Jennifer “Jen” Boyer, BSN, MBA found her love for patients and health care during grade school when she volunteered at a local hospital. This passion has continued to grow with each step of her career, from nursing school to today as she serves as a vice president of operations at Springfield Clinic.

Jen joined Springfield Clinic’s team as a nurse navigator. This role was an opportunity—an opportunity to learn the organization’s culture, to get to know its physicians and to help patients navigate the health care system. An opportunity, ultimately, to continue to do what Jen truly loves to do every day: help patients get the care they need.

With this opportunity, and others that have arisen in her life, Jen has seen more than once that hard decisions can lead to great lessons and opportunities; after a hectic 23 months of completing her master’s degree while working full time as the Director of Memorial Medical Center’s Emergency Department, Jen felt the need to take a small detour in her career path. She stepped out of the director position and into a role that eventually led to her joining Springfield Clinic.

Twenty-six years after starting her health care career, Jen has found an integrated approach between work and family that has allowed her to enjoy all of the best parts of both. After all, she has another executive position and important title at home, “Chaos Coordinator,” which is how she lovingly refers to her role in the Boyers’ family business of raising show pigs and coordinating the many activities her boys are involved in.

Jen married her “farmboy” sweetheart, Mason Boyer, not long after moving to central Illinois and transitioning from the fast-paced energy of Jewish Hospital’s ICU in St. Louis to the more steady pace of the Logan County Health Department.

Working in public health couldn’t have been more different than the hospital: “Every patient I was used to caring for was critical. And now I was doing home visits and immunizations and education,” Jen says. “But it was really an excellent opportunity for me to get to know my new community.” Soon, though, Jen found herself itching to get back to caring for critical patients in the controlled chaos of the hospital environment, and she took a nursing position at Memorial Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

It was during this time of settling down and starting to build their married life together that Jen and Mason had their three sons. Nolan (20), Wyatt (17) and Owen (14) are now currently in various stages of high school or pursuing college degrees, but each of them still has responsibilities in the family business, and all of them pitch in to cover for each other when needed.

This “we’re all in this together” philosophy was something that Jen has always believed in. During her time at Memorial, where she was quickly promoted from nurse to supervisor, then to manager and director of the Emergency Department, she would live by the acts of giving that allow for the ability to also receive when needed. “I always told the team that our relationship was like a bank account. I’m always willing to ‘loan you money’ (i.e., allow for time away), if you ‘make deposits’ when others need you. The team quickly understood what that was and that we were about working together. And they would cover one another and other people would cover them.”

Jen and Mason, in turn, make sure their boys are aware of this concept and help around the house, as it was extremely important to them both as parents that tasks were not divided between “boys’ jobs” and “girls’ jobs,” but that the family covered for one another when needed and worked together as a team to keep the house and business in working order. “I certainly feel like my greatest accomplishment in life is my marriage to my husband,” Jen says. “We have been married twenty-one and a half years, we have three kiddos, and I know that I couldn’t be where I am today without his support, love, guidance and sacrifice.”

When it comes to juggling work and family responsibilities, Jen says it’s never been about balance, but about integrating work and home in a way so that both jobs get equal attention over time. “Some days, the scale is tipped toward home, and I need to be there—and then I’m answering emails late at night,” Jen says. “Some days, it’s tipped the other way, and I work long days and we fly by the seat of our pants at home. But that’s worked well for us and taught our boys to be nimble and adapt.”  

As part of Springfield Clinic’s executive leadership team, Jen feels strongly that a ‘community of caring’ means taking care of the members of Springfield Clinic’s team as much as it is about caring for patients. “I love our team at Springfield Clinic,” she says. “I love that we can be proud of the care we provide to patients, and I love that we have quality physicians that come together to carry out the mission.”

Jen has found that each step in her career path, whether brought about by blessings or challenges, has allowed her to answer her calling: helping patients navigate the health care system and helping physicians feel empowered to give the best care possible. “Be the best you every day,” she advises. “And sometimes, the best you is a rockstar, and sometimes the best you is not, but stay the course. Find your passion and calling. Live by the golden rule. Have perseverance, resilience and courage—and stay true to yourself.”