Joy Stoetzer knew from the time she was a very small girl that she would some day become a nurse, and so did her entire family
When still a small child, Joy tried hard to give care to those around her. So much that her mom began affectionately calling her “little mother”.
Growing up in St. Louis City and North St. Louis County, Joy’s father was a pastor. So, faith was a real and guiding force in her life. But, it was faith in herself and abilities that would ultimately be tested.
Never doubting she was born to be a nurse, Joy, never-the-less, initially struggled in her studies. She started college in 1987, but when it just wasn’t working, she took a break.
A break that would ultimately last for 24 years.
Joy spent the next several years building a family. In 1989 she married her husband, Steven, a chemist. Then they had a son, Steven, Jr, who's now 22 and preparing to graduate from Illinois College.
It wasn't until 2011 at the age of forty-two that Joy went back to school. The transition was difficult, but she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013 with a BSN.
While she was going back to nursing school, Joy worked at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis in the community outreach program giving flu shots. She started as a volunteer, then as a PRN. In the process, Joy got a view of hospice care, and from that point on she longed for the chance to join the VNA hospice team.
In 2015 that chance came, and as far as Joy is concerned, it was just meant to be.
“I feel this is really God’s ministry, and I’m just His hands.”
The work can be hard, but for Joy, there is nothing else in nursing she would ever want to do. “I can take care of the whole patient which, to me, includes their family. I get so much more than they ever give me because, in hospice, you understand personally what a gift it is. People let you into their lives. It’s such an honor”, Joy says.
Joy understands what her patients and their families need. “You’ve got to put aside who you are and be what they need.”
Advice filled with wisdom from a woman who, as a little girl, first heard the call to become a nurse and four decades later answered it as a hospice nurse at the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis.