Mentors’ leadership touched alumna’s life, guiding her toward success

Mentors’ leadership touched alumna’s life, guiding her toward success

F rom the moment Dr. Joy King, ’09, ’15, ’17, was in high school, she discovered she liked science. Early on, King had always shown a strong compassion for others. Combined, these traits helped guide her to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), serving as a lead provider for CVS Minute Clinic for the Southeast region while landing a seat as the director of Nursing Practice and Advocacy on the Georgia Nurses Association (GNA) for 2019-21. 

“The fact that I really like science, and I’ve always been compassionate opened the gateway to my career,” she said. “At first, I asked myself, ‘Okay, do I want to be a nurse or a doctor?’ And a family nurse practitioner is a mesh between the two.”

During her junior year in high school, King was exposed to different medical programs at various universities, but Georgia College drew her in. 

“From my high school career forward, I decided becoming a family nurse practitioner was what I really want to do,” she said. “And, George College was the perfect university for this. Its reputation is so good. It’s number one in the state right now for undergraduate nursing. So, choosing to attend this university was really a no brainer for me.” 

Dr. Joy King
Dr. Joy King

Her role is broad. She diagnoses, treats and re-evaluates patients. More importantly, she enjoys educating her patients to help prevent them from developing chronic conditions. 

“I just make sure my patients take care of themselves by eating right and getting physically active at least 30 minutes a day to make sure, down the road, they don't develop high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and other things,” King said. 

She wants to ensure wellness is a huge part of her patients’ health. 

“That's where my heart is,” King said. “I get the best of both worlds—I get to treat patients medically, as well as holistically. I don’t just look at the diagnosis. I look at the overall picture of what’s really going on in their life to see where we can fix the issue and move forward.” 

Georgia College professors helped lay the groundwork in preparing King for her career by teaching her discipline and time-management skills that she still uses today. They also taught King how to talk to patients by getting to know them and not just treating them.

“In almost in every lecture, our professors drilled into us to treat our patients holistically,” she said. “They intertwined this with everything else. I feel like that was a huge part of how I practice as an FNP now instead of just saying, ‘These are your symptoms,’ we say, ‘What's been going on in the background of all of these symptoms that led you to this clinic?’”

The best part of King’s job is being able to identify with her patients. 

“Even though there were so many tears shed, I’m thankful to them for all the hard conversations we had and for believing in me when I absolutely did not believe in myself,” she said. “I don't know where I would be without them.”
– Dr. Joy King

“I always try to find common ground with my patients, so they feel like they're talking to an actual person instead of just telling me what’s wrong with them,” she said. “I'm human. I love interacting with and developing a relationship with my patients. Many of them will come back and thank me because they're better. I just enjoy making a difference.”

King joined the Georgia Nurses Association as a student and has maintained membership during her 10 years as a registered nurse (RN) and advanced practice nurse. She also served as the chair of the Bylaws Committee and is a member of the Nominating Committee. In her current role as the director of Nursing Practice and Advocacy, she drew from the time-management and organizational skills she learned from Georgia College to come up with a timeline for the Georgia Legislative Session. 

“For the next two years, while I'm in this office, I’m going to try to get a lot of things on our agenda passed,” King said. “Much of it deals with nurse practitioners in advanced practice. Georgia is one of the most restrictive states for what nurse practitioners can do. We can't order imaging. If you need to come to the hospital and get a CT scan, and I was taking care of you, I would have to get my physician to order it for you, unless it's an emergency. I feel like this is a delay of care.” 

King and other GNA members and students delivered their platform for 2020-21 to their legislators when they participated in a Nurses Legislative Day at the Capitol.

“I really feel like I have an obligation to the nurses in Georgia to make sure that I help in some capacity to further our profession,” she said. “I feel like it's my duty.”

King recently told a group of nursing students at Georgia College that her professors had considerably influenced her road to success.

“My Undergraduate Nursing Advisor Dr. Sapp said that she was not going to let me give up on me that easy,” King said. “I still stay in contact with Dr. Colvin, who believed in me when I did not, and taught me psychology is in every aspect of nursing. Dr. MacMillan always pushed me along the way. Whenever I felt discouraged, she was always giving me little pearls of wisdom to keep me going. Dr. Coke, was my cheerleader, when I pursued my doctorate. That woman has brought me to tears. She taught me to be meticulous in everything I do.” 

Dr. Joy King speaks to GC nursing students.
Dr. Joy King speaks to GC nursing students.

Tenacity is the most important tenet she learned from her professors. That still resonates with her today. 

“Don't give up,” she said. “There were so many times I thought, ‘This is not my cup of tea here.’ Always make sure that you have a really good positive circle with people who are going to support and encourage you and ensure your goals, whether they are nursing, dentistry or practicing law. Nothing in life is going to be easy. But, having those people in your corner who are going to look out for your best interests is so important.”

King considers those four professors as leadership role models. 

“Even though there were so many tears shed, I’m thankful to them for all the hard conversations we had and for believing in me when I absolutely did not believe in myself,” she said. “I don't know where I would be without them.”