Pamela Joseph’s nursing career came full circle recently when she retired from the profession after 40 years.
The emergency department nurse chose May 14, 2022 as her last day for a reason. It was on this exact date that she graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University School of Nursing in 1982.
The Hennessey native knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse. “The one thing I always wanted to do growing up was to be a nurse,” Pamela said.
In the late 1970s, Pamela first had a taste for working in the medical field as a teenage volunteer. “I was a candy stripper at Bass when I was in high school,” she said. “Then I attended Autry Vo-tech and got my CNA license. I worked in the urology department at Bass the summer after my senior year in high school. That’s where Pamela met a nurse who encouraged her to continue in the profession.
After graduating from nursing, Pamela worked briefly at Shattuck Hospital as a registered nurse before moving to Midwest City, where she took a job in an emergency department.
In 1999, at age 39, Pamela made a major change and joined the Air National Guard as a flight nurse. Two years after being sworn in, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened and she was deployed while working at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. In all, she completed five tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I loved working as a flight nurse,” Pamela said of her experience. “The people we cared for were so grateful. We worked alongside soldiers from other countries, and many of them were young. I was older, so they called me “mom”, which made me feel good. If my children were in the same situation, I would want someone to take care of them.
Pamela retired from the military in 2010 and moved back to Hennessey to be closer to her aging parents. She returned to INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center in 2016.
“Working with Pamela has been a pleasure,” said Emergency Department Manager Jamie McAlister. “She took other caregivers under her wing and really enjoyed helping other nurses and sharing her knowledge and experiences. Everyone who crossed her path gained to know her.
On her last day, Pamela wore her nursing whites and her white hat. She came with photos and badges from her time in the military, as well as all of her badges from previous jobs.
Upon retirement, Pamela plans to spend time with her mother and sister, who are also retiring and returning home to Hennessey, where she is building a house next to Pamela. She has a sewing booth filled with fabrics, sewing and monogramming machines, and she plans to spend much of her time there.
According to McAlister, Pamela’s retirement is bittersweet. “Not only is the department losing a great nurse, but also a great friend. We truly wish her the best as she transitions into a retirement full of hobbies and travel.