by Nathan St. Clair | Reprinted courtesy of The Concordian
Jenny Irwin has been a health-care professional for over 10 years, and she has yet to have an ordinary day at the office.
“Every day is different,” said Irwin, who recently joined the staff at Concordia and Waverly Medical Clinic as a full-time family nurse practitioner. “I never know what kind of problems are going to come through the door.”
Irwin, a native of Blue Springs, knew from early age she wanted to pursue a career in health care. She said she has always had an innate desire to help people.
After graduating with a nursing degree from Saint Luke’s College of Health Science in Kansas City, Irwin went to work at the birthing center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs. For a young nurse beginning her career, the birthing center was a good place to start. Irwin saw the positives and negatives of childbirth, but she always enjoyed seeing a new child enter the world, especially the joy parents experienced.
“I considered it a blessing to work there,” she said. “It was so wonderful.” After a few years in the birthing center, Irwin received a master’s degree in nursing so she could be a women’s health practitioner, a career she pursued for a short while.
She eventually exchanged her scrubs and white lab coat for a classroom and grading tests. For four years, Irwin taught nursing at Graceland University in Independence. The challenges of nursing were much different than those of teaching, she said. She had to find ways to keep students interested in topics she taught while also conveying critical knowledge. She especially had to grow in her ability to stand in front of people and talk for long periods of time.
“I am not a stand-in-front-of-people-and-talk type of person,” she said.
However, training future nurses was a strong passion for Irwin, who enjoyed watching others learn.
“I love nursing and I got to pass that on to others,” she said. “I got to teach what I love.”
While teaching at Graceland, Irwin received a post-master’s degree in family nursing. Having worked with mothers and infants for several years, Irwin wanted to expand her knowledge and capabilities.
“The good thing about nursing is the possibilities are endless as to what you can do,” she said.
Last year, she left teaching and went to work at a small clinic in Bethel, located in northeastern Missouri 45 minutes west of Quincy, Ill. She said being a family health practitioner is much broader than women’s health because it involves a more expansive range of medical issues.
“Women’s health is very limited,” she said.
She said it took a little time to adjust to having male patients, but she was happy she made the switch.
“I just really enjoy seeing the whole family,” she said.
The transition to family health is one reason why Irwin and her family moved to Concordia. In February, she was hired by Lafayette Regional Health Center in Lexington to work in two of its clinics. Irwin splits her time between Concordia Medical Clinic and Waverly Medical Clinic. She is in Concordia Thursday, Friday and every other Monday and Waverly Tuesday, Wednesday and every other Monday.
Irwin enjoys her work. When she is not seeing patients, she reviews lab results, does follow-ups on patients, calls in prescriptions or does paper work. She also likes meeting new people and getting to know the community. She said clients have been very friendly and welcoming.
Irwin said she and her husband, Jason, moved to Concordia because they wanted to connect with a community and have roots in a place where their children can grow up. She especially likes walking through the grocery store or down the street and seeing people who she has helped at the clinic. Jason said the community has been better than could be expected and very welcoming.
“That’s the main reason we moved here,” she said. “Everyone is very, very friendly and accepting.”
“It’s (Concordia) an awesome community of people,” Jason said. “The people are outreaching and willing to help others. The Lord directed us to this community and we have felt very comfortable and blessed to be a part of it.”
The another reason Irwin and her husband chose Concordia was its school district. She said after researching districts in the area, they felt the Concordia R-2 School District was probably the best fit for their children — Jackson, 14, Jonah, 12, Jordan, 8, and Joseph, 6. Irwin said they did not want to raise them in a large school district like the one she attended in Blue Springs. She said small schools like Concordia’s have more opportunities in sports and academics for students.
Since starting classes in Concordia in February, Irwin said her boys have made several friends and enjoy the atmosphere among the other students.
The four boys are very active children who love sports and playing outside. Jason said this summer will be filled with swimming at the pool and preparing for fall sports. All four boys like playing baseball, football, basketball and soccer.
Irwin’s husband of 15 years works in landscaping, something he has done since he was 12 years old. Since moving to Concordia, he has started a new job working for a small construction company — G and S Construction owned by Greg Sievers and Tom Scopel — that does work in several local communities.
Jason connected with the company through the family’s home church — Victory Christian Church in Waverly. He looks forward to the possibilities in helping expand the business’ landscaping capabilities.
When Irwin is not busy attending baseball games or doing something around the house, she likes scrapbooking and reading. She likes to preserve her family’s good memories.
As a family, the Irwins enjoy spending time together and with other relatives. Much of their family lives in the Kansas City area, so they try to see grandparents and aunts and uncles as often as possible. Irwin said family is very important to her, and it is another big reason she and her husband decided to move back to the area. They also enjoy camping and fishing together.
Both Irwin and her husband credit God and their faith for the opportunity to find jobs near the city and family, yet in a small town that offers the lifestyle they desire.
“We really feel at home here,” Jason said.