Growing up in a family of medical professionals, Mallory Clenney knew from an early age that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and brother as a nurse but in her own style. On May 2, 2020, Clenney, who studied at the University of Tennessee at Martin Parsons Center, became the first student in UT Martin history to graduate from the nursing program in three years.
“(Becoming a nurse) was just something that stuck in my heart. I wanted to be a person that, in the future, could help these people whenever they are the most vulnerable and also help their family… (who) is also struggling,” Clenney said. “I just want to be that sense of calm for them and be able to provide them the best care that I know how.”
“From the moment I met Mallory, I was very impressed with her drive and dedication,” said Christy Blount, Parsons Center nursing program coordinator. “She had started working toward her long-term goal to complete this degree in three years before even graduating from high school. I hope that Mallory is very happy with her choice to enter the nursing profession and she finds an area she loves.”
Clenney, who graduated from Scotts Hill High School in 2017, said she decided to start preparing for nursing school early because she knew she was supposed to be a nurse and didn’t want to waste any time. She quit playing basketball, began taking dual enrollment courses, earned 58 credits before graduating and entered the UT Martin nursing program the following August. While Clenney did struggle in her courses at times, she says it was a rewarding experience that made her the nurse she always wanted to be.
Now working at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Clenney is confident that her education at the UT Martin Parsons Center has prepared her to be the best nurse she can be even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Clenney, “not in 100 years” did she think she would ever be working as a nurse during a global pandemic, but through the hands-on training and trial simulations at the Parsons Center and in her residency, she learned how to treat patients and respond calmly in uncertain situations.
Clenney said working through the pandemic is “definitely scary,” but that after observing the nurses who are treating the virus in the COVID -19 unit, as well as the nurses in other units/ floors taking on strenuous workloads due to higher acuity level, she is confident in their ability to ensure the best care possible for their patients.
“Times are uncertain, but every nurse I have seen or trained with has blown me away. These nurses are amazing, and their dedication shows what nursing is about. I applaud every health-care worker for what they are doing; they are the calm in the midst of the storm, and I am proud to be learning from and working with them.”
Now instead of being scared, she sees the pandemic as a chance to enhance her skills as a nurse to provide better treatments for her patients in the future.
“I feel like it’s going to help my nursing career and help me,” she said. “There is always an opportunity to learn.”
Clenney is unsure of where her career as a nurse will take her, especially in the current climate. She does know as long as she continues to provide care and comfort for her patients, she will continue accomplishing her dream, just as she did by graduating with her nursing degree in three years.