The Joy of Being a Nursing Assistant at UConn Health

Meet Joy Martin! She’s been a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at UConn John Dempsey Hospital…

The Joy of Being a Nursing Assistant at UConn Health

Meet Joy Martin! She’s been a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at UConn John Dempsey Hospital for almost 25 years.

And anyone you talk to tells you she sure lives up to her name.

“She is joyful and is the epitome of her name,” shared Sara Roberts, RN, the assistant nurse manager of the Intermediate step-down unit on the hospital’s second floor where Joy works. “Joy is an awesome employee and is what we hope every employee embodies.”

“Patients love her. Joy is the best,” shared colleague Sofia Talamec, a medical office assistant.

“Joy is hard working, caring and passionate about quality patient care. She is always willing to improve processes and be part of the solution,” said Caryl Ryan, RN, chief operating officer for UConn John Dempsey Hospital and UConn Health’s chief nursing officer. “Joy is truly a valued and highly respected staff member within the Intermediate unit and the entire hospital.”

Joy is one of the 145 CNAs working within John Dempsey Hospital.

She got her start back in December 1998 at UConn Health after persistently dropping off her resume.

“Twenty-five years ago UConn called back and here I am,” she says happily. “I can’t believe it’s been nearly 25 years already.”

She started working the night shift on the hospital’s medicine floor for a few years and then switched to day shift for a few more years before joining the intermediate step-down unit ever since.

On the floor she cares for a wide-range of patients such as those who have had heart attacks, open-heart surgery, cancer, and many others transferred from the ICU.

“I really enjoy the step-down unit patients. It’s a very busy floor and patients can be very sick but it’s my cup of tea to help them,” says Joy.

As a nursing assistant her daily duties during each of her 12 hour shifts range from helping up to 14 patients with all their daily living needs, eating, going to the bathroom, measuring their food and liquid input and output, showering, checking vitals, glucose testing, EKGs, answering call lights, and also special 1-1 observations of any high-risk patients in need. Plus, NAs chart each of their patient’s care data.

“The best part of my job is that I get to care for patients from all walks of life and cultures. I learn a lot from my patients – and we get through their health care challenges together.”

Her daily motto is to always “keep moving!”

Joy was inspired to become a nursing assistant after caring for her mother battling cancer. Following her mother’s death she started her training to be a nursing assistant.

“I went to the nursing assistant certification classes and part of the hands-on training was taking care of cancer patients. It was really tough following the passing of my own Mom from cancer. But my classmates got me through it,” recalls Joy.

Joy says working in a hospital is all about teamwork.

“You must have good, close working relationships with everyone including other NAs and nurses. This unit is like family,” says Joy. “We know each other’s ups and downs and sometimes we know when each other just needs a hug or to talk for stress relief.”

Her favorite thing about work is caring for her patients who are at the center of her job.

“I love the patients,” says Joy. “Even though they come in very sick I love when they feel better and get to go home. It’s the best thing, especially when successfully discharged patients come back to visit the unit to say thank you and you see them walking in looking so healthy. It is so rewarding to have been their nursing assistant to make that possible.”

She also shared how COVID-19 striking two years ago was very rough for her and everyone and she’s glad hospitalizations have lessened.

“The start of the pandemic was scary and tiring,” she says. “While we are still going through COVID-19 it has calmed down. Thankfully all the hospital staff got through it together. We are glad the worst is most likely behind us.”

Each year CNA Week is celebrated nationally in June. This year it runs from June 16 to June 22.

“It’s very important to celebrate all our NAs and all they do to help our patients and also help the medical team, doctors, and nurses do all their work more efficiently.”

With a smile she shares: “You can’t forget about us little guys.”