Searching for stability, Pat Hess found the nursing profession at a time when “women didn’t have much choice”. For Hess and many other women in the 1950s and 1960s, nursing offered a rare opportunity: choice. “Nursing opened up a lot of avenues – there are so many ways to be a nurse.” During Hess’s career, she was able to practice, teach, research, and innovate new programs.
Hess (left) during her time teaching in Japan
“Nursing opened up a lot of avenues – there are so many ways to be a nurse.”
Between 1963 and 1965, Hess participated in executing the pilot program for what would become Medicare. Geriatrics became a focus throughout her career, loving the stories and experiences the population shared during their care.
Knowing she wanted to further her education beyond a bachelor’s degree, Hess embarked on her Master’s at CU Nursing, graduating in 1966. She remembers the relationship between the students and the faculty on campus and in the clinical setting. “The atmosphere was great. My time there prepared me in terms of expanding my knowledge and experience.”
Hess describes each hospital change as a culture shock. Starting her nursing journey in the eastern states, she had to learn the language and lingo used at Denver General for her clinical rotations, then do the same when she moved to California later in her career.
Before retiring in 2000, most of Hess’s career took place at San Francisco State University, teaching geriatrics based courses, and leading innovative program creation. Notably, Hess co-authored seven editions of “Toward Healthy Aging: Human Needs and Nursing Response”, for which she has received multiple Book of the Year Awards by the American Journal of Nursing. Additionally, Hess has been included in Who’s Who in American Nursing, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in Lifetime Achievement.
Staying socially and physically active is important to Hess, who is a member of a quilting group and practices Tai Chi. She also enjoys reading and photography in her spare time.
Hess offers some words of wisdom for new nurses. “Collaboration is exceedingly important today, especially with other medical professionals. Work to be transparent with patients and their loved ones, and keep thinking critically. Fact based thinking, without sensationalizing is key.” Lastly, Hess suggests this important advice: “Believe in yourself. Anything that you work hard at, you will find success.”