Mayo Charge Nurse Lauds BVU Instruction, Experience
Jeremiah "Jem" Ennen '17 works to treat patients in Mayo Clinic's COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit, crediting his current work ethic to his academic study at BVU.
On a Monday starting the first week in January, Jeremiah “Jem” Ennen rolled up his left sleeve and watched as a fellow nurse gave him the Pfizer vaccine.
It’s been a long time coming.
“When they told us we’d get the vaccine and actually set a date, I kind of broke down,” says Ennen, a 2017 Buena Vista University graduate who works as a Medical/COVID-19 ICU Charge Nurse in the Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit. “The end might finally be in sight.”
For the past 10 months, Ennen has worked to treat COVID-19 patients, often assisting with end-of-life care, a task the 26-year-old couldn’t conceive facing so regularly in simpler, safer times, before the pandemic.
“I’ve held the iPad for Zoom sessions where a family says, ‘Goodbye,’” Ennen says. “I’ve worked to give the best care we can to patients, so see them heal and reunite with their families. I’ve also done what I could to make patients as comfortable as possible, unhooking pumps while assisting them in their life’s next steps.”
“Even Dr. Lenzmeier, who is now President Lenzmeier, met me when I visited BVU and showed me when I was a freshman where I needed to be academically to accomplish my goals. Dr. Lenzmeier developed a friendship with me while serving as one of my advisors. I always appreciated his honesty.”
Jeremiah Ennen '17
Ennen, who has avoided contracting the airborne virus, credits a rigorous course of study at BVU that, ultimately, helped prepare him for these immense challenges.
“The science program at BVU helped make me mentally tough enough to push through,” he says. “Being pushed by Dr. (James) Hampton in genetics, Dr. (Thom) Bonagura in physiology, Dr. (Lisa) Mellmann in chemistry, the way they all push becomes engrained. I’m thankful they urged me to work hard at BVU.”
Ennen says the BVU faculty’s open-door policies and class sizes enabled learning relationships to blossom beyond lectures and labs. Ennen, for example, competed against Bonagura in racquetball, a memory that remains a highlight for both.
“Jem was an extremely hard worker in the classroom and labs,” Bonagura recalls. “It was fun to see how hard he worked competing on the racquetball court, too.”
Mellmann remains a professional source for Ennen, a professor he contacts to share the highs and lows of his professional journey.
“Dr. Mellmann helped build me up as a student and a person,” Ennen says. “The faculty all had a great impact on me.”
“Even Dr. Lenzmeier, who is now President Lenzmeier, met me when I visited BVU and showed me when I was a freshman where I needed to be academically to accomplish my goals,” Ennen says. “Dr. Lenzmeier developed a friendship with me while serving as one of my advisors. I always appreciated his honesty.”
Internship in Peru leaves a mark
Ennen, an RA during his time at BVU, participated in the Chemistry in Action Club on campus. A highlight of his undergraduate stint took place in 2016, when he completed an internship providing medical care to rural communities deep within the Peruvian Amazon.
“That opportunity grounded me,” he says. “I became much more thankful for the life and opportunities I’ve had.”
Following his graduation, the Buffalo Center native earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Creighton University, taking part in an accelerated 12-month course of study. He was then hired by the Mayo Clinic and has since served one of the premier medical centers in the world, often working long hours and successive days to meet the demand.
“We have 200 nurses in our unit, the best coworkers imaginable,” says Ennen, noting how his unit and medical director helped set standards at Mayo for use of Personal Protective Equipment and COVID-19 safety protocols.
As more and more people across the country, and the world, receive vaccines, Ennen communicates his hope the virus dissipates. He prays COVID-19 becomes a memory; a bad memory, but a memory nonetheless; a time when this Charge Nurse joined heroes across the globe in “rolling up their sleeves” to serve tirelessly, caring for the sickest among us.
“When things slow down, I’ll take the time to get my paperwork and applications in order,” says Ennen, indicated the next step on his journey. “I’d like to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.”