Three Generations of AFC Nurses

bridget-jennison-kathleen-mulvihill-kaelin-jennison-2Nursing is a tradition in our family – as are big career shifts – and now we can add volunteering at Arlington Free Clinic to the list, too! It started with my mom, Kathleen Mulvihill, who earned her BSN degree at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Mom’s 50-year nursing career began in Med-Surgery and eventually led her to Maternal & Child Health and postpartum care. She loved working with new moms and their babies. Mid-career, Mom had a calling to pursue a Masters of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister. Pastoral care and nursing proved complementary and she was able to integrate both careers. My mother and father, Michael, relocated to Northern Virginia in 2012, and Mom became a parish associate at Fairfax Presbyterian Church. She didn’t want to give up nursing entirely, so she obtained her Virginia license hoping to find somewhere to volunteer.

I am an RN as well, however my career path has been very different. I graduated with an International Business/Finance degree from American University and have spent almost 30 years working for Travelers. I always had an interest in nursing so I obtained an associate degree in nursing from Northern Virginia Community College in 2006 and am currently pursuing my BSN at George Mason University. I worked in an Ortho-Trauma unit at INOVA Fairfax and in internal medicine at Kaiser Permanente. Unfortunately, the timing of my career change was not ideal with three children entering college, so I returned full time to the insurance industry.

We learned about Arlington Free Clinic through the Sharon McGowan Breast Health Fund (SMBHF) which supports AFC’s free mammogram and breast biopsy programs. The SMBHF was created in honor of Sharon McGowan who died of breast cancer. Sharon was the wife of my mother’s brother and my uncle, Gerald McGowan. Volunteering at AFC is a wonderful opportunity for my mom and me to continue to provide nursing care and to do it together.

We volunteer at AFC women’s clinics and deeply value the opportunity to be part of a medical team again. Mom, a life-long hospital nurse who had only a brief public health rotation back in school, feels right at home in community health. She admires AFC’s patients, who amidst the challenges of demanding work and home life, take ownership of their health by returning for necessary follow-up visits and participating in the preventive protocols – exercise and nutrition classes, dental care, vaccinations – offered at AFC.

The nursing tradition continues as my daughter, Kaelin, works toward her BSN at James Madison University. She joined the volunteer team at AFC this summer and expects to continue her volunteer work for years to come! We have thoroughly enjoyed our time at AFC and feel that we receive much more than we give. We all believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and helping provide healthcare to those in need at Arlington Free Clinic is very gratifying.

Read our complete 2016 Annual Report.