Enhancement in Education, Part Two: Why The Sound Your Alarm Clock Makes Could Save Your Life

This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.

Beep! Beep! Beep! The infusion pump has little tolerance for delay, and so when its user stalls in making a decision, a high pitched beep illustrates its displeasure. It continues to beep at other moments when the user attempts to get an intravenous line ready.

Some may get annoyed by the noise; however, that is one of the benefits of the new brand of IV pumps used by the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC).

Rebecca Edmunds, a student employee at the NLC, thinks that these pumps are much better than the old ones, mainly due to their being much more user-friendly, as well as safer for patients. “They’re easy to train on,” she says.

Part of that may be because any time that a nurse might mess up the IV administration, the beeping begins.

“There’s a lot of safeties built into this that were not in the previous pump,” Edmunds says. This includes a light system that indicates if an IV delivery is going smoothly, as well as the ability to automatically cut off an IV if something goes wrong.

Another plus for the new machines is that they are preprogrammed with information about usual drug dosages for patients—it will ask multiple times if a nurse is certain he or she wants to administer certain quantities of the drug, thus reducing the chance of medical error.


NLC supervisor Colleen Tingey works to set up one of the new IV infusion pumps.

“The coolest thing about these is that they can associate to charting,” Edmunds says. This means that when an IV is running, the information can be given real-time to the patient’s hospital file, and others can remotely see what treatment is being administered.

NLC supervisor Colleen Tingey explains that the pumps were changed from their previous brand when Intermountain Healthcare switched its main brand to Alaris earlier this year, as many students do their clinicals at their hospitals. However, she says, the idea is to help students get used to using IV pumps in general since there are so many different brands in use in the medical world.

“To have lots of different kinds and to try and teach lots of different kinds is just cumbersome,” she says. “We can’t do that, so we tried to do what the majority of students will see.”



BYU Professors Use Pokémon-themed Race to Help Students Evolve in Fitness

On Saturday, October 22, the BYU College of Nursing and the campus chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (an international nursing honor society) will host the Pokéthon, a 3K run/walk event centered on Pokémon Go. Participants can dress up as characters from the game or wear their team colors, all while going to lures set up on the course.

To some, this seems like a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. For nursing professors Dr. Neil Peterson and Craig Nuttall, the Pokéthon is the beginning of a campus-wide health initiative to help students enjoy being active.

Peterson and Nuttall—both members of the American College of Sports Medicine, a fitness organization—recently found out that a program offered by the ACSM, Exercise is Medicine, has a college subcategory. Within the past month, the two have collaborated with others on campus to start a branch of the Exercise is Medicine at BYU to promote college fitness.

“Exercise is something that frankly is probably one of the most important things in medicine right now, because it can treat most diseases that are out there,” Nuttall says. “You exercise, your diabetes risk goes down. You exercise, your hypertension risk goes down. You exercise, your cancer risk goes down.”

With a PhD in nursing and a focus on physical activity and sedentary activity (sitting around), Peterson is well versed in student health affairs. He has noticed in his studies that college students spend a lot of time moving around, but then also spend a lot of time sitting around, especially with electronic devices.

“My concern then is once you get beyond the university atmosphere, when you get a real job, what’s the first thing that’s going to drop off? Probably the physical activity time and not the sedentary time, so I want to try to help find what’s motivating (to help people stay active even once they leave the student setting),” Peterson says.

Exercise is Medicine for college campuses comprises hosting physical fitness events (such as the Pokéthon), educating students, and working to promote measures that increase physical activity levels on campus. The program is still in its infancy, but the professors have managed to organize a leadership team which includes themselves, associate professor of Exercise Science James LeCheminant, and Peterson’s two research assistants. The team is now striving to meet requirements set by the ACSM.

“We’re working together to make our campus certified as an exercise medicine-friendly type of environment,” Nuttall says.

“It’s not necessarily about battling obesity per se,” Peterson says. “Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, everybody could be improving their physical activity.”

The plan right now is to organize more events like the Pokéthon and also to begin holding educational events to promote fitness awareness. Peterson is confident that the student body will be receptive.

“I think there are a lot of people interested in trying to improve their health and realize that maybe they sit too much or have too much screen time, so hopefully we will find a lot of people who are very interested in participating and advocating for us and helping to make this a success,” he says.

For students, Peterson and Nuttall say, improved fitness can have major benefits, including better sleep, increased test-taking ability, and deeper satisfaction with life.

“It doesn’t matter what the disease is, exercise can help it, either treating it or preventing it,” Nuttall says.

All students interested in the Pokéthon should visit the event website ( and register. The race will begin at 9 am with check-in starting at 8:30 am.

See related story on the event:


Enhancement in Education: Part One

The Manikins Among Us

This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.

Eight new patients in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC) just got the doctor’s orders: eight years of bed rest and weekly IVs. It may seem like an intense recommendation, but given that the patients are newly acquired manikins designed to help increase nursing proficiency, the tall order makes sense.


The BYU College of Nursing recently obtained eight mid-fidelity nursing manikins, four of which are the Nursing Anne type, pictured above.

The manikins, four “males” named Kelly and four “females” named Anne, are created specifically for nursing programs. They replace eight older models, which were donated to BYU-Idaho, and come with many features that allow students to train in a variety of situations.

“You can set them to run scenarios,” says Kristen Whipple, NLC assistant supervisor. “It changes every day to a different lab. It’s something on Monday, and then it’s a different lab on Tuesday.”

The Anne and Kelly manikins are considered low to mid-fidelity, which means that they can represent a human to a reasonable extent. When purchased with digital equipment, including a device known as a SimPad, they create a more lifelike patient.


NLC supervisor Colleen Tingey and student employee Brian Wing work to unload the new manikins, which have weights comparable to normal people.

“They serve a great purpose just as they are. If you add the SimPad to them, then you can hear heart sounds, lung sounds, belly sounds, GI tract sounds,” Whipple says. “The manikins give us a great opportunity to let you hear what the not-normal sounds like.”

BYU nursing students work with manikins, including four high-fidelity ones, throughout their time in the nursing school. During their first three semesters, students use Anne and Kelly to run through the basics of inserting an IV, dressing wounds, and communicating with a patient. Often students will pair up, with one treating the manikin and the other vocalizing potential responses from the patient.


Appendages to the nursing manikins wait to be unwrapped.

Each one represents a significant investment in student education; according to Colleen Tingey, NLC supervisor, one Anne or Kelly and the accompanying equipment costs around $11,000 and lasts eight years. The high-fidelity manikins cost around $65,000 each and last only five.  Accordingly, the college makes use of high- and low-fidelity in order to maximize the investment for the students.

“It’s having the different ones that make the real success of the program,” Whipple says. “You really need both to do it well. The big ones seem like they’re better, but they’re good for certain things and [the mid-fidelity manikins] are better for some things.”

Whipple and Tingey, both nurses themselves, appreciate just how much manikins have changed how students are taught.

“I like the fact that it integrates more than just learning the skill. You’re practicing the communication and you’re bringing things together,” Whipple says. “I did go to nursing school, and I think, ‘Wow, I wish that I’d learned it this way.’”


Upcoming Event Lets Pokémon Go Players Get a Fun Workout

Attention all students who like to wander around at five in the morning to pursue Pokémon—on Saturday, October 22, the College of Nursing and the campus chapter of Sigma Theta Tau (a nursing honor society) are hosting a 3K walk/run event that will help bring your hunting habits to the daytime hours.

The free event, called the Pokéthon, is designed to help students increase their fitness while also having a good time. Participants are encouraged to dress up in costumes or team colors, and the cherry on top is that the course will feature Pokémon Go lures.

Normally, Pokémon wouldn’t top anyone’s list of exercise inducers, but since the release of Pokémon Go, things have changed.

Nursing assistant professor Gaye Ray is an avid fan of the game (her favorite creature is Bulbasaur and she is on the red team), not just for its ability to entertain, but also for its health benefits to players.


“I love Pokémon Go for a couple of reasons, but my favorite reason is that I think it’s a huge motivator for people to get up and move, and that’s what staying healthy is all about,” she says.

Ray points out that the game requires you to seek out Pokémon, which is why it adds extra incentive for her to do her exercise walks. Added on to that is the requirement to walk certain distances before Pokémon eggs will hatch in the game. Her level is full of eggs that require between two to five kilometers (roughly 1.2-3.1 miles) of walking to unlock.

“Some of the best guidance for us is to have cardiovascular exercise—or exercise enough to make us sweat—so you have to put some ‘oomph’ into it, forty minutes four or more days a week, so I think that people who play Pokémon Go really do get out,” she says. One of her students, who before did not get that much exercise, now runs a couple of miles each day to advance in the game.hand

Craig Nuttall, one of the professors who is helping to plan the Pokéthon, believes that getting students active in a fun way will have a stronger impact than students trying to force themselves to work out.

“I think having fun and feeling good is the most important part,” he says. “If they’re having fun while they’re exercising, they’re going to be more inclined to doing it.”

All students interested in the Pokéthon should register on the event website ( The race will begin at 9 am, with check-in starting at 8:30 am. All members of the community are invited to attend.


College of Nursing Hosts “Nursing Know-How Academy” for BYU donors and families

The BYU College of Nursing was selected to participate in this year’s President’s Leadership Council (PLC) Family Reunion. Members of the PLC brought their children and grandchildren to campus to participate in several activities, including a stop at our Nursing Learning Center (NLC).

d-13The PLC is a group of donors who each give $1 million or more in donations to BYU. Every two or three years they come to campus with their families to tour and learn more about a few colleges at the university. Being selected to participate meant a lot to the College of Nursing and presented a great opportunity to get to know the donors a little better.

“The goal for the Nursing Know-How Academy was to meet the donors and give everyone who came some fun, hands-on experiences so they could learn more about the nursing profession,” says Carol Kounanis, an associate director, major gifts at the College of Nursing. “We were so impressed with the turnout we had and the excitement from the kids who got to participate.”

Participants were guided through six different stations in the NLC where they learned about several aspects of nursing and health. Nursing student volunteers walked the participants through proper hand washing techniques, splint application and some hands-on interaction with our high-fidelity manikins.

dsc01860Five-year-old Lily from Orem, Utah and her twin, Mia, both used a UV light and teaching gel called GloGerm to see if their hand washing technique got rid of all the germs on their hands. “I liked washing hands best because it helps you not get sick,” Lily says. “I learned to wash my hands at certain times.”

Many other participants mentioned how much they enjoyed using a stethoscope to hear a high-fidelity manikin’s heartbeat. At the end of the activity, everyone received a pin for their PLC Family Reunion lanyard and selected from a variety of College of Nursing gifts, such as sunscreen or lip balm.

Lori Collyer, Lily and Mia’s grandma, noticed how excited both her granddaughters were during the activities and is thrilled that they both want to be nurses for Halloween this year. “When they have an impression at this age it really makes a difference,” she says. “It sets things up for what they might want to go for in their future.”

Service in September: How a BYU Nursing Alumna Raised Money for Childhood Cancer Research


                      BYU nursing alumna Beth Vanderwalker stands in front several of the gold bows that she helped sell this month to support childhood cancer research.

One of BYU’s slogans is “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” Nursing alumna Beth Vanderwalker (BS ’95) has spent September turning that phrase into reality as she dedicates time to help combat childhood cancer.

“I have always been involved in charity events and promoting causes close to my heart,” she says. This month, that dedication was taken up a notch.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. While not as prevalent as cancer in adults, statistics show that it is the second largest cause of death in children ages five to nine (the first is accidents). The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 10,380 children will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States, and that 1,250 children under the age of fifteen will die from it.

For Vanderwalker, it’s a cause that hits close to home. One of her high school friend’s young daughters passed away from cancer, and her husband lost a brother to it earlier in life. However, she says, “there continues to be very little funds available for pediatric cancer research.”

One organization dedicated to changing that is Cookies for Kids’ Cancer; founded by parents who lost their child to cancer, the group sells cookies to raise money for childhood cancer research. It also organizes fundraising events within communities.


This year, Vanderwalker worked as a neighborhood representative in her neighborhood’s “Paint the Town Gold” event, which supported Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This was a mix of fundraising activities, including selling gold bows to hang on mailboxes (gold is the color for National Childhood Cancer Awareness month), getting donations from local businesses, and bake sales. The impact was far-reaching in many aspects, including monetarily.

“In just two weeks, I was able to raise $1100 and have 110 yellow bows displayed throughout our neighborhood,” she says. “Working with other neighborhood representatives, a total of over 1600 bows were sold, raising over $16,000.” This is money that will be donated to help study childhood cancer and how to treat it.

Vanderwalker appreciates how her family and many others have worked together to make this initiative a success, and also that it has been an eye-opener for the neighborhood.

“This has brought awareness of the research needs and has also brought attention to families that live in our community that are fighting this fight,” she says. “When a child gets cancer, you feel helpless.  Much of this burden falls on the family supporting the child.  This event has allowed me to honor these families, remember children that have passed away, and give back in a small way.”

With September coming to a close, Vanderwalker looks forward to getting involved next year. Some may wonder how much impact one person serving can have, but Vanderwalker believes that “every little bit of effort adds up quickly.”

“As a wife, mother, and working full time, it would be easy to think it is too hard to find time for anything more,” she says. “However, this event gave me the opportunity to meet new neighbors, bring awareness to the needs of children and families fighting cancer, and raise money for research.  It’s amazing what you can do with just a few hours to make a difference.”


Senior Gets Five-Star Internship in the Lone Star State

Nursing senior Stephen Winert has his future in the palm of his hand. Thanks to a summer internship, not only does he have a solid job with a major hospital awaiting him after graduation in December, but he is already used to the environment there and knows what medical specialty he wants to consider.

At the end of last year, Winert heard from a close family friend about an internship offered by Houston Methodist Hospital, located in Houston, Texas. Not only would it be paid, but he would also get to work in one of the country’s few hospitals awarded the prestigious “Magnet Recognition” for outstanding nursing.

He decided to try his luck and apply, competing with around two hundred other students for twenty available positions.

“It worked out perfectly,” he says. “I went through the interview process—a phone interview, a Skype interview, and then made it past the cuts.”first-photo

Winert stands in his Y gear with Houston Methodist Hospital in the background.

The internship took place in June and July of this year, and Winert was able to fully immerse himself in the typical life of a professional nurse by working alongside nurses in the neurological intensive care unit. For him, the rigorous nature of the program offered a look into the realities of nursing life.

“The great thing about this internship was you are working a full nursing schedule, three days a week, three twelve hour shifts a week, so you’re getting that continuity of care working with the same patients,” he says. “I did many things that nurses do, such as take patients down to get a CT scan or help them with their tubing. There’s so much going on, especially when you see ongoing patient care. There are so many factors that we don’t get to view as student nurses going to the hospital once a week.”

The saying goes that practice makes perfect, and Winert believes that all that practice helped him become a better nurse in many ways.

“I improved a lot through the two months. It felt good to improve, not just with nursing skills, but also with knowledge of the patients’ diagnoses and things like that, but also critical thinking skills, being able to understand how to plan for my patient and better care for them,” he says.second-picture

 Winert (far left) stands with peers at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Winert’s patients were not the only ones benefiting from him working in the neuro ICU. He also discovered that he loved neurology. “I just really became interested in the brain and how it functions,” he says.

The two months offered Winert many opportunities to hone his skills and get used to the hectic nursing profession. Beyond patient treatment, he also worked on a research project and connected with nursing students from all across the nation. Given that Winert and his wife are both from Texas, the food and the proximity to family were bonuses.

However, the biggest benefit was yet to come.

Houston Methodist also uses the internship to identify possible future employees. Because of his performance during the internship, Winert was offered a position in the neuro ICU after graduation. He accepted, happy to reenter the world that he has already come to love.

“So with this internship, now when I start a job as a registered nurse I’m just going to be a step ahead and be able to jump into it a lot easier,” he says.


For all students interested in internships, Winert has some advice.