When Dr. Joyce Pate (Nursing ’83) first began studying social work in college, it wasn’t quite the experience she was hoping to have. After hearing about a new Christian college in Pensacola, Dr. Pate was encouraged by the training they offered and transferred to begin studying nursing.
“I wanted to get a nursing degree at a Christian college,” she said. And Florida had a unique way of welcoming her to the Panhandle. “Within two weeks of being here, we went through Hurricane Frederic, [a Category 4 storm at landfall], which was quite different than Pennsylvania snowstorms!”
After earning her bachelor’s degree from PCC in 1983, Dr. Pate began practicing in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Five years later, she was asked to consider joining PCC’s nursing faculty. She accepted the position with continued opportunities to work summers in the ICU. “In many ways, God changed my desires from working as an ICU nurse to a teacher,” she said. “To me, that is a miracle. I had never thought I’d be a teacher.”
Throughout her time teaching, Dr. Pate worked hard to improve her nursing practice and instruction. “Getting my M.S.N. in Nursing Education was so helpful to me as a new teacher,” Dr. Pate recalled. “My Nurse Practitioner degree was so beneficial in helping me teach students in the clinical as well as the classroom setting. My doctorate helped me with leadership and research skills.”
Since joining nursing faculty in 1988, Dr. Joyce Pate has taught several nursing classes on graduate and undergraduate levels, although most of her students would remember her as Miss Hatfield. She taught Medical-Surgical Nursing (NU 307) for 26 years. She currently teaches Pathophysiology (NU 226), Physical Assessment (NU 215), Nutrition (NU 218), Testing and Evaluation (NU 547), and Professional Development and Leadership (NU 650), and Nursing Education Practicum (NU 652).
In 2014, Dr. Pate married her husband Randy, a locksmith at PCC, and they moved to Mississippi for a brief two years. “We moved back to Pensacola as I was missing my job here,” she said. “Working at PCC is a joy; I have wonderful supervisors who are so supportive of me. Our nursing program is exemplary, and we prepare our nurses to be ready to work in the real world.”
Over the years, Dr. Pate’s former students have served on the mission field and in hospitals around the world as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, educators, managers, travel nurses, and case managers. “I love teaching and I love my students—they keep me here! I try to help them look at the big picture and encourage them to do their best work; the struggles they have in nursing school are really worth it in the end,” she said. “Teaching is a busy job and never-ending as far as learning goes.”
Dr. Joyce Pate looks forward to instructing each new class of students knowing that each one will one day provide for the physical and spiritual needs of others. “Watching my students go out and serve the Lord in the U.S. and all over the world makes me feel like I have a part in reaching souls for Christ through nursing,” she said. “My students are a mission field as well, and I can influence them to be the best Christian nurses possible.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.