Joy Cockerham began her career with Dr. Edward Miller on June 19, 1970 — and is celebrating 50 years as a nurse with the same practice and physician.

Since childhood, Cockerham always knew she wanted to become a nurse. When asked what has been most memorable about her career she said it has been the ability to take care of people throughout their life from childbirth until they have a family of their own.

Cockerham said the biggest change during her career has been the transition to electronic medical records from paper patient charts.

Her advice for anybody going into the medical field is to make sure they have the love and desire to take care of people.

“Joy has been such an inspiring member of our team at Ashe Memorial and Mount Jefferson Family Medicine throughout the years,” said Rita Richardson, practice manager at Mount Jefferson Family Medicine. “She always puts the needs of the patients first and cares deeply about providing excellent patient care. We could not ask for a better coworker and friend.”

Cockerham is also known at the office for her sense of humor, as she often cracks jokes and regularly brings smiles to the faces of her coworkers.

“At the end of the day she normally tells one of us ‘You’re fired but make sure you come back tomorrow,’” Richardson said.

Miller said Cockerham has been a friend and invaluable teammate of his over the years and everyone at his practice truly admires her dedication.

“She knows our patients so well and has worked with me so long she often anticipates what is needed before I even go into the patient’s room,” Miller said. “This makes my job so much easier and our patients appreciate the individualized care they receive. It would be extremely difficult for me to practice without her by my side. I appreciate all she does for me and my patients.”

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