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Melanie Jackson

Changing the Current

November 07, 2023 Posted in: Patients & Providers  3 minute read time


Years ago, when Melanie Jackson, MA, BSN, RN, CNEcl, academic placement liaison, system clinical education at CHI Saint Joseph Health, was an Army medic, she realized something. She liked caring for people, and she decided to make it her career.

Jackson became a licensed practical nurse (LPN) through a program in Kentucky. She went on to become a registered nurse (RN) and received a Bachelor of Science in nursing followed by a Master of Arts in pastoral counseling with a focus on crisis and trauma. Her career took her from providing bedside care in the emergency room to serving as an occupational health manager. During this time, she was also concerned about the increasing shortage of nurses needed to care for America’s growing population of patients.

“One day, I was complaining about there not being enough nurses downstream,” Jackson said. “Then I thought, why not go upstream and help develop more?”

So, Jackson became a recruiter for a university nursing program and, later, a clinical coordinator at another nursing school.

Helping Aspiring Nurses Launch Their Careers

In 2022, Jackson joined CHI Saint Joseph Health to help us strengthen relationships with nursing schools and connect aspiring nurses to training and employment opportunities. It’s an urgent mission. Hospitals in Kentucky reported nearly 5,400 RN and LPN vacancies by the end of 2021, according to a 2022 report by the Kentucky Hospital Association.

“Kentucky gave me a path after the military with the LPN program,” said Jackson, who was living in Virginia with her husband at the time. “I prayed about it, and the Lord made it clear we should be in Lexington. I was honored to come back and serve in the Commonwealth again.”

Jackson is well-suited to her role as an academic placement liaison.

“I have a true understanding of the challenges facing nursing programs and their students,” she said. “I create a concierge experience for nursing students by ensuring they feel welcome when they come to our ministries and letting them know I welcome feedback at all times.”

When Jackson learned many nursing students were struggling to find clinical rotations, she worked to add more. As a result, clinical rotations have increased nearly 400% at Saint Joseph Hospital alone. Clinical rotations give students hands-on opportunities to interact with patients in real time.

From organizing hospital simulation and observation experiences for technical and high school students to recruiting students for the Nurse Extern program and championing this initiative, Jackson is always working to attract more nurses and nurses-to-be — and that’s great news for patients.

“I like to work; it’s my outlet,” Jackson said. “It’s always my hope that someone gets better or at least improved by something I’m involved in doing. When you read those first words of the CHI Saint Joseph Health mission statement — we make the healing presence of God known in our world — I take it as a calling, as an indicator of my responsibility every day.”

Looking for a great place to start or continue your nursing career? Learn more about opportunities at our ministries.

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