School Nurse Organization of Minnesota History

By Susan Nokleby, MS, RN, LSN, NCSN posted 01-31-2019 16:09


School nursing began in Minnesota in 1909. Miss Virginia Rice was the first school nurse hired to work in St. Paul Public Schools. At the time, many communicable diseases kept students home from school. Starting in 1959 as part of the Public Health Baccalaureate Nursing Program, the University of Minnesota offered a three-credit course “The Nurse in the School.” Minnesota mandated certification of school nurses, which included a baccalaureate degree in nursing and a public health certificate in 1961.

A memorable year for school nursing in Minnesota was 1968. SNOM organized as a branch of Minnesota Education Association (MEA) with 71 members. Two school nurse delegates went to the National Education Association (NEA) convention in Dallas that year. At that convention, the Department of School Nurses formed as an affiliate of NEA. The Department of School Nurses later lead to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). SNOM affiliated with the NEA Department of School Nurses. SNOM had their first conference during the 1968 MEA convention.

In 1979, the term “Licensed School Nurse” (LSN) became the credentials for school nurses under the Minnesota Department of Education. LSN certification required baccalaureate degree and public health certification. In 1988, Minnesota State legislation passed to require “ districts with 1,000 or more must employ at least one full-time licensed school nurse.” That same legislation is still in effect.

SNOM developed a website in 2001. In 2006, SNOM members voted to have a unified membership with NASN. Three NASN presidents and two secretary/treasurers have come from Minnesota. In 2009, SNOM celebrated 100 years of school nursing in Minnesota. For the first time in 2018, the SNOM conference was American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certified.

Current projects SNOM is working on include revamping of the strategic plan, advocating for safe medication disposal legislation, strengthening our legislative connections, reviewing the 1988 Minnesota school nurse legislation, expanding SNOM’s research and public relations committees, and planning the next SNOM conference.

SNOM continues to advocate with the mission “The School Nurse Organization of Minnesota advances excellence in school nursing practice to promote student health for student success” through active committees and membership involvement.

Reference: School Nurse Organization of Minnesota, 2009.

Authors and editors: Mary Heiman, Deb Mehr, Sue Nokleby, Sue Will and Liz Zeno

SNOM Board
SNOM Board



Being a member of SNOM and NASN has been an incredible professional experience.  I am so grateful to be associated with SNOM.

03-20-2019 12:12

I'm so proud to be a school nurse in a state with such a rich history.  Thank you to all of the authors!
Minnesota boasts strong school nursing leaders!  Clearly your history demonstrates a progressive organization supporting the health of children and school nursing practice.   Thank you for sharing the rich history of SNOM.