Trish Roy is Oregon School Nurse of the Year
Last updated 4/27/2022 at Noon
School nursing requires a unique skill set in normal times. Throw in a two-year pandemic and new, ever-changing priorities arise. Through it all, Trish Roy, the nurse for Sisters Middle School and High School navigated the stormy seas with what superintendent Curt Scholl called “grace and calm.”
Her steady presence and unwavering commitment to students earned Roy the honor of being named Oregon School Nurse of the Year in a ceremony held April 21 in Ashland at the annual state conference for school nurses.
“This award is so very well deserved for Trish,” said Scholl. “She is such a great asset to our district and has been throughout her career here, but she really outdid herself in response to the pandemic. She is so ‘dialed in’ to the overall well-being of our kids.“
Scholl was on hand for the presentation of the award, as were members of Roy’s family, including her two sons Nathan and Seth, two grandchildren, her husband, Ryan, her brother Dave, and his wife, Cheryl.
Attempts to keep the award a secret held up until just before the conference, when Roy got a phone call about her registration for the national nurses conference and congratulated her on receiving the state award, thereby spilling the beans.
She knew she had been nominated, but had no idea she was the winner.
“That’s the first I heard of it,” said Roy. “But I went ahead and kept the secret and tried to act surprised when it was announced at the conference.”
Steve Stancliff, first-year Sisters High School principal, relied heavily on Nurse Roy and her long history in the district during another year of pandemic mayhem.
“Nurse Roy is an incredible member of our team and is one of the longest-serving members of our school community,” said Stancliff. “Sisters School District thrives on the relationships we build and maintain with the broader community, and during the pandemic it has been critical that the school nurse be a leader in this regard. For us, Nurse Roy sets the standard that the rest of us follow. She is kind, compassionate, and having raised her own children in our district, she has a keen sense for how to connect with families in a way that is supportive and understanding of their circumstances.”
Sisters Middle School principal Tim Roth added, “Trish Roy is so much more than a nurse for the students and staff in Sisters. She is a medical provider, a friend, a counselor, an advocate for students and families, and one of the kindest, most humble people you’ll ever meet. She goes above and beyond every day and we couldn’t ask for a better colleague to work alongside.”
Roy, who is in her 16th year in the school district, said, “It means I am doing the best I can for students, families, and community. Sometimes in school nursing there are not a lot of external validations, but more intrinsic satisfaction, so it’s really nice to be recognized in this way.”
When Roy moved to Sisters in 2006, she was looking for a nursing job that meshed with her husband’s schedule that would work with childcare needs for her young sons, Nathan and Seth.
“A nurse friend suggested school nursing and it turned out to be a good match for me because, as a small-town girl, I really like being part of the community and the school setting provides that,” she said.
Until this month, Roy also continued doing emergency room nursing work in addition to her school job.
When asked the type of health care tasks she faces in a given week that are non-pandemic related, she said, “I deal with a lot of management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, as well as dealing with concussions, injuries, illness, symptom analysis, and social/emotional issues.
“I work closely with the staff, including the counselors, as part of a team of care,” she said. “I have quite a bit of contact with families in addition to meeting with kids one on one, and that was especially true throughout the pandemic.”
She added, “When students have a health issue, whether it is physical, vision, dental, or social/emotional, their learning is impacted. School nurses are the bridge between education and health.”
During the pandemic, Roy’s job took a big pivot as she became an integral part of contact tracing, exclusion, and information dissemination about COVID-19.
“Everyone in the schools had to shift the way they were doing their jobs,” she said. “I would say the most difficult part was having to start so many conversations with parents with ‘I am so sorry to have to tell you’ when their kids turned up with COVID, because having an infection in the family affected everyone in the home.”
Roy does believe that many people outside the school system might think of school nursing not going much further than providing Band-aids and ice.
“The name of our state conference was ‘The Necessity of the School Nurse,’ and I feel strongly that school nurses are now a vital part of the school for the well-being of students,” she said. “I am gratified that Sisters School District has long invested in school nursing and we have the best student-to-nurse ratio in the entire state of Oregon.
“In Sisters, we get to see our kids in person and get to know them and their families over time,” she said. “School nurses in other places are assigned to hundreds of students across multiple buildings, which is not a good model. I am so glad that our district values school nurses.”
Roy is well known to be a willing volunteer for helping outside the school day, whether it be as a volunteer at track meets or helping on the sidelines during football games. This is very purposeful on her part.
“I think if you are going to be part of school, you need to become part of the community as well, especially in a small town,” she said. “It helps me to connect with kids in another way, so if they ever need my service, they know who I am and we can have a little more of a relationship.”