Marion native joins practice in Herington clinic

Amy Avant’s path to family healthcare provision has brought her back home.
A 2004 graduate of Marion High School, Avant has accepted a position as a board certified family nurse practitioner at the Hering­ton Area Health Clinic and has moved back to Marion.
“I always loved growing up in a small community and really felt safe and loved my childhood in Marion,” she said. “So in the back of my mind, I had always hoped I could eventually make it back this way and find a job.”
Early interest
The daughter of Charles and Kay Tajchman, Avant said she recognized a passion for health care as a child.
“I always liked to take care of others,” she said. “I babysat from a young age and taught swim lessons. I really just like to help other people.”
Following her graduation from Marion High, Avant transitioned to Emporia State, where she completed prerequisite courses, initially with the intention of continuing on to pharmacy school. In time, she altered her course.
“(I) worked at a pharmacy and didn’t really feel like it was quite what I wanted to do,” she said. “I wanted to do more hands-on, one-on-one patient care.”
With a decision to make between nursing school and medical school, Avant chose to apply for the nursing program at the University of Kansas Medical Center and moved to Kansas City.
“Ultimately, I decided on nursing school mostly because I had all of the prerequisites done for that, and I really felt like I could get to know my patients better,” she said. “The nurses spend a lot of time in the patient rooms, and that’s really where I felt like I would thrive the most.”
Avant earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Kansas in 2009 and began working in the operating room at Children’s Mercy.
Avant and her husband, Greg, whom she met at Emporia, were married in 2010. After two years working in the operating room, Avant began pursuing a master of science degree in a family nurse practitioner specialty track in 2011 through KU.
“Although I enjoyed working in the OR, I kind of wanted to shift gears a little bit to do, again, more hands-on patient care and use more of my clinical skills,” she said.
Avant continued to work at Children’s Mercy while completing her degree. Shortly after starting work on her master’s, she transferred to the same-day surgery unit.
“(I) took care of kids pre-operatively, after they woke up from surgery and during post-operative education with them and their families and getting them ready to go home,” she said. “I really enjoyed (that) because it allowed me to use more of my clinical skills, and I got to interact more with the patients and the families.”
Avant worked on that unit about four years while completing her master’s degree. Her daughter, Gwenyth, 3, was born during that time.
“It was a busy, busy time,” Avant said. “But it helped because I just did school part-time and worked part-time, so (I) was able to kind of balance everything.”
Avant’s clinical rotations took her first to Lawrence, then to Hillsboro.
“I ended up doing four months of clinical rotations in Hillsboro at the clinic and hospital and really loved it,” she said. “I really enjoyed working with the nurse practitioner and doctor there and felt like I learned so much.
“I loved the wide variety of care that we got to provide, from infants (to the) elderly.
“It was a totally different feel than being in the city and working in primary care,” she added. “I think that’s because people don’t really want to drive a long way to go to a specialist or to go to different doctors, so you develop a great relationship and rapport with your patients. I feel like they really trust you and your guidance as a provider.
“After that rotation, I knew eventually that we wanted to try to make our way back to this area.”
After Avant earned her master’s degree in 2015, she and her family moved to Manhattan, where she worked at a dermatology office for a year.
“I learned a lot (and) had a lot of great experiences there,” she said. “We really liked Manhattan, too, but as we continued talking about the future—we want to have more kids and expand our family—we just decided we really wanted to be closer to family.”
When Avant learned about the opportunity in Herington, she decided to pursue it. Avant and her family moved to Marion in mid-October. Her first day in Herington was Oct. 31.
“It’s been really great,” she said. “(In) just the short time we’ve been back, we’ve gotten to see a lot of family. I just love the small community and the relationships that you can develop living in a smaller area.”
A new opportunity
Avant is board-certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She brings experience in pediatrics and dermatology, but as a family nurse practitioner sees patients ranging in age from newborn babies to the elderly.
As an advanced practice registered nurse, Avant is able to work autonomously but with a collaborating physician who occasionally reviews charts and is available for advice if needed.
“We’re able to prescribe medications just as a doctor would and do pretty much all of the same services as a family medical doctor would,” she said.
Asked what excites her most about the opportunity, Avant said: “I’m just really excited to provide comprehensive care for the whole family, really getting to know my patients and developing those relationships. And being able to provide a lot of education on health promotion and disease prevention, because I think those are both, in health care, really important.”