Alumni Perspective with Jackie Parmenter

Jackie Parmenter is a two-time Clarkson College graduate. She received her A.D.N. in 1972 from the university of South Dakota. Nearly two decades into her nursing career, she enrolled at Clarkson College and earned her BSN degree in 1992. Several years later, she returned to the College a final time and graduated with her MSN degree in 2009.

Jackie is currently the Director of Practice Operations for Methodist Physicians Clinic (MPC). She is responsible for two major areas: MPC Heart Consultants (18 providers) and MPC Pulmonary Medicine Specialists. Her job involves working directly with the physicians and their situations on a day-to-day basis, assisting with the strategic planning and budgeting for future projects and providing onsite oversight of the MPC Cardiovascular Imaging Center (outpatient tests).

When asked if she would share some of her experiences with integrity, Jackie was more than willing to provide information from her many years of professional nursing. Alumni Coordinator Rita VanFleet is a long-time colleague and friend of Jackie’s, and they maintain contact as Alumni Board members. “Jackie is an exceptional nurse who has always had an extremely sincere and high sense of integrity and honesty,” shares Rita. “Her responses to our questions were open, honest and heartfelt—see for yourself.”

In what ways do you think honesty and integrity are vital to your field of work?

People put their lives in our hands, and we advocate and protect them when they are vulnerable and when no one else can. It is the reason why on national surveys nurses are often the #1 most trusted/ respected professionals. By and large, most of my peers and myself place our main concern around our patients—patients first! That is what a good nurse is all about.

Can you share an instance when doing the right thing was very difficult but paid off in the end?

Many years ago, I remember a time when I was involved with a team of people working on a surgical instrument project of very large magnitude (multiple missing instruments, wrong trays sent to the operating room, delayed cases, disappointed surgeons, etc.).

It was a hot mess and took a huge commitment of time and financial support from the entire leadership team, operating room staff and surgeons, central supply and others to fix it! That team not only survived but thrived. No negative patient or family outcomes. The operating room is a center of excellence today.

Did you ever make a mistake that affected a patient or colleague(s)? Did ethics and integrity play a role in how you handled it?

It is a daily challenge to take the high road, but it is much easier to live with yourself and sleep at night when you do. I once worked with a nurse who suffered from drug dependency and was caught forging prescriptions for herself. I wish I would have seen that sooner, but I missed it. Physicians reprimanded me, but you live with it. And every time you see them, you look them directly in the eyes, and they respect you.

Do you feel your education at Clarkson College played a role in your continued commitment to providing high quality, ethical heath care services?

Absolutely! The additional education gave me something I may not have developed—respect for the meaning of health care and its Golden Rule. Plus, I've met so many wonderful nurses, families, patients, medical colleagues, teachers and researchers and learned so many things along the way. I have worked in more than 15 specialties, from staff nurse to administration, in three different organizations and now in a challenging clinic setting. One thing is still the same—patients need nurses.

Did you ever witness an instance where integrity and honesty were not upheld?

Staff stealing from the institution in, what they called, “no big deal—everyone does it” ways, such as taking supplies home and forging time cards. These actions made me feel sad and used. Now, it also makes me think about the cost of care and how each of us can conserve resources on a daily basis. Looking back, we were very wasteful.

Whether at work or in your personal life, why do you choose the high road over the easy route?

It really is about living with yourself. Happy or sad outcome, I go to sleep at night knowing I make a difference with patients and families.