While COVID-19 has hit many of us hard, Nurse Jeanne Burnkrant who works with people at the end of their lives, lost eight patients in April alone. She grieved. She missed them. But Jeanne never once questioned what she does or why she does it.
“That was traumatic. But I still go in to work every day because it’s my privilege. I get to take care of them. That I can be part of that, sit with them, align with them and meet them where they are is amazing,” she said. “I don’t have to do this. I choose to do this.”
At a young age, Jeanne knew she wanted to be a nurse, and not just for anyone. She’s always had a deep connection and affinity for older people and their families.
“In many ways, geriatrics is a lot like pediatrics, but that it’s flipped. Instead of talking to the parents of a child who can’t articulate their needs, you’re talking to the children of parents who can’t articulate their needs,” Jeanne said.
“It’s my privilege. I get to take care of them. That’s amazing”.
That love for seniors led her to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Regis University and a Master’s Degree in Leadership with a Concentration in end-of-life care at George Washington University. After teaching nursing and working as an ICU nurse, Jeanne decided she also wanted to be a nurse practitioner, which requires a master’s degree in nursing. So, she obtained a second master’s – and is now going to graduate with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Colorado’s College of Nursing in December 2020.
She did it all while married, raising twin 15-year-olds, teaching hundreds of undergrad and graduate students in as many as four classes every semester, and while working at Bloom Health Care in Wheatridge. Once again, Jeanne doesn’t have to do it. Like many other faculty members, she could just teach. Instead, Jeanne chooses to instruct and, once a week, make house calls for patients chronically ill.
“My goal is to do both. I think staying clinically immersed and updated helps me teach my students at CU and it models a way to earn a degree and work. The world of medicine is so mercurial, that to not practice is not an option for me, because I think that would be to the detriment of my students,” Jeanne said.
But it’s not easy. Especially when she’s chosen to help the sickest fighting for their lives. Jeanne says she can only handle the heartache with support from people at home and work. She says her husband of 24 years and daughters are her biggest champions, while her coworkers are great listeners.
“I have impeccable support at home. My family is everything. They are always willing to listen. I also work with an incredible team at Bloom. I cannot speak highly enough of Doctor Thomas Lally and the team of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. I connect with all of them to process the losses.”