The Health and Wellbeing Ripple Effect

by Joanne Noce

My mom’s interest in health and well-being inspired my professional journey. She was a medical assistant and wanted to enter nursing in her 20s. However, she got married and dedicated her life to home and family. 

I joined USF as a transfer student from College of San Mateo and immediately felt welcomed. USF’s education was well-rounded. It gave me a good balance of knowledge and skills—the high academic standards, particularly in nursing, have always been remarkable. On a Spring break in Palm Springs, I ran into another USF student and said hello. He immediately said, “You must be a nursing student because I don’t remember seeing you on campus. Most probably, you were in the library all day!” Indeed, like many other nursing students, I spent lots of time in the library.

Education gives you an edge; it stretches you, broadens your thinking, and exposes you to things you probably would not have been exposed to if you had not taken that required class. 

USF taught me how to look outside the box, and I have always considered nursing a career and not a job. 

I not only enjoy what I’m doing, but I’m making a difference and meeting my professional goals. Nursing has always been stimulating intellectually and provides many practice options. 

Even before I finished school, I started at UCSF in a special program for senior-year nurses. I chose to work in neurosurgery. I gained on-the-job experience and had a smooth transition to my RN. After graduating, I went to work at the Mills Hospital in San Mateo in acute rehab and transitioned into home health care, as a former preceptor whom I had impressed, encouraged me to do so. Now, I've been in cardiac rehab for 18 years! This is where I wanted to make a difference- community health and wellness. In cardiac rehab, I work with patients who have had open heart surgery. stent placement, heart failure, or a valve replacement. They come into our gym two to three times a week, regain confidence, and then we start teaching them about lifestyle changes. There's a lot of teaching that goes on for dietary changes, stress management, and about exercising. I get real quality time with each patient; some initial appointments are up to an hour long, and then I get to work with them for almost five months. Most of my patients are 65 or older; however, we've entered into the age of technology, and a lot of tech people have very high-stress jobs. Some of my clients are in their 30s, 40s or 50s. 

One of the classes I teach is about emotions and your health, and I talk about your physical, spiritual, and mental well-being. I teach about life balance and longevity. I also teach a class about cardiac medications. Studies show that a better understanding increases compliance with their care. 

We have a wellness center, and I have taught classes and resilience retreats for participants to evaluate their lifestyles, health, jobs, etc. I also do health and wellness coaching through our wellness program at work. 

We encourage people to eat whatever is closest to the tree.

When you start working with a patient and acknowledging that you're asking them to make a huge change in their lives, you must encourage them to make small changes at a time. That's where my health and wellness coaching certification came in handy.

It is not about condemning or scolding patients but empowering them by asking, where do you want to start?

I would tell my young self the sacrifice is significant, but the payoff is tremendous. My professional journey was great because nursing offers much flexibility. Nursing has given me so much. It gave me an education, confidence, opened my world to what a woman could do, even though it was a traditional career. 

I have a niece who's a nurse practitioner, a nephew whose wife went to USF Nursing, and she's a clinical nurse specialist, my daughter is an occupational therapist, and my son-in-law is a physical therapist. My son just got his EMT certification. There's a healthy osmosis going on.