Jessica McNeese - a woman with healing in her heart

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  • By 208211
As a child, Hillsboro resident Jessica McNeese always said she was going to be a doctor.

Later in life, another goal emerged, but her interest in helping people remained.

"I wanted to take care of people - I'm a very mothering kind of person," she said. "I thought I'd be a doctor, but I didn't want to take the call because I decided a long time ago I wanted to be a mother first. My next option was nursing - I thought that was an easier balance for me."

Originally, she worked as a laboratory technician in the same doctor's office for 10 years, but something was missing.

"That's when they sent me to X-ray school," she recalled. "I felt a need to do more. My daughter was 18 months old and I went back to school and got my bachelor's degree in nursing."

Before coming to work for Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) subcontractor Comprehensive Occupational Resources (CORE) at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) Base Medical Clinic in 2008, McNeese worked as an intensive care nurse at a local hospital. She also tackled school again and earned a Master's of Science Degree in Nursing.

"Honestly, the last job was stressful," she acknowledged. "There were three codes in two days and all of them died - one of them was a nursing friend's mother," McNeese said, realizing it was time for a change.

She said coming to work at AEDC as a Nurse Practitioner has been an interesting experience.

"For me, coming from a biological science background - physics was never my strong subject - the concept of them testing all of this stuff here is really impressive," she said. "A patient from California told me AEDC is one of the best kept secrets."

However, this was one secret McNeese was already in on - her husband, Brad, is an ATA electrician at the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility (ASTF).

"He doesn't talk much about work, but I had an idea of what goes on here," she said.

Mr. McNeese said that since his wife started working at the base it has been a good experience for him as well.

"Even though she is my wife, and I'm probably a little bias, I have always been impressed with her accomplishments," he said. "But it always makes me proud when I hear friends comment on how well she does her job. People I don't even know will come to me and brag on her abilities."

McNeese, who devotes most of her 'free' time tending to her family, made a new friend while attending her daughter, Natalie's soccer practice.

"Our daughters were in the same class and on the same team," said Kristy Jones, an ATA accounting clerk. "She is the same person at work, on the sidelines of a soccer game, in the kitchen, no matter where she is or what she's doing; Jessie is always encouraging someone to do their best. Whether encouraging someone to exercise or change their eating habits or just jumping right in to help no matter what the task, she's always trying to bring out the best in everyone."

Dr. Rob Tessier, CORE's physician at the Base Medical Center, said his workload became a bit lighter when McNeese joined the team.

"Since she started at the dispensary over the spring, Jessica has been a tremendous asset to our daily operations here," he said. "Her role at the clinic is essentially the same as mine. She sees patients who come in for annual physicals, patients that walk in with whatever illness or ailment they may have and she sees work related injuries as well. Therefore she helps to greatly ease the patient load that I see. She also shares after hours calls with me. This allows the AEDC EMS/Fire department to consult with us for after-hours injuries as opposed to bringing an injured employee straight to the emergency room."