Dynamic Duo, Champions of Student Health

Tara attended UCO and Molly attended OSU-OKC. They have a combined 36 and a half years of experience.

Tara Brown, RN, and Molly Digiantomasso, RN, are school nurses for the Bethany School District. The school nurses wear many hats but their main focus is caring for the students and going the extra mile.

School nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the health, safety and academic success of students. The school nurse serves as a liaison between personnel, family, community and healthcare providers to advocate for health care and a healthy school.
When it comes to school healthcare, two nurses stand out for their excellence: Tara Brown, RN and Molly Digiantomasso, RN, known to their students as Nurse Tara and Nurse D. Their dedication and compassionate care touch the lives of countless students, setting a standard of excellence that shows admiration and respect throughout the Bethany School District. Serving approximately 1,700 students across Earl Harris Elementary, Bethany Middle School, Bethany High School plus caring for children from the Bethany Children’s Health Center who attend morning and afternoon classes.
Tara attended UCO and Molly attended OSU-OKC. As school nurses, they were strong advocates for children, especially when the kids struggled to express their health concerns to their parents. The health issues the nurses encountered most often were headaches and stomachaches, which in younger children could sometimes be alleviated by a simple peppermint, or a short break from class. They also spent time educating students about the daily medications needed at specific times and managing the long lines of the annual vision screening.
Of course there are always those unexpected emergencies that arise. Broken bones, seizures, diabetic issues and EpiPen incidents that require stitches or x-rays. In these cases, parents are contacted, and sometimes, an ambulance is called. With an average of 1,100 students seen in a month, a few accidents are bound to happen. It is a true blessing that Tara and Molly show their love and compassion for the children from Bethany Children’s Health Center, a leading facility in pediatric rehabilitation and 24-hour complex care. Currently, 16 children from the center attend Earl Harris Elementary School to learn and socialize with others. Some of these children are on ventilators, and in such cases, a nurse accompanies them to school.
Between the two nurses, Tara and Molly, they have a combined 36 and a half years of experience. When Tara recalls her kindergarten teacher standing at the front of the room with a board displaying cards with various careers written on them. As the children walked to the front of the class, Tara picked one that said, ‘nurse.’ Although this moment planted a seed, she didn’t seriously pursue nursing until she was a sophomore in college.
On the other hand, Molly wanted to be an artist. Apparently, her artistic days were short-lived. Molly began her nursing career working in pediatrics and became a school nurse when she volunteered to go on a fifth-grade field trip with her son’s class in Oklahoma City. She loved being with the kids, getting to know them a little better and caring for their scraped knees and bruises. When a school nurse position opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. Both Tara and Molly agree, they both prefer working as a school nurse over working in a hospital.
When asked about the qualities a school nurse should have, Tara and Molly listed a few key elements. “First and foremost, a school nurse must genuinely like kids. They should have patience and understanding, as well as the ability to read between the lines when students are dealing with peer pressure or problems at home,” Tara commented. “Sometimes, students just need someone to listen to them. Most importantly, a school nurse should have an open mind, be committed to continuous learning and above all, care deeply for the students to make them feel safe,” Molly added.
At Earl Harris Elementary School, there are special events in which both students and teachers participate. Tara fondly remembers the hundredth day of school when all the younger students dressed up as old people. “It was the cutest thing I had ever seen,” she said with a laugh. Molly’s favorite event was Thunder Day when all the students wore their Thunder attire. “It was exciting for the students, the teacher, and the nurses,” she said.
A big THANK YOU to all of the school nurses everywhere! Thank you, Tara and Molly for giving your genuine love to the students of Bethany School District.