As a school nurse, Tracy Grasso’s job involves more than putting bandages on cuts and bruises.
It also entails handing out some 25 medications a day, tending to stomachaches and various injuries, listening to students’ personal problems and caring for some with chronic physical and mental illnesses.
But Grasso, who recently finished her ninth year at Johnston Middle School, welcomes the variety and challenge. You have to be a multitasker in this job, which she says suits her personality.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Grasso says. “Every single day is different.”
Grasso, who has been a nurse for 31 years, worked as a floor nurse and in administration before staying home for five years to take care of her kids. When she returned to work, she decided to become a school nurse. It’s a job she’s been doing for 19 years.
Grasso says she’s seen major changes in that time, such as the growth in the Johnston Community School District and the needs of the students. Today, more students with serious health problems are attending school, including those with mental and physical issues.
For example, some have feeding tubes, seizure disorders or serious mental diagnoses. Others may be severely and profoundly disabled.
So it’s a range of needs that Grasso tends to among the 70 to 90 kids she sees on average during a school day. Much of her time is also spent counseling students, she says.
They may initially come in because they don’t feel well, but Grasso discovers that the root of the problem is related to interpersonal relationships or problems at home.
Grasso, who had been with several elementary schools in the district before coming to the middle school, says it was a move she was apprehensive about at first.
“Once I got here, you discover they’re just bigger kids,” she says. “I really enjoy working with them.”
The students and her co-workers are what Grasso likes about her job.
“The staff at Johnston Middle School is wonderful,” she says. “The kids are all great to work with — they’re all unique little beings at this age.”