the majority of applicants receive

·       Continuing ESA Certificate - this is the advanced level regular certificate. Most applicants receive this certificate after holding an initial certificate and working in Washington in the role.

·       Other (Limited) ESA Certificate – certificate that can be pursued when employers who cannot find candidates with regular certificates and wish to hire an applicant that does not meet requirements for a regular certificate.

·       Residency, Professional and Substitute ESA certificates are not available to school nurses.

 

What are the requirements for an Initial ESA Certificate?

Degree - Must have completed a baccalaureate or higher degree program in nursing from a program accredited by the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission or the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education.

License - Must hold a valid Washington State license as a registered nurse.

Coursework - Must have completed prior to, or within 180 days after application:

·       30 clock hour or 3 quarter hour (= 2 semester hours) course approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board (see next FAQ)
or

·       Candidates who were trained out of state may, in lieu of the course, present verification of a state-approved certification program in the role as a school nurse;
or

·       3 years of out-of-state experience in the role under appropriate certification if certification was required.

 

What is the best way to fulfill the Initial ESA Coursework?

If you do not qualify for waiving the coursework (see above), then you will need to take 30 clock hour or 3 quarter hour (2 semester hrs) coursework approved by the Professional Educator Standards Board. These courses at a minimum will include:

·       study in schools and society;

·        human growth, development, and learning;

·       American school law;

·       legal responsibilities of the ESA; and

·       the responsibilities of the specific ESA role in a school setting, including the state learning goals and essential academic learning requirements.

Although there are several options for coursework available and listed at the above link, only the school nurse course options at PLU and WSU are school nurse specific. The other options are geared toward all of the ESA roles (psychologist, counselor, OT/PT, SLP, and nurse) and do not cover specifics of school nursing (but do cost less than the PLU / WSU courses). 

Here are the specifics on the PLU and WSU courses:

 Pacific Lutheran University School of Nursing

·       Course title: “Introduction to School Nursing”

·        Location: Spanaway, Washington (West side of Washington State)

·       Typically offered twice per year (early summer and fall)

·       Course title: “Educational Staff Associate Initial Certification/School Nurse Initial Certification”

·       Located: Spokane, Washington (East side of Washington State)

·       Typically offered twice per year (winter and early summer)


 

How do I maintain my ESA certificate?

ESA certification lasts for 7 years and must be renewed at that time. 

At present there are two very different ways to renew:

·       Continuing ESA Certificate is the intended certificate to be acquired after the Initial ESA Certificate. See below for the extensive requirements needed for this certificate.

·       Conversion / Second Issue of an Initial ESA Certificate is a loophole in system in which the nurse can “renew” their expired initial certificate. There are currently no requirements for this certificate other than those that were met for the original ESA certificate.

·       The Puget Sound Education Standards board is also looking at a new option of using Professional Growth Plans as a means of certificate renewal.  They have conducted a 2 year pilot (2012-2014) that included school nurses.

 

 What do I need to get a Continuing ESA Certificate?

The candidate must have completed 180 days of experience in the role (or the equivalent of 180 days of full-time service), of which 30 days must be in the same district.

Academic Requirements - Hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a National League of Nursing accredited program.

License requirements - Hold a valid Washington State license as a registered nurse (RN).

Course requirements - Complete 45 quarter (30 semester) hours of postbaccalaureate course work in education, nursing, or other health sciences. **Note that this volume of coursework is basically equivalent to a Masters degree**

Exam Requirements The candidate must have taken coursework in issues of abuse, which must include information related to identification of physical, emotional, sexual, and substance abuse; the impact on learning and behavior; the responsibilities of an ESA to report abuse or to provide assistance to victimized children; and methods of teaching about abuse and its prevention.

Clock Hours vs College Credit- what do I need?

Clock Hours vs. College Credit Info Sheet





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