During Jenna Nelson’s senior year of high school, her grandmother got very sick. She got so sick that she had to move in with Jenna and her parents.
Despite the unfortunate circumstance, Jenna was honored to help care for her in her final months. The experience solidified Jenna’s passion for becoming a nurse and caring for those in need every day.
“Nursing was always something that I thought about pursuing,” she says.
Jenna also grew up in a family that helps others – her mother is registered nurse and her dad was a police officer and volunteer firefighter.
“My mom is the coolest person in the world,” Jenna shares.
Today, Jenna is a full-time day shift charge nurse at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. She has worked at this facility for 13 years and has spent the last seven of those years as a nurse on the cardiovascular services unit. Funny enough, Jenna’s mother serves as a nurse on the floor below in the cath lab (pictured above with Jenna).
There are many moments that stand out to Jenna from her years in the cardiac unit. One of the most memorable is when a patient apologized to Jenna for having to work on Christmas Day. The apology completely caught Jenna off guard.
“I was so surprised anyone would think they should apologize for being in the hospital … not just on a holiday, but any day.”
Jenna reassured the patient, telling her she didn’t need to apologize because she could not help her situation.
“You are simply getting the care that you deserve as a human being,” Jenna says she compassionately told the patient.
This interaction opened the door for Jenna and the patient to start talking about their families and the various traditions they each observed during the holiday season. The patient ended up sharing with Jenna that her son had passed away a few years back, and how Christmas had never been the same without him.
“It felt like we kind of celebrated Christmas together in our own special, unique way,” Jenna recalls.
Jenna and the other nurses on her unit serve a wide variety of patients in different ways. This includes caring for patients recovering from heart attacks and open-heart surgeries to educating patients and families about valve replacements.
“Our unit has incredible teamwork. We set high standards for the care we provide, and always feel like we want to do more for our patients,” Jenna explains.
As with most jobs, Jenna shared that there have been moments where she questioned her career and wondered if she was on the right path. However, time and time again as Jenna serves her patients, any questions are met with the same answer.
“This is where I am meant to be, and this is what I am meant to be doing.”
Even on the most challenging days, Jenna says she frequently asks herself how she would want her grandmother to be cared for.
“That is the driving force behind everything I do. I care for each patient as if they were my own family member.”
We’re grateful for all our talented and dedicated nurses like Jenna at Bon Secours, where nurses mean the world.
Read more stories that celebrate our nurses.