By Calvin Petersen
The Utah Nurse Practitioners association selects four nurses from the entire state each year to receive the distinctions of Excellence in Leadership, Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Student, Excellence in Research and Clinical Practice. For 2017, BYU College of Nursing was well represented by receiving three of the four awards.
Dr. Beth Luthy, Ryan Rasmussen and graduate student Katie Hill from BYU were each recognized as Outstanding Nurse Practitioners during the association’s annual awards dinner. Also receiving a $500 scholarship that evening was Caitlin Mallory, a second-year student in the BYU Family Nurse Practitioner Program.
Nursing and Politics
Dr. Beth Luthy, an associate professor at BYU College of Nursing, received Excellence in Leadership for 2017. “The key to leadership is engagements,” says Dr. Luthy, “It’s political activism and having a good network.”
She learned this first-hand from one of her nursing professors at BYU, who was running for the House of Representatives. Dr. Luthy volunteered to help in her professor’s campaign because she believed it was “the right thing to do.” She put together debates, knocked on doors and put up signs. Dr. Luthy says that the experience was inspiring and confirmed to her that she can make a difference. She has since made a substantial difference in the world of immunizations, where she is a recognized leader and expert.
In addition to her research on immunizations, Dr. Luthy has mobilized nurses and nurse practitioners to lobby state legislature about immunization policy and practice in Utah. In 2008, Dr. Luthy was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Commission for Childhood Vaccines and currently serves as its chair. In this role, she collaborates with the Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Luthy felt honored to receive the Excellence in Leadership award. Lacey Eden, an assistant teaching professor at BYU College of Nursing, says, “Beth is a true leader and cares about helping everyone succeed. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for Beth. She maintains a level of professionalism and creates a loving and trusting relationship with everyone she comes in contact with.”
Passionate about Immunizations
Katie Hill grew up knowing several nurse practitioners that inspired her to study nursing at BYU. “When I went to nursing school, I enjoyed it, but I always knew I wanted to be in the role of the nurse practitioner. So, when I got the opportunity to apply, I took it. I’ve loved my experience,” says Hill. Now a second-year graduate student in the BYU Family Nurse Practitioner Program, Hill won Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Student for 2017.
Hill became passionate about immunizations during her undergraduate studies working as Dr. Luthy’s research assistant. Together with Dr. Luthy, Hill wrote and published an article about vaccination policies in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and another in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
Within a year of starting graduate school, Hill completed her thesis on immunization exemption policies. She interviewed immunization managers in all 50 U.S. states and eight U.S. territories to provide current information on exemption requirements at each location. Parents will use this information to make an informed decision about whether or not to immunize their children.
Hill was excited to find out that she’d won Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Student. Of her, Dr. Luthy says, “Because she’s a good thinker, and because she’s got the fire, she’ll go way above and beyond what the expectation is. I think she’s making a difference, that’s why she deserves this award.”
“I don’t think anybody does research to get awards. I feel very lucky to have been recognized by the association as a researcher,” says Ryan Rasmussen, an assistant teaching professor at BYU College of Nursing, who received the 2017 Excellence in Research award.
Rasmussen is researching how members of trauma teams communicate while caring for trauma patients as part of his PhD program at the University of Arizona. “If you’ve ever been involved in a trauma, you know that communication breaks down really quickly. And when communication breaks down, patients get hurt or things get missed. So communication becomes paramount in patient safety,” says Craig Nuttall, one of Rasmussen’s colleagues at BYU.
By identifying how communication is currently happening in a trauma setting, Rasmussen’s research will help to develop ways that improve communication and save lives. As a pioneer in the study of communication within the trauma team, Rasmussen clearly demonstrates Excellence in Research.
Nuttall says that Rasmussen won the award because he has great ideas, a talent for thinking things through and the ability to recognize problems. “He really wants to fix problems and so he doesn’t see research as the end; he sees it as a means to fixing problems. He’s doing research so that it really benefits someone, and that’s what makes him a great researcher.”