Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nursing student demonstrates Etch-A-Skillz

Nine-year-old Madeline Skillings stared at her reflection in the dark airplane window. Although they had only been en route to Hawaii for an hour, it felt like days. She wiggled restlessly and poked her mom sitting in the seat next to her, asking for something to play with. Reaching into a bag, her mom pulled out a small, red rectangle with a gray screen and two little white knobs. For the next several hours, Madeline drew picture after picture on the new toy. Before she knew it, she was getting off the plane. She came out of the gate with something very special under her arm, her first Etch A Sketch.

Madeline, now in her third semester at the BYU College of Nursing, has built up her Etch A Sketch skills throughout the years to become a great artist. She is mentored by Christoph Brown (the world’s fastest Etch A Sketch artist), and just this summer became the brand ambassador for Spin Master, a toy making company.

Although Madeline can also draw and paint, she loves the Etch A Sketch because of its simplicity. “I think that today there are a lot of things competing for people’s attention,” she says. “Typically, those are things that dazzle and excite you. I like being able to make something beautiful that draws attention away from touch screens towards something that’s really basic.”

Despite challenging classes and clinicals, Madeline still likes to Etch A Sketch on the side. She has a YouTube channel and Instagram account to showcase her artwork. Madeline always shakes the Etch A Sketch after she finishes a piece, so most people only ever see a picture or video of her art. For Madeline, this temporary aspect of Etch A Sketch art is beautiful.

“People get so sad when I shake it,” she says. “But I tell them I think it’s beautiful that it doesn’t last. You can’t preserve it or hang it on a wall, so you have to enjoy it in the moment. Every piece you make is truly original, then it’s gone, and you can’t re-create that ever again.”

Although being an Etch A Sketch artist hasn’t played directly into her nursing career so far, Madeline has learned several lessons that have helped her become a better nurse.

“You definitely learn patience because Etch A Sketching is something that doesn’t come easily at first,” she says. “It takes work to master and it’s not always fun, but it’s so worth it when you finish.”

It’s the same with nursing: not every experience is fun. It’s hard work, and sometimes you have to keep reminding yourself of why you do it. But, every once in a while, you have a moment where you think, ‘Ah, this is why I’m doing it’, and you see why it’s worth it. For me, it’s typically when I’m with a patient and I’ve been able to do something small that’s made their day better.”

Click here to watch a time-lapse of Madeline’s drawing for the College of Nursing.

Enhancement in Education, Part Five: Nursing from the Seoul

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.

An Arab proverb states that there is always something to learn from experimentation. Assistant teaching professor Debra Wing and her husband found that true during their recent mission in South Korea, and it may be applicable for students with whom Wing works in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC).

As a long-time nurse and College of Nursing employee, Wing has never been a stranger to the medical world. However, a mission in a foreign country definitely offered opportunities for experimentation in unfamiliar circumstances. She accepted the challenge, and as a result of her willingness to try something new, she had unexpected results.

“I have not felt the same spirit of care until serving in a mission,” Wing says. That spirit was developed as she worked with LDS soldiers and their families that many times were facing intense challenges in life. One blessing of the experience was that she developed more sensitivity for nursing students trying to stay on top of a rigorous curriculum.

Another benefit was the opportunity to work in a local clinic where she taught staff about simulation. This was a close-to-home topic, since much of Wing’s work, as well as the nursing curriculum, centers around the simulation program in the NLC.

“Taking those skills and applying them in Korea in the facilities where I worked, I helped the public health nurses with several programs, but a lot of them were really based on simulation principles,” she says.

Teaching Korean medical workers and teaching BYU students are not completely different experiences. For some BYU students, working with manikins while being taped can seem daunting. However, like Wing and those she taught in Korea, sometimes students have to be willing to experiment with new ideas in a new environment in order to benefit from the program.

According to Wing, it brings tremendous benefits.

“It’s an opportunity for students to practice in a safe environment in context of what they’re learning,” Wing says. “It also gives them the opportunity to see experiences that they may not have in the hospital.”

Wing thinks that students who overcome the hurdles of engaging in different activities in the NLC are able to better appreciate the teaching there.

“I think that as they participate more, students do understand how valuable the simulated experiences are for them,” Wing says. “It’s a much more effective way for students to learn than to read chapters in a book, listen to lectures, and go to a hospital and hope that you’re doing everything that you’ve read in the book or heard in the lecture.”

Wing now plans to keep helping the program expand as she applies the insights developed in her mission. With luck, students will continue to have the same vision of their learning and growth potential.

“It’s really exciting to see how it has grown as far as the use,” Wing says. “I don’t know that I see things that need to be improved, particularly as much as I see that we have expanded so much, and that we have more people working now in simulation, and I see the potential that we have for continued growth.”

Enrichment in Education, Part Four: Simulation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

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.

This past summer, sixteen BYU College of Nursing faculty and staff received three days of intensive simulation training. The process, one could say, has modeled a path to success for any nursing college.

The course, offered by Intermountain Healthcare and hosted at LDS Hospital, was tailored specifically to the needs of BYU staff. It was in part the brainchild of assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker, who, after six years of working with simulation, felt that it would be beneficial to standardize the training that college employees received.

“They held a course for us, and it was great because as a team we were able to experience specific issues to our simulation and work on very specific items related to BYU nursing, so it was really helpful for us to be there as a team,” Hunsaker says.

After receiving a thick binder full of notes, the teachers were taught important ideas about using simulation in instruction, including the need for establishing good communication between students and helping them get engaged in the activities.

“By going to that course, all of us were able to get that same consistent information, so now we can hopefully provide a better experience for the students of all semesters who participate in simulation,” Hunsaker says.


NLC Supervisor Colleen Tingey works with other staff to practice simulation drills intended to benefit students.

Part of the process was participating in and creating scenarios; it was as though the teachers became the students as they practice different situations and were critiqued on how they performed. Staff also worked to implement new ideas into existing simulations as well as develop new ones for this year’s teaching.

“We were able as groups to develop objectives for all of our simulations and then put them into consistent formats throughout all semesters,” Hunsaker says. “So now we have all of them set up so that they’ll have a prebrief, a simulation, and a debriefing moment.”

Getting everyone on the same page was a key motivator to implement the training, and the college is making all efforts to preserve the progress made. Now all new staff will be able to take the course when hired, and there are two meetings a semester to evaluate how well simulation principles are being applied in the classrooms.

While the training may be costly, Dean Patricia Ravert believes that simulation is “really integral to our program” and thus merits the effort to advance it.

“We want to have a top-notch program, which we do, and we want to maintain that,” she says. “We want to make sure that the students really have great experiences.” Both she and Hunsaker believe that the training establishes a stronger base of unity and understanding among the simulation staff.

“It really brings us together as a team because we all have the same foundation now,” Hunsaker says. “We all know we can all give good, valid information, not that it was bad before, but I think that it just brought everything together and provided so much consistency. Now we’re all using the same terminology. We all know how a sim is supposed to run.”


Dr. Stephanie L. Ferguson To Address Nursing College Event


This year’s annual Scholarly Works Conference brings a special treat for BYU nursing students: a chance to hear from the world-renowned nursing expert Dr. Stephanie L. Ferguson.

Dr. Ferguson has years of experience in the health industry. She founded and is president of a health-consulting firm that has clients all over the world. Her travels have seen her visit over 140 countries.

Her employers have included the World Health Organization and the White House. Leadership has been a defining character of her career, with positions including:

  • Elected member of the National Academy of Medicine/Institute of Medicine
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Catholic health Association
  • Director of the International Council of Nurses’ Leadership for Global Change Programme
  • Co-chair of the American Academy of Nursing’s Institute for Nursing Leadership
  • Director of the Washington Health Policy Institute in the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics
  • Director of the ICN-Burdett Global Nursing Leadership Institute, located in Switzerland

Dr. Ferguson’s topic is “Building and Sustaining Healthy Nations: Leading the Way Forward.” While registration for the conference is now closed, the college will provide information next week about Dr. Ferguson’s presentation, as well as about select breakout sessions.

Why serve? Nursing students practice Healer’s art 24/7

2Clinicals, class time, projects, homework: nursing students don’t always have a very flexible schedule. Under such a heavy class load, most of us would savor any available free time, hunkering down with a blanket and indulging in a well-deserved Netflix binge. However, two BYU College of Nursing students are taking their free time and doing just the opposite: serving.

Third semester students Johny Jacobs and Elise Millward are involved with the BYU Center for Service and Learning (Y-Serve) and volunteer during their free time. With a rigorous school schedule and time-consuming responsibilities, they are staying busy and learning to put the Healer’s art into daily practice.

johnny_2As a member of the Y-Serve marketing team, Johny spreads his love for service. He has a conviction that service benefits the community and makes people happy and successful. Y-Serve commitments also stretch him to use available free time more wisely.

“Being in both the nursing program and Y-Serve really help manage my time,” he says. “I procrastinate a little bit sometimes, but having such a busy schedule keeps me on task. When I get an assignment, I’ll have a good estimation of how long it will take me and I HAVE to get it done. If I didn’t have that, I would just be distracted on social media.”

Elise Millward currently serves the program director for Special Olympics at Y-Serve, providing sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It’s a lot of work, but she feels the extra time she puts in serving people outside of class is well worth it.

1“Serving these athletes has taught me how to love and how to have compassion,” she says. “I’m gaining valuable skills and it’s so fulfilling to experience their pure, innocent love. It seems like they have less than I do, but in having less they know how to give more.”

Both Johny and Elise know that serving people makes them happiest. Elise also recognizes that her classes and extra service are stepping stones that will teach her how to help others experience the Healer’s art, the same way she experienced it when she was sick.

While on her mission in New Jersey, Elise became quite ill. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome kept her immobile in bed. Mission rules made it difficult to get clearance to go to the hospital. She spent about a week and a half in bed, spoon-fed by her companion, get weaker and weaker.

One night Elise knew that regardless of clearance, she needed to get to the hospital. “I knew that if I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up,” she says. “I was going to die. I told my companion, ‘Get me to the hospital now. I don’t care if I’m cleared, just get me there.’”

Elise was rushed to the hospital and placed in the ICU as doctors worked to save her life. Her experience there would have a lasting impact on her decision to become a nurse, and to learn the Healer’s art.

“I remember waking up and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude as I looked up and I saw this really small, young girl who was my nurse,” she says.

img_4680“I knew that if the Savior were here, he would be playing her role as I lay on my deathbed. He would be the one who had all the skills to know what to do if my health tanked. He would be the one who was by my side through the night, making sure that I was o.k. He would get to know me and my hopes and dreams. He would make me feel like I really had a future, even though everything was uncertain at the time.”

Despite their sometimes hectic schedules, Johny and Elise couldn’t be happier and plan on helping out with Y-Serve as long as they can.

“Serving helps you focus less on your own needs and more on others,” Johny says. “I’ve found that having a less-selfish perspective really does make me happier. One of my favorite quotes about service comes from Arthur C. Brooks when he said, ‘You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.’ I wouldn’t give up the feeling I get when serving for anything.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Y-Serve and service opportunities can visit