Monthly Archives: February 2019

Student Mentor Awards: Showing Appreciation to Preceptors

Thoracic ICU at IMC

Student presents mentor with Outstanding Mentor Award. 

By Quincey Taylor

It’s your first clinical at the hospital, and you are extremely nervous. It’s like a whole new world. You’ve read about this in books, but the actual application is so different. Your one lifeline is your preceptor, a fellow nurse that has worked in the field, that is guiding you through your experience. Without him or her, you would be completely lost.

Every semester, students are mentored by fantastic preceptors in many different hospitals throughout Utah and Salt Lake Counties. These nurses willingly volunteer their time and efforts to make students’ clinicals a positive experience. The faculty at the BYU College of Nursing are extremely grateful for these individuals and actively look for ways to express their gratitude. One way they do this is through the Student Mentor Awards. Students are asked to write about their positive experiences with their preceptors. Each of these preceptors are given an award as well as a gift. Clinicals would not be possible without the selfless efforts of student mentors.

Preceptors are given these awards in front of their colleagues, gaining recognition for their skill and care. Recipients who receive the award multiple semesters are given a special certificate and prize. One exceptional preceptor has received the award four times!

For students: To submit a Student Mentor Award nominee, talk to your professor. He or she will have the form to fill out and will deliver it to your preceptor.

Living in Harmony with Nursing


BYU Philharmonic Orchestra Performance. Photo courtesy of Utley.

By Quincey Taylor

First semester nursing student Morgan Utley has a lot on her plate. Not only did she get accepted to the nursing program in January, but she is one of only two current nursing students that are performers in the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra. They will be performing on the 13th of February, 2019.

Utley’s passion for nursing started when her grandpa moved from Montana to Utah to stay in an assisted-care facility. He has had advanced Parkinson’s disease since he was 32. Because he was now closer to where she was living, Utley was able to see him more often. She says, “I started to spend a lot more time with him, and I just found that I liked bonding with him and other patients at the care facility. I ended up talking to the nurses there a lot, finding out what they do and trying to understand why they were giving him certain medications. I subconsciously got so involved in his care and even the treatment of other patients, that I decided this was something I should try in school.” Utley then started the dramatic switch from music to nursing major.

At the same time, Utley started volunteering at Intermountain Medical Center to see if nursing was a good fit. She was immediately placed in the ICU after telling hospital administrators, “Give me your hardest unit. Don’t put me at the info desk, I want to know if this is something I want to do!” She loved taking the prerequisites for the program and feels that, “Everything just clicked.”

Balancing the two passions is not always easy. When asked how she does it, Utley comments, “Honestly, it’s tough. I don’t want to completely give up music. It’s a part of me, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was seven years old. It’s a class I really enjoy, and it helps me stay well-rounded.” She hopes this skill will eventually help her get into a master’s program, especially considering colleges are partial to students with additional skills and passions outside the medical field.

Utley plans to continue playing the viola for “the Phil” until she graduates, although she recognizes that sometimes her nursing obligations will need to take precedent. For now, she will continue to show up to orchestra practice — clad in her hospital scrubs.

The Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing on February 13th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available in the HFAC. Notorious for pushing the limits of university-level orchestras, they will be performing Brahm’s 3 (which many schools would consider out of the skill range of their students), an original piece written by a BYU composition major student, and a never-recorded Argentine piece written in the late 1800’s.







Learning Beyond the Classroom: Adventures in Paraguay

paraguay students

Photo courtesy of Rachel Matthews

By Jessica Tanner

As a nursing student, you fill hundreds of hours with your studies, your classes, and your clinical hours in hospitals. One day you wander by a flyer for a study abroad or see an email from one of your professors asking for student researchers. Do you keep walking? Do you disregard the email? Or do you consider the possibility of experiential learning outside the classroom? Though it may seem like there is not enough time nor resources, it may not be as impossible as you think. Two nursing students share how they got involved in a life-changing research trip to Paraguay.

These students joined Dr. Sheri Palmer, who was the recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, in Paraguay to address the issue of teenage pregnancy.  On this ten-day research trip, they had two objectives: the first was interview local teachers, principals and community leaders about Paraguayan teenage life.  The second was to teach Days for Girls classes, teaching young women and girls about maturation and teenage pregnancy. For fifth-semester student Rachel Matthews, one of the best parts was “seeing the girls understand something they didn’t before, see them get empowered about their bodies and … themselves.” She also enjoyed the one-on-one interviews. “I’d missed that Paraguayan soul,” she says.

Matthews had served her mission in Paraguay. Coincidentally, so had Dr. Palmer. Having recently returned from her mission, Matthews was in search of something that would take her nursing skills outside the classroom. Her opportunity came in the form of Dr. Palmer at an ORCA conference. Matthews was about to leave when she spotted her teacher next to a Global Health sign. “I thought if there is anyone I can talk to, it’s probably her,” Matthews remembers. “I went over to her, and I sat down and started explaining some of the public health issues I’d seen in Paraguay. It turns out she’d also served her mission in Paraguay, so we bonded really quickly over that. As luck would have it, she’d also applied for a Fulbright [Scholar Award] to teach at a university in Paraguay.”

A sixth-semester student, Julia Lee, also coincidentally connected with Dr. Palmer. After returning from a mission in Argentina, Lee attended a Spanish class that Dr. Palmer was auditing. Lee had taken a gerontology class from Dr. Palmer, and started talking with her. The more she talked with her, the more she learned about the upcoming research trip to Paraguay. And the more she learned, the more interested she became.

These stories share a commonality: both Lee and Matthews got involved by talking to their professor. Professors are there to help students learn, in and out of the classroom. “That first step is just getting out of your comfort zone and asking professors if there is something you can do,” says Matthews.   Teachers and students have ideas; it is usually together they can make those ideas a reality. For Lee, too, the key to gaining these experiences comes from connections and questioning. She relates, “I happened to be in the class with Sheri Palmer. I could have just not talked to her about it, but I was interested, so I asked. And she talked about it, and it was interesting, so I asked.” Matthews adds that professors are constantly reaching out through emails. It does not take a lot to get involved – it simply starts with asking questions.

Though study and knowledge are important, real-world experience is also required. “There’s more to what you learn than what’s just in the textbook,” says Lee. That includes empathy, people skills, and problem-solving.  She continues, “I highly suggest going on a study abroad because it really heightens your learning experience. It makes your learning more holistic.” Another student on the research trip, Megan Hancock, adds, “Travelling is fun on its own, but when you travel with a purpose to learn and serve, you really can’t travel any other way again.”  For Matthews, the reason she enjoyed the research trip was the same as her reason for going into nursing. “I just like helping people in that greatest moment of need,” she says. “Really being there on the front line at the bedside.”

It is with that attitude that these students got involved, and none regrets the experience. Their story can be your story.




Battling Anxiety with Finger-paint


By Quincey Taylor

As midterms pick up and assignments start to pile on top of each other, it is easy for students to start to feel overwhelmed. Even the best of students, including nursing students, can struggle with stress on an everyday basis.

At the BYU College of Nursing, a movement of stress relieving techniques are being taught to not only students, but also faculty and staff. This movement is embodied in the newly created Wellness Room on the first floor of the Kimball Tower. This room provides users with the tools they need to battle anxiety and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh teaches the second-term Stress Management for Nurses class. It is her hope that every student will develop methods to deal with the inevitable strain that accompanies such a demanding occupation, as well as the current stress school cultivates.

In the class, Macintosh’s students participate in hands-on activities they can do in their everyday life. They learn the benefits of relaxing practices like enjoying aromatherapy, listening to calming music, coloring, doing yoga, using the techniques of Korean hand therapy, and guided meditating.

Taking the class also gives students access to the Wellness Room, which is a safe space for students to put their newly learned techniques into practice.

The walls of the room are a cool periwinkle and the lights are dimmed.


Exercise mats are neatly stacked in the corner, leaving open space in the middle of the room to practice yoga or meditation. IMG_3138Crayons and colored pencils are available in neat cubbies along the wall, as well as an aromatherapy diffuser. Students who use the room can enjoy a moment of peace, hidden from on looking eyes.

These techniques are extremely valuable for in any stressful context, even in helping others to relieve stress.  Mactinosh explains, “The main focus is to help them learn how to navigate through their own stress because once they have tried something then they can be a testimonial that it works.” Once students see the benefits of self-care, they can recommend the practices to spouses, family members, patients, or patient’s families.

Mactinosh is a true believer in work-life balance and says, “I think the hardest thing for nursing students is recognizing that perfect is not attainable. A balanced life is a happy life. If you have to get 110% on every test then you’re not balanced. There is no honor in being the type of nursing student that can’t do anything else. You miss out on so much of life if you can’t stop and breathe and look around you. So, I would admonish students to look for ways that they can be accountable to themselves to find that balance in their life. It’s so hard. But it’s so valuable, and it’s such a lifelong skill.”