Joined USJ: 1996
Having attended Saint Joseph as an undergraduate nursing student, Joyce Fontana earnestly tells students “I sat in the same seats as you. I never expected the path I took. I planned none of it. It’s about working hard, and being prepared when opportunity knocks.” She fondly recalls her undergraduate study as “the best four years of my life,” providing a first-rate professional education that helped her advance in nursing and then seamlessly into higher education. “There was never a time I didn’t want to be a nurse,” Fontana recalls, but she could not have predicted she would ultimately prepare the next generation, and lead the school where once she was a student. She is delighted to return to teaching full-time, after administrative time as Department Chair and Dean.
Fontana views nursing with the utmost seriousness, and expects the same from her students. “We maintain the trust that society places in us as nursing educators,” she says of the USJ nursing program, which has a well-earned reputation for rigor and diligence. “We’re proud to be one of the more challenging programs. After graduation, students thank us for pushing them, telling us how confident they feel in their profession,” she says. “Patients don’t have a say in the nurses they get,” Fontana points out. “When they are assigned a nurse with a Saint Joseph pin, they can be confident that they have someone who worked hard to earn their degree – they didn’t just get pushed along to graduation. Our first priority is to the patent and their health care. That is why we have high academic standards,” Fontana stressed.
A student of history, Fontana acknowledges the pressures facing today’s students – financial and otherwise – but shares with them the groundbreaking actions of those “in whose footsteps” nurses walk -“it’s very humbling,” she says. The focus of her scholarship – with special relevance to a Sisters of Mercy institution – is the contribution by nurses of the Civil War era to the profession’s evolution and growth. Some leading nursing institutions in Connecticut have their origins in the Civil War experience, and Fontana works to honor that heritage in her teaching, research, and unyielding commitment to quality care and the preparation essential to it.
Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.S.N., University of Hartford
B.S.N., University of Saint Joseph
Medical-Surgical Nursing ANCC
End-of-Life Nursing Education AACN
Email: [email protected]
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