I don’t think I can say this enough – everyone, and I mean everyone, LOVES working with Jennifer! She started with us at the beginning of this year and has quickly become a team favorite. She receives wonderful evaluations from the clinical and admin team alike and I am so pleased to be bale to present her with this honor. Read on below to learn more about her story in healthcare and her time with CMS:
My father is a cardiologist and my mother was a nurse and later went to law school (in her 40s!!). So I always grew up with lots of medical talk in the family. On my days off from school, I would often tag along with my father when he went into the hospital and saw patients — I just loved it!! I loved seeing how he cared for patients, listened to them, reassured them, and comforted them. My mom was a very big advocate for the patient and his/her rights. My parents are my heroes and have been such terrific role models and I’m happy to have followed in their footsteps.
When I was 18 and a senior in high school, I thought about going to college for nursing. I ultimately decided on Loyola University in Maryland, started as a math major but fell in love with psychology and changed my major. I was fascinated with learning how the brain works and the influences that shape people’s personalities. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (minor in Math) and then continued for 2 years at Loyola and received my Master’s in Clinical Psychology. During my graduate training, I completed a 2 year internship through University of Maryland, where I trained in individual and family counseling and educational psychological testing, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed!
I was fortunate to work for Grassroots Crisis Intervention in Columbia, Maryland when I first got out of graduate school. It was here that I developed my skills in Crisis Intervention. This job dealt with telephone and in person counseling for issues ranging from domestic violence to everyday stressors to suicide. This was my first full time job and I was in incredibly fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of dedicated people, many of whom I have stayed in touch. During this time, I also worked part time doing educational evaluations through Psychology Associates, a business developed by several of my former Loyola professors. I was thrilled to join them and hone my testing skills and work with Baltimore County and City school children and help to develop their IEP’s (Individual Education Plans). During this time, I became an LCPC (Licensed Certified Professional Counselor) and a licensed school psychologist.
After 4 years, I took a job at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt in Towson, where I worked as an Access Coordinator in the Admissions office for 2 years and then was promoted to a clinical supervisor in Admissions, working directly under the Director of Admissions. I stayed at Sheppard Pratt for a total of 9 years, working with all populations with psychiatric disorders — from depression to schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress and dissociative identity disorder. I worked with a multi-disciplinary group of psychologists, social workers, nurses, and psychiatrists and was so blessed to work with the team I did! While working at Sheppard Pratt, I also did some moon-lighting at Franklin Square Hospital for 4 years, performing psychiatric assessments on patients in the Emergency Department. It was here that my love of being in the ER developed — the adrenaline and excitement of it all!! Luckily, my supervisor at Sheppard Pratt always encouraged advancement in her staff and she supported me whole-heartedly as I attended nursing school full time while continuing to work full time at Sheppard Pratt.
After I completed nursing school, I knew that I wanted to work in medical nursing in the Emergency Department. This, of course, meant leaving my Sheppard Pratt family, as they were strictly a psychiatric hospital. I took a job at Johns Hopkins Adult Emergency Department, where I spent the next 7.5 years learning all I could about emergency medicine and trauma. Working at a Level 1 trauma center was an absolute incredible experience!! I can’t think of anywhere better to learn!! And I was so fortunate to work in a teaching hospital where everyone was constantly in “teaching mode!” My Hopkins colleagues are truly some of the most dedicated and hard-working people ever and I am grateful to each and every one of them for their part in my training and learning.
Unfortunately, my step-mother became very ill and was medivac’d to Hopkins from Florida in the Spring of 2015. She spent 4 months in Hopkins ICU, which was incredibly stressful for her and our whole family. I took an emergency leave of absence from my job to help care for her and sit with her. It was during this time that I realized that, as much as I loved my job, I was creating more stress for myself and my family (working night shift, unsafe neighborhood with lots of gang violence and riots). I decided to resign from Hopkins so I could help my family and spend more time with them. Fortunately, and against, all odds, my step-mother survived and, many months of rehab and perseverance later, is thriving!
I had heard about CMS from my colleagues Melanie Bosley and Sunceria Keene, both of whom had worked with them. I decided to call them and after I spoke with Kyle for the first time and explained my family’s situation, I knew that this would be a great match! He explained how contracts work and how different jobs had different flexibility. I knew this would be the right decision for me as I might be needed for family care. Upon meeting more of the staff and talking with Terri Weller, I was even more convinced!
I have to say that I’ve liked all of my assignments through CMS. I’ve enjoyed working per diem shifts in the outpatient PACU’s as well as working with a severely disabled child (very rewarding!). I must admit that my favorite assignment has been working in the ED at Good Samaritan. The Emergency Department will probably always be my first love and the staff there is absolutely amazing — very welcoming and supportive!!
The best part of working for an agency is that you can worked much or as little as you want! Also, you can gather all kinds of new experiences and use your current skills to develop skills in different areas of nursing. Additionally, if you want to travel and see other parts of the world, that is something you can do with agency nursing. It is definitely something I would recommend to other nurses!
As for what has made me so successful in my career, I would have to say it would be a combination of my fabulous co-workers that I have had in every job and my family. Besides my parents being such awesome role models, my husband Jason is a nurse and he’s encouraged me and supported me since I was a nursing student 10 years ago!!
In my off time, I love power-walking and hiking (I live right near the NCR Trail and Oregon Ridge!). I also enjoy yoga and making crafts. My husband even built me a craft room to hone this hobby!! When I decorate my house for Christmas, watch out!! I love spending time with my family and friends, especially at my home or down the Jersey shore or attending wine festivals. And I just adore spending down-time with my husband and our 3 fur-babies (Bosley, Lucy, and Lily)!
Congrats again, Jennifer! We are so luck to have you as part of the CMS team!