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Alumni Spotlight: Jacob Nunnery

Meet Jacob Nunnery, a BYU College of Nursing alumni! Since graduating, Jacob has had various successful careers ranging from working in the telemetry unit to cardiovascular ICU, and currently works at St. Lukes in Boise, Idaho as a surgical ICU nurse. When he isn’t at the hospital, he enjoys spending time with his family and gardening.

Although Jacob is now passionate about nursing, it wasn’t always the plan. Originally he had decided to study engineering because of his love for math and science. However, while taking engineering classes, he concluded that he wanted more variety in his work. At the time, Jacob's brother was in the nursing program and suggested he look into nursing. Jacob said, “Nursing seemed interesting. In fact, I found a lot of similarities between fixing people and fixing things. Both areas of study involve a lot of problem solving. You need to think on your feet, be able to analyze the situation, diagnose, implement and evaluate what's going on. Those skills can be applied in both fields.” The similarities between engineering and nursing offered Jacob an easy transition in the study, but the key to his transfer was learning the skill of communication. He said, “I knew I wanted to have a skill to work with others, even though I wasn’t good at it. Effectively communicating would help me to be a better person, a better husband, and a better father.” So he applied for the program and began learning patient communication and other foundational skills through the College of Nursing.

As a new grad, Jacob became aware of how fundamental his BYU education was. He said, “In working shoulder to shoulder with other new grads, we were able to discuss our experiences in college, and It seemed to me that I had gained a solid foundation of didactic and clinical work. With that strong balance, I felt I was ready to meet any challenge set before me.” Jacob is grateful for BYU, the preparation it gave him, and the faculty and teachers that helped him throughout the program. He says, “They were very thorough, making sure to have that attention to detail and not just let you slide by, but make sure that you were giving your best in whatever situation you’re in. That support has helped me focus my attitude, and my mantra coming away from the BYU program is to take the time to do it right. Everybody wins when you take the time to do it right: you feel more accomplished in your work, and patients are better cared for.”

Jacob’s mantra for nursing closely aligns with the BYU College of Nursing’s motto, “Learning the Healer's art.” To “do it right” and to be a healer, you need to address more than just physical needs but also be aware of a patient's mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Jacob has noticed these needs daily. For example, he shared, “In Idaho, I’ve been able to work with individuals who will sometimes stop me and start talking to me about spiritual things, without any prompting. They ask “Do you pray?”, “Do you go to church,” or “Do you believe in God?” In the hospital, religion is often on their minds, and they need someone to talk to. It is one way I can connect with my patients.” Learning and practicing the Healer's art allows nurses to form more profound and meaningful connections with patients to provide the best care.

Along with caring for patients, Jacob has a passion for teaching. He takes any opportunity to connect with his patients by teaching them and helping them understand what is going on with their care. He described it uniquely, saying, “Nursing is one of the only business models where we try to teach people how not to come back. Instead, doctors and nurses demonstrate how patients can take care of themselves, and the ultimate goal is to not see them back in the hospital.”

Within his career, he shares his knowledge with patients and new grads, and nurses taking on new units. When asked what wisdom he would pass on to BYU nursing students, he shared three essential pieces of advice. First, he stressed the importance of self-care. It has become common for nurses to experience burnout as they begin their careers and try to provide the best care possible. The saying is true. He said, “If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of others.” Secondly, Jacob stated that in your career, you would get out what you put in, so don’t do things halfway. Finally, he said, “If you’re struggling with something, don’t suffer in silence. Speak up because chances are, there’s going to be somebody else that has gone through something similar or even the same thing who can help you. Whether that’s knowledge-based, emotionally based, or even physically based, your coworkers can be there for you.”

Jacob is grateful for the many opportunities and careers he has had in the nursing field and the foundational education he received at BYU. The College of Nursing is proud to have him represent BYU as an alumnus.