Monthly Archives: May 2017

Nursing Student Works to Raise Money to Combat Childhood Cancer and Honor His Grandfather

BYU College of Nursing student James Reinhardt’s grandfather has always been a positive example for him. He loves admiring his grandfather’s woodwork in the handmade clock in the family house, and he describes the former elementary school teacher as a peacemaker and a critical influence in the life of Reinhardt’s father.

There is only one catch: Reinhardt has never met him. His grandfather died of cancer in 1991, but his legacy lives on. That legacy is inspiring Reinhardt to participate in the Great Cycling Challenge USA fundraiser this June, where he will be biking hundreds of miles to raise money to combat childhood cancer.

“I saw it on Facebook, of all places,” Reinhardt says of the event. “It’s essentially where people across the nation will ride for the fight against cancer.” For the challenge, riders pledge to ride a certain number of miles, and they recruit friends and family to donate either by each mile or in a lump sum. Reinhardt hopes to reach $500 by the end of the month.

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Reinhardt’s grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1991

To complete the challenge, Reinhardt is using a bike that actually belonged to his father while he was in college, and his grandfather’s story drives him to reach the 200-mile goal he has set.

“It’s cool to me to be riding my dad’s bike in honor of his dad who passed from cancer because we all think we’re going to be 100 and that you’re going to be able to see your great grandkids,” he says. “Well, he has to see them from the other side of the veil. That would be pretty cool if we could get more and more research so people could expect to live past their retirement age.”

The Great Cycle Challenge USA’s website says that its riders have gone 3,397,199 miles over the past two years and have raised $4,717,515 for cancer research. Riders often offer incentives to donors to contribute, and Reinhardt is considering letting the highest donor choose a costume for him to wear the last week of June.

Anyone who wishes to support Reinhardt can go to his rider page to donate (https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/JamesReinhardt). Others who want to be riders can go to the Great Cycle Challenge USA website and sign up.

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Learning the Truth Behind The Healer’s Art

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. 

Learning the Truth Behind The Healer’s Art

Robyn Carlsen

When I began college, choosing a major was hard because I found it unfathomable to have to decide on that one thing I enjoyed enough to commit to for the rest of my life. When I finally chose nursing and began the prerequisites, it made so much sense. I had been sick much of my life with asthma, allergies, kidney stones, and infections; I felt there was no one better to empathize with those in pain. After all, what more could an eighteen year old girl go through? I had been in the hospital more times than all my known acquaintances combined. When I began the nursing program, I was confident in the hospital setting, with the medical terms, and with the seemingly complicated medical technology. I was going to be able to master this profession. I guess I could say I was “prepared” many years before! All of my confident empathy and nonchalance regarding patients vanished one term. It forever changed how I thought about myself and how I interacted with others.

During an oncology nursing elective, I arrived at the children’s hospital outpatient oncology clinic prepared to learn as much as I could about childhood cancer. We saw the first patient around 8:00 am and prepared him to see the doctor and answer any questions. Matt and his mother were waiting inside one of the exam rooms. The nurse had prepared me to see the patient by telling me about the patient’s disease, history, and reason for the visit while walking to the room. Matt was a seven year old who had been diagnosed with Leukemia over a year ago. It had gone into remission, only to be rediscovered a month ago. At the beginning of every patient’s new treatment cycle, they were given a treatment calendar that displayed all the different injections, chemotherapy, and radiation appointments scattered over the next few weeks.

As I went over all of the appointments with Matt and his mother, something sprang alive inside me. Big eyes, scrapes on his knees, and dirty hands all contributed to the picture worthy of a Saturday Evening Post cover. Matt was old enough to know what was happening to his young body. He had not yet had a chance to attend school without this diagnoses hanging over his head. He was learning to read from the books that were stacked next to the IV poles and learning to tell time from the clocks that hung over his chemotherapy. It was an uncertain future for a boy who had barely had time to dream, but still had large ones.

I began to think about all the things he needed and how little my nursing knowledge and hospital experience mattered to this boy with a potentially fatal disease. I knew my controlled asthma, antibiotics, and dreams for the future were not the things that were going to enable me to sympathize with and help these patients. There was nothing I had experienced that would compare to the courage this boy was already required to show the world because of the harsh regular treatments he had to endure and unsure future he looked forward to.

As a student, I had extra time to spend with patients, and I quickly learned pediatric patients loved to play games. I played checkers with him to pass the time. When waiting for a doctor or for a treatment to end, it always seemed like the minutes stretched on for days. I never was very good at checkers and when he beat me for the second time in a row, I smiled and threw up my hands in defeat, “Why do I try playing against a master? You are just too good. Tell me your secrets!” He giggled and looked at me innocently while setting up the checkers for another triumph. We played until his mother got back from lunch, the treatment was over, and he had to leave. I waved goodbye and was rewarded with a blue smile – the product of a large sucker he was given.

I knew the things I had previously relied on to give me the credentials needed to survive nursing heartache and triumph day after day did not include a special insight into hospitalization. I wanted all the patients who were facing the unknown to know that although I had not experienced the many things they were dealing with, I did have something more than understanding: I had love.

Professor, Leader, Veteran, Nurse: Dr. Kent Blad

BOOM!

It was January 1991, during the Persian Gulf War. Another Iraqi Scud missile had just been knocked out of the sky by an American Patriot missile battery, a regular event given that Saddam Hussein’s forces were lobbing dozens of missiles at coalition troops. Some might have found the massive explosions unsettling—for military nurse Kent Blad, however, they ensured that he would sleep calmly that night, knowing that his odds of being hit by an Iraqi projectile were being significantly reduced.

Fast-forward twenty-six years to 2017, a year that marks two important milestones for Dr. Blad, now BYU College of Nursing associate dean. In June, it will be his 30th year as a registered nurse. Second, it is the end of his five-year term as associate dean, after which he will continue to teach as a professor. It will be one more transition in a career that has spanned decades and seen Blad serving everywhere from Provo to Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly, Blad didn’t start off studying nursing. He at first was majoring in pre-med to become an orthopedic surgeon. However, once he got married he started to have second thoughts about being a surgeon.

“When I got married, I figured I wanted to be married to this woman, not to a profession,” he says.

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Blad as a military nurse

His older brother was a military nurse, and his example helped Blad decide to enlist in the military and concurrently enroll in nursing school. He worked as a military operating room technician to pay his way, and once he had his degree he was made an officer. He served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where he had the harrowing experience of listening to Scud missiles streak across the sky. However, he was not injured during the war and was able to serve his country faithfully.

Blad left the military two years after the Persian Gulf War ended, and by this point, nursing was in his blood.

“The more I got into it, the more I obtained a passion for it because I soon realized that not only is it a profession, but it’s a service profession where you spend your whole life serving others,” Blad says.

For ten years, he worked at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, primarily in critical care. He then enrolled at BYU to get his master’s degree, which opened up new, unexpected doors to him. Immediately upon graduation, he was offered a job to work in the College, which he accepted.

This was in 1999, and he describes the following years as “18 wonderful years, not without their share of challenges, but certainly with many, many blessings.”

The first few were spent teaching, until 2012 when Dr. Patricia Ravert, the newly installed dean, asked him to serve as one of two associate deans in the college. He accepted, undertaking the many responsibilities that come with being an associate dean.

“There was never a time that I was able to just sit around and stare out the window,” he says. Blad’s duties include supervising the Nursing Learning Center and the advisement center, distributing faculty assignments, managing the curriculum, and attending various university meetings, all on top of continuing to teach classes and contributing to the discipline.

One of Blad’s biggest pieces of advice to both faculty and students is to find balance, stressing the fact that nothing should come before their top three priorities, namely their family, their well-being, and their religion. He had to take his own advice in this new job, constantly evaluating his life to see how he could better prioritize his time.

Despite the difficulty of managing so many different tasks, there have been numerous positive impacts that Blad can see in the past five years, mainly due to the cooperation between members of administration and the College faculty.

For one thing, the College just passed its accreditation review with no negative recommendations. The Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center was completed and is now running smoothly. Blad has also had the satisfying privilege of helping distribute increased scholarship funds to deserving students and helping coordinate teacher-student mentoring. The past five years have also seen a focus on promoting professionalism and courtesy among the faculty, which Blad says has created a wonderful working environment.

“That’s the thing I’m going to miss the most as a leader is that comradery and the love that you share with your peers,” Blad says. “We have tremendously excellent faculty. In my travels around the country, it is seconded by no other faculty in the US. We have the top faculty that can be put together.”

One of Blad’s biggest contributions to the College is also one of his biggest passions: treating veterans. Blad was the one who in 2005 recommended that one of the clinical practicums for the Public and Global Health nursing course be focused on treating veterans, and since then the program has become the leading program of its kind in the United States.

“It’s pretty special,” he says. “It’s a satisfaction in my career that is matched by nothing else.”

Outside of work, Blad spends most of his time either with family or as a bishopric member in a YSA ward. He and his wife have seven children, and eleven grandchildren. Now that he will have more time, he expects them to continue old family traditions like camping, hiking, and picnicking. Blad also enjoys doing yard work and gardening.

Help Celebrate the College of Nursing’s 65th Anniversary

 

To recognize the 65th anniversary of the Brigham Young University College of Nursing—established on September 29, 1952—we’re inviting all alumni and students to help celebrate. Since the influence of our program is known worldwide, we’re wondering, “Where will the college logo travel in the next few months?”

From now until September, we are asking our alums and students to do the following:

  1. Cut out/use the college logo from the 2017 college spring magazine (page 13) or print the image from above.
  2. Bring the logo with you on your journeys—near and far—this spring and summer.
  3. Take a photo of you, your family, or your friends with the logo in front of your favorite location.
  4. Post your images on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #Ynursing52.

 

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Kaylee Hunsaker at National Institute of Health in Washington, DC

If you are not planning any trips, no need to worry. Snap an image in your backyard, community, or workplace. These photos will track all of the adventures and accomplishments of our alumni and students. We’re planning a display in the fall 2017 issue of the magazine, during Homecoming, and at the Scholarly Works Conference in October. To be considered for inclusion in the fall magazine, entries must be received by June 15; otherwise, photos are due September 15.

 

You don’t do social media? Email high-resolution photos (JPG file in original size) to nursingpr@byu.edu, or mail them to BYU College of Nursing, 65th Anniversary Celebration, 572 SWKT, Provo, UT 84602.

Let’s see how far our celebration can go! Who will take the logo with them? Stay tuned.

 

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Cory Paul (BS’17) in Antarctica 

 

The Honor of Being a Nurse

This is one of the speeches from the recent convocation ceremony for the BYU College of Nursing, given by Aubrey Sandberg.

My friends, congratulations! We made it to graduation! We survived clinicals, pre & post assessments, tests, simulations, pass-offs, 5 am drives to Salt Lake, crazy amounts of traffic, care plans and NCLEX questions. We’ve pushed through blood, sweat, tears and all the other bodily fluids found at clinical. We’ve seen birth and death and everything in between and we made it! And for some of us that is a literal miracle. Thanks to our cohort, amazing professors, family and friends—we are here today. But most of all it is thanks to our Savior and His love and grace.

Many of you who know me know that I am obsessed with grace. My two mottos in life are “B is for Balance”—which is a speech for another day—and “Grace is Real.” Like many of you, I have been battling some intense health challenges all throughout the Nursing Program, and I know that it is only through His grace that I am literally standing here today. I really do love our nursing theme, “I would learn the Healer’s art” and the song Lord, I Would Follow Thee. I especially love the first verse where it talks about taking the time to help others and “finding strength beyond our own” as we strive to do so. I am a personal witness that this literal strength and help – or grace – is real and I am so grateful for my Savior because of it.

President Uchtdorf said, “When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love.” And I, like many of you, have been a recipient of that comfort, healing and love. My favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 17, when Christ is visiting the Americas and heals the sick and blesses the children.

Christ is about to leave for the night when he sees how sad the people look and says, “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy… [The Savior] did heal them every one.”

Sister Esplin quoted this passage in her April 2016 talk. She explains  how wonderful it will be when Christ comes again and how she imagines it will be very similar to this passage of scripture.  However, she said until He comes again “He asks us to be His hands.” President Uchtdorf likewise said, “As we emulate the Savior’s perfect example of love and service our hands become His hands”

As nurses, we have the unique opportunity to be instruments in the Hands of the Master Healer.  In the New Testament, most of the Savior’s time and miracles were spent healing others. We have that same opportunity today. While it is a daunting and emotional task at times, it is so rewarding. In Sister Esplin’s talk she said, “Don’t think of your task as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to learn what love really is.”

I have noticed there is a 100% correlation in my happiness/fulfillment as a nurse and how close I am to the Savior. On days where I am distant from Him for whatever reason, I find myself burned out. And nursing is hard! Besides the 13-hour shifts, holidays, weekends and nights-it is emotionally draining. It is hard to stand there when a patient is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it is painful to listen to children talk about abuse, we naturally ache when a woman is sobbing about her miscarriage and her fears about never being able to have children. And the only way I have been able to get through those emotional times is through the Savior. I love the quote from Preach My Gospel that says, “All that is unfair about life will be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

As nurses we see a lot of the unfair. However, we also see a lot of the joy: a mother’s face when you place her newborn in her arms, the look of relief on family member’s face when a surgery goes well, the day a NICU baby finally gets to go home, and the list goes on and on.

One specific example from my life happened when a patient got to ring the bell after cancer treatment. I did my capstone rotation on the Cancer/Transplant Unit at Primary Children’s and it definitely had its shares of ups and downs. However, one of the most rewarding experiences is after a child finishes their cancer treatment they get to ring a bell before they go home. I was there one day when a patient got to leave after a bone marrow transplant. This particular patient had relapsed and her prognosis did not look good. However, after months of being in the hospital, she finally was healthy enough to go home. So, when her mom made an announcement that she was going to ring the bell everyone came! Her extended family, the clinic employees, the pharmacist, the team of doctors, every nurse and tech and a lot of families on the unit. The hall was packed! She thanked everybody for coming and for our help, we sang her a song and she got to ring the bell three times loudly. Sobbing she immediately ran to her primary nurse and doctor they hugged her for a long time. I hardly knew the patient but I was sobbing too! It was one of the most rewarding and spiritual experiences of my life. I am grateful for both the hard and rewarding moments in our career because they provide us the opportunity to stay close to our Savior and maintain an eternal perspective in life.

One of my favorite quotes about nursing is by Thom Dick. He said, “You are going to be there when a lot of people are born. You are going to be there when a lot of people die. Such moments are regarded as sacred and private, made special by a divine presence. What an honor it is to be a nurse.”

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of BYU’s Nursing Program. I truly do believe it is an honor to be a nurse. I know if Christ was here, He would spend time healing and serving the sick. But as Sister Esplin says, “For now, He asks us to be His hands.”

Thank you.

Aubrey Sandberg

Learning from a Military Nurse

There are very few people who can talk about NATO, nursing, and kimchi in the same conversation. Assistant teaching professor Debra Wing is one of them.

Wing’s passion for nursing started while she was young. That passion also runs in the family: one of Wing’s nursing professors at Weber State University was her older sister.

“I have always felt that nursing was paramount,” Wing says. “To me the one-on-one aspect that you give to your patient and the love and respect that you offer them is an opportunity to show them you are walking in the Savior’s shoes. You are truly His representative.”

Spotlight--DebraWingThe emphasis on providing care in the Savior’s way has served Wing immensely during her career.

Both Wing and her husband served in the U.S. Air Force as medical personnel. They have had joint assignments with NATO and with the Surgeon General of the Air National Guard office. “My husband is a hospital administrator, so he ran hospitals for the air force all over the world,” she says. “We’ve been able to see some fascinating things.” Her husband is a veteran of three wars, while Wing is a veteran of two.

“I’ve worked just about everywhere you can work in a hospital setting,” Wing says. Her list of assignments is almost as extensive as the list of countries that she and her husband have visited and lived in (42 between the two of them). These include being a charge nurse, a nurse manager, a chief nurse executive, and a school nurse. Additionally she served as the clinical oversite for EMEDS (Expeditionary Medical Support) training for the Air National Guard.

“EMEDS is the modern version of MASH. I had the responsibility to train physicians, nurses, techs, and dentists in wartime delivery of care in trauma,” Wing says. In fact this assignment was where Wing first became acquainted with simulation training, which she has used in her college positions at BYU since joining the faculty in 2010.

With these military assignments came travel. Of all the places the family lived, Turkey was a favorite. “My children will say that they’re half Turkish,” Wing jokes.

One of her most impactful experiences was in a Turkish airport when her then 3-year-old son was lost in a crowd. Having heard horror stories about Turkey, she feared for his safety. After two hours of searching, Wing’s husband found their son safe and sound with a Turkish security guard. A traveler had come across the wandering child and brought him to the guard, who did not speak English. While efforts were made to locate his parents, the guard calmed the weeping toddler by bringing him ice cream and attempting conversation, despite the language barrier. The tenderness of the moment altered Wing’s perception of the Turkish people forever. “That was a changing point for me,” she says.

Last year Wing and her husband returned from a military relations mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Korea. Back at BYU now, she teaches Community Health Nursing, Strategies for employment, and leads a clinical practicum for the Public and Global Health Nursing course in Finland/Czech Republic each spring.

“I love the students,” she says. “There is something so exciting about watching the students grow and progress, and things that were so difficult for them at the beginning of the nursing program are second nature by the time they get to capstone, and then to see them integrate everything they’ve learned in a capstone experience—I think that is my favorite.”

Wing and her husband have three children and three grandchildren, whom she describes as the joy of her life.

The Day the ICU Stood Still

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. 

“The Day the ICU Stood Still”

Kent D. Blad

 

Mr. P was a 70-year-old Veteran of World War II.  He came to our hospital in need of treatment for recently diagnosed cancer of the esophagus.  After discussion with the family and physicians, the decision was made to take the patient to surgery to complete an esophagogastrectomy. Upon completion of his surgery, Mr. P returned to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) for his post-operative care.  Mr. P’s wife and children spent many hours at his bedside, holding hands, praying, and offering words of encouragement to their recovering husband and father. Joy and smiles were seen when they witnessed his seemingly uneventful wakening from anesthesia and recovery in those first few days following surgery.  Mr. P was a delightful and pleasant individual who reciprocated his love for his family and shared his appreciation for their support on his behalf.

Mr. P’s condition held steady for little less than a week in the SICU, when the discovery was made that Mr. P was not tolerating his tube feedings well.  He complained of nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and just not feeling well.  The decision was made to discontinue his tube feedings and begin total parenteral nutrition through his intravenous (IV) catheter.  After a week’s trial of this and other treatments, Mr. P’s condition worsened.  The family shared a great deal of concern with the physician and staff, as they worried about his unusual behavior of not being so cheerful and happy.

During those couple of weeks caring for Mr. P and his family, I, as his primary nurse, became very emotionally attached to them.  I found myself spending more and more time in the room at the patient’s bedside, trying to do everything possible. I found my efforts were not achieving the outcomes of getting Mr. P over his illness and on to recovery.  The family and I began questioning the seriousness of Mr. P’s lack of improvement.  The concerns were relayed to the surgical team, followed by a lengthy discussion with the family on the best treatment to pursue next.  A decision was made to take Mr. P back to surgery to explore the possible causes of his pain and lack of improvement.

In surgery, the surgeons discovered that Mr. P had a new problem, coupled with his battle with cancer.  The tissue around the operative sight had eroded, causing the tissue to tear, with his tube feedings leaking into the surrounding area..  With such fragile tissue, the possibility of being able to secure that tissue closed was questionable.  In addition, his primary esophageal cancer had metastasized.  Mr. P’s surgery was completed, unsuccessfully, and he was returned to his SICU room.

The surgical team presented the findings to the family, with the outlook of an estimated one week survival for Mr. P.  The shock of the news saddened the family.  The rest of that day was spent grieving and trying to accept the facts that had been presented.  The family returned home that evening to consider their options with Mr. P’s care.

Upon the family’s return to the hospital the next day, they presented me with their proposal.  They wanted to take Mr. P home, so that his wish of dying at home in his environment could be accomplished.  My immediate reaction was one of, “We can’t do that, that’s never been done before.  He needs us to take care of him.”  I couldn’t see past his need for dressing changes, pain medication, oxygen, a hospital bed, etcetera.

Over the following hour or so, I thought intently about the family’s request.  I started questioning my response to them.  Why couldn’t they take him home?  Why couldn’t we teach the family the necessary tasks to care for him at home?  Just because it had never been done before, was this enough reason not even to try?  If this were my spouse or father, would I want his wish granted?  I became convinced this was not an impossible task.  We were going to get Mr. P. home!

The wheels started spinning.  I shared my desire with the family of wanting to honor their wish.  I told them of our slim odds of being able to accomplish this, but we were at least willing to give it our best shot.  The first hurdle was to get the surgical team to agree.  After a phone call to them and their visit to the room within a short time, permission was granted to start the process as soon as possible.  Orders were written to the effect, with the next couple hours spent arranging for necessary items to complete this mission.  In coordination with home health, a hospital bed, wound dressing supplies, morphine, oxygen, as well as many other things, were scheduled to be delivered to the home the next morning.  Since time was of the essence, transportation was arranged to take him home at the beginning of the next day.  The final few hours of that day were spent teaching his wife and children the tasks of dressing changes, medication, oxygen administration, etc.

The next morning arrived and I was excited for the day.  I arrived before the family, visited with Mr. P, and shared with him the excitement the day would bring for him and his family.  With limited energy, he continued to smile throughout our conversation.  His dream was to come true.  I hastily made a sign to put around his neck as his family arrived which read, “PLEASE TAKE ME HOME!”

The memory of that moment when the family entered the room that morning, prepared to take their loved one home, will forever be imprinted on my mind.  In spite of the tragic circumstances surrounding this situation, I will never forget the look on their faces of love, appreciation, and joy.  The emotions shared were not of sadness, but happiness.  This good and kind gentleman, was now free to go home and die with dignity and peace, with his loving family surrounding him.

Word came from the family that Mr. P died on the third day after returning home, with a smile on his face and his entire family surrounding his bed.  The lessons I learned were invaluable.  Things could be accomplished that hadn’t been done before.  I learned the power of dedication and emotional and spiritual strength at times of adversity.  I will never be the same, nor will I ever approach a patient in the same manner as I did before caring for Mr. P.