by Linda Friedel | Reprinted courtesy of KC Nursing News

Jessica Powell, RN, ANP, says working with older patients comes naturally. “I was exposed to it from an early age. I’m very passionate about it,” said Powell, who work with Midwest Geriatric Physicians at Centerpoint Medical Center.

Powell grew up in Marysville, Kan., where her mother, a nurse, and her father, a doctor, set the example. At 9 years old, she was accompanying her father on his rounds in the town’s nursing home, where he served as medical director. Powell loved giving residents her handmade drawings, puff paint art and Valentine cut-outs. In return, she received hugs.

“I loved it,” she said. “It just felt like it was where I was supposed to be. That’s what God made me to be. I loved talking to the residents. I loved doing crafts there. I felt I was making a difference. It’s what I always loved to do.”

Until she could drive, Powell pedaled her bike on a weekly basis to volunteer at the nursing home. At 16, she graduated to a nurse’s aid in the Alzheimer’s unit, then celebrated her 18th birthday among the seniors she cared for all those years.

“That’s one of my favorite memories there,” she said. “It was one of the best birthdays I ever had. Those residents were a lot fun.”

When Powell started college at the University of Kansas, medicine was at the forefront of her mind. She chose nursing over medical school because she liked nursing’s holistic approach, flexibility and options.

“There’s always something to do,” she said. “I love the variety. I love the challenge. I love doing all these different things.”

After 10 years in a variety of health care settings, Powell began working with a newly developed geriatric program at Centerpoint with Ibrahim Mourad, MD. She sees patients age 55 and older, many of whom come to her with Alzheimer’s disease, or chronic pain, depression, incontinence, falls, confusion and nutritional needs.

“We’re not working for a cure,” she said. “Our focus is quality of life.”

Powell lets her patients describe what quality of life means to them. She helps them set individual goals and finds the right medications, treatment and services they need.

“We really assess for all of those issues,” she said. “Our vision and passion is to develop a comprehensive program. Take the time to get to know them.” Mourad said Powell forms excellent relationships with her patients. He admires her efficiency, energy and enthusiasm.

“She has lot of energy,” he said. “She comes with excellent ideas. The patients like her very much. She will be one of the best nurses in our system very soon.”