KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
March 10, 2021
By Darcy Gray
Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a KU School of Medicine-Wichita alumna, has been named Rural Health Practitioner of the Year by the National Rural Health Association.
NRHA's Rural Health Awards, which were announced this week, are given each year to individuals and organizations in the field of rural health who have dedicated their time and talents to improving the health and well-being of others.
Dr. McKenney is a family physician in her hometown of Fredonia, Kansas, a community of approximately 2,500 people. She has owned and managed a practice alongside her father for the last 10 years. She earned her medical degree and also completed her residency through KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
She serves as the Wilson County health officer as well as Fredonia city health officer, USD 484 school board president and as assistant dean of the Office of Rural Medical Education at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She's also on the board of directors for the Kansas Health Foundation and the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, and is a member of Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids, a regional collaborative group of medical professionals.
Contributing to the rural health pipeline, Dr. McKenney created the Fredonia Medical Academy, a two-week program for high school students to gain valuable exposure to the medical field. Through discussions with physicians, EMS and other health care professionals, students begin to see health care as a viable career path and also earn CPR certification.
"There is little doubt why Dr. McKenney has been named the NRHA's Rural Health Practitioner of the Year," said Rick Kellerman, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine at KU School of Medicine-Wichita. "Her dedication to her hometown of Fredonia - and to rural health in general - has been exemplary."
Dr. McKenney's commitment "has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic," Dr. Kellerman added.
"She is an upbeat, glass-is-half-full role model for all family physicians and a favorite clinical faculty member for medical students," he said.
Joyce Grayson, director of Rural Health Education & Services at KU Medical Center, described Dr. McKenney as someone who "truly embodies the attributes of a strong, dedicated health care provider deserving of our trust."
"Dr. McKenney says it best by describing herself as a 'people-connecting family doc doing cool stuff for the future of Fredonia,'" Grayson said.
NRHA CEO Alan Morgan said the association is "extremely proud" of this year's Rural Health Award recipients, "particularly because of the extra challenges rural health care providers have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began."
"They have each made tremendous strides to advance rural health care, and we're confident they will continue to help improve the lives of rural Americans," Morgan said.
In 2009, Dr. McKenney joined her father in practicing medicine in the same rural Kansas community where she was born 30 years earlier. Learn more from our file feature story spotlighting Dr. McKenney.KU School of Medicine-Wichita