May 08, 2023 – Sports have always been a big part of Nurse Practioner Jenny Buck’s life. In high school, she competed at the state level in three different track and field events during her junior and senior years at Allen Central High School. That experience is part of why she has high expectations of herself that permeates all areas of her life.
Buck says, “Track was the most rewarding sport for me. You cannot blame anyone else for your failures. It is self-motivating and self-rewarding.” Her time on the track team strengthened her realization of the strong influence someone can have on your life. She says, “Coach Dewey Jamerson was a strong coach, a man of God, and one of my best supporters. He’d be at the finish line to catch and congratulate us. We could come in last, but he was still there pushing and supporting us and that impacted me more than other teachers and coaches.”
Coach Jamerson’s influence inspired her to help coach Floyd Central High School’s track and field team. She says, “I want to impress on kids today that feeling I got from Coach Jamerson so I help motivate and encourage. I will be their number one fan, win or lose.” Buck says she is the one who gets the most out of it though because “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a kid succeed whether they’re beating their best time or clearing all the hurdles.”
Buck believes that supporting kids and building confidence is what we need to do for kids beginning at a young age. She says, “Confidence is a powerful personal characteristic. Kids need to know that they are worthy.” She says her parents instilled confidence in her and “The more confidence I had, the less likely I was to fail.”
Sonya Slone, track coach and teacher at FCHS, says “We couldn’t make it without Jenny. Since the beginning, she’s been one of the biggest supporters and understands what it takes to have a successful athletic program. She’s trained through KHSAA and NFHS (Kentucky High School Athletic Association and National Federation of State High School Associations). She lends her expertise in many areas from athletic and medical to mothering.” Slone says “Jenny cheers on every child, helps meet needs behind the scenes, and uses her amazing baking skills for fundraisers and treats for the kids.” *Slone said to make sure you try Jenny’s BUCKeyes if you get the opportunity.
Buck attended Midway University on a 4-year basketball scholarship. Always fascinated with hospitals and caring for others, she chose to become a nurse and started her career at McDowell ARH at just 20 years old. “I was welcomed into an amazing environment to learn. McDowell ARH was my definition of ‘good people.’ They treated me like family and I developed lifelong friendships with many people there.”
After two years of working, Buck wanted to learn more and decided on a whim to drive to Lexington and apply at one of the larger hospitals; she was hired that day. No plans and no place to live meant staying in a hotel until she met another female nurse who offered her a place to stay. Buck worked there for 24 years before becoming a nurse practitioner in family practice and returning to ARH. She says, “It’s full circle for me to come back here and work in the same community. I love Eastern Ky and the people here are golden.”
One of the great things about working for ARH Buck says is the support she’s received. “I’ve been blessed by ARH to support me to keep improving and chasing goals. I wanted to get certified in Emergency Medicine, which was a long process while working full-time. I’m now ENP certified (Emergency Nurse Practitioner) and getting ready to start my DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree.”
In addition to continuing to learn, Buck says patience and better listening skills are crucial in providing care. “Patients need you to sit and listen to them and you need it too. For you to care for patients, they need to have confidence in you and to trust you have their best interests at heart.” She says developing relationships with patients is essential in becoming a more effective provider and, “Each visit needs to be personalized to that patient. I like to know if my patient has a garden, cuts their own grass, and who they spend time with because this helps me provide better care. If my patient didn’t put a garden out this year, I want to know why the change?”
While she says being a mom is her most challenging role, it is also her most cherished one. She honed her listening skills in this role and says when she has spare time she tries to give individual attention to her three sons. Buck will quickly tell you her children, Brody (18), Mason (16), and Wesley(13), always make her smile. “Growing up, I was a tomboy, playing in the creekbeds and playing sports like basketball and baseball. I am made to be a boy mom.”
Never try to fit Buck into one mold, however. While she still loves running, hiking, and anything outdoors, she also loves cowboy romance novels and her favorite authors include Jane Austen and Maisey Yates. She’s an accomplished baker but wishes she was better at making gravy. And her favorite season of the year? Basketball, specifically March Madness, of course.
Buck’s optimism is evident when she says, “I thank God every morning for allowing me to do what I do every day. I remind myself often that so many others do not have the same opportunities I do today. So go make the best of it. Good or bad, I’m here doing it for a reason. So no whining allowed.”
Jenny and husband Joshua live with their sons, Lexie (Boxer) and Phoebe (Basset Hound). While she hasn’t really rested in almost 2 decades (remember, three teenage boys) and says she tends to do too much, she’ll also tell you that she hopes in 10 years to be doing what she’s doing now. However, “In 20 years, I want to be sitting on a beach with my grandkids,” she says.
Looking to the future is something Buck wants more people to understand about their health. “You really are what you eat. What you put in your body is so important and so much illness can be avoided if we just took better care of ourselves.” She says, “My dad would always say ‘Just do it.’ Stop procrastinating and do it, and if you do it, do it right the first time.” Great advice for health and for life.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH), is a not-for-profit health system operating 14 hospitals in Barbourville, Hazard, Harlan, Hyden, Martin, McDowell, Middlesboro, Paintsville, Prestonsburg, West Liberty, Whitesburg, and South Williamson in Kentucky and Beckley and Hinton in West Virginia, as well as multi-specialty physician practices, home health agencies, home medical equipment stores and retail pharmacies. ARH employs more than 6,500 people with an annual payroll and benefits of $330 million generated into our local economies. ARH also has a network of more than 600 active and courtesy medical staff members. ARH is the largest provider of care and the single largest employer in southeastern Kentucky and the third-largest private employer in southern West Virginia.