Jennifer Gregory is a certified family medicine nurse practitioner who practices aerial acrobatics in her free time.
What made you go into that career field?
My grandfather, he was pretty sick, and he was managed by an amazing nurse practitioner. At the time I was in my prereqs to start nursing school, and the way that she impacted my family during that hard, stressful time, it was so amazing, I was like that’s exactly what I want to do. Because you’re not necessarily just treating the patient, you’re treating the whole family at times. That’s the reason that I went into it.
Have you seen moments where you’ve had that impact on other people?
Oh yeah, thankfully. For sure I have. It’s always nice when you have patient’s families or patients come back and are just like, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. The other day I had a patient who, he was really sick, and I was able to get him to Albuquerque and get him the treatment he needed. His daughter messaged me and was like, you know, I can’t thank you enough. Things like that really make it all worth it.
What’s it like to come full circle from being inspired to enter the profession via that experience to being able to offer that to other people?
It’s awesome. It’s so rewarding. I’ve been a bedside nurse for a really, really long time and I love the transition of just the autonomy, really being able to advocate for my patients and having so much more control over that now in my new role as an NP.
How long have you been in Socorro?
I actually moved from Bowling Green, Kentucky in the end of November of 2021, so not very long. I started at Pres Dec. 6.
What brought you here?
Actually, this job brought me here. Presbyterian brought me here. My husband and I always wanted to get away from all the hurricanes, so we thought why not? My husband works from home and we don’t have any kids yet, so we figured, why not? We always wanted to live somewhere sunny, so New Mexico it was.
What has it been like adjusting to a new region?
Oh, we’ve loved it. We have absolutely loved it. I’m actually surprised how much we’ve loved it. The weather is absolutely amazing here and everybody in Socorro specifically is just, the people are so friendly here.
Here in New Mexico we’ve found the culture is so different. It’s so friendly. You can’t go anywhere without people wanting to talk to you and get to know you and it’s really nice. I originally grew up in Orlando, Florida and it’s obviously a bigger city than Socorro. It’s just really, really nice how close knit everybody is in Socorro.
I understand you have a specific interest in adolescent and geriatric patients?
Yes. I feel like elderly people are honestly, they’re like children. I worked in an Alzheimer’s’ dementia facility for several years and geriatrics, they just have a super soft spot in my heart. I originally thought I was going to do geriatric nurse practitioner, but then I started seeing kids and I was, just like I just want to take them all home. Kids are just so much fun. They take kind of the seriousness, I feel like our job is so focused sometimes on serious situations, but with kids it kind of takes the seriousness away from it a little bit when they’re coming in for their well child checkups.
What’s the most challenging part of your work?
In Socorro, I would have to say the resources. There’s not a lot of resources for our patients close by. So often we have to send them to Albuquerque, and it makes it really challenging, especially if they’re unable to drive or they just don’t have the transportation to get down there. That brings on a lot of challenges to try to get them everything that they need.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun?
I was an elite gymnast for about 15 years, and I do aerial acrobatics. I actually found a place here in Albuquerque that you can do it at, but I just had foot surgery, so I’m not doing it right now. But I like to do aerial acrobatics. My husband and I like to work out a lot, so we’re really big into fitness and working out and just anything outside, I love to be outside. I got to do aerial acrobatic work for Disney for several years. That was fun.
What was that experience like?
It was amazing. I actually was an aerial acrobat in a show called Tarzan Rocks. It was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I was a girl flying monkey, so I flew through the air. It was awesome. Some of the best years of my life for sure.
What kind of things do you do when you’re doing aerial acrobatics?
So, have you ever seen on TV the sheet looking things falling from the ceiling? So those types of things. I climb up and do all these fancy tricks. I climb up that sheet looking thing that people see when they watch circus acts and things. Or cirque du soleil kind of stuff.
What has been the most joyful part of being part of the Socorro community so far?
Definitely the people, how close knit everybody is. I’ve been really able to build in just a short time, the relationships I’ve built with my patients. I would have to say that’s the best, definitely the people of Socorro.