Walking Into a “New Life”

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Dustin (far right) loves doing all she can to serve her patients! Photo courtesy of Dustin.

By Corbin Smith

The BYU College of Nursing has an international reach that has no limitations. Faculty and students travel across the world to places such as Taiwan, India and Tonga to serve locals with their knowledge of the Healer’s art. Assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin is one of those faculty members who does not shy away from going abroad to share her nursing talents. That is why each September she goes to El Salvador with an organization called Operation Walk Utah.

Operation Walk Utah’s motto is “Restoring mobility to those in need… One joint at a time.” As their motto reflects, their ultimate goal is to give El Salvadorians a “new life” through hip and joint replacements. Since their beginning in 2007, Operation Walk Utah has created a strong reputation of providing successful joint replacements. They work out of the Hospital Nacional San Rafael in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, normally staying for a week each year. They complete about 70 replacements each trip.

For Dustin, she volunteers each year as a pre-op nurse. She gives patients medications and helps prepare them for their own life-changing operation. She also works in the recovery room and is able to see the impact of their work. “People line up and wait for hours for their chance for an operation. After the operation, it is humbling to see them leave with a new hope in their life.”

Over the years, while Dustin has seen so many amazing things happen within the organization, she is also quick to recognize that the impact on each individual is much more important. “The daily pain they suffer is so debilitating mentally,” Dustin explains, “They are so strong. They are so amazing.”

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Dustin is constantly amazed by the strength of her patients. Photo courtesy of Dustin.

Joint problems can be painful and decrease mobility to the point where you can’t work. In places like El Salvador, their livelihood depends on work, and Operation Walk Utah gives them that opportunity to go back to work. Dustin shares, “We took care of an elderly man who had both of his knees replaced at the same time. Even as a 74 year old man, he was still working but he was getting to the point where his knees didn’t allow him to work and produce for his family anymore. He was thrilled when we did this operation for him and helped him get back to work.”

However, the gratitude of the patients is what continues to inspire Dustin and Operation Walk Utah to return each year. “Most of our patients are very Christian oriented. They tell the surgeons and the nurses all the time that we are their angels from heaven,” Dustin says with a smile.

Undoubtedly, Dustin and her co-volunteers have incredibly blessed the people of El Salvador through their dedication to help those who suffer physically. They work and sacrifice things from their own personal lives, for the benefit and healing of others. That is the essence of the Healer’s art. They truly are nothing less than what their patients describe them year after year: angels.

 

If you would like to learn more about Operation Walk Utah visit their website: https://www.operationwalkutah.org/

Not So Different: BYU Professor Speaks at Tongan Nursing Day Celebration

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Reed, wearing a traditional ta’ovala gifted to her for formal occasions. Photo courtesy of Reed.

By Quincey Taylor

BYU professors take the mantra, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” very seriously in their careers. During this summer’s Tonga section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course, associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed was asked to give a speech as part of this year’s International Nursing Day celebration.

This holiday, which is celebrated extensively on the island, was a wonderful opportunity to show what BYU stands for and why we immerse ourselves into other cultures. An overwhelming lesson all students learned was that they weren’t so different from Tongan nurses, sharing the same mission and desires.

Reed, who was returning to Tonga for the eighth time, was elated to have the chance to speak to a people that had grown to mean so much to her. She thought the best way to show what Tonga has meant to BYU students would be to read their thoughts on the experience.

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BYU nursing students (red) with local Tongan nursing students. They became fast friends. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed started her speech, saying, “At the BYU College of Nursing, we are learning the Healer’s art, or in other words, trying to learn to heal as our Savior, Jesus Christ, would heal… I am going to tell you today some of the things that students have learned in Tonga.”

Robin, who came to Tonga as a student the first year in 2010, said, “My nursing education was greatly enhanced by my experiences in Tonga. I learned that the Healer’s art is not always found in medications or in treatments. Instead, it is found in the sincere caring of one person for another. I loved to watch how the nurses in Tonga cared for their patients with the utmost respect and care. They inspired me to be a better nurse, and perhaps more importantly, a more caring person.”

The next year in 2011, Reed returned with 12 students. Unfortunately, that year most of them contracted gastrointestinal illness, and three of the students had to be hospitalized. They experienced Tongan healthcare by being a patient. Jaclyn, one of the students, said, “Tonga taught me about family, medical family, and love of healing.”

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Honoring the elderly is a big part of Tongan culture. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed and her students enjoyed the celebrations for International Nursing Day, and witnessed the reverent respect locals have for nurses. An award and cake were given to an elderly member of their society who had been a nurse in the local hospital for many years.

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Reed and her daughter with local nurse and her daughter. Family ties bring people together! Photo courtesy of Reed.

The college’s time in Tonga is treasured by all who go there. So many invaluable lessons are learned, by both professors and students. Reed, as well as everyone at the College of Nursing, hope to continue this blossoming relationship with Tonga.

Reed concluded her speech by addressing local healthcare professionals: “Just think of the impact that you all have on these students! We thank you for the compassion and caring you have shown us, and the compassion and caring you have taught us, as well as many other things that help us to be better nurses. Malo ‘auptio! Thank you very much.”

2019 Master’s Reunion Recap

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Dean Patty Ravert and associate teaching professor Dr. Sabrina Jarvis accept their “retirement leis” during the celebration of their accomplishments. Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

By Quincey Taylor

 

This week was a special opportunity for alumni from the BYU nursing master’s program to unite and celebrate their alma mater. In a fun reunion which included dinner, connections, and games for the kids, nurse practitioners and nursing administrators came together to feel the spirit of the Y.

The event was marked by the celebration of the beloved professor Dr. Patricia Ravert and associate teaching professor Dr. Sabrina Jarvis, both of whom will be retiring soon. Jarvis, who is retiring in December, has made a lasting impression on the college and all who associate with it. She has been a full-time employee since 2008 and an adjunct member since 2001. Ravert, who is retiring in July, has acted as the college dean and fearless leader since 2012 and is well-respected nationally.

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Alum Brand P. Reynolds accepts the 2019 Preceptor of the Year Award for his considerable efforts as a preceptor. Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

Each year, an honored FNP preceptor receives an award because of their exceptional efforts in mentoring nursing students. This year’s recipient is Brand P. Reynolds (’94 BS, ’98 MS) owns his own clinic. He has been precepting graduate students for the past eight years. He is a great example of the difference a nurse practitioner in independent practice in rural Utah can make in a community.

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Graduate student Charlie Rowberry was also recognized for her accomplishments. She is a ray of sunshine! Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

Also honored was graduate students Charlie Rowberry, who received the Utah Nurse Practitioner Outstanding Student Award this month.

Ravert was also able to announce the sizable donation the BYU College of Nursing received from the Fritz B. Burns Foundation. This will go towards the Cheryl R. Robinson Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund in Nursing, which will allow for increased opportunities for student tuition scholarships, student mentoring, and increased participation in additional global health sites in the future.

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Bingo was a big hit! Notice the Thanksgiving wreath being worn as a hat? Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

While the NPs and their spouses listened to the presentation, children were able to play Bingo, make Thanksgiving wreaths, and throw mini footballs.

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Bullseye! Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

Overall, this year’s reunion was a great success. We are already excited for next year’s on November 10, 2020!

Everyone Has Something to Give: Kendall Semones

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Semones and her husband enjoy the beach together. Photo courtesy of Semones.

By Quincey Taylor

As a nurse, sometimes it’s the small moments that confirm to you that the path you’ve chosen is the correct one. The same goes for fifth semester student Kendall Semones, who strives for balance in a sometimes-hectic student life.

Her desire to join the medical field started when she got a job as a medical assistant in high school. Semones loved interacting with patients and helping individuals despite the oftentimes precarious position they are in. However, when it came to the medical procedures it was another story. On her first day, Semones passed out due to nerves. It was then that she questioned, “Is this the direction for me?”

However, after finding the why she had decided to try it out, everything became a lot easier. She says, “As I continued through that and working to focus on the patient, it helped to have a purpose and focusing only on that purpose.” She was able to work through the nerves and now looks forward to learning new medical procedures, “as long as they’re not on me,” Semones laughs.

Since getting into the program, Semones has loved learning nursing from a unique BYU gospel perspective. She is grateful for the spirit’s influence in her experiences, and says, “I think that the gospel instills a lot of confidence into my practice because I can go in knowing that I have extra help.”

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Semones (red, fifth from the right) attributes many life lessons learned to her time in Tonga. Photo courtesy of Shelly Reed.

This past summer, Semones was able to participate in the Tonga section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course. This was a life-changing moment for her. She remembers a particularly touching experience:

“I was on the pediatric floor and there was a patient who was getting a dressing change. He was just a little, little kid and the nurse was really focused on getting the dressing done. The boy was in so much pain and he was super terrified just because they had limited resources. So my friend and I decided to go over. I went over and I held the little boy’s hand and talked to him. Of course, he was still in pain, but you could definitely see in his face a certain level of comfort after that. It was just from being there with him. Even though my role wasn’t huge, I didn’t help participate in an important step of the procedure or wound care, it was still meaningful for him. It was a very meaningful moment for myself as well.”

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Semones and other nursing students enjoy performing in the BYU Luau, showing their love for the country of Tonga. Photo courtesy of Semones.

She walked away from her international experience knowing that, “Everyone has something to give. Whether that’s a nursing student, or a nurse with limited resources, or even a young patient, everyone has something to offer… They have special gifts or skills that they can share with others.”

As she has striven to achieve balance in her life, one thing Semones believes is that people are the most important. If she could give one piece of advice to herself when she entered the major, it would be that sacrificing human relationships just to have a better grade will never be worth it. She says, “It means if my friend calls me up and they’re having a bad day and they want to talk, they’re more important than an extra hour of studying for a test.”

 

Undergraduates’ Poster Wins Third Place in International Nursing Conference

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Students Alyssa Hildt (left) and Abby Anderson celebrate a win against professionals in the forensic field! Photo courtesy of Hildt.

By Quincey Taylor

When fifth semester students Alyssa Hildt and Abby Anderson were presented with an opportunity to flex their research muscles, they didn’t hesitate. Partnering with associate teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles and associate professor Dr. Julie Valentine, these students went on to win third place at the International Association of Forensic Nurses Conference in New Orleans for their research and poster presentation.

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The winning poster, demonstrating changes that should be made in pain management for sexual assault victims.

The idea for measuring the treatment of pain that sexual assault victims receive originated with Miles. She saw that there was a lack of research on the topic, especially considering that information regarding this topic only started being collected after assault cases in 2017. After Hildt and Anderson were recruited to help her with research, they were given the task of performing detailed research as well as creating the poster presenting their research.

After completing their poster, the duo submitted their abstract to the International Association of Forensic Nurses Conference and were accepted, along with around 25 other submissions. They presented their research alongside those of professionals, many with PhD’s, DNP’s, and years in the field. They answered questions to those at the conference with flying colors.

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Miles accompanied the students to the conference, providing assistance when needed while also leaving them the freedom to figure things out on their own. Photo provided by Hildt.

Hildt explains, “Leslie was right there in case we needed her. It was nice to be introduced into research as a student because we get so much guidance from our professors, but they also give us a lot of freedom.”

When asked what it was like working with Miles, Anderson laughs, “Oh my goodness, we love her. We call her research mama.” She loved working with the professors and says, “They’re so fun and so wise and they know what they’re doing. They’re on top of it. We learned so much from them.” Miles and Valentine have provided them with advice as the two students continue their journey into grad school.

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The research provided the students a chance to get to know their professors on a personal level. Photo courtesy of Hildt.

They plan on presenting their poster at other conferences, sharing their findings with as many nurses and students as possible. They are both passionate about defending at risk populations within their careers and look for ways to do what they can to help.

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While they were nervous at first, after beginning their presentation Hildt and Anderson knew they had been well-prepared. Photo courtesy of Hildt.

When asked about the advice they’d give to other students trying to do research with BYU professors, Anderson says, “Be persistent and persistent and persistent. Reach out to professors, reach out to people that are researching things that you’re interested in. I wasn’t sure I knew what I wanted to research, but because I was persistent and going to meetings and listening to people’s ideas it ended up being such an incredible and eye-opening experience, not only for my career but for my life.”

Hildt adds, “Professors might not have any need for research assistants at a certain time, but they might later on.  I know Julie saves emails from students who she wants to remember when she needs someone in the future.”

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Having a friend during clinicals brings a light into the whole experience. Photo courtesy of Hildt.

Through this experience, Hildt and Anderson have become very close friends. A ribbon wasn’t the only prize they walked away with, but also a long-lasting friendship built on a challenging experience. They plan on applying to the same grad school but in different departments, remaining a part of each other’s lives.

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A matching Halloween costume was essential for this dynamic duo. Photo courtesy of Hildt.

Fall 2019 DAISY Award Winners Announced!

The College of Nursing at Brigham Young University continues to partner with the DAISY Foundation to recognize nursing professors and students who show extraordinary compassion. After the death of Patrick Barnes at the age of 33 from complications of an autoimmune disease, the Barnes family decided to do something positive to honor him. They established DAISY—an acronym for diseases attacking the immune system—to thank the nurses who cared for him and to recognize exceptional nurses around the world.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students

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Noel (middle) with Dean Ravert and her husband, Hamilton

The College of Nursing announced that it’s student award, The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students, went to Allison Bingham Noel.

Alli was nominated by her peer Keeley Austin, who writes: “Any person who meets Alli knows she is a special person. She has an infectious positive attitude and a laugh that makes everyone smile. I attended my global health clinical practicum with Alli in Fiji, and every day I became more impressed with her ability to connect with others. She became a role model for me as she found the ones who were in need and addressed those needs with her talents.

For example, we were assigned to teach a group of third-grade Fijian students about the human body. Many of our activities required the children to jump, run, and dance, and we did not account for any children who might have disabilities. When we started the lessons, I saw Alli sitting at the back of the group with a student in a wheelchair. She was attentive and helped that student participate in ways that were adjusted to meet his needs. I couldn’t believe how quickly she was able to assess the situation and find a solution. She constantly looks outward, so when she is faced with situations like this one, she adapts well. I know I can be the kind of nurse that doesn’t just go through the motions or goes according to plan. I will achieve this by following Alli’s example of compassion and seek out and address individuals’ needs.”

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty

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Hunsaker (second from the left) with Dean Ravert and her family. 

The College of Nursing was also pleased to honor associate teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty.

Stacie received entries from several students, each one showing her level of compassion in nursing.

Hannah Hoffman writes, “I spent time with Stacie during a veteran clinical practicum. One Sunday while in Washington, D.C., an older woman fell leaving the church building and twisted her ankle. Stacie first addressed the immediate medical concern but then took time to listen to the women’s concerns, calm her fears, and ease her anxiety.”

Another nomination says, “I had only been in Stacie’s class for three weeks when I was admitted to the hospital. Stacie took time out of her extremely busy schedule to come and visit me. It meant the world to me. The care, concern, and compassion Stacie has for individuals are exemplary and beyond admirable!”

An additional student shares, “Stacie goes above and beyond to help those around her thrive. She took the time to tell me my strengths and applaud me, helping me to feel confident at a time that I was struggling to feel competent. She shared experiences from when she was a young nurse, and then laugh! The situation helped me realize that we could laugh at mistakes and the things we were stressing.”

Emily Henstrom says, “During third-semester, Stacie would set lunchtime for her clinical group, not because she had to, but because she wanted to spend those moments with us and get to know us. She has shown me so much love since I met her, and I can’t imagine my college experience without her.”

Both Hunsaker and Noel were presented with a unique sculpture as a symbol of their recognition. The small wooden token is called “A Healer’s Touch.” Each piece is hand-carved by members of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.

Each semester, the College of Nursing opens nominations for additional DAISY Faculty and Nursing Student Awards. The call for submissions is your opportunity to nominate someone that reflects compassion and is an example of the Healer’s art.

 

Student Spotlight: Skylar Tangren

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Tangren (far right) with her family. Photo courtesy of Tangren.

By Corbin Smith

One of the goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to help each student find their niche while in school. The college hopes that students will be introduced to an endless numbers of possibilities while in the program. For example, this week, the College of Nursing hosted a special Career Night for all current students, and exposed them to the many different ways that their skills can be applied to serve today!

For 5th semester student Skylar Tangren, though, she was able to find her niche on her own. She found it in an unusual way: a Facebook post! However, her journey to become an LPN nurse started long before that moment she signed into Facebook that day.

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Like it often does, Tangren’s path to becoming a nursing student and then a LPN nurse started in high school. As she approached graduation, she began to put serious thought into what she was going to focus on once she arrived here on campus. “I really liked English, and I still really love that kind of stuff,” she says, “but the opportunity I had to volunteer in the hospital really made me want to be a nurse.”

What is it that happened in the hospital that got Tangren so excited to be a nurse? There were two experiences, in fact, that fueled that fire inside her. First, she had the chance to get some hands-on experience as she shadowed her mom’s cousin, who is a labor and delivery nurse. Tangren recalls, “I walked in and she said, ‘We are doing a C section today!’ I was so nervous. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me! I just loved it!”

Another experience came as she worked at the information desk at the hospital. While fulfilling her responsibilities, she made a special connection with a certain patient. “There was one man who would come in for therapy,” she remembers, “And every time he came in he would give me the biggest smile. It wasn’t until the last day that I realized how serious his condition was. It meant so much to me that he would take time out of his busy and tough day to notice me.”

This second experience transformed into a lesson that turned into the foundation of Tangren’s motivation to work as a nurse. “I think at that moment I realized that I wanted to be that person who walks in and helps make people feel better when they’re so vulnerable during that time in their lives,” she says.

This important lesson Tangren learned many years ago has helped her in her current job. Recently she has begun working as an LPN for Horizon Home Health, a hospice home health organization that sends nurses to patient’s homes to receive care.

This style and environment is beneficial as nurses and patients are able to develop a deeper relationship with one another. “It is really special because you work with someone you see and talk with regularly. You strengthen the relationship with the patient and the family. It is truly just like a unique friendship!” Tangren explains.

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Tangren has been very successful in her work, and she accredits her professors for teaching her how to make a difference through loving service. “They’re all such genuine people! It makes me think about what kind of person I want to be and how I want to contribute to this world,” Tangren says.

When asked what her biggest piece of advice to new students would be, she said is to invest heavily in relationships with your instructors and peers. Never leave an opportunity on the table to get to know them better and understand their story!

Today, as we work our way through midterm season, take the time to find someone new in class or in the NLC and learn a little bit of their story. Like Tangren says, “Have confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid.” You never know what you could learn.