ER nurses share military experience, growing family

Jake and Jenna Burton met working at Sanford, have stayed for how it supports veterans

ER nurses share military experience, growing family

Always an active space, the emergency room at Sanford Health is filled with nurses who are always faithful to their patients.

“I think I knew that I wanted to be an ER nurse since I was like 10 years old,” Jenna Burton, RN in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said. “Don’t ask me how I knew. I think I always just liked being hands on. I liked the human body. I liked fixing it.”

“Why I chose the ER and to become a nurse was, I’d say my biggest inspiration was my grandma,” said Jake Burton, RN. “She was actually an ER nurse for like 50 years straight.”

Sanford supports military schedules

Coming up on three years of service in the Sioux Falls ER this June, Jake and Jenna share a lot more than that in common.

“Me being a medic and then coming to the ER, (it was) a very easy transition that way,” Jenna said. “I think Sanford does do a good job recognizing their veterans.”

Jenna was a medical technician in the Air Force out of Minnesota for six years.

Jake is still serving as an infantry officer in the 113th Cavalry Regiment of the Iowa Army National Guard.

“We have a lot of people who are in the Guard or the Reserves here. Sanford is really good at honoring all that time away. They’re really understanding,” Jake said.

“Just this last year I was gone for five to six months total of that year. That wasn’t an issue. Just came right back into work. Extremely supportive of all the military time that I’ve done.”

Saving lives in the same place

It’s a family atmosphere that’s also taken care of his spouse in his absence.

Jenna says the two first met in “nursing school. We were in the same clinical group of like eight people for our whole first year.”

“All of our clinical rotations were together,” Jake adds with a smile. “It was pretty funny in how that worked out.”

Explore nursing careers: Nursing jobs at Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society

Jenna jokes it was a “good way to get to know each other platonically. Then, kind of started realizing, oh shoot, I think I like you a little bit more than that by the end of the year. Still like him.”

“Thank you,” Jake replied.

From nursing school at South Dakota State to crossing paths at Sanford Health.

“We’ll end up in the same trauma room. We’ll both be working together to save somebody’s life. That’s really cool. Not a lot of couples or nurses really have that experience of, ‘oh my wife is in the same trauma room with me saving a life right now.’ That is really cool,” Jake said.

“In our traumas and stuff, you kind of just bank on people showing up and fulfilling designated roles. And you definitely need someone for each of those roles. Military as well. You kind of have someone in every sort of position and you have to work together to fulfill the mission right?” Jenna said.

A growing family

Fulfilling that duty of service to others no matter what.

“Well, I am due in a week and two days. Very soon we’ll have a little boy or girl. We don’t know yet. I’m excited to start rolling with having babies and raising kids. Been looking forward to that for a little while now,” Jenna said.

Jake says she’s “been a trouper. She’s still working along with everybody else here.”

It’s about coming through for the person next to you.

“Absolutely there is a connection in serving the community for sure,” Jake said.

A growing team at work and now, at home. The Burtons welcomed a little boy on March 8.

Career opportunities for veterans

Sanford Health is actively recruiting past and current military members to its nursing ranks and other positions. From differential pay to educational scholarships and more, the organization strives to be an employer and provider of choice for veterans.

In the last year, Sanford Health has been recognized by Military Times for being one of the best employers across the country for veterans. The health care system also landed in the top 10 on the 2023 Military Friendly Employer list and 2023 Military Spouse Friendly Employer list.

Learn more

Posted In Nursing and Nursing Support, Sanford Stories, Sioux Falls, Veterans