Jenna Rae (Lewis) Perkins, MSN, WHNP-BC
Ask a woman what her least favorite part of staying healthy is, and she might point to her next gynecology appointment. Jenna Perkins can relate. While Perkins didn’t have a lifelong dream to become a nurse, she knew she wanted to be a healer. How to put her interests into action was less concrete in her head—it clicked for her after her first gynecological exam.
“I remember thinking that if I had the chance to hold so much power, I would do it in a way that honored the sacred nature of such a private ritual. I would be gentle. I would practice with empathy and not authority,” Jenna said.
Thanks to that epiphany, Jenna became the healer she had always imagined, joining George Washington University’s Medical Faculty Associates in the department of Urology as a Pelvic Floor Nurse Practitioner. Her patients call her “incredible,” “wonderful,” and “thoughtful,” and they point out her kindness and her commitment to providing stellar care.
“I work with some of the most vulnerable women, from those who have chronic pain that is often dismissed as post-partum, to menopausal women who are experiencing drastic physical changes that can be debilitating and alienating, to women experiencing pain during intercourse,” Jenna said. Through her practice, she constantly helps women to have richer, fuller lives—while living up to her commitment to empathy.
“I try to always remember what it took for a patient to make it to my clinic,” Jenna said. “I think about how many other providers they must have seen, how many times they had to call to get through to schedule, how far they have come from, and how brave they are to share their most intimate issues with me. It really allows me to stay grounded in the patient’s experience and remember that it might just be another day at work for me, but this visit could be life-altering for them.”
While Jenna’s early experience with a gynecological exam influenced her interest in being a healer, Penn Nursing further pointed her in the right direction. During Jenna’s time at Penn, she “came to recognize myself as a feminist in undergrad—women’s health was the logical next step to allow me to couple my morals with my work. Penn Nursing taught me the importance of having an evidenced-based dynamic practice. Now that I work in Washington, DC, my work has allowed me to hold space for many women who directly work in politics and others who have palpable fear associated with the current political climate.”
Ultimately, she hopes to be able to reach more women “beyond the stirrups,” empowering them on a grander scale and educating them about their bodies. Jenna notes, “I hope to have my women’s health education venture operating in the very near future. It is a dream I have had since around the time of that first exam—where I felt so unattached to my body under that sheet—to help women achieve the confidence that learning about the female body has given me. I just recently launched an Instagram page where I will be sharing some of my knowledge.”
Visit Jenna’s Instagram at @DiscovHerHealth.
Random fact: Jenna is a newlywed; she and her husband have two puppies.