Some people are lucky to know, from a young age, exactly what they want to do as a career. Jennifer Lindemann, MSN, MS, RN, is one of them, and she has her parents to thank for it.
“I started working as a nurse’s aide when I was 16. Looking at my mother growing up and seeing what fulfillment she felt from being a nurse, I followed in her footsteps,” she says. “I was to go into medicine and I have my master’s degree in nursing as well. But there’s something about that direct care: I’m the advocate. I feel like I’m the eyes and ears for that patient at a critical time.”
Lindemann has been a nurse at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for 20 years, working every shift and in many areas of the hospital. She’s spent most of her time on 6 East but calls that area a “chameleon” because of how often it has changed assignments and focus.
“I love what I do, and I know that’s the classic thing you hear,” she says. “I started on the inpatient surgical units. I’ve worked every shift. I also worked the outpatient clinics but I came back to inpatient care because I missed being at the bedside. I felt I was the best I could be at that point because it is a vulnerable time of a person’s life. If I can bring a smile to one person’s face and make even a small positive difference, that is my goal daily.”
But what hasn’t changed about her job is her passion for it, and the good fortune she’s had to work with great people.
“Ultimately, it’s the team I work with. I honestly love each and every person,” she says. “It’s a very strong group of people, including not just the other nurses, but everybody – our aides, our secretary, our housekeeping staff. I love the physical therapy staff, the pharmacy, the dietitians and kitchen staff, the central supply team, the social workers, transport, and even the volunteers. I’m so grateful for where I work and the people who surround me. I am only as good as the people I work with – I truly believe it takes all of us to impact the days of patients in positive ways.”
Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!
Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.Sign up!
Surrounded by a good team
For a little while, Lindemann was in medical school studying to be a doctor, but she had an “Aha!” moment during her junior year that took her back to nursing. She has never looked back and now hopes to be someone who younger nurses can look up to, demonstrating through her actions the love for her job and doing the best she can for patients. Also important is working together to stay strong during difficult times.
Lindemann gives much of the credit to Lem Mogavero, BSN, RN, CMSRN, the manager on 6 East, for his leadership, especially in the early days of the COVID pandemic two years ago. “We needed somebody to keep us calm and sane. He led us through those weeds of the unknown. We needed somebody who kept us going, not falling apart, and I give him credit for that. He definitely was a leader during a challenging, ever-changing and unsettling time.”
The admiration is mutual, as Mogavero nominated Lindemann to be recognized as Roswell Park’s Nurse of the Month for March.
“Jenn is as dedicated and professional a nurse as you will find,” he says. “She finds a way to connect with her patients and is a staunch patient advocate, many times advocating for her patients while knowing she is putting their needs ahead of her own. Jennifer is always the first to step up and take the tough admission, step back and let others take charge when they request, pick up the shift for someone or come in when we are short. Jennifer has been nominated a number of times for the Daisy Award, which is a great honor. As a nurse, I believe there is no honor higher than being nominated for excellence by your colleagues.”
While being presented with her award, Lindemann admits her mind was elsewhere: she wanted to get back to one of her patients. “It really didn’t register! I am quite humbled. I feel very blessed with everybody I work with. It really does come down to the people who surround me every day.
“I cannot emphasize enough that I would not be here if not for the care, compassion, commitment and love that I see daily at Roswell Park,” she says. “I’m not saying every day is easy. It’s absolutely not. But I do recommend nursing to any young person who will listen. It can be very challenging but extremely worthwhile, rewarding and enriching. I always walk away feeling grateful and extremely blessed.”