ABOUT DR. JANA MCKENZIE, MD
Dr. McKenzie’s Story In Her Own Words
I grew up in a small town in the Midwest where I learned the value of hard work and a person’s word. My father was a small animal veterinarian and his practice was my first introduction to medicine. I had the privilege of working with him in my formative teenage years. I learned how medicine can be practiced without all the expensive tests just by using your ears, nose, sight, and hands. These are lessons that are not very well taught in medical school these days.
I went to the University of Michigan where I was able to get involved with groundbreaking research involving Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also known as extracorporeal life support or ECMO. ECMO is now the device and therapy used to treat the sickest of the COVID patients that can no longer be on a ventilator. I have a bachelor’s degree in pre-med/science and a major in psychology, which at the time, I didn’t realize how much that would help me in my profession. I continued to be involved with academic research at the University of Cincinnati Medical College and graduated at the top of my class.
My original thought was that I would be an interventional cardiologist. Thankfully you must complete a 3-year residency in internal medicine before the fellowship. During my internship and residency, I fell in love with internal medicine and decided that this was the right specialty for me. I like to solve mysteries and my son calls me the “Medical Detective”. I am more than happy to take on cases that are difficult to diagnose and treat. Patients tend not to read medical books so it takes a lot of listening and time to sometimes find the right diagnosis.
I finished my residency at the University of Cincinnati in 1998 and moved to Florida for my first job. I met my husband in Fort Lauderdale and we were married within a year. I was then taken to the really small town of Crystal River, FL. Because the place was so rural, I had to learn to perform many procedures that are normally left up to the specialists.
When I was twenty weeks pregnant with my first son, I was struck by lightning on a golf course. I was told that I’m the only woman in history known to be struck by lightning while pregnant and live. I feel blessed to not only have survived that incident but that I still carried my baby to term and delivered a healthy baby boy. A year and a half later, my second son was born in Crystal River. Soon after that, my husband got another job offer in Melbourne Florida. I had a wonderful independent practice there for 6 years. But staying put wasn’t in the cards because this time, my husband had another job opportunity in Athens, GA. Once again, I started a solo practice from scratch. My boys grew up in the true South playing travel baseball and learning good manners.
Eventually, we came full circle back to Florida in 2018 to live in the Palm Beach Gardens area for another job for my husband. Since then, I spent time working in Myclinic which is a wonderful charitable clinic that sees people for free. After this, I decided that I would try working for someone else because I know how much energy, money, and time it takes to build a practice. I chose to work for a corporation in Port Saint Lucie. Let’s just say, “it was an eye-opening experience,” and it helped me to realize that corporate medicine is definitely not for me.
Unfortunately, I have learned that the medical system doesn’t pay you well if you are a “thinking doctor” that likes to spend time with your patients. The healthcare environment has grown very complicated and disjointed. This compromises patients’ healthcare at every level. Patients need their PCP to be their strongest advocate. Someone has to put the patient back together after the specialists have treated their organ systems as separate entities. They need someone that will take the time to coordinate their care, make sure the specialist is doing their job properly and look out for their overall well-being. That’s our job as primary care doctors but that has become virtually impossible to do in a 10-minute appointment in which the computer is more important than the patient. For these reasons, my practice will remain small and exclusive so I can practice medicine the old-fashioned way. I can spend time with you, answer all your questions, discuss plans and see you immediately when you are sick. You won’t have to wait for 2 weeks like in a conventional doctor’s office. I’ll get off my soapbox now, I’m sure you get the idea.
This is going to be my best and last practice ever because I no longer have marital obligations to worry about and I’m staying here in this part of Florida to remain close to my extended family. I am blessed to have such a large family and be close to them emotionally and geographically. I have two beautiful young men that are both in college but still need their Mama sometimes. Especially when they need dinner or laundry done. I have two 80 pound four-legged girls and an ornery little kitten who is destroying my house. I try to exercise regularly when time allows. My fur-baby girls harass me until I take them for their daily walk. I enjoy cooking, going out with friends, reading fiction, and listening to audio books. I have found this very relaxing because I have to focus on the story and forget about the daily worries.
Most of all, I enjoy practicing medicine again. In the concierge environment, I can do it my way and I’m not punching a quota or in a time vice. This profession can be very humbling at times. Sometimes there isn’t a black and white answer or diagnosis, we don’t always have the right treatments, and there are times we have to let nature take its course. One thing I do know is that good health comes from a collaborative effort between the patient and the physician. There must be mutual respect, honesty, and trust with your physician. Without this type of relationship, a doctor is a only treater of disease and misses out on the opportunity to be a “healer.” So this is my story.