Monthly Archives: March 2017

Literally, Raising the Bar

Most nurses can lift patients and their spirits, but Maddy Tipton, fourth-semester BYU nursing student, can lift much more than that.

Starting in 2010, Maddy sparked her interest for Olympic-style weightlifting while participating in CrossFit. This fitness program incorporates many aspects of different sports, and Olympic-style weightlifting is one of them. Maddy always had a knack for lifting and was constantly participating in CrossFit competitions. However, her athletic dreams came to a tragic halt due to an accident while rock climbing. Luckily, she did not break her wrist, but she still had to rest and let it mend for about a year.

Once Maddy recovered, she knew that she wanted to do some sort of sport and after deciding that CrossFit and BYU women’s rugby were not what she wanted to do, she looked into Olympic-style weightlifting. Near her home in California is one of the best weightlifting gyms in North America, called Catalyst Athletics. There Maddy learned to lift. She took her surface level knowledge of lifting that she had learned with CrossFit and started to train.

Now, Maddy trains for about 10 to 12 hours a week. She wakes up five days a week around 4:30 am and goes to her gym in American Fork. There she trains, doing all sorts of strength training exercises.



Maddy performing “the snatch” at The 2016 National University Championships 


In Olympic-style weightlifting, there are two different lifts: “the snatch” and “the clean and jerk.” Everything that Maddy does in the gym is to prepare and perfect these two lifts. This means she practices lifting the bar from different positions and doing “a ton of different squatting: back squats, front squats, overhead squats, all the squats.” She works with dumbbells as well and does a lot of pushing work, strict presses, and overhead strength training.

Her rest day is the day she has clinical, and still, she wakes up before 5 am.

Weightlifting originated in Europe, and therefore the weights measurements are in kilograms, which Maddy says, “for many nurses, this is applicable because we know what kilos are.” However, she did convert from kilograms to pounds in response to how much she can lift. In “the snatch,” she can lift 72 kilos (about 158 lbs.), in “the clean and jerk,” she lifts 85 kilos (187 lbs.), and her best back squat totaled 112 kilos (246 lbs.).



Maddy mid squat, performing “the clean and jerk” at The 2016 National University Championships


Maddy has competed in quite a few local and state meets, and two national level meets, the Junior National Championships in Philadelphia and the University National Championships in New Orleans. She plans to continue to compete at these levels, though she says that we will not be seeing her in the Olympics themselves because she is a nurse first. Instead of living, breathing, and sleeping weightlifting, Maddy chooses to excel in school, work part-time, and participate in other extra-curricular activities.

“I value my career in nursing and where that’s going as well as my family and future family.” Even though she loves to lift, Maddy explains, “Nursing will always be a bigger priority than lifting, but when I can fit them together, I will absolutely do both. When I’m able to lift, it helps me be a better nurse in a weird way, because I’m able to manage everything better. Lifting is an outlet.”

Maddy raises the bar above her head and for all those around her, being a great example of hard work, balancing life, and endurance.

BYU College of Nursing Annual Essay Contest to Award $150 First Prize!

Get some extra cash for your summer kick-off by participating in the annual College of Nursing’s essay contest.

Current College of Nursing students (pre-nursing, undergraduate, and graduate) are welcome to submit an essay with the theme “Engaging in the Scholarship of the Discipline” by 4 p.m., Friday, April 21, for a chance to win $150. The second prize winner will receive $100 (checks will be issued in May 2017). Alumni from December of last year are also welcome to participate.

The essay should range between 600 to 800 words and include a title. Coursework that meets the competition’s criteria is acceptable as long as it was written during the 2016-17 school year; maintain patient privacy, HIPPA, and FERPA policies also apply. Patient or nurse mentor names may be changed, but please indicate this. Student names will be included as the author of the material. Individuals may submit more than one article, however, only one cash prize per person will be awarded.

Submit the essay to The College of Nursing will announce the winners on Tuesday, April 25 on its Facebook page.

*Submitted entries may be used in future BYU College of Nursing publications.

“Moments that Matter”

As a part of the 50th anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, a book was compiled called “The Healer’s Art: 50 stories for 50 years.” It has been 15 years since this book was first published and these stories were shared. We plan to regularly post selections from this book to help each of us remember and cherish the experiences of nursing and learning the Healer’s art. 


Moments that Matter

by Timothy Bartell (BS ’02)

            As a new nurse, I started working in a long term care center, which can be very challenging. Often times I would start working the minute I got there and continue working the eight-hour shift until the end, without any breaks. Patient numbers were always high. Most of the time I had twenty to fifty patients at a time. This left very little time for the individual patient care and attention many of these residents needed. There is one particular resident who has stood out as I have considered this. I will call her Ruth.

During the later part of Ruth’s life, she had several battles with cancer. Until the last few months of her life, she had won those battles. Finally, the cancer-fighting drugs seemed to work no longer. She lost an unbelievable amount of weight as the cancer started to spread. She also lost nearly all of her ability to function. Eventually, all of her ADLs (activities of daily living) were done by nurses and CNAs.

Her physical condition made it very uncomfortable for her to remain in the same position for extended periods of time. She would ask for help with positioning each time someone entered the room. Many of the facility staff became very impatient with her, especially when she requested help only minutes after receiving it. Often CNAs complained about having to work with Ruth because of her constant requests for attention.

I felt a lot of compassion for Ruth since I lost a close relative to cancer. As I watched the effects of cancer in Ruth, I remembered the discomfort my relative had gone through. I decided that whenever possible, I would take the time to help Ruth reposition and get more comfortable. Each time I would do so, she would take my hand and offer a sincere, heartfelt thank you. At the time I did not consider the significance of those expressions of gratitude.

Her husband died many years earlier, leaving her with two young sons to raise on her own. She worked hard to raise and provide for her children. She remained spiritually strong all of her life and taught her sons to follow her example. Now, this strong, independent woman was not able to do anything for herself. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have been active and independent all of my life and now unable to do anything for myself. I tried to imagine the frustration she must have felt because of her helplessness.

In her final days, she was hardly able to swallow. We struggled to get her to eat or drink anything. Her doctor stopped her regular medications and ordered medication only for comfort measures.

The night before she died was very busy. I went to her room and tried to help her drink a small amount of supplement. I worked with her for a few minutes and then repositioned her. Just as I was about to leave she took my hand and kissed it, looked into my eyes and offered the most sincere thank you I have ever heard in my life. I bent down and told her what a great person she was and that she had led a great life. Somehow I knew that this would be the last time I would see Ruth alive, and I believe she knew it too.

There were never any heroics in my actions. In the end, it was a little bit of extra time that mattered. Though I often spent only moments with her, those moments not only increased her comfort but showed her that someone cared. Let us, as nurses, never forget that it is often effort outside what is “expected” that matters to our patients.



Refugee Supply Drive Permits Students to Show BYU Pride and Help Others

Are you a BYU nursing student looking for a way to help refugees and have some friendly competition with the University of Utah? Look no further than the Sigma Theta Tau “Supplying Homes of Refuge” drive happening now in the College of Nursing.

The drive is a contest between the four Utah chapters of the international nursing honor association (located at BYU, Weber State University, Westminster College, and the University of Utah) to gather specific supplies for refugees living in Salt Lake City. BYU students are encouraged to donate lotion, diapers, toiletries, socks, baby care products, and underwear of all sizes.

Teaching professor Sheri Palmer, who is heading the drive at BYU, says that the donations are critically needed by local refugee families.

“The biggest thing is that the refugees cannot buy all the stuff that we’re asking for,” she says, explaining that the food stamps refugees live on will often not allow them to buy basic hygiene products.

Time is running out to donate, with the final collection day being Tuesday March 28, 2017. Any donations should be brought to the purple boxes outside the break rooms on the fourth and first floors of the SWKT. Whichever chapter collects the most supplies wins a pizza party.

Connecting Emotions in the Scriptures with Mental Health

“Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures” is the new exhibit in the Brigham Young University Education in Zion Gallery. Until mid-November 2018, viewers from all across campus have the opportunity to learn about emotions in the scriptures through interactive displays and thought-provoking visual aids.

The exhibit is the second in a series by the Education in Zion Gallery that examines connections between the scriptures and areas of academic interest. Emotions—positive, negative, and neutral—are highly connected to mental health, and therefore psychiatric nursing.

Nursing students interested in Mental Health and those taking Nursing 461 and Nursing 462 should be especially interested. The emotions featured in the scripture-based exhibit are the basic, universally recognized ones: happiness, anger, disgust, surprise, sadness, and fear. The exhibit includes graphs, charts, and other diagrams to help students visualize the emotions felt by deities and mortals in both the scriptures and modern-day life.

The display poses many rhetorical questions to help students better recognize their own emotions, which in turn helps them develop the critical skills to analyze other peoples’ emotions. The first thing you will see upon entering the exhibit is a mirror asking you to identify your emotions.

South Wall

The exhibit includes an explanation of why emotions like happiness, anger, and fear are important to humankind, providing many scriptural narratives that involve feelings as well as quotes from contemporary authors about those same feelings. Part of the exhibit features a spinning wheel, but instead of listing prizes to win, this wheel features solutions to emotions or unhealthy reactions to those emotions. Some of these solutions include, “Endure a little longer” and “Go to the temple.”

The display will help students to recognize that emotions are not always negative and all emotions come from God.

When they attend, nursing students specifically will expand their ability to study from scripture and begin to understand the divine origin of common adult and child psychiatric disorders. Knowing how to recognize these emotions, and understanding their divine origin, will also help nursing students develop communication skills suited for individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Being able to communicate, considerately and confidently, with those suffering from mental and emotional disorders is a specific aim of nursing courses relating to psychiatric nursing. Nursing students, from the exhibit, will learn to “Integrate the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as part of caring,” which is one of the Nursing Program’s outcomes.

Come, look in the mirror, spin the wheel, and enjoy this new exhibit! It is a unique opportunity to learn more about the emotions found within the scriptures and start to discover different truths related to psychiatric nursing.

The Magic Yarn Project and BYU Team Up to Make Wigs for Childhood Cancer Patients

Last Saturday in what turned out to be a landmark service project, over 400 people crowded the Wilkinson Center ballroom to create Disney-themed wigs for kids with cancer. The project, sponsored by The Magic Yarn Project and the BYU College of Nursing, was a massive success.

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The Magic Yarn Project co-founder Holly Christensen works with volunteers to prepare a Moana wig.

“I did not expect to have so many people show up,” Holly Christensen, a BYU College of Nursing alumna and co-founder of The Magic Yarn Project, says.

The Magic Yarn Project is a non-profit group started by Christensen in Alaska. It relies entirely on donors and volunteers to make the soft-yarn hairpieces, so the BYU event represented a huge increase in both productivity and publicity.

“We’ve never done a workshop this big,” she says. “I’m completely touched and overwhelmed by how many people came and it’s hard for me not to get too emotional thinking about it but it’s been awesome.”

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Volunteers make Moana-inspired wigs

During the course of the five-hour project, 185 wigs were made, with styles ranging from Elsa to Jack Sparrow to Rapunzel and other Disney-related characters. This was a record number for the Magic Yarn Project, and during the event, many participants were touched by the potential impact of their work.

“I really enjoyed this,” student Dhina Clement says. “I definitely felt like this was the most productive that I have ever been.”

Nursing student Jessica Wright agrees. “This is an awesome volunteer experience because you feel like what you’re doing is helping someone,” she says. “You can imagine having the wig on a little girl’s head and how happy she’ll be when she sees it.”

Students were not the only ones working—many members of the wider Utah Valley community arrived, oftentimes with large amounts of children in tow in order for many hands to make light work.

“I heard about this through a friend from work, and I thought it was just a great idea to come and just put my effort into it for any of the kids who need it,” says Esme Still, whose children worked beside her. In addition, five nursing professors were also present braiding and preparing wigs.

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The Wilkinson Center ballroom was completely full of volunteers. 185 wigs were made in the five-hour project.

Around half of the wigs made at this event will be given to patients at Primary Children’s Hospital, while others will be sent to patients in Louisiana and Arizona. The impacts of the project, however, extend also to the participants, who felt grateful to have been able to contribute to the event.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity to bring some joy to some people and it was really easy and fun and simple,” student Sam Smith says. “It’s nice to wake up on a Saturday morning and do something for someone else.”

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Anyone interested in future volunteer opportunities with The Magic Yarn Project should visit

On I Love Lucy, Sleep, and Well-being

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

“Do you have to do the assignment?”

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles’ question hit us like a ton of bricks covered in bowling balls flung by a catapult. Not do an assignment on time? What was this heresy?

This was Nursing Stress Management, round two.

I was definitely in need of some de-stressing after a week of essays and tests. Based on the looks on the faces of the other students, I was not the only one.

We started by pairing off and talking about what we had done that week to relieve our anxiety, and then we practiced taking our pulse. That’s when we dove into the world of relaxation techniques.


Students discuss their week and how they handled the stress of being a nursing student.

Miles showed a clip from “I Love Lucy” (I realize that some in the audience may not be familiar with this classic program, in which case I recommend Googling it, along with Dwight Eisenhower and the first color televisions). In it, Lucy struggles to keep up with a conveyer belt continuously carrying chocolate for her to wrap.

The students laughed, no doubt finding comparison between Lucy’s frantic maneuvering and their own balancing act (the most recent nursing conference was called “Struggle to Juggle”). That was exactly the point Miles was getting at, and she transitioned into a discussion on how to prioritize tasks at hand.

We used a mental exercise to imagine sifting through our various tasks and choosing which were most important. Following that, we used jumbo crayons (a very nice touch) to recreate a normal day schedule. As we did so, people commented on how difficult it was to schedule even basic tasks like sleeping a minimum of eight hours.

“Why won’t eight [hours] happen?” she inquired. We all wondered why, mentioning the various assignments that we had to accomplish.

That’s about the point that Miles dropped the bombshell question mentioned at the start of this story. Cognitive dissonance abounded as we struggled to wrap our heads around the idea of putting our emotional and physical well-being above homework.

“It’s more about you than the assignment,” she said. In her mind as a professor, she said, a student emailing her to say that they would turn in an assignment late instead of rushing it was worthy of praise.

What she said made sense. If we let our bodies and minds deteriorate below a load of impending social, physical, and academic demands, it defeats the point of living. We are meant to progress, and in order to do that we must learn how to prioritize and accomplish tasks in a way that leaves us sane at the end.

To conclude the class, Miles told us to get comfortable and close our eyes as she played incredibly relaxing sounds and music. Life could not get much better than this, I thought, slouched over in my chair. Then I remembered that finger painting week is coming up. Best work assignment ever.