Jackie Koenig: solving the patient puzzle

Jackie Koenig, Rochelle, had always considered being a nurse but was a bit nervous about touching strangers. So she pursued a less physically interactive health career: clinical nutritionist. She spent nearly ten years as a clinical nutritionist in Arizona. She never expected as a professional to face a lay-off, but that is exactly what happened. Something else had happened too: she gave birth to Brantley. "I had always admired the nurses at my previous position," she said. "After Brantley was born, touching and handling another person was something I now did everyday as a Mom. I thought it was time to look at nursing."

Jackie Koenig

Her husband, Andrew, had been honorably discharged from the military, moved the family to Illinois, and began pursuing athletic training. Jackie headed to Kishwaukee College to look into the nursing program. The program’s excellent reputation made the choice simple. She enrolled. 

"I applied for scholarship help as soon as I could and received several scholarships from the Kishwaukee College Foundation,” she stated. "I also received a letter from Kristine Adzovic with the Adult Student Connections Program. She had hand written at the bottom “I think I can help you-call me." I did and that was the best program. They assisted with tuition and other expenses."

What Jackie realized right away was that each patient was like a puzzle. "I knew that for each patient, I had to ask "What is going on here? What could be causing these symptoms and what can I do?" I realized too that I really liked interacting with patients."

In the Kishwaukee College Nursing Program, not all of Jackie’s patients have been human. The Kishwaukee College Foundation sponsored a Special Gifts Initiative a few years ago to fund a Hi-Fidelity Simulation Lab for the Terry and Sherrie Martin Health Careers Wing at the College. The lifelike manikins are controlled by computer and can mimic whatever vital signs, diseases, and health events that are programmed in.

Jackie said, "The manikins are so cool because they really give you insight. In the Sim Lab one day, I was the nurse on duty and made a critical mistake on the manikin. It showed me where I really was as a nursing student. I realized that I could have seriously hurt a patient. I had to reflect on that experience… it was a validation of what I could do. By being in the Sim Lab, I could have that experience without actually harming anyone. What a great opportunity to have!"

Through all her experiences, Jackie stayed the course, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, joining the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society and becoming President of the Student Nursing Organization on campus. She will graduate in May 2016. She currently is an intern at Rockford Memorial Hospital and is in mid-job search. "I am interested in working with adults in the O.R. or in Med/Surg,” she says. "And someday I plan to go further and complete a BSN."

For Jackie Koenig, the career puzzle has been solved!