Monthly Archives: April 2019

Virginia Jefferies’ Convocation Speech: Courageous in the Face of Fear

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Master’s program graduate Virginia Jefferies and her son.

Excerpt from Virginia Jefferies’ convocation address, delivered on April 25, 2019.

I didn’t think that I could ever become a nurse.  I was so afraid of blood and needles. When I was little, I passed out at my cousin’s house when he stapled his thumb, I passed out at the dentist office when he fixed my cavities. As a young woman, I passed out at church on Easter Sunday when my teacher talked about the Crucifixion, and as a college student I passed out watching the Miracle of Birth video in a family life class.  Then before my mission, I passed out at work at my office job, when my boss was telling me about what it’s like to have an episiotomy. She even called 911 and an ambulance came for me. I remember coming to, under my desk, with a paramedic removing my blazer. I certainly didn’t think that I would ever be able to become a nurse.

Then I served a mission… and while I was on my mission I almost passed out several more times. We visited patients in hospitals.  Just walking into a room with an IV in someone’s arm made me feel faint.

But when I came home from my mission, my own little sister lay in a hospital bed.  She had just had her spine fused and a metal bar installed in her back.  Out of my love for her, I stayed the night with her in the hospital.  While I was there . . .  I saw angels.  They were wearing scrubs.  They visited my sister all through the night, responding to her moans and cries.  They spoke to her in gentle, hushed tones and ministered to her.

That night changed me and I felt called to be a nurse. But that night didn’t take away my weakness. A few months later, I found myself at the BYU counseling center where a wise counselor guided me to start small and simple and to work up from there to overcome my fears.  She had me write a list in ascending order – of situations with blood and needles that scared me – and then slowly work through them to overcome my fears.

The first task on my list was to prick someone’s finger.  Fortunately, I had a friend that was an ER nurse that was kind enough to oblige my first attempt.  I was so scared. But grateful that I knew he would be able to take care of me if I fainted. I did survive that first lesson: sweaty, and clammy, but without passing out.

I was eventually accepted into the nursing program at BYU.  Unfortunately, I did pass out during orientation . . .  across the feet of the two girls sitting beside me.  During the break I heard one of them say, “maybe you should get a different major.”

Yeah, well, you can’t just get a different major if God tells you to be a nurse.  So, I persisted with faith and prayer, and miracles happened one after the other, and I did make my way through that list.  By the second year of the nursing program I faced the fear at the top of my list.  Witnessing open heart surgery.  As a nursing student I stood at the head of the operating table beside the anesthesiologist.  The chest was cleaned and draped for surgery.  I watched as the sternal saw cut the sternum. The ribs were spread.  I stood in awe of the wonder of the glory of God as blood dripped to the floor before me.  Just then the kind anesthesiologist turned to me and asked, “you alright?” and I said, “yeah, I’m alright.”  And I am standing here to tell you today that that was a miracle.

 

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (Alma 37:6-7)

 

This is the work of God. When he calls us, he qualifies us too. Elder Neil L. Anderson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “When we are on the Lord’s errand, he will be with us, he will strengthen us, he will build our capacities.” Friends, I testify to you that the Lord makes weak things strong.  When we get into the yoke with him, we do not pull alone.

Serving God’s children as a nurse is practicing the Healer’s Art.  With him, we walk on sacred ground when our patients experience heartache, loss, sickness, and pain. I have held a patient and cried with her after she received a cancer diagnosis. I have spoken with love to a young man who reluctantly survived an overdose.  We share our patients’ deepest sorrows and greatest joys.  I am so grateful to be a nurse.  The Healer’s Art is beautiful. He is with us. And he will make more of us than we could ever imagine.

More than a decade after I got my nursing degree here at BYU, I felt my Father calling me back to become a nurse practitioner. Several weeks ago at an urgent care, I had the opportunity to do suturing for the first time on a patient. His lip was split open, and blood was spilling freely from the wound.  I approached him with a gentle smile on my face, and my suture and needle driver in my gloved hands.  It was a big day for me! Ironically, I had just used my asthma inhaler. One of the side effects of albuterol is tremor. But I wasn’t scared. Once again, love replaced fear.

Our God is surely a God of miracles.  He joys in using the weak and the simple to do his work. Bring what you have, even if it’s just a few loaves and a few small fishes and you carry them in your shaking hands.  Don’t be afraid of the smallness of your offering. The Savior will take you with your talents and multiply them in his service.  With him, you can care for the five thousand. And when the wind picks up, and the waves start slapping at your legs and you get scared, just put your eyes back on him.  He will lift you. And together you will walk on water.

Our work is his work.  With him, we can do it. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, teaches, “the Lord has never required expert, flawless effort. Instead he requests a heart and a willing mind.” Nurses and friends, we don’t have to be perfect today. The Savior gives us the gift to be human. You get to make mistakes and it’s okay.  Making mistakes is part of learning and growth.  Don’t give heed to voices that discourage you. God is with you. He will give us our daily bread. He will direct the spindles in our Liahonas as we exercise our faith in him to do the small and simple things. We can go forward with faith and there will be wonders among us. As our dear professor, Lacey Eden, told our class, “there are people out there who need you.”

Graduate Michael Scott’s Convocation Speech: By Small and Simple Things

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Nursing graduate Michael Scott and his wife, Amy Taylor Scott

Excerpt from Scott’s convocation speech, given on April 25, 2019.

There is one experience that I would like to share in detail from my global health practicum about a patient that we’ll call Terry. I invite you to look for the small, simple things and their impact on the people involved.

Just so you have an image, [Terry] is African American, lean, and his bicep was about the size of my head.  At the time we cared for him, Terry was serving a sentence at the Utah State Prison.  “During our shift, [Terry] was admitted to the psych unit for suicide watch because he had just been assaulted and would not speak to anyone.  While in the cell, he fell to the ground and clenched his chest.  He was pulled out of the cell and placed in the infirmary.  The nurse asked us to place a 12-lead EKG.  Over and over, the guards, nurse, and PA asked Terry what had happened.  He just kept pointing to his heart and then his jaw.

They seemed frustrated and the EKG came back normal although his blood pressure and pulse were elevated.  It seemed like he was having a panic attack.  The PA later speculated as much.  Everyone cleared the room besides one guard. James and I stayed behind with [Terry].

It was quiet for a minute and then James placed a hand on [Terry]’s shoulder and said something along the lines of “we’re here with you, you’re not alone.”   [Terry]’s eyes welled up and tears poured down his cheeks.  He told us how this past month, he had lost everyone he loved.  His dad had died of cancer, his brother in-law had committed suicide and his Aunt and nephew had died in a car accident.

Terry had committed a serious crime and spent the last 15 years in prison but as we listened to Terry, I remembered the words “in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…”

For me, Terry was an example of “the least of these my brethren.”  As a nurse, I have rarely felt so privileged with an opportunity to serve the Lord as I have inside the prison.  It is a place where an understanding of divine identity and the reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is tested and expanded.

My experience with [Terry] impacted me.  It reminded me that the Gospel should be at the center of every care plan.  Moving forward from this experience, I hope to serve not only the patients who seem to be most deserving but also those who seem least deserving.

Staying when others leave or placing a hand on another’s shoulder are small simple acts, but they had a significant effect on Terry and on the two young nursing students by his side.

As nursing students, we have regular opportunities to make small and simple decisions that make a great difference in the lives of those around us. To mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. To succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. We can advocate for the right each person has to govern their own health care and to accept or reject lifesaving interventions.  We can give our love, time, energy, and hope to others.

Out of the many small and simple things we can do, loving others seems to me to be the most valuable.

And I believe the small and simple decision to love our patients is what changes nursing from a collection of tasks into practicing the Healer’s art.

Lauren Leininger’s Advice as She Leaves BYU

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Graduate Lauren Leininger looks forward to a bright future. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

By Quincey Taylor

Walking into your last clinical for your senior capstone is an experience all nursing students will eventually have. While sometimes daunting, leaving behind your preceptor to independently care for patients acts as a springboard from which nurses can launch themselves into their new careers. Lauren Jones Leininger, fresh graduate from the BYU College of Nursing, shares her thoughts and advice as she reminisces past experiences and looks towards the future.

Leininger is extremely grateful for the impactful experiences she has had in the BYU nursing program. She truly feels that the individuals she met here have left a lasting impression on her in every aspect of her life.

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Leininger and fellow nursing students on their Global Health trip to Ecuador. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

Here is some of her advice to nursing students that will follow:

  1. Become a licensed practical nurse your fourth semester

Leininger took the NCLEX-PN her fourth semester and became a certified LPN. She works at Horizon Home Health and Hospice, which hires many BYU student nurses every year. With this organization, she does home visits for children. While it is a great option for students to make money while in school, Leininger sees the value it gave her in building personal confidence as a healthcare professional.

She says, “While being an LPN isn’t what I want to do for my nursing career, it’s just been really great to have an experience where I’m the primary caregiver for a patient. I’ve grown a lot by being in charge and making decisions.”

It might seem nerve-racking to not have a preceptor helping you, but it is beneficial in the end. Leininger adds, “My biggest takeaway is I’m capable, I can do this. I’ve gained so much confidence.”

  1. Trust in your preceptor assignment

Leininger’s experience with her capstone preceptor in the Utah Valley Hospital ER was greatly impactful. She says, “The faculty at BYU work a lot to match us up with the right preceptor. I believe there’s inspiration involved with that, because I know that the preceptor I had matched me and was the perfect kind of mentor I needed.”

“At my last clinical shift, my preceptor and I just kind of talked about what my biggest takeaways were, and he left me with the challenge,” she says. He challenged her “to never give report of a patient to another nurse in a way that would taint their perspective of that patient.”

She has taken this challenge to heart and says, “We should be our patient’s advocate and stand up for them. It’s easy to make judgments and think of them a certain way, but this can impede the care you give.”

“Once you tell your own opinion of that patient to another nurse, you’re ruining that next nurse’s experience. My preceptor’s challenge to me was to always give my patients the benefit of the doubt and never, never label them. Because, no matter what, they are a person, a human being, and a child of God. Whatever they’re going through, they deserve respect. They deserve to be given dignity.”

  1. Be as involved in clinicals as you can be

Leininger believes that clinicals are a unique opportunity to learn and put into practice the things you learn in class. She says, “Make the most of every clinical shift you have and learn as much as you can. Be as involved as you can, even if it means measuring your patient’s urine output or something like that. That will show the nurse you’re working with that you want to be there and you’re willing to learn. Then they’re going to be a better mentor and a teacher to you.”

It’s also an important time to make mistakes and learn from fellow nurses, because once you graduate every decision has larger consequences.

  1. Listen to the faculty’s advice

BYU faculty are unlike any other faculty on the planet. They are able to teach not only the temporal but also the spiritual. Leininger is so grateful for the chance to be taught by such amazing faculty.

She says, “Obviously, I’ve never attended another nursing school. So I don’t know exactly how BYU is different from other schools. But I do know for certain that we have the spiritual aspect integrated into our curriculum that isn’t present in other universities. That was my favorite part about the nursing program: how our professors could incorporate the gospel into everything we learned. A huge part of being a nurse is being able to have the spirit with you to help you discern your patient’s needs and to empathize with them.”

That’s what learning the Healer’s art truly is.

In the future, Leininger is preparing to take the NCLEX-RN and find a job as a registered nurse. She feels well-prepared and recognizes the need to continue her education. She says, “A nursing career is a career of lifelong learning. You’re never going to stop learning; things are always changing.”

Thank you, College of Nursing!

By Jessica Tanner

Nursing students are amazingly compassionate, intelligent, and driven people. I am constantly amazed at everything you participate in—the lectures, labs, simulations, and the many hours of clinicals. It has been such an experience for me to be able to sit down and talk with many of you, learn your stories, learn from you, and be able to share what I have learned with others.

So many of you shared inspiring words!  Here are some of my favorites:

“There is no one mold you have to fit to be a nurse.” – Electra Cochran

As I interviewed students and faculty, I repeatedly learned each of you is so unique. It is often our differences, our talents, and our hobbies that make us better able to serve and connect with one another. I am not a nursing student, but this statement holds true no matter the major or profession.

“We go past a lot of people and how much connection you make is up to you.” – Dr. Sabrina Jarvis

Dr. Jarvis taught me that every encounter I have with another person has an effect and I can decide whether that is positive or negative. I was reminded that we often do not know what others are going through until we take the time to talk with them. The littlest things, like smiling or asking “how are you,” often make the biggest difference.

“We meet complete strangers on their worst days ever, their most vulnerable times.” – Elizabeth Eide

Like Dr. Jarvis, Eide has learned the importance of kindness. While she is talking specifically about nursing, it applies to us whether we are in a hospital or not. We often do meet strangers when they are in need.

“I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” – Holly Christensen

I did not interview Christiansen directly, but I was able to hear her speak at The Magic Yarn Project event in March. The quote is from a video on The Magic Yarn Project website. When problems seem too big to be solved, it is a reminder that I can do my part to be part of the solution.

Though I only worked here for a few months, I really enjoyed my time here. Special thanks to Jeff, Quincey, Zak, and Andrew and all College of Nursing staff and faculty. Thanks for being great examples and friends to me and making me feel welcome even though I was not going to be here for very long. You truly are amazing!

 

 

Nursing Staff and Administration Receive SAERA Awards

Photo courtesy of BYU Human Resources

By Jessica Tanner

Three of our incredible staff and administration have recently been recipients of the Staff and Administrative Employee Recognition (SAERA) Award: Kathy Whitenight, Cherie Top, and Cara Wiley. These amazing women have displayed levels of continual learning, innovation, and care that have improved the College of Nursing and BYU. The University-sponsored SAERA Award recognizes those who have shown competency, respect for sacred resources, integrity, teamwork, exceeding customer expectation, respect for all individuals, innovation and accountability. These women have definitely achieved that.

Kathy Whitenight

Kathy Whitenight

Competency: Striving for excellence and sharpening skills on a continuous basis, 2018.

“As an assistant dean, Kathy Whitenight is essential to the workings of the college of Nursing,” writes Dean Patricia Ravert, who nominated her for the award in 2018. On receiving the award Whitenight reports, “I know when other people are getting the awards but I had no idea I was submitted. So it was a big surprise and really an honor to get it.”

There were several reasons why Dean Ravert nominated Whitenight in the competency category. Whitenight has kept up with legal matters, managed updates in physical facilities, and overseen human resources.  Another major department she oversees is Risk Management, where she helps students get the care they need in case of incident or injury. In this duty, Whitenight demonstrates personal care to each student. “They have my cellphone; they can call me 24/7,” she explains. “I’ve only gotten one call in the last year at 3:00 a.m. but I want them to that. I’d rather have them do that than not get the care they need and the financial coverage.” Whitenight keeps up on policies and procedures to help students avoid potential problems.

On Whitenight’s wall hangs James C. Christensen’s painting The Widow’s Might. “I have this picture on the wall,” she explains, “because…most of the things [we do] are done through tithing dollars. And that’s the widow’s mite.” Working with finances, Whitenight handles sacred resources with great care and respect.

Whitenight has to learn continually to keep up with technology and policies. “Each day something new could come in that I’ve never experienced before. And that’s what makes it exciting.”

Cherie Top

Cherie Top:

Exceeding Service Expectations: Serving the needs of others beyond what is expected, 2018

Cherie Top, the Graduate Program and Research Secretary, was awarded for exceeding service expectations. Associate Dean and Professor Jane Lasseter nominated Top after seeing her interact with the students that would come up to apply for the graduate nursing program. “When we have our new applicants coming in they have to do a writing prompt,” Top explains. “And when they come in for their writing prompt we take their photo so that we can use it for the interview…So I make them take a picture up against the wall right next to Jane’s office. In her letter she talked about how I’m really nice to them because they come in and they’re really nervous for the writing prompt.” She helps to put these students at ease as they apply for their future.

Top is also consistently helpful and kind to the other faculty and staff. In fact, the people she gets to work with are her favorite part of her job. “The thing I like most about working here is the environment and the people that we work with. I feel like the staff and the faculty are a really close-knit group but they’re also really inviting.” She immediately felt included when she started working at BYU almost four years ago.

As for receiving the award, Top says, “I was super, super surprised. I didn’t even know they did those awards,” she admits with a laugh. “And they kept it a really good secret—they did it during college assembly and it was just a normal college assembly and I didn’t know it was going to happen.” It was a pleasant surprise, and the clock she received (the SAERA Award trophy) sits shining on her cabinet.

Cara Wiley

Cara Wiley

Innovation: Finding ways to improve products/services to change the way work is accomplished, 2019

Advisement Center Supervisor Cara Wiley was nominated for the SAERA Award by Associate Dean and Associate Professor Katreena Merrill in the innovation category. This was prompted by Wiley’s push for and implementation of an orientation class for first-semester nursing students.

“Before, the students had nothing,” says Wiley. When she became part of BYU nursing advisement, there was no orientation at all for nursing students. An orientation dinner was introduced, but it still was not enough. Wiley remembers, “I researched…other schools here at BYU who have limited enrollment programs, and they had orientation meetings.” It seemed to work for them, so Wiley worked to implemented it in the College of Nursing. It eventually turned into a 390R class so students could have it in their schedules.

“We’re trying to develop emotional intelligence, students’ resiliency, and [also] working on perfectionism,” Wiley explains.  “It’s literally meant to orient them, [to say], hey, this is what it’s going to be like in the nursing program.” Students are able to meet future faculty and learn about a wide variety of subjects. Wiley reports it is a work in progress. “We just keep tweaking it, trying to make it better, trying to help them come in and learn how to be resilient in the first semester so that when they hit the harder semesters, they can handle it.”

Wiley has enjoyed being a part of the orientation class. “It’s nice for me, for the advisement center, to be involved in this orientation class because the students get to know us.” It also brought about the nomination for the SAERA Award. Though she was shocked to get the award, she was also grateful. “I haven’t gotten an award like that in my 14 years of being here and it was really nice to be recognized by my boss…We’ve been doing a lot of changes, and now we’re seeing the results.”

 

Getting Involved: BYU Graduate Students Help to Pass Bill at Utah State Legislature

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Students Libby Willmore (left), Charlie Rowberry (center), and Julie Palmieri (right) lobbying at the state capitol.

By Quincey Taylor

When you think of a House of Representatives or a state legislature, what kind of people do you imagine there? Perhaps middle-aged men in tailored suits? Well, first year BYU graduate nursing students Libby Willmore, Charlie Rowberry, and Julie Palmieri are breaking that stereotype. These students were not afraid to stand up and work towards making changes that will directly affect them after graduation.

These motivated students had the chance to assist associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy – who is also the Legislative Chair for the Utah Association of Nurse Practitioners – in lobbying House Bill 336 in the Utah State Legislature. Getting a bill passed is a long and difficult process, but these students were up to the challenge as they were led by their stalwart professor.

 

Why was House Bill 336 created?

A nurse practitioner’s scope of practice, or what they’re allowed to do, is dictated by every individual state. There are no national guidelines or regulations. As a result, some states choose to allow NPs to practice full authority within the NP scope of practice, while other states extremely limit what NPs can do. Many times these restrictive states require by law for NPs to be under the direction of a physician at all times.

Utah’s laws fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. For example, when NPs in Utah graduate, they are subject to the Consultation and Referral Plan (CRP) which requires them to be under the direction of a physician for the first two years or 2,000 hours of practice when prescribing controlled substances.

When a physician opts to be responsible for an NP, he signs a mandated document that many physicians charge NPs thousands of dollars to receive.

While originally written to more closely regulate the prescriptions of opiates and other dangerous substances, these laws have evolved to a rule that ties the hands of newly graduated nurse practitioners and requires them to pay thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that likely will sit in a filing cabinet until they reach two years of practice or 2,000 clinical hours, whichever comes first.

This was also a problem because nurses could easily avoid these charges if they simply chose to move to a state that doesn’t require them, thus driving nurses away from Utah practices.

 

What happened when House Bill 336 was implemented?

After working with legislators and coming to a common agreement, HB 336 was passed. The law was changed to require newly graduated NPs to have a CRP only for the first year or 2,000 hours of practice if opening their own clinic. They also changed who could give out a CRP mandated document, now allowing other senior NPs in the field to act as their referral.

This will now be friendlier to small practices opened up by nurse practitioners, allowing them to hire employees without the need for physician supervision. They can practice more easily in rural areas where there might not be a surplus of physicians.

Changing the law will also save new NPs thousands of dollars they might have paid to physicians in past years.

 

Why were these students interested in participating?

These laws would have affected any nursing student that decided to stay in Utah after graduation. This was something that personally motivated Willmore to get involved. She said she became interested in helping when “Professor Luthy was talking about her work at the capitol building during class and mentioned that she could use some help. I figured that working with law makers to change practice regulations for nurse practitioners will directly affect me when I graduate so I better get in there and help out.”

These students were active participants in Luthy’s legislative committee and personally lobbied to gain support to pass the bill. They dutifully participated, coming up to the capitol multiple times a week during the campaign.

Luthy is so proud of the efforts of these students and says, “All three of those students were fully engaged. Every day they were up at the capitol. They were lobbying. They were attending committee meetings. They testified in committee hearings. I mean, it was completely amazing.” She is looking forward to future developments to progress the cause of nurse practitioners.

Thanks, SNA For Another Great Year!

By Jessica Tanner

What do J-Dawgs, College of Nurses’ students, and a dunk-tank all have in common? All were at yesterday’s closing social for the Student Nursing Association. The society is student-run and works to coordinate events and help students become more involved in the community.

At the closing social, students were able to enjoy the crisp but sunny spring weather, eat food, chat, and dunk their favorite teacher or staff member. Assistant Teaching Professor Scott Summers was a particularly popular target as students got him back (in good humor) for a tough semester in his Pharmacology class.

SNA knows how to have fun. Izzy Algeier, SNA’s newly nominated president says that SNA strives to “provide different activities so that they can de-stress and be able to have fun, make relationships, and ultimately to become more unified as a college.”  They also know when to be professional. “Our vision is to help students…have professional opportunities while they’re in the nursing program,” says Algeier.

“It’s been awesome,” says Kami Christiansen, an SNA board member. “I got to go to the National Student Nursing Association conference. That was way fun.” At NSNA, students represented BYU and its values. “I’m grateful for it,” says Christiansen as she looks forward to future involvement.

The evening also included the announcements of the recipients of the SNA Scholarship. Congratulations to Jessica Daynes, Camille Johnson, Megan Western, Christina Hobson, and Katy Harrison. These students showed excellence in participating in several professional and service-oriented SNA events.

Thanks to all SNA members who have made these opportunities and events possible. We look forward to another year!