Melody Routley | University of Portland

Melody Routley

While it is not in Melody Routley’s nature to brag about the ways she has championed the UP School of Nursing over the years, Casey Shillam, the school’s dean, is happy to fill us in. “Melody has been a longtime partner—a thought-leader in creating innovative solutions,” says Shillam. “She brings an unparalleled view of nursing in Oregon.” As Kaiser Permanente’s Transition-to-Practice Program Manager, Routley is a key ally for Oregon and Southwest Washington nursing graduates pursuing careers in clinical care—primarily non-hospital, outpatient services. She designed Kaiser’s regional RN Residency program that transitions nursing graduates into skilled, competent professionals working in very complex environments. While hospitals are a primary proving ground for many nursing graduates, UP’s redesigned curriculum promotes ambulatory (in-patient) nursing practice, Routley says. “I am pleased to say we have hired a lot of UP School of Nursing grads in the ambulatory care space. I’m very proud of the program.” Routley came to Oregon from rural Wyoming in 1999 with a nursing degree and a passion for the basic human right of universal health care. She says building Kaiser Permanente’s ambulatory nursing program from the ground up required “a lot of culture-shifting and asking, ‘why not?’” Ambulatory care nurses are in the passenger seat with a patient over a period of months or years, helping them navigate toward health and healing, far beyond the one- or two-shift interactions in a typical hospital setting. The stakes are higher, as nurses providing ambulatory care are committed to preventing catastrophic health problems and the financial hardships that may follow. “There’s something to be said for that quiet hero managing somebody’s blood pressure so that they don’t have a stroke later and lose their abilities,” says Routley. “Placing graduate nurses who are excited to work in that space just gives me joy.” In 2021, the coordinated, statewide effort to administer COVID-19 vaccinations tested Routley’s leadership and experience. She served as a lead trainer at the Oregon Convention Center Mass Vaccination Center, which included the emergency complex integration of UP nursing students to administer vaccines. “It was wonderful to walk into a mass vaccination center and see University of Portland students connecting with patients, helping them get through a very scary situation,” says Routley. “And it gave me hope that public health will be a piece of who they are as they graduate.”