Nurse Practitioner Jenny Bickerstaff was recently named lead clinician at the USMD Las Colinas MacArthur Clinic in Irving, Texas. This is quite an honor, given the role is usually reserved for physicians.
“My leaders have been here for me and supported, taught and challenged me. It’s a family. I feel like I’ve committed to them and they’ve committed to me, so this is an exciting opportunity and I’m very honored,” the USMD employee said.
In her role, Jenny serves the clinic physicians and APCS, leads the patient care meetings and works diligently with the clinic administrator to examine and improve processes and the patient experience. “I have always been vocal when I see that the standard of care is not being met. I am a strong patient advocate,” she said.
In a first move, she has made the APCs responsible for watching the doctors’ metrics. “I want us to be a team in this effort. We are trying to get 95% of patients scheduled within first three months of next year. If they cancel, we call to reschedule,” she said.
Jenny first became interested in medicine when she used to accompany her father, an orthopedic surgeon, on his rounds. It was then she discovered she was attracted to nursing and taking care of people.
While in school, Jenny served a clinical rotation in West Texas. She and others traveled by bus that was retrofit to be a mobile clinic to different small towns. “We would go to homeless shelters, and people came out of the woodwork. They had untreated conditions because they couldn’t get to a clinic. It was so rewarding to even provide basic care,” Jenny said.
Las Colinas, her current location, is a planned community in Irving, Texas, part of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. While the area is considered upscale, Jenny says she sees a lot of the underserved community. “The practice has a mix of higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and there are lots of underserved people with no homes, and my heart is with those people,” Jenny said. “If they can’t come in, I go see them. If I do a telemed appointment, I can still tell when they need help, so I try to meet people where they are to give them the care they need.”
Jenny talks with obvious pride about the team at Las Colinas. “We know our patients; we know their dogs’ names. You make sure each patient is not a number, they are people who matter. I try to make sure they live their best life up to the last minute,” she said.
How does Jenny and the team at Las Colinas help patients live their best lives? A lot of it, she says, is solving the puzzle: Figuring out how to help them and also helping them make sense of their situation and prognosis. Sometimes it is getting the patient to accept help from their family, or moving to a different environment. Another person may need a pep talk to keep going to their cancer treatment.
“I had a patient who kept missing dialysis,” she said. “He did not want to end up in a care facility; he just wanted to die. I got the family together to let them know his wishes. His family made some choices to let go and help him have a peaceful death.”
Jenny says being present for every person in her professional life and approaching everyone from a place of love is what fulfills her. “We’re all people, and I have an affection for people who need health care, no matter the situation.”
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