Allen College

Jenna Zalk Berendzen, ARNP, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC
Allen College Class of 2011 – Master of Science in Nursing-FNP

Employment History

I am a double-board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The majority of my nursing career has been with UnityPoint Health and the Black Hawk County Health Department. As an RN, I worked at UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital for several years on a general medical floor and an orthopedic floor. I also worked as a public health nurse in a wide variety of settings including a school nurse and at Success Street, the school-based clinic here in Waterloo. After getting my Family Nurse Practitioner degree, I worked for almost eight years at Allen Women’s Health Center. Since graduating in 2019 with my Doctor of Nursing Practice-PMHNP, I’ve been practicing as a psychiatric mental health NP specializing in reproductive mental health.

What led you to pursue your education at Allen College?

When we were looking to move to the Cedar Valley for my husband’s job at UNI, I was beyond excited to find out that I had the opportunity to advance my career right in my own backyard. Allen College was definitely a deciding factor in our decision to put down roots in Iowa. I loved the idea of going to graduate school at a place where I’d have the opportunity to get to know my professors and engage with the surrounding community.

Any accomplishments, awards, or proud moments?

I am proud of having graduated from Allen College in 2011 when I was 36 weeks pregnant with our first son and took my Family Nurse Practitioner boards when I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant! Following that, I went on to complete my Doctor of Nursing Practice-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of Minnesota, traveling back and forth to the Twin Cities. It was a hectic time of life being a full-time student, a part-time NP, and a mama of two small boys! I am now officially done with formal education having spent 14 years of my adult life in school!

I co-host a new podcast called The Nightingale Project. A friend and I started this venture in the past month as a way to support and encourage the nursing community. We want it to be an authentic space for shared experiences in nursing – a place where we interview people and share real stories on topics such as loneliness, resiliency, and empowering one another. We’d truly love for people to connect with us online and through social media and to engage with the project. In the first two episodes we give several shout outs to Allen College.
The Nightingale Project (@nursepodcast) / Twitter
The Nightingale Project - Where the Healing Begins | Facebook

Hobbies or Interests?

I enjoy spending time outside with my husband and kids. After I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree and before I went back to get my Associate Degree in Nursing, I worked at a camping outdoor store in Minneapolis. It’s where my husband and I met. Now that life has slowed down a bit, I’m reconnecting with my love of camping and canoeing and sharing this passion with my boys.


What piece of advice would you give to current Allen students?

As a student and new graduate, be brave enough to ask for help. As you advance in your career, be humble enough to know when to ask for help.