A Conversation With…Joyce Parsons, Ed.D, RN
Joyce Parsons, EdD, RN, returned to Hudson earlier this year to serve as the Director of Nursing, a role she previously held from 2005-2015. She’s dedicated her career to helping those struggling with addiction, and she brings a unique perspective based on her own personal recovery. Joyce’s time at Hudson is spent motivating and leading her nursing staff, encouraging and giving care to patients, and collaborating with medical leadership and community organizations to provide the best possible care.
Here she shares with us her perspective on patient success, the disease of addiction and the rewards of recovery.
Q: You have a long history of working at Hudson. What prompted you to return earlier this year?
Returning to Hudson was like moving away and then deciding to return home. Although I was working in Delaware, my heart longed to return to Hudson. My return was based on circumstance and prayer.
Q: Have you always been called to work in the addiction treatment field, and what initially inspired that calling or interest?
My nursing career started in 1979 when I graduated from Wor-Wic Tech, now known as Wor-Wic Community College. Initially I worked in acute care nursing, as most nurses do, to receive skills in medical-surgical nursing. In 1998 I was hired by the Hudson Center, now known as Hudson Behavioral Health. Initially entering the addiction field was inspired by my personal recovery, however, I knew immediately that addiction nursing was my niche. I understood how the disease of addiction impacts the entire family unit. Addiction is unbiased toward age, race, socioeconomic status, or education. This chronic illness affects individuals in all walks of life.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your role at Hudson?
It gives me a lot of hope knowing that as long as an addict remains alive, they have a fighting chance. For me, it’s incredibly rewarding to help plant a seed of recovery for my patients, and to give them a smile or hug along the way to encourage them. It’s important that each patient receives the best possible treatment, and I enjoy collaborating with our staff and external organizations to ensure that happens.
Q: I imagine being a nurse at Hudson can be draining at times. As the supervisor of all nurses, how do you motivate and inspire your team?
As Director of Nursing, I certainly do feel the strain at times, but my position means I’m always available to support my nursing staff. The Nursing Code of Ethics is based on professionalism, which I always maintain and motivate my nurses to do the same. I am a hands-on nursing administrator, so it’s not uncommon for me to assist with nursing duties as needed. I think this creates a level of trust with my nursing staff, because I never ask them to perform any task that I would not do myself. I understand this job can be emotionally challenging, therefore I keep an open line of communication with the nurses and offer flexibility when scheduling to avoid burn out.
Q: I understand you recently received your Doctor of Education – congratulations! What led you to pursue that degree, and how has it impacted you in your career and personal life?
I am a life-long learner and believe education, whether formal or informal, is the key to success and fulfillment. My sisters and I were raised by my grandmother, who was not formally educated but was educated, and because of her I grew to love the learning process. Receiving my doctorate was always on my bucket list, and I was able to check it off in 2021 at the age of 65. As Director of Nursing and a person in recovery, receiving my doctorate shows that the recovery process works. God has given me the gift of recovery and education. I hope that my example can assist in alleviating the stigma associated with the disease of addiction, and to prove that being an alcoholic or addict does not limit one’s ability to be a productive member of society.
Q: What does patient success look like to you?
To me, patient success is maintaining sobriety one day at a time. The patient needs to understand that recovery is a lifelong journey, and that using is not an appropriate coping skill. A relapse starts long before a drink or drug is picked up. Every single person in recovery has roadblocks along the way, but if they can recognize they’re struggling and ask for help before they use, that is a sign of success.
Hudson Behavioral Health was formed in 1980 (as Hudson Health Services, Inc.) to bring the first residential recovery program to the Eastern Shore. Today, thousands of patients later, we remain the leader in recovery programs and resources, with our staff of 100 committed to serving each patient as an individual.