Lara Beranek

Three Days in the Life of

Lara Beranek, BSN, RN

May 11, 2022
By: Teresa DuChateau

Lara Beranek has been a registered nurse for nine years, working as a school nurse for the past six years. She is employed by Marathon County Special Education and provides nursing services to three districts in Central Wisconsin. Lara divides her week between Edgar, Marathon, and Rosholt School Districts and is responsible for the health and safety of over 1,800 students. She is fortunate to work with a full-time health aide in each of her districts. Throughout the week, Lara travels between four buildings with 50 miles separating the two farthest districts, Rosholt and Edgar.

We started our three days together at the Rosholt School District. Lara shares the health office with one of the large printers, so the office gets frequent visitors. But sharing the office with such an in-demand device creates countless opportunities to build relationships with school staff. This photo highlights a part of school nursing that many people might not think about which is providing advice and guidance to staff with health questions or needs. Staff frequently seek out Lara with questions or concerns about their or their family's health.

School nurse talking with school staff member in her office
School nurse talking with health aide

Lara supervises three full-time health aides, one for each school district. Lara states, "This photo captures one of the hundred moments of communication in a day between a school nurse and health aide."

Given the number of students, districts, and schools that Lara is responsible for, she is very grateful to work with the three full-time health aides. During COVID, having health aides who were dedicated to one individual district was especially helpful when it came to implementing COVID mitigation and prevention strategies. Especially when one of the school districts Lara is responsible for has students residing in three different counties. In this interview clip Lara describes the unique challenges she encountered. 

Day two was spent in a busy health office in the Marathon School District. The health aide had been needed elsewhere in the school for part of the day, so Lara worked solo for the morning. School nurses seek out any opportunity to teach kids about their health, including how to take care of themselves after a visit to the health office. In this photo, Lara is reminding a student of the "After Nosebleed RULES" which includes "no picking your nose!", a rule that always elicits a laugh.

School nurse pointing to an "after nosebleed sign"

Health assessments are a key part of a school nurse's role. Lara's assessments help her decide if a student can stay at school and if other interventions, such as medication, ice pack, or rest may be helpful to assist the student to get back to class and ready to learn. 

School nurse looking into student's throat with flashlight from mobile phone
School nurse assessing a student's knee
School nurse teaching CPR to teacher

At one point during the day Lara slipped out to a classroom to recertify a teacher in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). One of the requirements of Lara's position with Marathon County Special Education is that she be certified as a CPR instructor and provide CPR classes to district staff. Lara states, "I am passionate about teaching CPR because I know how important quick actions are in potentially saving a life. I love giving people that knowledge and teaching them those skills."

Although many joke that school nurses only hand out Band-Aids and ice packs, the truth is that their responsibilities are far more complex. The past decade has resulted in medical technologies that make managing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, easier. School nurses are not only responsible to stay abreast of these technologies, but they are also required to educate and train school staff on how to manage the student's health condition, especially during an emergency. 

Student examining insulin pump
School nurse participating in online meeting

Lara ended her day with a Zoom meeting with the Central Wisconsin School Nurse group that she helps to lead. Lara states, "This picture might not look like much but to me it says a lot. First, COVID forced us all to learn to use virtual platforms and participate in virtual meetings. Second, this meeting of local school nurses is so important... Being in school nursing, it is easy to feel isolated and unsupported. Having this group of fellow school nurses with which to collaborate, learn, lean on, and share experiences is truly valuable!"

The last day of my visit was filled with cuteness, as Lara was participating in the Edgar School District's Preschool Screening Day performing vision screening. Lara states, this picture "represents the joy I find in school nursing. Getting to work with kids every day is a blessing! This picture also shows the variety of tasks a school nurse can have- and the span of age groups as well!"

School nurse smiling at young child
School nurse talking with student while health aide is talking on the phone
There is never a dull moment during school nursing. While waiting for the next preschooler eye screening, Lara received a call from her health aide requesting assistance with an injured student. Lara grabbed her nursing bag and weaved through the hallways to the high school section of the school building. Lara states, "This photo represents the unexpected part of school nursing. We never know when we will be needed to run to help. This one also shows the teamwork with my health aide. She's communicating with parents while I'm talking with the injured student."

Thoughts on project

For questions regarding A Day in the Life: A Photo Essay of the Wisconsin School Nurses and the COVID-19 Pandemic, please contact the Project Director, Teresa DuChateau, at