Lori Gruttemeyer’s duty is to help her students feel better, take their medicine on time and establish trusting relationships among the Bryan High School population.
Today, May 8, is National School Nurse Day, and celebrating more than a decade as a school nurse, Gruttemeyer is making sure her students feel welcome in her office.
Gruttemeyer has worked as a school nurse in Omaha Public Schools for 12 years, with four of those at Bryan.
Before nursing, Gruttemeyer studied at Bryan Hospital in Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Gruttemeyer said helping people was what directed her into the nursing profession.
“I worked in intensive care and then when I moved here from Lincoln, I went to emergency medicine at the (University of Nebraska) Med Center, so I really enjoyed that a lot,” she said.
“Then my last daughter started kindergarten so I thought that I wanted to have the same schedule that they do.”
Gruttemeyer went to Bryan High School because it was closer, and “something different,” as opposed to working with elementary students as she did before.
“Being in high school, you really see the students as a whole and their education and how their health affects their learning,” she said.
Now entering her fifth year at the high school, Gruttemeyer said she likes Bryan because of how well the people work together.
“It’s one big team,” she said.
On average, Gruttemeyer said she sees 75 to 100 students a day, including those needing to take medication or check-ups.
Gruttemeyer said school nurses are vital to the building.
“It’s someone who has knowledge and a medical background — somebody that needs to be calm because they know what’s going to happen,” she said.
“Sometimes, people that don’t have a medical background get more excited and make a big deal out of stuff, and that’s really easy to do.”
Gruttemeyer said there are tough, sometimes frustrating, situations she comes across.
“I think something that gets tough is when you have a really sick kid and you can’t get ahold of the parent, you have to make your own decision and call 911,” she said. “At least you know you’re getting treatment for the student.
“Sometimes when you have a lot of things going on, you have to prioritize, like if you had a student fight or someone had an allergic reaction.”
Gruttemeyer said schools more and more are needing nurses.
“We’re getting the Stop the Bleed training (knowing how to prevent or stop bleeding in a medical emergency), we have to know about disasters going on — it’s showing we actually need to have medical professionals in the school.”
Along with having strong bonds with her daily students, Gruttemeyer has two student aids who help with different tasks in the office.
“You get to know the kids and they’re feeling relaxed that they can relate with you,” she said. “The aids have to have good grades, and they have to be a senior or junior. They usually want to go into medicine and learn about what’s going on.”