"I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a nurse," she said. "Becoming a nursing assistant was the first step in my lifelong adventure in nursing and opened the floodgates of possibilities for me."
Find Your Work Ethic
Years later, Joyce has decades of experience in nursing and healthcare management across an array of specialty areas, including emergency care, forensics, mental health and telehealth. She advanced her education along the way, earning a bachelor of science in nursing, a master of business administration and a doctorate of nursing practice. She's also an experienced educator, serving as a faculty member of Ashworth's RN to BSN online program.
Joyce said her work ethic has been the "backbone" of her career, something she hopes to instill in nursing students today.
"Employers are looking for highly motivated individuals who have a desire to improve patient outcomes," she said.
Joyce's advice for nursing students looking to attract employers is to make themselves marketable through furthering their education, joining nursing organizations, volunteering, and having an up-to-date professional portfolio.
She added that continuing education is more important for nurses than ever, with the rise of evidence-based practice, a healthcare approach that is changing the way nurses care for patients.
Of course, Joyce understands as well as anyone that there are certain obstacles that come with the pursuit of higher education and career advancement.
"My biggest obstacle was paying for my education," she said. "My employer provided some assistance but I joined the millions [of graduates who are] paying back student loans."
Joyce managed to handle the burden, although it was "not ideal." Her experience is partially what drew her to work with Ashworth College, which offers one of the most affordable RN to BSN programs.
Then there's the simple fact that going back to school as a working nurse can be a tricky balancing act, especially when you have a family.
"There is not a single [strategy] that will work for everyone—many factors play into work-life balance," she said.
However, her one universal piece of advice is this, "Know your priorities and focus on them."
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