Ft. Myers Nursing Graduate Finds 'True Calling' in Second Career

ft-myers-nursing-patrickTypically, the results of personality or career aptitude tests should be taken with a grain of salt.

But, Rasmussen College graduate Patrick Joyce can look back on the results of an aptitude test he took while attending school to become a police officer as a clear sign of his true calling. According to the test results Joyce’s top occupational suggestion was nursing, while police officer was around fifth.  

“Hindsight being 20/20, I should have taken that test as a sign of fate,” Joyce says.

Joyce finally embraced that fate after 10 years as a uniformed police officer and he’s now working as a nurse at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Joyce’s career switch was a nontraditional path to a nursing career but it’s one that demonstrated his determination and commitment to his true calling.

His time at Rasmussen College provided him the pathway to a rewarding career.

Making the change—seamlessly

Joyce spent ten years working as a police officer, and after taking early retirement from police work he was looking for a new path. He worked for four years in logistics for General Electric, but found himself missing the variety of human interaction he had while working as a police officer.  He also missed the sense of pride and satisfaction that comes with helping others in his community. It was then that Joyce knew he wanted to make the switch to nursing and started looking into schools around the Ft. Myers, Fla., area.

The one name that kept sticking out was Rasmussen College.

Joyce wasn’t without concern, however. It had been several years since he last attended school and was a little anxious to see if he’d still be able to keep up with his classmates, especially with the changes in technology. Joyce says although he was unfamiliar with some of the new technology like online classes, the instructors and support staff made sure he could keep up.

“They took the extra time for me when I needed it and explained everything when I needed help with a process,” Joyce says. “They were just fantastic.”

“You become a part of their family or life, and sharing in that [emotion] with another human being is beautiful, despite the bad circumstance.”

Joyce’s work ethic and his instructor’s real-world experience and connections helped him land a job as a student nurse at Gulf Coast Medical Center while attending Rasmussen College.

While the job was a blessing, it did add another layer of difficulty for Joyce, who now had to find ways to adjust and balance the responsibilities of work, school and home life. At times he had to get creative to make sure he could fulfill all of his responsibilities.


One of his favorite strategies for mixing schoolwork with family time was enlisting the help of his daughter to make note cards and other study aides.

“There is a balance to be found, and sometimes your responsibilities are going to overlap,” Joyce says. “But as long as that time where it overlaps is used constructively, it will work out.”

 Working part time while attending school was demanding, but by getting his foot in the door with that job he was able to make another seamless transition to being a full time nurse at that facility after graduating in 2012.

The joys (and challenges) of a new career

Nursing is an emotional line of work, no matter what the specialization. Every day you are working with patients who are in a vulnerable position and with that vulnerability comes a variety of emotions. Some patients are frustrated or angry; others want to be left alone. What Joyce found was that most are just scared and in need of support.  This is what makes nursing so rewarding for Joyce.  But the emotions that come with the job are also a huge part of the challenge.

“You really need to have patience for your patients,” Joyce says.

That patience is essential when interacting with patients who may be misinformed and stressed about their illness. Joyce says the key is to educate patients about their situation and what can be done to help.

As a nurse, it’s common to get to know patients and their families very well, so the experience of seeing a family deal with losing a loved one that you’ve been caring for can be challenging. Joyce says that although it’s difficult to see families struggle with their loss, the experience is strangely rewarding.  

“You become a part of their family or life, and sharing in that [emotion] with another human being is beautiful, despite the bad circumstance,” Joyce says. “It’s a very powerful feeling having that connection and helping families grieve.”

The emotional nature of nursing has Joyce energized about his new career. In fact, despite his inexperience in the field, he says he enjoys nursing more than he ever did police work. It looks like the aptitude test he took years ago may have been a more valid predictor than Joyce could have ever imagined.

Moving forward

Joyce is currently working toward earning his master’s degree, with the hope of someday becoming a nursing instructor. He hopes to not only pass on the technical competencies needed to be a nurse, but also the attitude necessary to succeed in the field.  

His advice for nursing students is fairly universal: be humble; maintain your sense of humor; and, be patient with yourself.

Joyce says that he hopes that advice will serve as a guideline for future nurses who need help handling the components of nursing you won’t find in the textbooks—unless, of course, he gets around to writing a book about his experiences as a nurse.

“I’d love for someone to sit down and read it just so people will understand more about being human to other people,” Joyce says.  “You never know what other people are going through in their lives.”

Does your current job leave you wishing for more fulfilling work? A degree in nursing could be your ticket to a rewarding career, both financially and emotionally. If you’re not sure if nursing is for you, try our career aptitude test to get a better idea of which fields match your skills.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

As a community blogger at Rasmussen College, Will researches and writes blog content focused on students, alumni and community events at Rasmussen College. He is passionate about learning and hopes that the inspiring stories of Rasmussen College students will help motivate current and prospective students to achieve their educational goals.

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