Sister Callista Roy

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Martha Elizabeth Rogers, born in Dallas, Texas on May 12, 1914, was a nurse theorist, researcher, writer, and teacher. She was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and had three younger siblings.

Sister Callista Roy, born on October 14, 1939, is the eldest of four siblings and the first daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fabien Roy. Her parents were devout Catholics who named her after Saint Callistus according to a Roman Catholic Calendar that matched her birthdate.

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Callista, the daughter of a licensed nurse, was taught from a young age the importance of understanding people and providing care as a nurse. At just 14 years old, Callista began working in a large hospital as a pantry girl and quickly advanced to become a nurse’s aid. Raised in a religious family, she faced a pivotal moment in her life and ultimately embraced a deep sense of faith, hope, love, and commitment to God and serving others. This family of seven boys and seven girls prioritized these values, with her mother, also a nurse, emphasizing the importance of continuously learning about people’s needs and selflessly giving as a caregiver.

Dr. Roy expresses her appreciation for the outstanding teachers she encountered in her parochial schools, high school, and college. At the age of 14, she began working as a pantry girl at a prominent general hospital. Over time, she progressed to become both a maid and nurse’s aide. After much reflection, she made the decision to join the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet religious community, dedicating herself for more than forty years.

After enrolling in Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, she became part of a liberal arts program and pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree. As her major, she decided on nursing. Once she completed her studies, Sr. Callista, a young Sister nurse, gained experience working in hospitals managed by the Sisters of St.

Joseph resided in Idaho and Arizona, developing a profound admiration for children. Her professional focus was on pediatric nursing, leading her to pursue a master’s degree program at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1964. During her academic journey, she had the fortunate opportunity to collaborate with Dorothy E.

Johnson is considered one of Sr. Callista’s most influential mentors. In addition to Johnson, other important mentors for Sr. Callista have been Ruth Wu, Connie Robinson, and Barbara Smith Moran. Johnson’s work in focusing knowledge for nursing convinced Sr. Callista about the significance of describing the nature of nursing as a service to society. This prompted her to start developing her own nursing model, with the aim of promoting adaptation as the goal of nursing.

In 1966, she joined the faculty at Mount St. Mary’s College and taught pediatric and maternity nursing. She introduced a fresh method of structuring course material, centered around viewing individuals and families as adaptive systems. Sadly, she had to go on leave the following academic year because she was confined to bed with encephalomyelitis. Nevertheless, after twelve years, she underwent a triumphant operation to extract an acoustic neuroma.

In the fall of 1968 at Mount Saint Mary’s College, she started promoting her ideas on Adaptation Nursing as the foundation for a comprehensive nursing program. Sr. Rebecca Doan, the chair and founder of the department, played a crucial role in providing encouragement and support. This support helped advance the model’s development and positioned Mount St. Mary’s, her alma mater, as the leader in implementing this innovative approach.

Dr. Roy completed her PhD in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and in 1971, she was appointed as the chair of the nursing department at the college. By 1981, the model’s teachings had become widely spread.

Roy and her colleagues from Mount St. Mary’s College helped around 30 schools integrate the Roy Adaptation Model into their nursing programs, at various levels including associate to doctoral. By 1987, it was estimated that more than 100,000 nurses had graduated from schools that prioritized the Roy Adaptation Model. Dr. Roy played a pivotal role during this period.

Roy, a faculty member at the University of Portland in Oregon, has been instrumental in creating a master’s of science program in nursing. Throughout the past three decades, she has gained global recognition as an international speaker, delivering talks throughout North America and approximately 30 other countries. Her areas of expertise encompass the Roy Adaptation Model, nursing theory, research, curriculum development, clinical practice, and future trends in nursing. Furthermore, her written works have been translated into twelve languages. Dr.

Dr. Roy completed a two-year postdoctoral program in Neuroscience Nursing at the University of California at San Francisco with the aim of enhancing her understanding of the holistic person as an adaptive system, based on her personal experience with neurological illnesses. Throughout the program, she focused on researching methods to restore cognitive abilities in individuals who had suffered head injuries. Following the completion of her postdoctoral studies…

Roy started teaching graduate nursing theory courses simultaneously at the University of San Francisco and Boston College. While she enjoyed her full-time clinical research position in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. Roy also recognized the value of academic nursing education in sharing her beliefs about integrating theory, practice, and research. In 1987, she took on a faculty role as a professor and nurse theorist to assist in establishing and executing a PhD in nursing program at Boston College, which allowed her to further influence new nurse scholars.

Dr. Roy was also given a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award by the Australian-American Educational Foundation in 1988, enabling her to travel and engage in conversations with colleagues across different areas of Australia. Her most notable accomplishment is the creation and ongoing revision of the Roy Adaptation Model, which serves as a guiding framework for nursing theory, practice, and research. Additionally, Dr. Roy has recently published two works.

Roy considers two works of great significance: The Roy Adaptation Model (second edition) written with Heather Andrews (Appleton & Lange) and The Roy Adaptation Model-Based Research: Twenty-five Years of Contributions to Nursing Science, which is being published as a research monograph by Sigma Theta Tau. The latter serves as a critical analysis of the past 25 years of model-based literature. It includes 163 studies published in 44 English-speaking journals, dissertations, and theses. This project was completed by the Boston-Based Adaptation in Nursing Research Society (BBARNS). BBARNS is a group of scholars founded by Dr. Roy who aimed to advance nursing practice by developing basic and clinical nursing knowledge based on the Roy Adaptation Model.

Recently, the group has been renamed as the Roy Adaptation Association. Dr. Roy has co-chaired Knowledge Conferences hosted by the Boston College School of Nursing in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001. Moreover, she has taken part in at least 30 research projects.

Dr. Roy, a neuroscientist with a background in nursing since the 1960s, conducts clinical research to expand knowledge and comprehension. Her current focus is on investigating cognitive adaptation and nursing interventions for patients suffering from mild head injuries. She also stresses the significance of involving families in collaborative endeavors among nurses to improve cognitive recovery.

Dr. Roy has earned several accolades, such as The National League for Nursing Martha Rogers Award for advancing nursing science and the Sigma Theta Tau International Founders Award for contributions to professional practice. Additionally, she has been granted honorary doctorates from Eastern Michigan University, Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, and St. Joseph’s College in Standish, ME.

In addition, the Sister Callista Roy Lectureship was established at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. The Roy Knowledge Institute was also established by the alumni/ae of Boston College PhD in Nursing Program. Dr.

Roy has been honored with the prestigious Alumna Award and Carondelet Medal from her alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s, where she currently serves as a Research Professor in Nursing. Alongside her academic endeavors, Dr. Roy finds joy in music, art, and moments of solitude for personal prayer and contemplation, particularly when she is immersed in nature’s serene beauty.

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Sister Callista Roy. (2018, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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