(Photo courtesy of the Daily American Republic)
BT: How did your career evolve to get you where you are today?
Jenkins: Even back in high school, I had a passion for creativity, design and writing. Although it took me a while to realize this passion, halfway through college I changed my major to public relations and after just a short period, I knew this was the field I would build my career in. After graduating from college, I was hired as the marketing director for First Community Bank, which has several locations throughout Southeast Missouri, including Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau. This role began to teach me all those things that you don't learn in college. After three years at the bank, I was offered the opportunity to become the director of marketing and public relations at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. This was an exciting, yet scary step for me, because I had no health care experience and the hospital was a much larger organization. Today, I can look back and see the many lessons I've learned almost each and every day. I quickly realized that you never get to a point that you know everything, but every day is an opportunity to learn from.
BT: What's a typical day at work for you?
Jenkins: There is never a day at work for me that is the same as the day before, which is part of what I love about my job. Depending on the time of year or project coming up, my schedule and priorities are constantly changing. I've said many times that I probably wouldn't know what to do if I took a position where I had to do the same thing day in and day out. Recently, my days have revolved around some aspect of the brand-new hospital that is now under construction. My days have included everything from preparing presentations for the Certificate of Need hearings in Jefferson City, to talking to community leaders and physicians about new happenings, to planning a groundbreaking ceremony.
BT: Health care is certainly a hot topic these days. What's the most challenging part of your job and what do you enjoy most?
Jenkins: Health care is definitely in the forefront of what's happening in our country today. Along with that, we field many questions and concerns about what's happening or the misunderstandings that exist. I think the most challenging part of my job is educating the consumers about health care and what they truly need to understand. Unfortunately, there is so much information out there, some true and some not, that it's difficult for any consumer to know what to believe. But what I enjoy most about my job is when I'm able to get out of the office and be reminded of the amazing things we do here each and every day, whether it's realizing we just saved a life in the operating room or welcoming a brand-new life into this world. And the best part about my job is that I get to share those amazing stories.
BT: Tell me about your role in the new hospital project.
Jenkins: The new hospital project is definitely the highlight of my career. I've been lucky enough to be very involved with our CEO and other members of our administrative team from the beginning of this project. For a good part of this year, we diligently worked to get the plans and location of the new hospital finalized, which also involved receiving approval from the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee. At times, this became a very heated topic in Jefferson City and in our own community. Although there were those days it was overwhelming, I gained some of the most valuable experience of my career. On Sept. 12 with the support of many community leaders behind us, we received final approval for the project from the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee and less than 30 days later we were breaking ground. We held our official groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 6. The overwhelming support we received from the members of our community was absolutely amazing and we couldn't be more grateful for that. Now we get to do all the fun stuff of working with the architects in designing the building and the details that go along with it. We couldn't be more excited about what the future holds.
BT: What do you like to do when you're not working?
Jenkins: I have two little boys, Hunter, 7, and Caden, 3. So, most of my time is devoted to being a mom, which is incredibly rewarding. We love to be outside as much as possible. During the summers, we spend most of our weekends boating on the Current River in Van Buren, Mo. We also love sports, whether it's watching Hunter play soccer, watching the Cardinals play on TV or attending a high school basketball game.
BT: Tell me about your work in the community and why is it important to you?
Jenkins: I'm involved in several community organizations, but have played a very active role recently with the Boys & Girls Club of Poplar Bluff and the Women Aware organization. I hold the Boys & Girls Club very dear to my heart, not only because my son attends the Club every day after school, but because of the amazing opportunities they offer to the children of our community. Next year, I move into the role of president of the board of directors and I can't think of a more exciting time to be a major part of this organization. The staff of the Club truly believes in the mission and continuously searches for new opportunities to serve even more children in our community. The Women Aware organization was founded in Poplar Bluff more than 20 years ago to give women a unique opportunity to network with other women of the community. Each year they host a conference devoted to motivating others in all aspects of their lives. Last year, I had the privilege of being the conference director and bringing Erin Brockovich in to deliver our keynote address. Her life story was a great representation of our overall goal, which is inspiring women to reach beyond the status quo and achieve even greater success.