Monthly Archives: March 2018

“A Really Good Big Deal”

Conducting cancer research with some of the best scholars in the field? Working in world-class facilities? Plus a stipend? And getting your name on a published article as an undergrad?

While this may sound too good to be true, three BYU College of Nursing students will be living the dream while working as student interns over the summer at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The students—James Reinhardt, Christin Hickman, and Cortney Welch—will not only contribute to the fight against cancer, but also gain invaluable research and publishing skills that they can use to improve BYU’s own cancer research program.

BYU has a long of history of involvement in cancer studies. Currently, cancer studies is managed through the Simmons Center for Cancer Research (SCCR), which arranges for students to work with BYU professors to investigate cancer. Lately, there has been an emphasis on connecting the SCCR with outside locations as well.

“[The SCCR’s] director, Merrill Christensen, has been looking for opportunities for our students to go away from the BYU campus, get a research experience, and then ideally come back to BYU and share with colleagues, including professors that they might RA for,” explains assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes.

Himes, whose own research focuses heavily on cancer, played a major role in promoting the internship to students and helping them with the application. One unique aspect of the OSUCCC internship is that students had to choose what areas of cancer research they wanted to work in for the summer, and Himes aided students with understanding the different options.

The internship, she explains, is a wonderful opportunity for students to be involved in the research process.

“They’re going to be immersed full-time in a lab, working with professors who are doing current research, and they will be given a small piece of that research to work with some,” she says. The students will analyze that data and derive conclusions from it. They will present that information in a poster, and then later will present it orally to a panel of PhD professors. Following that, they will be able to publish their research in a scholarly article.


Right to left: James Reinhardt, Cortney Welch, Christin Hickman

For the students, the opportunity to complete the internship has a surreal feeling to it, especially since they will be doing real research with real data with established professionals in the field of cancer research.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the research process works,” Welch says. “I’ve never been a part of research before, so I think this is something really interesting and important to let me know how I can contribute to research in the future and to get my foot in the door.”

One factor that drives the students is an interest in studying cancer.

“I’ve just always had this desire because I feel like cancer is something so mysterious—like, nobody has come up with a direct cure for it quite yet,” says Hickman. “I want to be able to help find that cure or at least find a prevention for cancer and then like I said, there’s not many opportunities for nursing students really to have this kind of cancer research internship.”

Reinhardt is interested in finding out if cancer research is something he would enjoy or not. Last year, he participated in a movement where he rode his bike to raise money for cancer research. Now he feels that he is contributing to the fight against cancer with a new approach.

“I’ve already fulfilled one part of that passion by riding for it and fundraising for it, but it will cool to see that this is the education and informational part of the same disease process,” he says. “Instead of fundraising, I’m learning about it to help in a different way.”

Overall, there is a consensus that the opportunity is, as Himes puts it, a “really good big deal.”

BYU Nursing Student Kimi Stevenson Learns the Cost of Empathy

By Calvin Petersen

As a nurse in good health, helping others is effortless. But when a nurse is at their worst health ever, helping others becomes remarkable. Kimi Stevenson, a BYU nursing student, woke up one night in the most pain of her life.

She described it as if somebody was repeatedly stabbing a knife in her back. Though only 18 at the time, Kimi’s arthritis had worsened over the course of a few weeks. She now found herself on the floor, unable to move. Kimi yelled to her roommate Halie, who burst into the dark bedroom, fumbled for the switch and gasped when the light revealed Kimi’s contorted form on the floor. “Kimi! Are you OK?” she yelled. Kimi asked Halie to get her medicine on the other side of the room. As the girl moved to retrieve the pills, Kimi heard a loud thump, and then silence.

“Halie?” she called. No answer. “Halie, are you okay?” Again, no answer. Kimi screamed Halie’s name until another roommate came in and found the two girls on the floor.

“I thought, ‘I’m a lifeguard, I’m in nursing school and when I get an actual opportunity to help, I’m stuck on the floor and can’t even get up,’” Kimi recalls, “but I could coach my roommate through it. I said, ‘OK, tap her shoulder. Did she wake up? Did she do anything? Is she breathing?’ She was breathing and had a heartbeat, but wasn’t waking up. So I called 9-1-1.”

Kimi explained the situation to the dispatcher, who asked Kimi if she would go to her friend and check on her. “Actually I can’t, I’m kind of stuck on the ground,” she said. “Well who’s the ambulance for, you or your friend?” the dispatcher asked.

Halie woke up as the paramedics arrived. They checked her vitals and determined she would be fine; a year later she was diagnosed with epilepsy. As for Kimi, her brother came just after the paramedics to take her to the ER. Kimi calls that paramedic visit “a blessing in disguise” because without the paramedics’ chair, specially designed to take patients down stairs, Kimi might not have made it to her brother’s car.

Kimi Stevenson 4

Juvenile Arthritis and an Aspiring Nurse

At eight years old, Kimi was diagnosed with juvenile reactive arthritis, an autoimmune disease. It started out with a limp. A week later, Kimi’s fingers were so swollen that she couldn’t close her hands. She started to crawl around the house because walking was unbearable. After taking almost a dozen pills a day for over a month, Kimi’s doctors finally found the right treatment. “Overnight I was totally better,” she says.

Throughout the process of finding a treatment, and the monthly visits to get her blood drawn for two years afterwards, Kimi became deeply impressed with the people who cared for her. “I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field because people had been so kind to me,” she says.

Kimi proceeded to ask everyone at each of her doctor appointments if they thought she should be a PA or an NP. While most smiled at the cute eight-year-old Kimi and said, “Whatever you want to be, sweetie,” one physician assistant actually told her why she should be an NP.

“After that, I thought nursing was the right way to go. You get more hands-on experience and it’s more compassionate. By the time I was maybe 14, I knew I wanted to do nursing at BYU,” Kimi says.

Aside from the occasional lower back and leg pains of sciatica, Kimi’s personal health challenges appeared to be over. Her dreams of becoming a nurse and serving an LDS mission were on track. Or so she thought.

Kimi Stevenson 7

Kimi practices using a stethoscope on her father at age ten.

Good News and Bad News

Kimi received her mission call to the Brazil Manaus Mission in August 2015 during her first semester at BYU’s College of Nursing. As she was preparing for her mission, the sciatica returned; only this time it was much worse.

One morning in October, Kimi began her usual three-block trek to BYU campus at 8:30 to make her 9 o’clock class. When the easy walk turned into a painful shuffle that took more than 45 minutes, she knew something was seriously wrong. That day ended with her infamous visit to the ER and her passed-out roommate.

One doctor thought her pain came from a herniated disc and gave Kimi a cortisone shot. Then she woke up to discover her knee was the size of a cantaloupe. It finally dawned on her, “This isn’t sciatica or a disc; this is arthritis!” Yet even with an expedited visit to one of Utah’s two rheumatologists, Kimi’s recovery wasn’t overnight like it was when she was eight.

She was officially diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and joints. Kimi moved in with her grandma and spent the next six weeks in a wheelchair. The worst news of all came after Thanksgiving.

“I’m so sorry, but you can’t go on your mission,” Kimi’s doctor told her. Kimi could re-submit her mission papers if she’d improved by March, but because of her medical needs, Brazil was out of the question.


Kimi’s friends often pushed her to class while she was in a wheelchair. One even sprinted her through the finish line of a Halloween-themed 5K run so Kimi could get extra credit for her pathophysiology class.

Delayed Plans and $70,000 in Shots

By February, Kimi no longer needed the wheelchair. Her pain was finally under control, thanks to her weekly shot. Kimi’s stake president called the Missionary Department to ask about the process for resubmitting her mission papers. That phone call produced an unexpected result.

On a quiet afternoon in BYU’s library, Kimi’s phone buzzed. It was her mom. “Kimi, don’t freak out, but look at your online mission portal. You have a new mission call!” The reassignment was to the Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission.

Without letting Dr. Call know about her new mission assignment, Kimi went in for a physical on March 7. “Well Kimi, you’re doing really well. I think we can talk about putting your papers back in,” he said. “Oh, about that,” Kimi said with a smile, “I got a new mission call a few weeks ago, and it’s still to Brazil.”

Dr. Call told Kimi she could go to Brazil only if she got a blood test every six months and took enough shots for every week of her mission in Brazil. Since the shots, valued at almost $1,000 each, are ruined when they reach room temperature, she’d have to find a way to get them to Brazil cold.

Weeks later, Kimi found herself flying to Brazil with $70,000 in shots on her lap in a special cooler. After her entry interview, her new mission president asked, “Is there anything I should know about?” Kimi gently placed the cooler on his desk and said, “Just one thing: can I put these in your fridge?”

Kimi still takes her weekly shot and likely will for the rest of her life. Now in her third semester of BYU’s nursing program, Kimi Stevenson has already proved she will make a remarkably empathetic nurse.

Thinking back on her journey, Kimi says, “The whole experience taught me not to take things for granted. It taught me to look at other people who are going through problems, when I’m at the hospital or even when I was on my mission, and to know what they’re feeling, and how hard that is.”

Kimi Stevenson 2

“I’m grateful to the nursing program for all the help I received during those difficult months,” says Kimi. Gaye Ray, one of her nursing professors, made an extra effort to take care of Kimi while she underwent treatment.

Nursing with the Stars

By Jonathan Schroeder

Grace, poise, attention to detail….and all while wearing two-inch heels under what feels like a pound of facial makeup and blazing 100-degree stage lights. Ever since she was 10 years old, that’s been Janica Holden’s world, as a competitive dancer and now as a member of BYU’s prestigious Ballroom Dance Company.

Over the past two years, Holden has graced the dancefloors of the National Dancesport competition in Provo, performed in front of thousands in Argentina and Chile, and has appeared in viral videos alongside BYU Vocal Point and Studio C.

“I’ve done ballroom since I was so little that sometimes I just think that that’s just how life is, Holden says. “I mean, doesn’t everyone go to practice after school? I forget that that’s not always normal.”


Holden and her husband, Matt, at the finals of the 2018 Amateur Smooth National Dancesport Championship

Holden started dancing competitively in 4th grade as part of her school’s ballroom program. Eventually, she joined BYU’s Youth Program and began competing in the annual Dancesport competitions at the BYU Marriott Center.

“As a kid, I think my favorite thing about dancing was practicing,” Holden recalls. “Most people like the competitions, but I just liked being able to practice, work hard, and feeel like I was improving. I felt like an Olympic athlete who was constantly training. I enjoyed driving myself to be better.”


Holden’s practice paid off. During high-school, she was granted a scholarship to be on the back-up tour team for the BYU Ballroom Dance Company where she excelled in the smooth and standard dance genres. Now two years later, Holden has become one of the stars of the Ballroom Dance Company tour team. This past summer, the team dazzled South American audiences during a tour of Chile and Argentina.

“I love all the people we get to meet on tour,” Holden remarks. “While we were in Chile and Argentina, we had a lot of opportunities to interact with other dance groups. Even though I didn’t speak Spanish, it was cool to be able to dance with them and experience the culture through dance.”


Janica and Matt competing at the semi-annual Dancesport competition

Life on the tour team is no cakewalk. Each show contains around 13 specific dance numbers; each one requiring extraordinary amounts of grace and technical skill. Before the tour even begins, team members devote countless hours to practicing and perfecting their routine. Once on tour, the focus then turns to setting up lights and sound, applying make-up and elaborate costumes, and engaging with the audience. By the end of the tour the dance team will have repeated this process nearly 12 times.


Holden and the Ballroom Dance Company pose with Broadway starlet Kristen Chenoweth
after their performance on BYU Homecoming Spectacular 2017

“For me, dancing is a way of expressing yourself without using words,” Holden reflects. “I love being able to dance on the floor and perform, but at the same time still be in my own little world. I don’t like telling people how I feel; I prefer to show them.”

As if her life didn’t seem busy enough, Holden also finds ways to express herself off the dance floor by practicing the Healer’s Art. A second-semester nursing student, Holden loves actively helping people and is thinking about working in an ICU after graduation.


Holden and her first-semester classmates during the semi-annual Blood Pressure Clinic

“As much as I love dancing, it’s kind of a crazy world to get into,” Holden says. “I knew if I wanted to have a family someday, I’d have to find something else.”

So during her senior year of high-school, Holden decided to do an internship on a hospital Coronary Care Unit (CCU). She absolutely loved the experience, and made the decision to pursue a career in nursing; at about the same time that she was offered the Ballroom Dance Company scholarship.


On any given weekday, Holden will spend two to four hours practicing with the team and separately with her dance partner. This is on top of her rigorous nursing course-load, clinicals, and a part-time job working at a tax office. When asked how she manages to find time to get everything done, she says the secret is in the planning.


Holden with the cast of the Studio C Sketch, “One Last Dance”.
Her husband, Matt (not pictured) is also featured prominently in the same sketch.

“My calendar is my best friend,” she explains. “I have to have things very planned out; I can’t just “go with the flow”. I have to know when I’m going to do things; homework time, dance time, etc. because if I don’t plan it out, time escapes so quickly. When I take the time to plan things out, it’s amazing how everything just fits in.”


Holden and her husband on the set of Vocal Point’s hit music video, “Beauty and the Beast”.
Holden had the special opportunity to give Lexi Walker some dance pointers during the filming.

Sadly, Holden says her competitive dancing days are probably coming to an end once she and her husband (and Ballroom dance partner), Matt, graduate from BYU. However, until then, she says she plans enjoy the time she has with BYU’s diverse dance program.

“One thing I love about BYU’s Ballroom program is that there are so many different levels and options available. You can do anything from taking basic 100-level dance classes to trying out for upper level tour teams. Whatever you feel like you can do, there are options for it.”

Janica and Matt will be performing in the BYU Dance in Concert Showcase at the BYU Marriott Center on April 6 and 7.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Excellence

By Jeff L. Peery

BYU College of Nursing


For three decades, the Iota Iota chapter of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) at Brigham Young University has worked to promote excellence in nursing and elevate the nursing experience of its members.

BYU nursing emeritus faculty member Dr. Barbara Mandleco was inducted into STTI in 1968 while attending the University of Florida. When she began teaching at BYU, she was disappointed to learn that there were no STTI chapters in the state of Utah. So she decided to start one herself.


BYU emeritus faculty member Dr. Barbara Mandleco was instrumental in establishing the university’s nursing honor society chapter 30 years ago.

“We were the second chapter of the society in the state of Utah, as the University of Utah College of Nursing began their Gamma Rho Chapter in 1978,” says assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas, who serves as the current archivist for Iota Iota. “Our charter was granted ten years later.”

The Iota Iota Chapter was formally formed on March 4, 1988, in conjunction with Westminster College’s nursing program. BYU’s Dr. Marilyn Lyons and Westminster’s Beth Vaughn-Wrobel worked to achieve this accomplishment for both schools, and at its inaugural event the BYU chapter inducted 164 members, including five former deans of the College of Nursing: Dr. Maxine Cope, Dr. Elaine Dyer, Dr. June Leifson, Dr. Sandra Rogers, and Dr. Elaine Marshall; and two current faculty, Dr. Renea Beckstrand and Debbie Mills.

According to Marshall’s history of the college, the first officers were Lyons, president; Peggy Grusendorf, vice president; Sandra Mangum, vice president; and Dr. Richard Drake, faculty counselor. (Lyons died in 1998 and Drake in 2017.)

Westminster’s nursing program separated from Iota Iota in 2015 to create a unit that focuses on their school’s traditions and goals.

Chapters of STTI are usually affiliated with universities, where high-performing bachelor and graduate students are invited to join the organization.

“It’s not just a student honor society; it’s a professional honor society,” says assistant professor Dr. Bret Lyman, current president of Iota Iota.

Over the past 30 years, BYU’s chapter has striven to promote the ideals of STTI while helping both nursing faculty and students expand their professionalism and skill set. Past activities include gathering supplies for refugee families, funding cultural diversity grants, hosting nursing fashion show fundraisers, arranging keynote speaker presentations, and sponsoring the college’s annual scholarly works conference each fall.

Original Names cropped

A ledger with 30 years of inductee signatures is one of the chapter’s prized historic items; pictured is the signature of Orem resident and former dean Dr. June Leifson as the first entry.

“One part of the mission is to celebrate nursing research. We look for ways to recognize excellence in this area,” Lyman says. “People can apply for grants, and we can help sponsor their study, or if they have already completed their project, then we may sponsor them to go present it. We try to sponsor global health trips for a couple of students each year.”

The university’s chapter is unique in several ways. First, STTI usually recommends that only nursing students that are reaching high academic performance levels be invited to join the program. However, most of BYU’s nursing students meet the requirements, meaning that more students are inducted than at many other schools. According to the signatures in the chapter’s inductee guestbook, 1508 students have joined Iota Iota since 1988 (not including those that joined this year). Lyman estimates that when you include members from Westminster, the chapter’s overall membership grows to 2400.

Another distinct feature is the emphasis that Iota Iota puts on students. While other chapters may work more with graduated professionals, BYU’s chapter places a special emphasis on helping students along their career paths.

“I think it comes from the College of Nursing and BYU itself—it’s the emphasis on mentored learning,” Thomas says. “We want to mentor those students and are trying to help them; whether it is with research, a contribution to the discipline project, or leadership, it is still that—mentored learning.”

BYU College of Nursing Changing Undergraduate Application Process and Requirements

In order to promote a more inclusive approach to undergraduate nursing student selection, the BYU College of Nursing will be implementing changes in the application process.

“The idea is to get a more holistic view of the students and to have a more holistic applications and admissions process,” says Cara Wiley, the nursing advisement center supervisor. “That way we’re taking into consideration some of the other aspects of students and not just GPA.”

“We don’t believe that the characteristics of being a good nurse are exclusively GPA and ACT scores,” says College of Nursing associate dean Dr. Katreena Merrill.

These changes will take effect for students applying for the winter 2019 semester. Listed below in bold are the main changes and what they mean.

1) Students must have completed all prerequisite classes before applying to the program—midterm grades will not be accepted.

Previously, students could apply to the program while still enrolled in prerequisite courses and simply give their midterm grades for the prerequisites. Now students will need to have finished all pre-reqs before submitting their application.

“As usual, we will admit twice a year,” Merrill says. “The application for fall semester will end in May each year so that students taking prerequisites can finish those up in their winter semester and apply in May for fall. Applications for entering the nursing program in the winter semester will close in late August so that students applying to go to the nursing program in the winter will be able to finish classes in spring and summer.”

2) Students with over 75 BYU credits or 100 overall credits will no longer be able to apply.

This falls in line with official BYU policy, which says that students cannot change majors after earning 75 BYU credits (excluding AP or language exam credits). The idea is that more spots for students will be created while students with lots of credits will be able to use the more efficient path of a nursing accelerated course. Overall, this should help reduce the nursing shortage.

“If a student is already in college for three or four years before they even figure out they want to do nursing, the fastest way for them and the most financially beneficial way for them is to then do an accelerated nursing program [outside of BYU],” Wiley says.

3) While grades are still an important consideration factor, other variables such as service and possibly an online behavioral assessment will play an increased role in the selection process.

Now before you go slacking off in your next class after reading this, don’t think that GPA and ACT/SAT scores don’t matter anymore—there is still going to be strong weighting towards these factors. However, now the process is going to put more emphasis on other factors like leadership, community service, healthcare experience (see next section), and possibly an online behavioral assessment.

4) Students need healthcare experience, either as a volunteer or employee.

Students should have some time in a healthcare environment under their belts if they want a competitive application. Healthcare does not mean just in hospitals—it can include nursing homes, therapy centers, or other places where medical professionals work.

“We want to see that they really want to be in the healthcare profession and that they’re doing things for that,” Wiley says. “If you have six months or more [of experience], then you’d be in a good place.”

5) There is no longer an essay in the application.

All students weary of application-caused tendonitis can rest easy—with a catch. While there is no essay, there are small writing portions of the application where students talk about themselves, their goals, and their qualifications.

6) The application process is now two-tiered, a process that seeks to ensure that well-rounded applicants progress between the tiers.

  1. a) Tier 1 will include grades, ACT scores, letters of recommendation, service, leadership, healthcare experience, the writing portions of the application, and possibly an online behavioral assessment.
  2. b) If students pass Tier 1, they proceed to Tier 2, which is an interview at the College. Students must attend in person barring circumstances such as being on a mission or living far out of state—in these cases, a Skype/telephone interview will be arranged.

When do these changes come into effect?

“This will take effect Fall 2018 which means that the students who are first affected by this are those who are looking to apply for the Winter 2019 application,” Wiley says.

More changes and adjustments may be announced as details and logistics of the new application process are finalized.

What does this all mean?

Wiley explains that these changes will help change the College’s demographics and promote a more comprehensive student population.

“We’re hoping for more well-rounded students,” she says. “That could mean that you don’t have a 3.9 and still make it in.”

“While we know that the nursing program is hard and we want students to be successful, we also realize that nursing is a caring profession and GPA and ACT don’t necessarily measure caring and empathy,” Merrill says. “We want to make sure that our nursing students are yes, smart, but we also want to make sure that they have empathy and are able to care for people. That is why we are called the Healer’s Art, because we care and we take care of people as the Savior would.”

Nursing the Impoverished

By Calvin Petersen

It’s no secret that poverty is a big problem. The American Council on Science and Health went so far as to call it “the world’s deadliest problem.” In fact, nearly 29,000 children under the age of five die every day because of poverty, according to UNICEF. As global leaders struggle to find solutions, nursing students at BYU have found a unique way to develop understanding and compassion for the impoverished.

An Exercise in Empathy

As they learn the Healer’s art, fourth-semester nursing students at BYU gain Christ-like empathy for their patients by participating in a poverty simulation.

First put together by Missouri Community Action, the simulation creates a realistic community of more than 20 volunteers who act as bank tellers, pawnbrokers, grocery store cashiers, school teachers, mortgage collectors and other community personnel. Eighty students populate the simulated community as they role-play the lives of low-income families. Nursing assistant teaching professor Gaye Ray and Provo Community Action executive director Karen McCandless organize the simulation each semester.

Poverty Simulation 1

(From left to right) Joanna Ostler, Shelby Benally, Amy Sutherland and Jane Goodfellow review their poverty simulation packet moments before the simulation begins.

“We hope that, by inviting you to walk in the shoes of the impoverished, in a small way you will understand what it’s like to have a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. We hope you will be more sensitive to the feelings of those who are living in crisis and be more thoughtful in your future careers,” Ray told students before the winter 2018 simulation.

Students participating in the simulation were randomly assigned to one of 16 different families. Each family was given a packet with information describing the family’s situation and its individual members, based on real-life stories and people.


Students only had a few minutes to make sense of the transportation passes, identification cards, bills and money that spilled from the thick manila envelopes before the whistle blew. Then the first of four 15-minute simulated weeks began. And chaos followed.

The Boling Family Strikes Out

As students raced to their jobs, school, the bank, the grocery store and other community stations, five students, role-playing as members of the Boling family, quickly realized how stressful the poverty simulation would be.


To begin with, because 42-year-old Ben Boling, (portrayed by Shelby Benally) recently lost his job, the family barely had enough money to purchase transportation passes so that 39-year-old Betty Boling (portrayed by Mary Erdman) could get to her full-time job.

Luckily the school bus picking up the Boling’s three children, pregnant 16-year-old Barbara (portrayed by Amy Sutherland), eight-year-old Brian (portrayed by Jane Goodfellow) and 10-year-old Bart (portrayed by Joanna Ostler), was free.

However, after only a week, Ben Boling had a stroke and was hospitalized for the remainder of the simulation. To make things even more stressful, Barbara was expelled from school and the two boys were suspended for cheating. “I didn’t cheat,” promised Brian. “Stop lying Brian,” scolded Bart. “I’m not lying, you’re a liar!” countered Brian. Betty tried to put on a brave face as her family fell apart around her.

Poverty Simulation 2

Ben Boling (left, portrayed by Shelby Benally) fills out an employment form during the first week of the poverty simulation.

The last three weeks of the simulation were hard. At one point, Barbara was taken by the sheriff to juvenile hall for possession of illegal drugs. Then the electricity was shut down because the Boling mother couldn’t make the payments. “This is so stressful!” said Betty, “I feel like I’m the only one taking care of things. I work full-time, so I don’t have time to buy food and pay bills, my husband is out and I have three kids.”

In the final week of the simulation, the sheriff arrived to take Betty to jail for defaulting on a bank loan. Barbara tried to cash Betty’s last check to make bail, but the bank refused to help an underage customer. Barbara looked around frantically, hoping for some aid in a hopeless situation. Then the whistle blew a final time and the simulation ended.

Although the simulation may have not been real, the stress was real and every student came to know, if just for a moment, part of what it feels like to be impoverished.


Bankers deny Barbara Boling’s (portrayed by Amy Sutherland) request to cash her mother’s paycheck.

Determined to Do Something

The impact of the poverty simulation on the 80 BYU nursing students was evident in the discussion afterwards.

“I learned to have more patience with people because you never know what’s going on in their lives,” said Emily Santillan. “It’s easy for us as nurses to say, ‘Why aren’t you taking your meds? Why aren’t you eating your fruits and vegetables? It’s so important; why aren’t you doing these things?’ But we don’t see the whole picture. We have to be patient with them.”


Because she discovered some of the available community resources, Emily Miller’s simulation family did better than most. “I feel like, as a nurse, I need to be more aware of resources that are available in the community to best help my patients,” she said.

Provo Community Action is one such local resource for low-income families. Executive Director Karen McCandless smiled as she listened to the nursing students’ experiences. “This last part is always really satisfying for me because it tells me that the simulation did its job,” she said.

McCandless joined Provo Community Action five years ago in part because of her personal experience in a poverty simulation. “I thought I was a compassionate person to begin with, but this poverty simulation, it literally changed my thinking. That was my hope here: that students would leave a little more compassionate than when they walked in.”

The poverty simulation taught BYU nursing students that while they may not be able to solve the “world’s deadliest problem” of poverty overnight, they can help solve the health challenges of their patients today. “Even though we can’t change their whole world with just one act, we can do something,” concluded nursing student Lauren Young.


BYU College of Nursing professor Gaye Ray (left) and Provo Community Action Executive Director Karen McCandless (center) talk to students about the winter semester poverty simulation.

Sister Barbara Perry; BYU Alumni Come Together for Largest-Ever Night of Nursing Event

For the past five years, the Night of Nursing event has been one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year for nursing students and alumni alike. This year was no exception. Two weeks ago, more than 400 BYU alumni across the country came together to network, reminisce, and hear from former BYU nursing faculty member, Sister Barbara Perry. With participants at 40 different locations across the country tuning in to hear Sister Perry’s remarks, this year’s event was easily the largest Night of Nursing event in the history of the College.


Alumni in Tucson, AZ gather for the Night of Nursing Broadcast. Also pictured above is the Mesa, AZ Night of Nursing Event.

“Nursing and nurses have had a role in my life since it began,” Sister Perry shared.

Many alumni may not have been aware that Sister Perry is actually a distinguished nursing professional. A graduate of the LDS Hospital School of Nursing, Sister Perry spent 15 years at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. During her time there, she eventually became the head nurse of a busy Labor and Delivery unit that averaged 500 deliveries per month (about 17 babies per day).

“Because of my preparation and experience in labor and delivery, it was always a special blessing to be there with family and friends, as new life came,” she recalled. “It never became routine and it was always a thrill.”

After more than a decade at LDS Hospital, Sister Perry accepted a teaching position at her alma mater, where she taught associate-level nursing courses for four years. During this time, she met and married Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“I will be forever grateful for my nursing education and experience that allowed me to provide the necessary care for my dearest patients,” Sister Perry said. In the years following her marriage, Sister Perry not only used her nursing skills to care for her late husband but also her parents, who required extensive care during the final years of their lives.

“I wish you success in your careers as nurses, for those who are already nurses and for those who are becoming,” she concluded. “It’s a great profession, it gives you a lot of opportunities for different work experiences, different time shifts and it will bless your lives. I pray that you will go forward and enjoy and appreciate the blessings of such a profession.


Students and alumni in Houston, TX gather to hear Sis. Perry’s remarks. The Houston event was one of 40 locations that participated in the Night of Nursing.

A full recording of Sister Perry’s remarks is available on the BYU College of Nursing Facebook Page