DESE Licensure for MA School Nurses
- DESE Licensure Information for School Nurses – An Overview
- Massachusetts Law: Licensure Requirements for Support Personnel: School Nurses
- School Nurses and Professional Teacher Status
- Types of Professional Support Licenses
- Requirements for Professional Support Personnel Licenses: School Nurse (Levels: All)
- A Historical Perspective of DESE (formerly MA DOE) Licensure of School Nurses in Massachusetts
- Historical Time Line: MA DOE Certification 1993 to Present DESE Licensure
DESE Licensure for MA School Nurses – An Overview
School nurses practicing in Massachusetts public schools are required to hold current MA Registered Nurse (RN) and a Professional Support Personnel licenses issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This is required by Massachusetts regulation 603CMR 7.00, Regulations for Educator Licensure
DESE grants licensure to school nurses based on nurse standards of practice and credentialing as recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), the Massachusetts School Nurses Association (MSNO) and proven competency on Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL).
This is consistent with DESE licensure requirements for all public school professionals, including administrators, teachers, teacher specialists and other support personnel. Most Districts require prospective school nurses to hold a DESE Professional Support Personnel license at the time of hire. If not licensed at the time of hire, school nurses must obtain DESE licensure as soon as possible after hiring per individual district requirements. On rare occasions, a district may apply for and be granted, a “critical need” waiver to hire an unlicensed registered nurse if attempts to hire a nurse with current DESE licensure are unsuccessful.
Full regulations and requirements for Professional Support Personnel License types including Initial, and Professional licensure can be found on the DESE website at: www.mass.gov/edu/government/departments-and-boards/ese/programs/educator-effectiveness/licensure/academic-prek-12/professional-support-personnel/
School Nurses and Professional Teacher Status
Chapter 267 of the Acts of 2006, approved August 21, 2006, amended Chapter 71 section 41 of the Massachusetts General Laws to include school nurses in the list of school personnel (including teachers, school librarians, school adjustment counselors, school social workers and school psychologists) who are eligible for professional teacher status if they meet certain established criteria.
The full text of the law is available at: http://mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw06/sl060267.htm.
MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)
- Main phone number: 781-338-3000.
- The Licensure Call Center: 781-338-6600.
- DESE Licensure information: www.mass.gov/ese/licensure; www.mass.gov/edu/government/departments-and-boards/ese/programs/educator-effectiveness/licensure/academic-prek-12/professional-support-personnel/
Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO) DESE Liaison:
MSNO is the professional organization for MA school nurses
Barbara Hedstrom: [email protected]
MA Department of Public Health – SHIELD-BU
School Health Institute for Education and Leadership Development (SHIELD-BU)
SHIELD provides training that fulfills DESE certification requirements, discusses emerging trends, shares best practices, and addresses the complex physical, behavioral, and psycho-social health issues facing school-aged children.
SHEILD will be offering programs for Initial Licensure: Foundations for School Nursing Practice.
Requirements for Professional Support Personnel Licenses: School Nurse (Levels: All)
Massachusetts school nurses can obtain two types of DESE licensure:
- Initial License
- Professional License
Requirements for Initial License:
- Valid license to practice as a Registered Nurse in Massachusetts
- A bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing
- A minimum of two full years of employment as a Registered Nurse in a child health, community health, or other relevant clinical nursing setting
- Completion of orientation programs based on the requirements for delivery of school health services as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH). The MA DPH School Nurse Orientation Program consists of three programs including:
- “Professional School Nursing Practice in MA” (2 day program)
- “Medication Administration and Delegation in MA Schools” (1 day program)
- “Mandated Screening Training for School Nurses” (1 day program)
Information on the MA DPH Orientation Program is available at: http://www.shield-bu.org/
- Passing score on the Massachusetts Communication and Literacy Skills test (MTEL)*
The Initial License is valid for 5 years. It is the expectation that at the end of 5 years, requirements will have been met to advance to the Professional License. If the requirements have not been met, the holder of the Initial License may apply for a one-time extension for another 5 years.
*All support personnel, including school nurses, who apply for Initial licensure, are required to attain a qualifying score on the MTEL. The MTEL was designed to ensure that Massachusetts educators can communicate adequately with students, parents/guardians, and other educators, and that they are knowledgeable in the subject matter of the license sought. School nurses are not required to a test of subject matter knowledge as our RN License demonstrates competency.
Requirements for Professional License:
- Possession of an Initial license.
- Three years of employment as a school nurse.
- Completion of one of the following:
- Achievement and maintenance of certification or licensure by a nationally recognized professional nursing association such as the National Board of Certification of School Nurses, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board or Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Board. See the website for the National Board for Certification of School Nurses at: www.nbcsn.org/
- A master’s degree program that may include credits earned in a master’s degree program for the Initial license in community health, health education, nursing, or public health.
Professional licenses are valid for five (5) calendar years and must be renewed in order to remain active. The Professional License is renewed every 5 years by meeting Continuing Education / Professional Development requirements.
Candidates seeking professional support personnel licenses who have substantial experience and formal education relevant to the license sought but who do not meet all of the specific requirements listed in 603 CMR 7.11 may demonstrate that they meet the requirements, with the exception of a passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills test, through a Panel Review administered by the Department in accordance with guidelines to be established by the Department. For candidates who were prepared outside Massachusetts, see 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (d) and 7.05 (5) (a) and (b).
Requirements to seek a Panel Review:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree
- Valid Massachusetts Registered Nurse license (RN)
- Panel Review recommendation for Initial licensure
- 4. Achievement of a passing score on the MTEL:
Requirements for Renewing a Professional License
The requirements for renewing a professional-level license are:
- Professional development activities shall be identified by the educator and supervisor during the development review of the educator’s Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)*. The IPDP should be developed to include professional development activities that support of student growth and achievement.
- All educators holding a Professional license who seek to renew that license on or after 7/1/2016 will need to earn 150 PDPs, including:
- At least 15 PDPs in English as a Second Language/Sheltered English Immersion
- 15 PDPs in training in strategies for students with disabilities and instruction of students with diverse learning styles
- 90 PDPs in the content area of the license or in pedagogy, with no less than 60 PDPs in or related to the content area of the educator’s primary license
- The remaining 30 required PDPs may be earned in elective areas
- The MA DESE requirements for renewal of a Professional License can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/edu/government/departments-and-boards/ese/programs/educator-effectiveness/licensure/academic-prek-12/advancing-or-renewing-a-license.html
Historical Perspective of DESE (formerly MA DOE) Licensure of School Nurses in Massachusetts
Prior to the Education Reform Act of 1993, there were no standard requirements for school nurses in Massachusetts. Therefore, it was incumbent upon school nurses to identify and develop the standards and develop regulations for the school nurse licensure. There were few professionals outside of the practice of school nursing who understood the complexities or the scope of the practice. In order to set the basic regulations and competencies in 1994, a lengthy process of collaboration and negotiation took place between MA DOE, DPH and MSNO.
- Nurses who had been in the practice of school nursing for many years and who did not have a Bachelor’s Degree, a BSN or an MSN were “grandfathered” into licensure. “Grandfathering” for school nurses ended in 1998, after which, school nurses were required to meet all the established requirements.
- Any nurse who was employed as a school nurse on or before June, 1993 was exempt from the requirement of MA DOE licensure (originally called a certification).
- Any nurse who was employed on or before June, 1993 and had 5 years of experience as a school nurse and who had a BSN, could apply for Standard Licensure (which meant that they would not be required to get a Master’s Degree or National Certification).
Later legislation opened a narrow window of opportunity from 1996-1998 that allowed any nurse, with or without a BSN or MSN, who had been employed as a school nurse on or before Sept 30, 1993 to be eligible to apply for Standard Licensure (certification?). Once that window closed, all grandfathering opportunities ceased.
MSNO had been notified that DESE was likely to “tweak” the regulations. MSNO alerted those school nurses who qualified for grandfathering to become licensed while they had the opportunity. Also, the implications for the grandfathered school nurses could be profound:
- Many districts would be ineligible for certain grant opportunities if all professional staff was not licensed.
- A new superintendent could come in and require all staff to be DESE licensed.
- If a nurse moved to a different district, they would be eligible for a position, but they might not be hired because the district required all staff to be licensed. If there was another candidate for the job who was licensed, the superintendent would have to hire that person.
- Under the No Child Left BehindAct of 2001, all staff needed to be “highly qualified” which means they need to be licensed in their field.
The regulations have been updated several times; currently, the Professional License requires either a Master’s Degree or maintenance of certification from a national nursing organization such as the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, ww.NBCSN.org
Historical Time Line: MA DOE Certification 1993 to Present DESE Licensure
- Inclusion of School Nurse Licensure in the Massachusetts Education Reform Law
- Initial regulations for School Nurse Licensure included a grandfathering clause stating: Any nurse employed by a school district on or before June 18, 1993 would be exempt from the requirement for licensure by DOE. (No longer applicable to any applicant for DESE Licensure for School Nurse)
- All nurses employed by a school district as of June 18, 1993 with a minimum of five years’ experience as a school nurse and a BSN would be eligible to apply for the Standard Licensure and were exempt from the requirements listed in 603 CMR 7.10 (42) (b) (1), (3) and (4). (No longer applicable to any applicant for DESE Licensure for School Nurse)
- Requirements set for DOE Licensure for School Nurses in the MA Public Schools
- Competencies set for DOE Licensure for School Nurse
- Chapter 220 of the Acts of 1997 – Grandfathering of School Nurses:
Any school nurse employed by a school district on or before September 30, 1993, who had five years of experience as a registered nurse, could obtain a Standard License without having to meet the Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree requirements, if they applied before 10/1/1999. They were not required to take the Communication and Literacy tests. (No longer applicable to any applicant for DESE Licensure for School Nurse)
- Chapter 267 of the Acts of 2006 was approved amending Chapter 71 section 41 of the General Laws to include school nurses in the list of school personnel who are eligible for professional teacher status if they meet certain established criteria. http://mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw06/sl060267.htm.
- Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval were amended by the DESE. www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/603cmr7.html?section=11
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