Dr. Joyce Fitzgerald

Biography of Dr. Joyce Fitzgerald

Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick is a nurse educator and advocate for nursing, geriatrics, psychological care, and nursing theory. Born in 1944, she developed her interest in health care at an early age, and she had a great desire to learn and participate in nursing as an educator and leader to her peers. She continued to obtain higher degrees in nursing, including serving a year as Fulbright scholar. She has become best known for her new theory of nursing that involves lifetime health and care.


Fitzpatrick began her nursing studies at Georgetown University with a BSN. She then secured her registered nurse license. From there, she obtained a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing at Ohio State University, going on to achieve a PhD from New York University. She then completed MBA from Case Western Reserve University to thoroughly understand the business and fundraising opportunities in health care. Currently, she sits in the Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor of Nursing Chair at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University. She is a multi-published author with 395 articles in professional journals and over 65 books, including nursing teaching texts.

Dr. Fitzpatrick was the dean of the Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western for 10 years. During her tenure, the first chair for geriatric nursing in the nation was established. Her work on geriatric nursing theory has opened this field to supported research and training. Other major research supported during her tenure included the first research in the care provided by African-American grandparents to children, a process to follow up coronary bypass artery grafts at home using computerized data, new resources to teach chronically ill adults, and research into the problems of care-givers of the elderly. Thanks to her efforts, the health profession knows more about the concerns caregivers experience than ever before.

Dr. Fitzpatrick is also an adjunct professor in the Geriatric Department at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is the former head of the American Nursing Foundation, now serving as Vice Chair. She remains an editor of three professional journals: Nursing Education Perspectives, Applied Nursing Research and the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. Dr. Fitzpatrick is clearly an expert at balancing many roles at the same time.

This nursing theorist is the founder and head of the Bolton’s World Health Collaborating Center for Nursing. This center provides guidance to countries all over the world on how to establish nursing education and care centers. The center has focused on Australia, Africa, Middle East, South America, Asia and Europe. This center also seeks funds to elevate the standard of medical care in less privileged areas of the world. This includes all levels of care, from birth to senior care.


Her writing has won her numerous mentions and awards. She has published 13 books on her own, including 301 Careers in Nursing, Nursing Leadership: Views from the Outside and Advancing Professional Nursing Practice. Some of these books are written with other health professionals, and some are written on her own. This nursing professor has won the National Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year 18 times. Her most unusual book is likely Fundraising Skills for Health Care Executives, about setting up foundations to improve health care in a community. She also has written a textbook on the practice of nursing at the doctorate level and other advanced nursing practice texts.


This educator has been awarded the Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), a title that is reserved for the top contributors to the nursing profession. She is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Practice (FNAP). This fellowship requires that the fellow be put up for candidacy by other members of the NAP and is reserved for top members of each health profession.

She is the author of a major nursing theory: The Life Perspective Rhythm Model. This theory is based on Martha Rogers’ Theory of Unitary Human Beings. This is a complex nursing model that provides a future framework for new nursing theory to be incorporated into the theory over time.

The Life Perspective Rhythm Model states the fact that human development is centered along a variety of rhythms that allow humans to learn to communicate and interact with others. Nursing uses these rhythms to achieve maximum wellness for clients. She believes that human development has rhythms that cover four major areas:

• Person
• Health
• Wellness-Illness
• Metaparadigm

Person consists of individual biological, emotional, social, psychological, cultural, and spiritual attitudes. Health is a dynamic reaction between the individual and the environment around him or her. Wellness-Illness is the promotion of health by the nursing profession. Metaparadigm is how all of these interact with each other. This is distinct in each individual and changes throughout the life span. It also involves all persons the individual interacts with.

Dr. Fitzgerald has stepped back from some of her nursing participation in recent years, allowing others to take the lead. Nevertheless, she continues at the forefront of nursing theory.