Debbie Edmunds: Nurturing Through Nursing

By Jonathan Schroeder

Debbie Edmunds, then a mission nurse, was just getting ready for bed when the call came. It must have been the third or fourth call she received that night, yet she still reached for the phone with the same loving eagerness she always did.

When she answered, Edmunds could hear a young sister missionary holding back tears on the other end of the line. The stress and strains of the mission had taken their toll on the young 19-year-old, who was struggling to adjust to her new life as a missionary in Fiji. As the conversation unfolded, Edmunds listened quietly and offered words of support and encouragement. She could tell that what this young missionary really needed at that moment was someone to help her feel loved.

Missionaries that served in Fiji and BYU nursing students alike will tell you that such love and care are not uncommon with Debbie Edmunds. Her compassionate personality and instruction during her time at the College of Nursing have helped hundreds of students along the pathway to nursing. Now after eight years of teaching, Edmunds will retire to serve another mission and spend more time with her 18 grandchildren.

A Mother’s Touch: from Stay-at-Home Mom to Hospital Nurse

Many students may be surprised to learn that Edmunds didn’t actually plan on becoming a nurse until almost 20 years after she graduated high school. Growing up, her dream was to become a teacher. Those dreams got put on hold after she met Gary Edmunds in a high school production of the musical “The Fantastics”. The sweethearts were married shortly after their high school graduation in 1974.

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Edmunds spent the next two decades raising the couple’s seven children, while her husband worked in the construction industry. Her experiences with raising children sparked an interest in nursing, especially after she delivered a baby who was stillborn.

“I really wanted to help other women who were in that same situation,” Edmunds recalls. “I knew just how important it was, as a nurse, to be sensitive to their needs.”

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In 1994, Edmunds returned to school and began working on her associate degree in registered nursing at Salt Lake Community College. At the time, her children ranged in ages from four to twenty-years-old. Occasionally, she had to ask advice from her oldest daughter, who was also working on her college degree. Edmunds would later go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a master’s degree in nursing education from the University of Utah.

After earning her associate degree, Edmunds worked in a labor and delivery unit at Alta View Hospital. It was during her time there that Edmunds enjoyed some of her most cherished experiences, as a nurse.

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“My most memorable moments as a nurse are when I was involved in the sacred processes of childbirth,” Edmunds says. “Whether everything went perfectly or whether there was a complication, I was generally one-on-one with the patient. It’s an experience and a reward that’s hard to explain, but the thank you notes that I received from those patients afterwards were always so heartfelt. They were always so grateful that I was there, listening to them and providing the support they desperately needed.”

The Road to BYU Nursing

After two years at Alta View, Edmunds began working in an OB/GYN clinic at South Valley Women’s Health Care, as well as a childbirth educator at Intermountain Health Care. During this time her passion for teaching began to resurface. For two years, she served as a clinical instructor at Utah Valley University and the University of Utah. Then in 2007, she was approached with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; organizing a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program for the Mountainland Applied Technology College.

“Organizing the LPN program was a big task, because I had to start everything from scratch,” Edmunds explains. “The college had not had an LPN program, so I had to develop a curriculum, get the program accredited, hire the faculty and develop the criteria for accepting students (among other things).”

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After founding the LPN program, Edmunds went on to serve as its director for four straight years. During that time, she met associate professor Dr. Mary Williams, who approached her about teaching at BYU.

“It really was not on my radar to teach at BYU,” Edmunds admits. “It was one of those situations where the Lord had bigger dreams for me than I had for myself.”

Edmunds began teaching as a clinical instructor for BYU in 2010, and became a full-time faculty member in 2012.

Paving New Pathways

During her time at BYU, Edmunds has left an indelible impression on not only the BYU College of Nursing, but also on her students.

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“One of my favorite things about teaching is getting to teach the Nursing 180 [Preview to Nursing] class,” Edmunds says. “I love being there for those new students and getting to know them on a one-on-one basis, as I help them discover whether nursing is the right path for them.”

In July 2016, Edmunds took a twelve-month leave of absence to serve a mission with her husband in Suva, Fiji. While there, Edmunds served as the mission nurse specialist providing support and medical advice for 135 missionaries. She also became intimately familiar with the Fijian healthcare system, making dozens of connections with nurses and hospital directors. These connections provided the basic framework for BYU’s global health practicum in Fiji. This summer, Edmunds will return to her mission –this time with the first group of BYU Nursing students to perform clinicals in that country.

But Edmunds says she isn’t ready to stop there. She and her husband are already waiting on their second mission call, this time, (hopefully) to a mission in the Caribbean.

“It’s been such a blessing to me to know that I’ve been an instrument it the Lord’s hands to help people fulfill their dreams,” Edmunds says of her BYU experience. “Being here at BYU has been wonderful. It’s a wonderful environment with wonderful faculty and wonderful students. It’s something that I will dearly miss.”

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When asked what advice she had for future nursing students and faculty members, Edmunds said, “I would suggest living your values. Whatever it is that brings you that joy and meaning, make sure you’re living your life in a way that you can do that. Follow your dreams and do what makes you happy.”

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BYU Grad Study Uncovers the Truth Behind E-Cigarette Labels

By Jonathan Schroeder

A recent BYU study suggests that e-cigarette users may be getting more than they paid for – twenty times as much. The study, conducted last year by BYU Nursing graduate student Barrett Raymond and associate professor Dr. Katreena Merrill, found the nicotine content of some US produced e-cigarette solutions to be significantly higher than advertised. The study was among the first of its kind to focus on prominent U.S. e-cigarette manufacturers.

“Whenever you’re doing a study, you want it to have a big impact,” Raymond said of his thesis project. “I felt like focusing this study on prominent e-cigarette manufacturers was the best way to do that.”

Raymond’s interest in the e-cigarette industry partly stems from his brother, Daniel. Daniel was a veteran of the Iraq War who returned to the States with an addiction to tobacco cigarettes. Eventually, Daniel was introduced to e-cigarettes and within two months was tobacco free. Before long, Daniel quit his job as a deputy sheriff and started a successful e-cigarette shop in Idaho Falls.

“I remember visiting my brother’s shop and watching as they made the e-cigarette solutions,” Raymond descibes. “They would use measuring cups and kitchen utensils to mix the chemicals together – poly-ethylene glycome, vegetable glycerine, a flavoring component, and a nicotine component. The nicotine would originally come in super high concentrations (1000 mg/mL) and they’d mix all the chemicals together in a five-gallon bucket; following these little recipes that were hand-written down.”

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E-Cigarette Solutions at Daniel’s Store

“It just blew my mind that this was what they were selling to consumers. The math on the recipe made sense, but they had no idea if there was any residual nicotine left on the container or utensils they were using or if there were any other factors that could impact the final product.”

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E-cigarette Solutions of 0, 3 and 18 mg/mL Concentrations

Raymond decided to conduct a study to see if the nicotine levels of e-cigarette solutions being sold actually matched what was listed on the labels. However, rather than focus on just a local cigarette shop in Idaho, Raymond focused his study on major U.S. e-cigarette manufacturers.

“I didn’t want to conduct a study that only applied to Utah or Idaho,” Raymond explains. “I wanted it to apply to the U.S., as a whole. The only way to really do that was to go online and look at major manufacturers.”

Raymond and Merrill identified the seven most popular US-based e-cigarette manufacturers using a Google search. They then purchased samples of the five most popular flavors from each manufacturer in nicotine concentrations of 0 and 18 mg/mL and tested them with the help of the BYU Chemistry and Nutrition departments to see if the nicotine content matched what was on the label. The results were pretty shocking.

“Of the thirty-five 18 mg/mL samples we tested, we found that most of them varied from 35 percent below the stated nicotine amount to 53 percent higher than the stated amount,” Raymond states. “To give you an idea, one of the manufacturers told us that the acceptable range of tolerance for nicotine levels is plus-or-minus 10 percent. Most of our findings fell outside of this range.”

However, the real surprise came in the results for the ‘nicotine-free’ samples. Of the thirty-five 0 mg/mL samples, almost all of them (91 percent) contained at least a trace amount of nicotine or more. Four samples of these samples contained more than 20 mg/mL of nicotine.

“What these results show is that adolescents who use e-cigarettes that are labeled ‘nicotine free’ could be constantly exposing themselves to small amounts of this addictive substance, without even realizing it,” Raymond adds. “What’s more is that their parents may unwillingly approve of their child’s e-cigarette use because they assume there’s no nicotine, when in reality that’s not always the case.”

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A donut-flavored “nicotine-free” vaping solution purchased from a major e-Cigarette manufacturer.

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This last finding could place Raymond’s study at the center of an ongoing national debate. A recent study by the National Institute of Health revealed that more than a third of high school seniors in the US had used an e-cigarette in 2017 – and that’s just among upperclassmen. In 2016, the US Surgeon General reported that the use of e-cigarettes among high school students had increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015. In light of this crisis, many officials in Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have started to push for greater oversight of the $4 billion e-cigarette industry.

Raymond says he hopes this study will prompt e-cigarette companies to step forward and make improvements, on their own—a call to action that some manufacturers have already answered. Not long after the study was published, one of the manufacturers reached out to Raymond, asking him to share the product code of the study samples so they could identify the problem.

“I appreciated that,” Raymond remarks. “This is the kind of impact you hope to have when you do a study like this.”

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Barrett Raymond presenting his findings at a Tobacco Nicotine Research Symposium in Florence, Italy

Raymond also had the opportunity to present his findings at a Tobacco Nicotine Research Symposium in Florence, Italy. There he had the chance to interact with other e-cigarette researchers from around the world.

“It was an awesome opportunity to meet with these experts and share ideas with them,” Raymond says. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Merrill and the BYU College of Nursing for making this experience possible.”

Raymond and Merrill’s study, “The Nicotine Content of a Sample of E-cigarette Liquid Manufactured in the United States” was recently published in the March/April 2018 edition of The Journal of Addiction Medicine

 

Taking Wing to New Heights

By Calvin Petersen

From extreme sports to nursing and humanitarian work, Debra Wing isn’t afraid of trying new things. Now after teaching at BYU’s College of Nursing for 11 years, Wing will again embrace something new: retirement. And considering her life so far, Wing’s retirement will be far from dull.

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Debra Wing (left) and her husband Kelly (second from right) with their three children. Wing says her children and three grandchildren are “the joys of my life.”

Nursing Runs in the Family

Growing up, Wing watched her two older sisters attend nursing school and work at hospitals. As they shared inspiring experiences, Wing thought she would love nursing too.

“I started my freshman year at BYU taking all the nursing prereqs and working in a hospital,” she remembers, “and I kept thinking, ‘I hate this.’”

Wing decided to study business instead at a neighboring college. But before she left BYU, she married Kelly Wing, a military man who had just returned from serving an LDS mission. “We met in a BYU family home evening,” she recalls with a chuckle. After graduating with a business degree, Wing spent the next 10 years as a businesswoman.

“Yet, I always felt something was missing,” she says, “so, with very small children, I went back to nursing school and finished my bachelor’s.”

This was made possible by an opportunity with the military. It needed nurses and was willing to help pay for Wing’s college; Wing needed a job and financial aid. With the added incentive that her husband was already in the Air Force, she joined. “I found out I loved the military,” Wing says, “so I just stayed in.”

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Wing with her nursing degree on graduation day.

Nursing on the Front Lines

One of the things Wing enjoyed most about her military nursing career was doing clinical oversight for EMEDS training. In this role, she instructed hundreds of National Guard and Army Reserve medical personnel on how to provide support in war zones. She also worked with Homeland Security to train national disaster relief organizations on how to respond to every kind of disaster—from hurricanes to hostage situations.

“Something I really loved about my career is that nursing continually reinvents itself,” Wing says, “what we thought we knew about nursing yesterday isn’t what we’re going to know about nursing tomorrow.”

Wing herself was “reinvented” dozens of times during her career as she took on new nursing roles. Perhaps her favorite “reinvention” was becoming a nurse for the LDS Korea Seoul Mission in 2015. According to Wing, her mission wasn’t the quietest in the world.

“We were right up by the DMZ, 17 miles from the northern border,” she says, “there were missile exchanges and gunfire right in our backyard.”

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Wing’s husband swearing her in as a United States Air Force officer.

In it for the Thrill

Outside of her nursing career, Wing is an extreme sports enthusiast. “I love anything that’s a little bit dangerous,” she says.

Before she met her husband, Wing’s boyfriend in high school and college was a racecar driver. “Our dates consisted of racing,” she remembers, smiling mischievously. Now one of her favorite things to do is drive cars at 150+ mph. However, since the Autobahn hasn’t come to Utah, she makes do with crawling over Southern Utah rocks in her Subaru Outback.

On top of racing cars, Wing is an extreme skier. In fact, she used to race the downhill and super-G professionally. With her approaching retirement, Wing plans to finally take up the extreme sport she’s always wanted to: skydiving.

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Wing (second from left) and colleague Gaye Ray (second from right) hold up a sign for the anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, established in 1952. The two professors traveled with students, including Erin Marshall (left) and Mike McNeil (right), to Pamplona, Spain, for the International Family Nursing Conference in 2017.

Onward and Upward

Wing’s other plans for retirement include working with several organizations to teach medical education in developing countries. “I’ll be leaving the University, but I’m not leaving nursing,” she says.

Wing has worked with Healing Hands for Haiti and IVUMED in past humanitarian efforts and intends to resume those efforts. “I’m excited to be able to go back and do that,” she says. Furthermore, Wing will continue to volunteer regularly at Provo Food and Care Coalition. She and her husband also want to serve another LDS mission.

Reflecting on her experience as a nurse, she says, “What made my nursing career worthwhile was the opportunity I had to serve people every day. I love that experience of giving of myself. There’s a reward that comes from caring that’s far greater than monetary rewards.”

If she could give her younger self any piece of advice, Wing says it would be to enjoy the journey more. “Don’t spend so much time worrying about what has to get done,” she advised, “I think we can become too serious about the task and forget how joyful the journey can be.”

Wing is proud of her accomplishments at the College of Nursing. In addition to working tirelessly to make the NLC expansion a possibility, Wing has mentored numerous students. “I’m very grateful for the students and I’m very grateful for my colleagues,” Wing says, “Working in the College of Nursing has been a beautiful experience because of them.”

Seize Your Moment! — Taking the Initiative for Mentored Learning

By Jonathan Schroeder

Fourth-semester BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar has never been afraid to take initiative. At the age of 16, Escobar performed her first surgical operation after her dog developed a tumor on the scruff of his neck. Before her parents could stop her, Escobar went to her dad’s tool bench, found some sharp tools, and took the tumor out herself (much to her parent’s dismay and the vet’s amazement). Now years later, Escobar’s initiative has led her to a new project – a unique mentored learning opportunity developing a post-fall assessment tool for nursing homes.

It all started during a class lecture in Escobar’s second-semester gerontology course. Assistant teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters paused to mention that he was interested in writing a paper on post-fall assessments.

“Whenever a patient falls in a medical setting, you need to do a thorough assessment to make sure they’re OK before you put them back into bed,” Escobar says. “But oftentimes in a long-term care facility, the person who finds the patient doesn’t have the proper training to conduct those assessments.”

Winters explained that in older adults, injuries often take longer to manifest than in younger patients. “He talked about how if you or I fall and bump our elbow, we’ll have a bruise almost immediately,” Escobar says. “But in older adults, bruises can take a day or more to manifest.”

It was little more than a brief tangent to the lecture. Most students probably didn’t even take notice of it. Escobar, on the other hand, was already getting excited about the possibilities.

“In high school, my teacher always talked about the importance of getting involved in your discipline during college. It really is the best time because you have time and you have plenty of opportunities to interact with professors. Really, the only thing holding you back is yourself. So when I heard Blaine mention this paper, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Within a few weeks, Escobar was hired on as research assistant and began meeting with Winters and assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin. Together, the three of them sifted through dozens of studies and academic articles for information on post-fall assessments. Much to their surprise, they were only able to find four articles written on the subject over the past two decades. The team then came to a decision that none of them had originally anticipated. Instead of writing a paper, they would develop a standardized post-fall assessment tool.

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Image Source: Pexels, 2018.

The post-fall assessment tool is a procedure that long-term care facility staff can follow to ensure that patients receive the care they need. It’s based off of advanced trauma life-support (ATLS) procedures, as well as other important post-trauma assessments. The idea is that long-term care facility staff will be able to follow this procedure to provide better care for their patients.

And while some college research opportunities may seem like busy work, Escobar says she’s enjoyed being fully involved in this project.

“Blaine and Tracy are so supportive,” Escobar explains. “They make me feel like I’m an equal member of the team. I don’t feel like it’s their project and I’m just a footnote somewhere, helping him file papers. I’m really equally involved with them and that they value my input.”

Now that the tool has been developed, Escobar, Winters, and Dustin are working with the College of Nursing Media Team to create several training videos that will explain the tool to long-term care facility personnel. The hope is that, together with the tool, these videos will help staff provide better care for their patients.

“It’s been so exciting to see this tool come together,” Escobar says. “When Blaine mentioned he wanted to write a paper in class, it was almost like a passing thought. Now we’ve created this tool and we’re getting ready to create the training videos so we can test it out. I’ve loved seeing just how if you have an idea and you just put your best effort into it, it can really come alive.”

When asked what this project meant to her BYU experience, Escobar expressed how grateful she was for the chance to be involved and contribute to the nursing discipline. She also found that this project helped her rediscover her passion for gerontology.

“I always knew I liked gerontology; I think older adults are amazing. But participating in this project helped me see that not only do I like them, but I have a passion for their well-being and improving the quality of care that they receive.”

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Image Source: Pexels, 2018.

Even though she still has a year left in the nursing program, Escobar has already started looking at graduate programs that specialize in adult critical care and gerontology.

“When opportunities are presented to you, you just need to go for it,” Escobar advises other students seeking mentored learning opportunities. “If there’s something you’re interested in, even if you’re just curious about it, you should go talk to the professor and see what you can get involved in. If they don’t have any projects, tell them something you’re interested in and more than likely they’d be happy to work with you. But you’ll never know until you ask.”

The post-fall assessment training videos are scheduled to be introduced at several long-term care facilities in the Utah Valley sometime this summer. Escobar, Winters, and Dustin plan to present their findings on the effect of the training video at the Utah Nurses Association Conference in September 2018.

Do Angels Always Have Wings?

By Tracey B. Long (BS ’86) PhD, RN, MS, CDE, CNE, CCRN

Angels are thought of as having wings. But on Sunday, October 1, 2017, after a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival with 2,200 country music lovers at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, dozens of angels without wings known as nurses descended on Las Vegas wearing scrubs  and went into full action.

The two busy trauma centers of Las Vegas are Sunrise Hospital and University Medical Center Hospital. Both typically receive 20 trauma patients each day. However, after the call of “shots fired” was announced, each center treated over 250 patients with gunshot wounds and other surgical needs, totaling 527 wounded and 59 fatalities.

That Sunday evening, the two hospitals called in their off-duty surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nursing surgical teams and activated all their training and creative thinking to deal with the sheer volume of people flooding into their emergency departments. More than 100 physicians and nurses arrived, like angels swooping down to bring help and healing.

“We get these types of patients regularly, but maybe two at a time at most,” says Rhonda Davis, Sunrise Hospital trauma nurse. “All at once we had dozens of people who needed life-saving critical interventions at the same time. We went patient to patient as quickly as possible, trying to help save them. I wasn’t thinking; you just do.”

Teams usually have space in a completely stocked surgical room for trauma cases, but in this case many were processed in hallways with makeshift supplies stretched thin for the hundreds being treated.

“It wasn’t an ER of screaming. There was calmness because people were being taken care of,” says Dorita Sondereker, RN, director of emergency services for Sunrise Hospital. “The patients kept rolling in, and we were just trying to find placement for everybody.”

The angels even included the patients themselves, who were seen holding each other’s hands and declining care for themselves, saying, “Take care of those who are hurt worse. I’m good.”

Thea Parish, a junior nursing student from Nevada State College, was working at the time as a pharmacy technician. “Ever since I started nursing school, the human race has been declining and hating on each other,” says Parish. “I was debating whether I wanted to be a nurse, but when I looked around, I was like, this is what it’s about: saving people. We were the helpers. That was the most memorable moment. Yeah, there was a lot of trauma happening, but at the same moment humanity was happening, and it was amazing.”

Sometimes the angel nurses were there to heal and save lives, and sometimes they were there to bring news to grieving families of a fallen loved one. Nurses heal on both sides of the veil of mortality.

One of the first fatalities in the shooting was a nurse, Sonny Melton, who sacrificed his own life as he protected his wife from gunshots. Other nurses not related to the trauma centers, including dozens of nursing students, responded the next morning by standing in line for four hours to donate blood.

“I felt helpless not being able to assist in the hospitals where the victims were, but I could help other people in my corner of the world,” said a nurse working at another hospital. “We’re all connected, and if people are hurting, that’s where nurses want to be to help them heal.”

There is more good in the world than any one evil man. There are more angels among us than we recognize, and that brings peace. Not all angels have wings; many wear gloves and a stethoscope.

Tracey Long is a nursing instructor for the College of Southern Nevada, and director of clinical education at HealthCare Partners, a DaVita Medical Group. She also serves as a BYU alumni regional director assisting university alumni chapters in the Southwest.

Ribs, Nurses, and Cowboy Boots: BYU SNA Represents College at National Conference

By Jonathan Schroeder

First-semester nursing student Rachel Hawkins looked out at the sea of nursing students in front of her, and sighed with exhaustion. Within 24 hours, there had been a long red-eye flight across two time zones, a hotel check-in and then a full day of networking, keynote speakers, and complex nursing acronyms. The evening brought a much needed rest; but also a newly awakened perspective.

“I had never really realized before just how many different things you could do with nursing,” Hawkins explains. “There are so many different aspects you can focus on – business, travel; the possibilities are endless!”

Hawkins was one of several students who represented the BYU Student Nursing Association at the 2018 National Student Nursing Association (NSNA) Conference in Nashville, TN.

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BYU Nursing Students enjoy a break a between NSNA sessions at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

“It really helped open my view of the level of impact that nurses can have,” fellow first-semester student Izzy Bernal adds. “I realized that my sphere of influence doesn’t have to be just as a bedside nurse, but I can really do a lot of different things.”

For associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston, this kind of reaction has almost become commonplace. Heaston has been the BYU SNA Chapter advisor for more than a decade and has enjoyed helping students prepare for the annual conference since 2007.

“The conference is a bit of a wake-up call for a lot of students,” Heaston explains. “Many students get into the nursing program and then they get so focused on school that they don’t realize just how much there is outside of the classroom. The conference gives them a chance to see just how many opportunities they have for their future career, for leadership and for education — all in this one week-long event.”

More than 3,000 nursing students from across the country participated in this year’s conference. Conference events included TED Talk-style keynote speakers, information sessions about different nursing emphases, SNA officer trainings, and an exhibition hall with recruiters from top hospitals and graduate programs across the country.

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BYU Nursing Student Ashley Dyer with two other nursing students from different parts of the country

“It’s almost like an LDS Women’s Conference for nurses,” sixth-semester student Aimee Schouten explains. “It’s a really neat chance to be with other nursing students and professionals from around the US and feel united, as a profession.”

“The goal of SNA [and the NSNA conference] is to help students have the best opportunity to become the best nurses possible,” adds Jessica Small. “It’s really cool to have that shared purpose with other people.”

BYU Nursing: Learning Through Leadership

The NSNA Conference not only helps develop great nurses, but it also helps develop great leaders. As part of the conference, students have the chance to participate in the NSNA House of Delegates. This allows students to put forth resolutions based on current issues and research. These resolutions can vary from establishing healthcare polices to increasing awareness for certain issues.

“This is how policy changes happen in the real world,” Heaston explains. “Nurses come together and raise their voices within their professional organization and discuss issues that they feel need to be addressed.”

This year, Schouten and Small provided one of the highlights of the NSNA Conference when they presented their resolution to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses.

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Schouten and Small with their Resolution to Increase Awareness of Sexual Assault Across Campuses to Reduce Victim Blaming and Stigmatization of Rape

Schouten and Small were inspired to present their resolution after discovering that the topic of sexual assault on college campuses had not been addressed in any NSNA resolution over the past five years.

“I was honestly shocked,” Small remembers. “Sexual assault on college campuses is a big problem. Yet all we found in our research were a few resolutions that made reference to sexual assault; there wasn’t anything that actually addressed the problem.”

Inspired by the work of BYU Nursing Assistant Professor Julie Valentine, Schouten and Small drafted a resolution that they hope will increase awareness for the issue of sexual assault in addition to creating an environment that will help nurses provide better care for potential victims.

“The goal of our resolution is to present the prevalence, side effects and barriers that sexual assault victims face in getting the help they need,” Small explains.

Small and Schouten’s resolution contains a number of eye-opening statistics from a variety of sources. They found that not only have one in five women experienced sexual assault while in college, but that less than half of those assaulted actually seek the healthcare they need afterwards.

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Schouten and Small on the floor of the NSNA House of Delegates

“The problem is there is such a stigmatization of rape and victim blaming,” Schouten says. “One of the biggest reasons that people don’t report sexual assault is that they feel that reporting it will change how people see them. It makes them feel worthless and debased.”

“As nurses, it’s our job to help these people get the physical and mental healthcare they need; not only in the workplace, but also in our daily lives,” Small adds. “There’s a lot that we can do to help these victims. Whether we’re acting as roommates, as friends, or as future healthcare professionals — we need to take a stand to combat the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.”

The NSNA House of Delegates unanimously accepted Schouten and Small’s resolution, which calls for their research to be published for NSNA students, as well as at the American Nursing Association (ANA). Not only was the resolution unanimously accepted, but many delegates shared testimonials about how sexual assault had impacted the life of a friend or loved one.

“It felt good to see how many people our resolution could impact just in that room,” Small shares. “We could really tell we were doing a good thing.”

And while Small and Schouten were representing BYU on the floor of the House of Delegates, their classmate, Ashley Dyer was campaigning for a spot on the NSNA Board. Dyer successfully campaigned for and was elected to be the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA Nominating and Elections Committee (NEC) for 2018-2019.

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Ashley Dyer campaigning for the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA NEC

“I am very humbled by the outpouring of support from so many nursing students in our nation who, a week ago, had never even heard of me,” Dyer says. “I want to do all I can to help them find the courage and means to easily participate in national leadership opportunities this year.”

Fortunately, Dyer won’t have to travel very far to fulfill her NSNA NEC duties next year. The 2019 NSNA Conference is scheduled for April 3-7, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

“The NSNA conference is a great opportunity for all nursing students; not just SNA board members,” Heaston says. “We hope that all nursing students take advantage of this amazing opportunity to expand their nursing horizons.”

 

Alumni responding to Crisis: When Disaster Struck, BYU Nursing Alumni Answered the Call

The two historic storms slammed into the Southeast coast of United States within mere weeks of each other. The National Weather Service called Hurricane Harvey “unprecedented.”

According to CNN, Harvey dropped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain over the course of six days and left a third of Houston, Texas, flooded. Irma was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida in over a decade, dumping more than 10 inches of rain and leaving nearly three-quarters of the state in the dark. Because of the impacts of these storms, the 2017 hurricane season may be the most expensive in US history.

During these hard times of destruction and uncertainty, many people stepped in to help combat the devastating effects of the hurricanes. Among them were BYU College of Nursing alumni.

The Damage

“I was shocked by the impact [of the hurricanes],” says Paige Newman Dayhuff (BS ’16), who lives in the northern Houston area of Conroe. “Along some roads, every house was gutted, and the first floor was bare to the wood framing.”

Dayhuff saw firsthand much of the damage, particularly when officials released water from an upstream dam to prevent it from bursting. Officials told the Wall Street Journal that in Houston alone, at least 136,000 buildings were flooded during Harvey’s rampage.

“The freeways, both northbound and southbound from us, were blocked by water,” she says. “In some low-lying areas, the water had risen over fifteen feet and flooded the freeway entrances and exits. My home as never flooded, but houses about five minutes from us were.”

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Kimberly Coleby Ethington (BS ’99) of Tomboll, Texas, was working at the hospital when Hurricane Harvey first hit.

“I was up on the seventh floor of a NICU/nursery unit,” Ethington says. “We listened to the rain and wind all night. I was told to pack a bag just in case the roads would not be passable to make it back home.”

Ethington did manage to get home, but her neighborhood flooded soon after, preventing her from returning to the hospital for several days. Her coworkers at the hospital fared little better.

“Basically whoever was at the hospital Saturday morning stayed until the following Tuesday or Wednesday trapped at the hospital and flooded in,” she says. “Through the tornado warnings, all babies and parents were moved to one inside hallway and triage room. One floor of the hospital that had not been in use was made available during the storm and up to two weeks after for families of workers who had no place to go. We called it Hotel Harvey.”

Oncology nurse Joanne Grant Dortch’s (AS ’84) own place of work was hard hit as well. “Our clinic lost power for a week, and I was stranded at my house in Kingwood during that time due to flooding,” she says.

The Job

One of the main ways in which BYU nursing alumni responded to the hurricanes was continuing to work as nurses.

The Wednesday following Harvey’s initial landfall, the roads were clearer, and Ethington returned to the hospital to work the night shift as a recovery nurse. The hospital had also flown in several nurses from out of state to address the massive needs that Harvey created.

“I worked several nights in a row and some days on my floor until things got back to normal over the week,” Ethington says. “We did have one baby that could have been discharged earlier, but her parents’ home had been flooded, and we weren’t going to send a preemie to a hotel, so we let the family stay a few extra days rooming in.”

“When we were able to get out onto the roads and to another clinic that wasn’t affected by Harvey, we called all of our patients to check on them, do whatever we could to help, and get them back on their chemo schedules,” says Dortch. “These patients become our friends, and we love them. We were worried about their white cells, red cells, and platelets being low, we worried about pain, infection, having nowhere to live in some cases, and so many other things.”

The Cleanup

Following Harvey, many members in wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rallied to assist in the cleanup. Dayhuff’s ward was one of them.

“Members of our congregation responded immediately to flooded houses, organizing groups to help with people’s homes in the area,” Dayhuff says. “We probably spent about three weeks cleaning out houses, with some people working for up to ten hours every day.”

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Tricia Bunderson (BS ’09)

She explained that members were divided into teams that would help gut homes and help the owners clean. They wore masks to prevent inhaling mold spores or other contaminants. They frequently would walk to the neighbors’ houses right after to offer assistance.

“Sheetrock, furniture, appliances, anything on the first level that had been in the water had to be discarded,” she says. “We piled the waste on the sides of the road. I was just in awe of the number of homes affected. It’s not like a fire, where one or two houses are burned, but whole neighborhoods that were destroyed. I had never been part of a natural disaster, and it was overwhelming to think of all the people affected.”

Throughout all these experiences, BYU nursing alumni proved that the Healer’s art could be practiced anywhere, be it in the hospital or a house ruined by flooding.

“For about three consecutive Sundays we had condensed church meetings, gathering for only an hour and dispersing to cleaning out homes right after,” Dayhuff says. “I loved gathering in our jeans and yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts—there was just such a feeling of willingness to serve and anticipation for being able to help others.”

As a nurse, Dayhuff also served as a “handwashing enforcer” at the sites. She later worked sorting out deliveries of supplies at a donation zone in a converted steel manufacturing warehouse. She says she was overwhelmed by the charity and love displayed by people.

“We had truckloads of donations arriving hourly—food, hygiene supplies, bedding, so many clothes, cleaning supplies, baby products, books, toys. We had everything pouring in,” she says. “After a week of organizing, we opened the facility to those needing the supplies. The flood victims came through with shopping carts and were able to take what they needed according to the number of people in their family. Many of the people had lost everything. I felt so blessed to see their reaction when they received the donations. I wish those who had sent the donations could have seen the gratitude and humility on those people’s faces!”

“Today I got my chance to go help for a few hours,” says Tricia Terry Bunderson (BS ’09). “It was hot. It was smelly. The mold was already setting in. But I’ve never been so happy to get my hands dirty and help strangers who have lost so much.”

Bunderson’s family realizes that the amount of cleanup and rebuilding to be done is daunting, but they know that it takes one day at a time for the city to recover.

“I’ve seen grocery stores stocking shelves as fast as humanly possible, nurses working even though their own homes have been flooded, and oil workers pulling long shifts to get the plants up and running again. This teamwork really pulls at my heart. I am in awe of the hardworking, selfless, and brave people of Houston. We truly are #hoUStonstrong.”

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Sometimes circumstances prevented BYU alumni from being able to work in the cleanup, but their family members attended. The experiences taught them lessons about gratitude.

Amy Culter Benson (BS ’00) lives in Haslet, Texas, almost six hours’ drive time from where Harvey hit. Her husband, an LDS bishop, brought sixty members of their congregation to the cleanup efforts at the invitation of an Area Seventy. Benson had a nursing baby and was unable to go with the crews, but she prepared supplies, babysat kids, and packed lunches.

“They left before dawn on Saturday morning and drove five hours to Port Arthur. They tore down sheetrock, ripped out carpet, removed furniture, clothing, toys, and appliances,” Benson says. “Dave, my husband, felt the words to several LDS hymns they sang in sacrament meeting were especially powerful—‘Because I Have Been Given Much,’ ‘Come, Follow Me,’ and ‘Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.’ It was a powerful experience to be part of a huge cleanup effort like that.”

Ethington found herself in a similar situation.

“As I worked the night shift those first few days when people started cleaning up, my teenagers during the day went out to serve,” she says “They helped families in the neighborhoods close by that we knew at first. The weeks after we joined Helping Hand crews to help muck out homes further away. It was a memorable experience for our family.”

Some of the College of Nursing’s other Helping Hands volunteers were Rachel Camille Stewart (BS ’00) and her family. Although the Stewarts’ home in Augusta, Georgia, is more than 100 miles from the coast, the Stewarts have already helped clean up after five hurricanes, sometimes spending as much as eight hours traveling to reach impacted areas. Like Benson, Stewart has usually stayed at home with the kids while her husband and two teenage sons have gone to work clearing debris and fallen trees.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma—just two weeks after Stewart’s husband was called to be a bishop—an Area Seventy asked for volunteers to serve in inundated Jacksonville, Florida, which experienced its worst flooding in almost 100 years.

Stewart says their story is not unique. For years, many of their LDS neighbors have also answered the call to help in areas across the Southeast.

“The blessings of laboring in the service of others brings such joy that the youth in our area jump at the chance to participate,” Stewart explains. “Even though the work is long and difficult, the people served are always so grateful for the cheerful service provided. Truly it is a blessing to be able to literally and figuratively lift the burdens of our brothers and sisters in need.”

Steven Tibbitts, Jonathan Schroeder, and Jeff L. Peery contributed to the research and writing of this article.