It’s time for the second edition of Matchwell Time Out when we deliberately pause our busy schedules to highlight healthcare leaders who are positively impacting the healthcare industry. This month we are talking with Joy King, DNP, MBA, APRN, NP-C. Since March is Nutritional and Sleep Awareness month, Joy is not only walking us through her journey as a nurse, but she is also sharing nutritional and sleep tips all healthcare workers can benefit from. Joy lights up every room she enters (literally and virtually), and it only takes a few minutes to recognize her sincere passion for caring for others and making a positive impact in nursing. When she’s not racing to care for the sick, teach nursing students, or advocate for Georgia nurses, she puts on her racing shoes and runs. . . for fun. So sit back, grab your favorite beverage (wine, water, coffee- we don’t judge), and let Joy’s knowledge, high energy, and fierceness inspire you.
Tell us a little about your journey as a nurse.
Before I talk about myself, I have to give a huge thank you to all of my teachers in Monroe County and professors at Georgia College who poured love and encouragement into me and paved the way for me to become a nurse. I don’t know where I would be without them! I graduated with my BSN with a minor in Community Health in 2009 from Georgia College & State University (GCSU). I returned to GCSU in 2012 and entered the Masters of Science in Nursing -Family Nurse Practitioner program. I graduated in 2015 and entered into their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and graduated in 2018. I also obtained my Masters of Business Administration – Healthcare Management (MBA) in 2019. My nursing background includes OR, ICU, home health, and ambulatory/convenient care settings. The ICU was my favorite setting because of how fast-paced it is. Recently, I stepped into the role of Director of Nursing Practice & Advocacy on the Board of Directors for Georgia Nurses Association (GNA), which has been so fulfilling and rewarding.
Why did you decide to get your MBA and how do you plan to use it?
As you know, nursing education only gives you glimpses into the business side of nursing and healthcare. I didn’t feel like I knew enough about business to properly run a primary care office or work in management for MinuteClinic. Also, one of my business courses in my doctoral studies piqued my interest so I decided to pursue my MBA in Healthcare Management. I’m currently in a two-year fellowship for integrative medicine at the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and my hope is to one day own an integrative medicine practice in Middle Georgia because there aren’t very many practices that incorporate alternative medicine into their patient’s plan of care in this area.
Tell us about your current role?
I currently work full-time at CVS Minute Clinic in Macon, Georgia. I always explain to my patients that we “fill in the gaps” when the patient can’t get an appointment with their PCP or haven’t established one. We treat patients from 18 months and up for both acute and chronic illnesses and provide a referral when appropriate. Additionally, I serve as the Minute Clinic Lead Provider for the middle Georgia area, which involves community outreach. I also work part-time as an adjunct professor for Georgia College & State University in the school of nursing. Giving back to the nursing profession through advocacy and education is so important. I feel like each nurse has a responsibility to feed into our new graduates to improve patient care and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Speaking of burnout, what is your opinion of the current nursing shortage, and how do you think other nurses can address it?
The pandemic definitely highlighted the nursing shortage and the dangers it represents. The need directly impacts the healthcare system because we are the largest body of healthcare professionals in the US. I remain optimistic that students continue to demonstrate an interest in the nursing profession in record numbers to meet this need. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that we will need 9 million nurses globally by 2030 to meet the shortage, which further reinforces the need for nurses to give back in mentorship, education, and advocacy.
This month is National Sleep Awareness and Nutritional Awareness. Self-care is an essential topic to you. What advice do you have for nurses concerning diet and sleep?
Yes, the importance of self-care has also been highlighted during this pandemic. Last year, Georgia Nurses Association (GNA) deployed a survey to assess nursing concerns related to patients’ care during the pandemic, and we saw an outcry from the nurses in Georgia regarding how their stress level has increased. Many are exhausted from the physical, emotional, and psychological stressors of work and family. GNA and Matchwell collaborated to highlight the importance of wellness and self-care in November 2020 and February 2021 through a webinar entitled “The Nurse of the Year – Surviving to Thriving.” It is often said that we “can’t pour from an empty cup,” and this can be applied to our nutrition, physical activity, and rest. If any of those areas are out of sync, we tend to not function as well as we normally would, and our patients’ lives depend on us. I understand how difficult it can be to make yourself a priority but learning small ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routine will make a huge difference.
One habit that I have is waking up an hour early and working out before work. I know that I’m usually exhausted by the time I arrive home for the evening, so it’s easier for me to get my exercise in earlier versus later. That may not work for everyone and maybe working out in the evening is better for you. Also, remember exercise can be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk, doing plyometric exercises or yoga before dinner, etc. The important thing is to find something that fits into your schedule. Additionally, GNA offers Community Resilience training to nurses as well.
I do the best with my nutrition when I plan my meals, so I work closely with my integrative nutrition health coach, Tanya Bickham (who is also an RN), and she provides me with so much guidance! When I don’t have a plan, I’ve noticed that I consume more fast food or unhealthy food options, which causes me to gain weight quickly. Focusing on macro and micronutrients has improved my energy level throughout the day and improves my sleep quality. I’ve also invested in quality multivitamins to supplement any nutrition gaps, making a huge difference.
If a nurse only had time to incorporate one change in his or her routine to improve sleep or nutrition, what would you encourage them to do?
Honestly, both sleep and nutrition feed into each other. Poor nutrition impacts your sleep ability, and lack of sleep will increase your likelihood of weight gain and developing conditions like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The Sleep Foundation actually published an article about these topics and suggests that prioritizing nutrition will ultimately improve sleep quality. More specifically, a balanced diet that consists of calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K helps support hormonal pathways responsible for a restful night’s sleep. Also, consuming high carbohydrate foods before bedtime actually decreases the amount of sleep because they found it increases the likelihood of you waking up during the night.
What do you do to stay healthy? Do you have any life-hacks for nurses?
I like to do my physical activity in the mornings for two reasons: I don’t want to worry about exercising after a long day of work, and I like starting my day off with an endorphin rush. Also, investing in dietary guidance via books or a nutritionist will improve your overall wellbeing. Most importantly, listen to your body! If you’ve noticed you are more tired than usual, take a look at what you’re eating and when you’re going to bed. Sometimes making those small, subtle changes will make a world of difference.
Describe two pivotal moments in your career that got you where you are today.
I’m going to go back to my high school years with my first pivotal moment. This moment was brought about by my sister, Marcy, and one of my favorite high school teachers, Mr. Jay Johnston. As a kid, you really don’t see what others see in you, but my sister had many conversations with me about my future and that she could see me being a great nurse because of my caring nature. My sister planted the seed, and Mr. Jay Johnston taught me Biology in 10th grade. Science has always been a strong suit for me, and he recognized something as well. He received information about a summer program at Fort Valley State University (FVSU) called the “Pipeline Pre-Health Program.” It’s a 3-week program that accepts upcoming high school juniors and is designed to increase underrepresented minorities in health professions. We explored different health care professions, such as dentistry, veterinary medicine, pre-med, nursing, physical therapy, and more. That spring before summer vacation, I applied for the program. Mr. Johnston wrote my letter of recommendation, and the rest is history! I feel like the opportunity to participate in that program was almost like a form of affirmation that nursing is a part of my purpose here on earth.
The second pivotal moment in my career came through a complete coincidence! My mother was working as the Director of Student Services for the Board of Education in Monroe County, and one of my undergraduate professors came to her office. My former professor recognized me in a picture my mom had on her desk. My professor inquired about my wellbeing and told my mom to encourage me to apply for the MSN-FNP program at GCSU. Honestly, going back to school was NOT in my immediate plans, but when my mom called me and told me about their conversation, I reconsidered my plans and decided to go back for my Masters. If it weren’t for that conversation and encouragement from my professor, I’m not sure that I would have gone back to school.
You are so much more than your accomplishments and goals. Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
My close family and friends know I absolutely love running races all across the US. I’ve run multiple ultra-marathons (farthest distance has been 36 miles in under 10 hours) and “mud runs” like Spartan races. I’ll be setting a new PR (personal record) in September with an ultra that will be 50 miles. I’m really excited about it!
We’ve impressed you again, right? Joy has set numerous personal records through continuing her education, giving back to the profession by mentoring and educating, and setting an example for all of us on how to achieve goals while caring for yourself. Georgia hit the jackpot when Joy decided to pursue nursing. We are thankful to the teachers and family members that encouraged her to follow her strengths. We all benefit from nurse leaders like Joy.
Join us next month when we highlight another leader in the healthcare space.
If you know a healthcare leader that deserves the spotlight, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org