Growing up in a small town in the eastern part of Nigeria, Keyna Udenze almost didn’t end up in nursing. And who would have thought a girl from Nigeria would end up in the desert southwest? But things have a way of working themselves out just like they ought to, and Keyna loves her patients and enjoys living in El Paso.
Keyna was the sixth of seven children in her family, and her parents were loving, supportive, and hard-working.
“My parents believed in having higher education and believed in hard work,” she says. “They made us know early on in life that your future will be created by you. They taught us to be hardworking, and as if that was not enough, my mom made sure we went to the village to help our grandparents on the farm every summer break!”
A slight bend in the road
Although she always knew she would pursue higher education, she started out on a completely different path than the medical field.
“In high school, I wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps by being an engineer,” Keyna says. “I was working towards that in Houston, Texas, when a friend introduced me to a job as a certified nursing assistant.”
Keyna decided to get a CNA certification and ended up working in the ICU of one of Houston’s biggest hospitals while she continued to attend engineering classes. This would turn out to be one of those life changing decisions.
“I worked with a very smart nurse and together we took care of three very sick patients,” she says. “At the end of my shift I felt accomplished, like I had done something. Needless to say, when I went to my calculus class the next day, I was bored. I didn’t waste any time. I dropped the engineering classes that same day and picked up anatomy & physiology for the next session!”
From that bend in her path, Keyna never looked back. She started her nursing education as an RN in Amarillo, Texas, and then moved on to Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in Lubbock where she earned her BSN. She then earned her NP degree from South University, Savannah Georgia.
Finding that perfect place to call home
Part of her reasoning for choosing El Paso as a home for her family was the small town feel and vibrant culture. Keyna and her husband have three children so she wanted to choose a place where she could pass on some of the values and experiences of her childhood.
“I accepted the job offer in El Paso because it is a city full of culture,” she says. “It gives a small family like ours the opportunity to spend quality family time together rather than sitting in traffic with long commutes. Also being from a small town I wanted my kids to have a feel of what a small town can offer.”
Family is very important to Keyna, and although her family in Nigeria is far away, she and her husband are creating new memories and traditions for their three children right here in El Paso.
“My husband and I are blessed with three wonderful children,” she says. “They are a joy to us. Most of my free time after work is spent with family, working on personal journals, organizing charity events, and creating inventions.”
RGU – Keyna’s home away from home
Keyna’s role at RGU is an AGNP in dual specialty in the urology and radiation departments. AGNP stands for Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and is a specialty working with adult patients, adolescent through advanced age.
“Getting advanced education and training in treating and managing adult and geriatric patients comes from my years of working in healthcare with various age groups,” she says. “The adult and geriatric specialty give me fulfillment as a nurse. I am a holistic provider, and this population gives me the opportunity to provide holistic care.”
Since she splits her time between the urology and radiation departments, Keyna works with many of the doctors and nurses at RGU.
“Being from a large family I learned to work as a team,” Keyna says. “I love the smart and hardworking team at RGU. I have the opportunity to work as a holistic provider in both radiology and urology, which is very fulfilling for me.”
Helping patients feel at home
Keyna’s philosophy is to never assume she already knows the disease process. By keeping an open mind, she is always looking for answers based on each individual’s needs.
“I believe that jumping to conclusions means that I have stopped looking for an answer,” she says. “My motto is: ‘Keep searching, don’t jump to conclusions.’”
Because she gets to see her patients in both radiation and urology frequently, she seeks to apply this philosophy on a daily basis. She is always looking for what might be new or different so she can help her patients with their needs for that day.
“My patients in radiation and urology are wonderful people,” she says. “I see them as my guests, not as clients. I look forward every day to not just teaching them, but also learning from them.”
Making her patients feel at home and treating each day as a new day — that’s truly a great combination for excellent patient care, and that is what Keyna’s patients love about her.