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Nancy Joseph, BSN, RN

Nancy Joseph, BSN, RN

Head Nurse, Behavioral Health
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst

With a bachelor’s degree in economic science, Nancy Joseph took a somewhat circuitous route to her 24-year career in the nursing profession but she is grateful to the people who inspired her to become a nurse.

“One of my sisters was a nurse and she always encouraged me to become one because I’m very patient and optimistic,” she recalls. “But at the time, I didn’t listen; I never thought about joining the nursing field.”

All that changed when she herself became a patient. “Prior to coming into the nursing field, I was in the hospital after a surgery,” she explains. “I did not receive diligent care, but there was one nurse who really helped me. I was in pain, and even though it was not time for me to receive the medication, still she tried so much to make me feel comfortable. I was touched, and at that time, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be a nurse just like her.’ After I recovered, I enrolled in a nursing school.”

Now serving as Head Nurse in the Behavioral Health unit at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, Joseph says providing excellent patient care is the most rewarding aspect of her career. “There was one female patient who was on my unit about three months, and she was very unstable, agitated, manic and depressed,” Joseph explains. “She knew little English and spoke with an African dialect, but she also spoke French, so I was able to communicate with her. Because of that, she refused to have an interpreter; she always wanted to speak to me. I was very patient and at the time, I spent my lunch time talking to her. Sometimes I used to stay a little more after work just to help her out.”

“After she was discharged, she sent us a card and chocolate,” Joseph continues. “About 11 months after that, her family came from Africa, and she brought them to see me. They told me that their daughter never stopped talking about me, and how caring I was. They came personally just to say thank you to me.”

Joseph says she believes that all of NYC Health + Hospitals ICARE values are important guiding principles in patient care. “Compassion is most aligned with my personal philosophy and approach to nursing,” she remarks. “The nursing profession is about compassion, caring, respect. By being compassionate I will do my best to supply diligent care for the patient. I will do so by treating the patient with respect and making them feel comfortable.

“I always try to give my absolute best; and always try to care for each patient like he or she wants to be treated,” she adds. “If they cannot tell me, I will care for them like I was caring for myself.”

Looking to the future, Joseph says she feels continuing education will become more important. “I think the nursing profession will transform greatly, with more nurses achieving higher education,” she asserts. “There will be more nurses with bachelor’s degrees, more nurse practitioners, and more nurses who achieve a doctorate in nursing practice.”

Better informed patients will require more knowledgeable nurses, Joseph points out. “With the use of the internet, patients are more informed,” she notes. “Nurses will have to go for higher education. I intend to attend seminars and stay up-to-date with my training as a health professional.”

Learn more about our Nursing Excellence Award Winners