Jennifer Kohler, Family Nurse Practitioner

Nurse says health problems faced by her mom inspired her to pursue career in nursing

By Barbara Pierce

Board-certified family nurse practitioner Jennifer Kohler recently joined the staff of Integrative Medicine of Central New York in Chittenango.

Q: How did you choose your career as a nurse practitioner?
A: Growing up, I watched my mother struggle with her health. With a rare condition, it took years before she was properly diagnosed. At age of 5, I remember accompanying her and my father to numerous doctor appointments, even in out-of-state medical centers. I wanted to see her get better. I saw how medical professionals tried to help her. Thankfully, after almost 10 years of health issues, she was diagnosed and treatment began.
At the age of 5, I made the decision that I wanted to be a healthcare provider. When she had numerous surgeries and complications, I chose the nursing route because it was the nurses who watched her in the ICU overnight; it was the nurses who talked to me on the phone as I cried, reassuring me that she would be okay, when I was just 11 years old.

I wanted to be the person who held the hands of those who were sick. I wanted to provide care and support for people when they were at their best as well as when they were at their worst. I also knew that I wanted to be in charge of some of the decision-making that happens with patients. This is why I chose to become a nurse practitioner.

Q: What training was necessary?
A: I started my education at St. Joseph’s School of Nursing, where I obtained my RN. I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Syracuse University, while I began working. During the bachelor’s and master’s programs, I worked in various clinical practices and hospitals.
As I am a family practice nurse practitioner, I can provide care across the lifespan.

After graduation, I obtained my board certification from American Nurses Credentialing Center. I also obtained a colonoscopy certification as well as becoming a certified lactation counselor.
Learning never stops. I am required to continue earning continuing education credits to keep my certifications and stay up to date.

Q: What’s the difference between a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner?
A: Nurse practitioners are RNs who have either a masters or doctorate degree and then receive additional clinical training. This allows them to practice as independent providers in some states, including New York.

Nurse practitioners often focus on a holistic approach to disease prevention, education, care coordination and health management.

Q: What attracted you to integrative medicine?
A: Healthcare has become extremely challenging for both the patient and provider. In conventional medicine, treatment options are limited at times, due both to insurance coverage and the provider’s working knowledge of medications and therapies.

Also, in conventional medicine, your time with each patient has become very limited, which leaves out many opportunities to assess and treat the person as a whole. I desired to find an area where I could expand my knowledge and offer patients a greater number of options for care without as many limitations.

Q: How does integrative medicine differ from traditional medical practices?
A: In integrative medicine, we are able to use conventional and nonconventional options for care and treatment to offer the patient. We assess what works for each patient in terms of their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

We treat the individual, not just the diagnosis. We bring together both sides of medicine to lead to better outcomes and improve overall well-being.

Q: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A: I start by reviewing messages and questions from patients and reviewing lab results. I recheck the charts for patients I will be seeing that day, to make sure we have all the information we need for the visit. The visits with patients start — they can be in person, by telemedicine or by phone, depending on each patient’s need.

Q: What’s most rewarding about your practice?
A: It’s most rewarding to work with like-minded people who truly desire to help people get better. Each patient is unique; we work together to address their differences and offer them the most comprehensive care. We spend time with the patient, really getting to know them.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: The most challenging thing I have found about practicing integrative medicine is that I need to have a vast knowledge and understanding of each specialty of medicine. We don’t specialize in just one area — we pull together all of the patients’ concerns, current treatments and tests to develop a plan for care. For example, it’s very common to address the hematologic, cardiac, rheumatologic, neurologic and gastrointestinal issues for one patient at just at one visit. In conventional medicine, there would be a specialist for each concern. We bring all those specialties together, and make a whole assessment and plan.

Jennifer Kohler and Integrative Medicine of Central New York are accepting new patients at 1386 state Route 5 W., suite 203, Chittenango, 315-741-5774. See for more information.