A prestigious organization of highly trained nurses in the United States has feted a Thomasian graduate for her work in running a 200-member nursing staff at a New York medical facility.

She is Jocelyn Perez, the American Psychiatric Nurses of Association's Nurse of the Year in 2013.

William Wang, her co-worker at the Metropolitan Hospital and among those who nominated her for the award, says she "has demonstrated unique leadership qualities, has a genuine love for her work, and she strives for nothing short of excellence in patient care and teaching and supporting her staff,” according to the APNA website.

Perez has been the hospital's nursing director in behavioral health for six years.

Having been on the job for more than two decades, Perez remains deeply passionate about her profession.

“They (patients) always inspire me and encourage me to persevere in carrying out our mission of providing high quality patient care,” she was quoted as saying at the APNA website.

Perez has also worked at the Bellevue Hospital and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Zucker Hillside Hospital, both in New York City.

Perez draws inspiration from her patients, from the hope that she could make a difference in their lives.

“Those people who have suffered from mental illnesses and are able to recover into their full and highest potential as human beings inspire me to keep going,” said Perez.

It wasn’t Perez’ dream to become a nurse, but fate had other plans.

“I wanted to take up Foreign Service, but when I went to the UST Medicine Building and found out that Foreign Service was not offered at that time, during the martial law years,” she said.

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“Ironically, I saw a long line of nursing applicants that same day. Interested, I took the entrance test out of curiosity, passed it and the rest is history.”

But the road to nursing wasn’t a walk in the park.

“The University’s Nursing program proved to be a highly competitive institution. During the five years that I was there, they only chose the crème-de-la crème to graduate,” Perez said.

During her years in UST, Perez realized that she enjoyed her psychiatric rotations more than the physical ones—she was more engaged in the human mind.

“My psychiatry rotation gave me a better insight into human behavior. I loved the analytical part of my assignments for they did not require much of the physical aspects that are needed to take care of patients with medical conditions,” she said.

Immediately after college, Perez started as an occupational nurse for LBC Air Cargo, Inc. and Jardine Davies, Inc. where she worked for six years before pursuing a career abroad.

She passed the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) exam and proceeded to the US. She began the next phase of her career there at the Bellevue, an acute care hospital specializing in psychiatry, her preferred discipline.

Her stay at the institution was the highlight of her career as she received numerous awards.

“It was challenging in the early years of my career. I became a supervisor after four years as a staff nurse,” she said. “I was new then at Bellevue and compared to my other peers, I was younger and of a different ethnic background. But I had the passion, energy, commitment, intellectual ability and the charisma to work with teams.”

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Perez worked her way up from being a staff nurse to a Head Nurse and finally, the Director of Nursing in a span of 22 years. She then transferred to a sister hospital, Metropolitan Hospital.

If it weren’t for her family, Perez admits she wouldn’t have handled homesickness well.

“I can say that I adjusted well to life in the States. I have a very supportive husband who allows me to do all these great things even until now,” said Perez, who has two children who are both professionals.

Perez plans to retire in the Philippines and help improve its mental healthcare.

“I would want to find work as a consultant to change the way people view mental health care in the Philippines,” she said. “The country’s overall view of patients with mental illness [in the Philippines] and the treatment modalities that exist over there require more modern and innovative approaches.”

She added: “Persons with psychiatric disorders are underserved and mostly disenfranchised, especially in a large city such as New York. I work in a public hospital and chose this as my regular job so that I could make a difference in peoples’ lives. My nursing education at UST solidified the foundation of my endeavors. As I always say, ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.’” Alfredo N. Mendoza V and Mone Virma Ginry P. Gumapac


  1. Good Day!

    I am the Auditor of UST Nursing Alumni Association, INC and Chair of Membership committee, may I ask as to how you were able to have an access regarding Ms. Jocelyn Perez so that we can also acknowledge her in our College.

    Thank You Very Much.


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