story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer
Justin Jeffers loved his 20-year career in long-term care and skilled nursing but was ready for a change. He currently serves in the medical surgical unit of Mercy Hospital Logan County.
“I absolutely love this job. I see myself staying in the hospital setting and going forward in any area I can,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers is part of the LPN to BSN program through Missouri Valley College, located in Marshall, Mo. He will complete his BSN program in May of 2024. Serving patients at Mercy has inspired him to continue his education.
“LPNs are limited with what they can and cannot do,” he said. “And I don’t ever want to be told I can’t do something because I don’t have the right initials behind my name. I’d love the ICU and ER and to get all the experience I can.”
Skilled nursing encompassed his entire career until he came to Mercy. Twenty years ago, he graduated from Missouri Central College. He landed his career at Mercy Hospital Logan County after moving to Oklahoma from Missouri in September. He had served as the assistant director of nursing for a 33-bed skilled rehabilitation unit for the last company he worked for in Kansas City.
His long career in a gerontology setting will also benefit him. People often have questions he can answer about what it’s like for patients being transferred to a skilled nursing facility. He also has a nursing home administrator license and feels blessed by his time as an LPN.
“I’ve had lots of discussions with family members or patients when families know they can’t take mom home. I have no problems discussing skilled nursing and explaining all of that,” he said.
He considered leaving nursing while working 60-70 hours a week during the COVID pandemic, but praying about it changed his mind. Instead, he opted for a new challenge in nursing and found that at Mercy Hospital Logan County. He was already living in Guthrie when a nurse recruiter notified him there was a position available at Mercy. The news came to him as a relief. He had always commuted to work but Mercy would only be a five-mile drive. He also likes his schedule.
“It’s truly been a blessing. I’m not kidding. It renewed my faith and love for nursing. I completely mean that,” Jeffers said.
He recalled his days of passing out ice and towels when he began working in a nursing home as a 15-year-old. His mom served as the director of nursing there. Every summer he would work in construction, and after he graduated from high school he began questioning his course.
“I hated working out in the cold,” he said. “And my mom’s sister said, ‘Get your CNA. You’ll always have a job and will decide what you want to do.’ So, I did that and got right into LPN school and got a job the first time I applied. I definitely feel like it’s my calling. I’m good at taking care of people and pride myself on it.”
Jeffers has always wanted to give the best care he can. He remembers his mom telling him to think of his patients as family.
“They are very important to me. It’s what I try to do every day,” he continued.
He is also able to pick up occasional shifts at Mercy Hospital on Memorial Road in Oklahoma City. Mercy’s communication among the staff and managers is amazing, he said. Everyone is very helpful. He had two weeks of orientation training at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City where he has done surgical observation. Additionally, he had three weeks of training at Mercy Hospital Logan County.
“Coming on to a hospital setting, I had a lot of questions. Everyone has been very receptive and great,” he said.
He has already experienced the feel of tragedy in the emergency room with the death of an infant.
“I think about that, and that is just a driving force of continuing my career and wanting to be the best that I can as a nurse,” Jeffers said.
It’s been an amazing time in his life having a new guidepost in nursing. And he and his husband have built a new home.
“This is the first home I’ve ever owned,” he said. “I will blast the radio when I clean. It’s therapeutic to me. I’m by myself and that’s how I relax. I’ve always said there is a song for every wound. However you are feeling, there’s a song for it.”
Jeffers said he is far from perfect, but he strives daily to be the best person he can be at work.
“I try to make someone’s life better any way that I can,” he said. “And I honestly try to live that same life outside in my personal life.”