First person: Local nurse put family before dream

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Jennifer McKinney of Clovis traded her dream of being a physician for having a family. Sixteen years later, she has no regrets. She splits her time between her three children and her home health patients as a nurse for Plains Regional Medical Center. McKinney was recently honored with a state award — the Presbyterian Recognition of Individuals Dedicated to Excellence award for Home Health.

Work history: I’ve worked at PRMC for 16 years. I started out in the medically fragile program when I was finishing up RN schooling. And then I was doing medically fragile half-time and home health half-time. And then 14 years ago, I went full-time just home health. I most definitely prefer home health. I feel like home health is really what nursing is. You get to spend time with your patients, you get to know them, you know their needs. It makes it easier to help meet their needs and help them get better.

Mom: I have three children. They are 18, 14 and 12. They’re all pretty active in sports so school and sporting functions take up a lot of our time.

P.R.I.D.E: The PRIDE award is given for each department through the Presbyterian system statewide and it’s just an honor. When I found out I had won it, I was very honored, very shocked and didn’t really feel like I should probably be up there with the others. I just do what I do because I need to do it and I don’t think it’s anything different than what needs to be done.

MD to RN: I originally wanted to be a physician but life changes things and I ended up being a nurse. What changed it was having a child and deciding family time is much more important than being a doctor. I enjoy spending time with my family. I enjoy being able to help people. I think that, especially in home health, people recover quicker when they are in their own home. I feel very privileged to be able to help them in their home and get them situated where they can get better.