From Nursing Assistant to Doctorate

Joyce Rudenick

Joyce Rudenick joins MANE faculty

Joyce Rudenick will begin teaching courses in obstetrics fall semester 2015 as a member of the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) faculty at Inver Hills Community College. Joyce is an Inver Hills alumna, having earned her Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASDN) in 1998.

“Inver Hills is the place I began my adult education and stumbled through learning how to succeed as a student,” Joyce said. “I would not have fit in a university setting when I was young. If Inver had not been an option for me, I honestly do not believe I would be where I am today.”

A 1987 graduate of Central High School in St. Paul, Joyce had not made plans to attend college. “During my senior year, one of my ‘tough love’ teachers asked me what I was going to do after high school. I planned to be married and have kids—those were my long-term life goals.”

“Inver Hills makes education attainable for anyone with the desire to learn. The campus is the perfect size. Not too small and not too big and crowded. I have always had positive experiences at Inver Hills with the classes, teachers and facilities.” — Joyce Rudenick

Joyce’s teacher asked her a poignant question: “What are you going to do to earn a living and support yourself until that happens?”

Her teacher also stressed his belief that Joyce could do well in college. He organized a student trip to visit the Inver Hills campus and invited her to go.

“The moment I stepped out of the school van onto the grounds of Inver Hills my life was changed,” Joyce recalled. “That memory reminds me that life plans can change in a moment if only I remain open to possibilities.”

Life challenges caused Joyce to withdraw early from her studies. She attended other schools and gradually found her calling in health care. She earned her nursing assistant certificate and went on to become a licensed practical nurse.

“After I completed my LPN training, Inver was the only place I applied for my RN training,” Joyce said. “Inver Hills was the place I could come back to and feel right at home. Inver was where I learned that I could be a successful student.”

Earning her doctorate

In 2015, Joyce will complete her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Informatics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. A crucial resource at all levels of health care, informatics is the science of information and involves the collection, classification, storage, retrieval and distribution of health information.

“It’s funny, when I was young I often said, ‘I hate school,'” Joyce related. “I was often asked why I did not try harder and was told that I could earn better grades if I just applied myself. I had no faith in my ability. I lacked self-confidence and had a significantly low self-esteem. When I first started college, my grades reflected my outlook. With each class passed and each degree earned, I learned what I was capable of and my confidence grew.”

In 2003, on her way to her doctorate, Joyce graduated summa cum laude from Bethel University with her BSN. Three years later, she completed a master’s degree in holistic health studies from St. Catherine University. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

“If anyone had told me when I was young that I could or would do that, I would have laughed,” she said. “Gradually, education became a bit of an addiction. I love the process of learning and growing. It does not come without frustrations, burnout and wondering what I got myself into, but, no matter how hard, I am committed to achieving that next degree.”

“Life is about learning. We can learn from every experience, every challenge and every relationship we have. I believe everyone is capable of learning and that it is never too late and you are never too old. I often hear, ‘I can’t afford to go to college.’ I understand that statement, but in my mind I am worthy of investing in my learning.” — Joyce Rudenick

Earning her DNP in Informatics is both exciting and challenging, but well worth the effort. Advanced nursing degrees make Joyce qualified to teach.

“Being able to teach is what I have always wanted to do,” she said. “I just never knew it would be teaching nurses.” She added that she loves the idea of helping bring strong nurses into the field. “I want to be the person who builds nurses up. I want to empower new nurses to be as professional as they can be.”

Family and her future in teaching

Originally from St. Paul, Joyce resides in Oak Park Heights with her husband, Jason, a general contractor. The couple has three children, Reese, 25, married with twin boys and living in Las Vegas, Alexis, 20, a gifted singer attending McNally Smith College of Music, and Jacob, 17, a high school senior with plans to earn a doctorate in sports medicine.

“Of all my jobs in life,” Joyce said, “parenting is by far my most important and favorite.”

Advice on working full-time, raising a family and earning a degree at the same time:

“Know that you can do it. When I was up at 3 a.m. studying for my DNP, I would think, ‘What’s the point? I can’t do this.’ Then I would remember how much I wanted that degree so that I could do more. By being open to learning, I am a much better person than I ever thought I could be.” — Joyce Rudenick

When she’s not working at Regions Hospital or continuing her studies, Joyce enjoys reading, spending time with her family, walking to downtown Stillwater with her husband and getting outdoors. Her family loves tent camping. They bought a boat in the summer of 2015 and have made floating on the St. Croix River their newest pastime.

“I am very excited I will be joining the MANE faculty at Inver Hills this fall,” Joyce said. “I cannot think of a better way to jump-start my career as an educator. I love that nursing gives me an opportunity to serve others. I also love the varied practice opportunities available to nurses who desire to explore the many different populations and specialty practices in nursing.”

To learn more about the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) at Inver Hills, contact:

Admissions Team
651-450-3902
College Center

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