Jocelyn Perez, BSN, RN, MA
2013 APNA Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse of the Year

Jocelyn Perez, BSN, RN, MA, is not just the Nursing Director in Behavioral Health at Metropolitan Hospital, she is also a proud mother of two, an avid traveler, and a Broadway show fanatic.  Supervisor of the care provided by more than 200 nursing staff at an acute care facility in New York City, her coworkers describe her as a proven leader, an inspiration, a champion of patient safety, and a creative thinker. She firmly believes in and lives by the saying: Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice- it is not to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

“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,” wrote William Wang, one of her co-workers who nominated her for the award. To work towards achieving excellence in care in her department, Perez has introduced and implemented a number of cutting-edge programs, such as “The Quiet Zone,” which reduces distractions during medication passes; a “6 P’s” program for working with persons who are at risk for falls, and the “Team STEPPS” initiative which is an evidence-based team work system. The Medication Self Administration Program (MEDSAP), of which she oversaw the implementation in the hospital’s day program, is “a skill building initiative designed to improve cognitive, psychomotor, and affective skills” of its participants. “An important step in facilitating change is to have a shared vision,” Perez says. “Engaging and empowering the staff to be part of the change is a strong determinant of sustainability. I appreciate the trust and the empowerment that my Chief Nurse Executive, Lillian Diaz, has given me and that she has allowed me to be creative and innovative.”

Perez is as committed to empowering and supporting her staff as she is to empowering and supporting those who come to her hospital for care. “I love to create a vision in my mind of all sorts of great things for patients and staff, then initiate and complete small projects to actualize those visions - and before you know it, you transform the world,” she says. She was the pioneer for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation to employ Peer Counselors in inpatient settings,  has persistently worked with staff to decrease the use of coercive interventions, and through a New York State grant, while in another  HHC facility, trained 150 nurses’ aides on the skills and knowledge needed to provide better care. Next on her list: she and her staff are working together towards achieving board certification in Psychiatry/Mental Health for all of their Registered Nurses.  “I adore my working environment at Metropolitan Hospital - the leadership, my peers and my staff,” she says. “They always inspire me and encourage me to persevere in carrying out our mission of providing high quality patient care.”

Perez attributes her learning and continued interest in psychiatric-mental health nursing to the large acute care facilities she has worked in - Bellevue Hospital for its history, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Zucker Hillside Hospital for its great research and innovative activities and Metropolitan Hospital, where she feels she has helped create meaningful changes.

Three things that Perez would like every nurse to know:

  1. Continue to work hard and stay engaged in working to overcome the health care challenges we face.
  2. Stay connected and be willing to listen and adapt our behaviors to effect transformational change.
  3. Lastly, work to inspire others and live a full life.