Doctor of Nursing Practice spotlight: Meet Joy Coles

Joy Coles, a doctor of nursing practice at UK HealthCare

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the University of Kentucky’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program – the first of its kind in the country – we are highlighting some of our DNP graduates who serve as nurse leaders at UK HealthCare.


Joy Coles, a native of Dayton, Ohio, is a 2018 graduate of UK’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, a member of UK’s Delta Psi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, and a lifelong UK Chellgren Honors Fellow. She currently works as an advanced practice provider on the advanced heart failure/heart transplant/mechanical circulatory support team at UK HealthCare.

Coles loves being part of her heart team at UK and was also recently promoted to assistant professor and DNP track coordinator at Kentucky State University after several years in academia as a clinical preceptor and lecturer. She credits her faith, a praying mother, her family and wonderful mentors at both UK College of Nursing and UK Healthcare for supporting her journey.

What influenced your decision to work in health care? 

Nursing is woven into the tapestry of my family lineage as my great-grandmother was a home-birth granny midwife for the community. Decades later, I am a first-generation licensed nurse and now the only DNP in my family. Also, as a young girl, I lost my brother to a heart attack. That life-changing event and an early love of nursing through my great-grandmother solidified my interest in health care.

What keeps you motivated in your career? 

Engaging with my students and attending conferences where I can interact with other nurse practitioners has kept me fresh, abreast of the latest research and scholarship as well as excited about the future of the role of a Doctor of Nursing Practice! I also love cardiovascular medicine, my endearing heart patients and enjoy working in my dream job as a DNP-prepared nurse practitioner at UK Healthcare.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at UK HealthCare? 

My favorite memory at UK Healthcare was my first Daisy Award, hearing a patient express the impact you have made on them and their family, and being nominated as the Magnet Nurse of the Year in 2017! These achievements were important to my journey to becoming a nurse leader. They highlighted my commitment to compassionate, quality care of patients and encouraged me to continue to pursue excellence in all that I do.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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