Former emergency room nurse finds home at Plainview Public Schools
Lacy Phillips knows the high stress environment of a trauma center considering she worked in one for about three years. The registered nurse has also worked in surgery centers and Dallas-area schools but earned the 2021 Nurse of the Year by spending half of her career serving the students of Plainview Public Schools.
The role of a school nurse includes the obvious scrapes, bumps, headaches and other maladies during a normal school day, and Phillips continued to address these along with the larger pandemic that has faced her district for over a year.
"She has worked 24/7 during this most unusual year to help keep us in-person learning. She’s fielded phone calls, e-mails, and text messages all hours of the day and night to help ease fears of the unknown COVID," read her nomination.
While her career has taken several paths since graduating with a bachelor's degree in nursing in 2001, Phillips said she never doubted what her job would be from a young age. “My dad was a dentist and growing up...I just always knew I wanted to be a nurse. There wasn’t ever another plan,” she said.
Originally from Odessa, Texas, Phillips graduated from Permian High School and went on to attend Texas Tech. After college, Phillips took a job at the Texas Tech emergency department and worked in the Level 1 trauma center for about three years.
After a personal loss in 2004, Phillips reassessed her job but not her career. She said the unexpected death of her mother left some resentment toward the health care field but that she just could not let the job go.
“I was just researching and found school nursing. I thought that’s a great way to still work but to do it in a different area, so it worked out good,” she said.
She went to work for the Dallas Independent School District for about two years until her husband’s job moved her growing family to southern Oklahoma. Drawing on her background as an emergency department nurse, Phillips returned to a hospital setting and spent a few years working for surgery centers in Ardmore.
“There are still parts you wish you could go back to. I think that’s just the way, as a nurse, that you’re made. You miss the adrenaline but there’s plenty of adrenaline here, especially during a pandemic,” Phillips said.
About 10 years ago, Phillips accepted the position of district nurse with Plainview schools and returned to the school setting to practice nursing. She serves the entire school district but said most of her work is with younger students, especially those facing medical issues.
“It’s the newly diagnosed elementary kids that are learning about a new disease process or new medication or new procedure that they have to do. Helping them work through that and seeing them persevere (is enriching) because it’s a huge change in their lives. To see them continue to be successful, that’s what really keeps me going,” said Phillips.
Fellow faculty members said her impact on students goes beyond those dealing directly with health care. Elementary assistant principal Josh Silver said Phillip’s input as a health care provider is invaluable for students and teachers alike.
“She is so observant. She knows these kids enough to tell so-and-so is not okay today, or she’ll come to me and say ‘you might want to have a pep talk with this student because they’re not acting themselves.'” Silver said. “She just has that analytical mind to think of things outside the box.”
Phillips said she married her high school sweetheart and the two are blessed to be raising three healthy children in Ardmore. Despite being a Texas native that still has family south of the Red River, Phillips said she has come to accept that southern Oklahoma is her home.
“We tried to move back three or four times and God’s always kept us here, so we’re still here,” she said with a laugh.