Monthly Archives: June 2019

Melissa Heinonen: Applying the Healer’s Art

melissa fam

By Corbin Smith

“I would learn the Healer’s art.”

One of the main goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to teach its students the Healer’s art. That includes caring for each of God’s children not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. The college hopes that each graduate will dedicate their life to that service as they move on to healthcare sites all over the world. Now, more than 10 years later, class of 2007 graduate Melissa Heinonen looks back and is confident that she has been able to do exactly that, serving like the Healer did.

Physically

Since her graduation, Heinonen has healed her patients of all ages across the globe. Upon graduating from BYU, she worked in Primary Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City. There she realized that she was passionate about working with young children and their families.

From there she moved to Austin, Texas where she worked at the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Central Texas for two years. “I loved working in Texas,” she says, “It was so inspiring to take part in helping a young child receive strength again.” It was here that she saw both the devastating effects of disease and healing power a nurse can bring.

melissa

Heinonen with a mother and daughter during her medical mission trip to Nigeria in 2012.

These experiences inspired Heinonen to go abroad and use her medical talents overseas. Her first experience was in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. A few years later, she traveled to Nigeria where she provided primary care services to a rural community. Once again, her eyes were opened to the positive influence nurses can have on a community.

In 2014, after receiving a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington, she and her young family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they currently reside, where she works part-time as a family practitioner in a private practice called Grow Pediatrics. Even though now she spends less time at the hospital she cherishes the time she can spend with her two boys. “I love the flexibility my job brings. I can spend a few days a week doing what I love without having to give up time with those whom I love,” she says.

Mentally

Heinonen also knows that a nurse’s job description goes beyond just physical healing but also mental healing. While working in Texas in the cancer clinic Heinonen saw the suffering felt by the children and their parents. While nursing the patient as best she could, she also provided support for devastated mothers and fathers who were distraught from the situation of their child. In fact, she still maintains relationships with many of those families today.

She also did this on the medical missions that she completed. In Haiti, she saw how the earthquake shook people’s lives. Thousands were injured physically, but thousands more were hurt mentally and emotionally. Her presence as a nurse comforted people as they dealt with the tragedy that changed their lives completely.

Spiritually

Heinonen also attributes her career to her strong testimony in the gospel. “Nursing has strengthened my testimony that each person is a unique and a loved child of God,” she explains, “I know that our Savior loves each of us individually and my work certainly teaches me more about that every day.”

That testimony that she has been able to form has helped her professionally with her patients and, possibly more importantly, with her four year-old and two year-old sons. As she teaches them about God, she often draws upon her experiences as a nurse. She says, “I try to teach my children that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and love as the Savior would. I help them understand the pure love He feels for us and His special ability to heal us.”

Her career in nursing has also helped her be a missionary. Her experience has helped her develop skills in communication and teaching as well as increasing her capacity to serve and be compassionate. She explains, “Now it is easier for me to connect with patients and get to know them and their unique circumstances. That gives me the courage to share the gospel and be an example of the Healer.”

Now, looking back at the life she has lived, Heinonen sees how each experience has been for her benefit. Even with all of her travels and homes across the nation, she knows that wherever she is, she can take the Healer’s art with her. “I love that I was able to learn nursing as the Healer’s art at BYU. It helps me see the Lord’s hand in my life and motivates me to strive to be the best nurse and mother I can be each day.”

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Daphne Thomas Elected as ENA President in Utah

Daphne Thomas

Thomas is one of six BYU College of Nursing faculty members serving in Utah’s ENA council in 2019.

By Corbin Smith

This January, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas was elected president of the Utah chapter of the ENA. She is joined by BYU College of Nursing assistant teaching professors Stacie Hunsaker, Ryan Rasmussen, Scott Summers, Dr. Craig Nuttall and associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston in various responsibilities in the chapter. Thomas has already served as president-elect for a year and will serve as chapter president until the end of 2019.

ENA stands for emergency nurses association. It is an international organization with the goal to assure that top quality practices take place in emergency rooms through education. This is done by providing classes and certifications to help continue a nurse’s education and maintain competency. They offer many classes, including trauma and pediatric courses, both taught by Thomas.

When asked why she has decided to take on such an intense commitment Thomas says, “I’ve been an emergency room nurse for about 20 years and I just love making it better.” She continues, “I understand the importance of being an active advocate for these nurses… not only so that they have a better job satisfaction but also that we have better patient outcomes.”

Thomas is also quick to recognize that she needs her whole team to have a successful tenure as ENA president. “There are a lot of different roles and people making sure everything is running smoothly and is organized. There is a lot going on and it takes a whole team to be effective.”

As president of the ENA, Thomas hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on emergency nursing. She shares, “Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives. That is what nursing is really all about. Its very service oriented and we want it to stay that way.”

BYU Nursing Boasts Seven Champions in Washington DC

ShotatLife4BYU’s Shot@Life champions meet with congressman Ben McAdams in Washington DC.

By Corbin Smith

We love to imagine what we would do if we were gifted a million dollars. If you had a million dollars, what would you do? Would you share it or keep it for yourself? How would you use that gift to make a difference?

Even though associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden don’t have a million dollars, they do have another powerful tool that has helped them make a difference in the world: their voices. Their own passions have led to them to unite their voices with a global health program called Shot@Life.

Shot@Life is part of the United Nations Foundation. Its purpose is to ensure that all kids, wherever they may be in the world, gets access to the vaccinations they need to have a healthy childhood. They work with organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Vaccine Alliance to help them in their goal for global health.

Luthy, Eden and five graduate students—Dan Smith, Virginia Jeffries, Emily Richards, Katie Bates and Deborah Gibbons—have all been named Shot@Life champions. Shot@Life champions are, according to their website, “individuals who are dedicating their voice, time, and support to stand up for children in developing countries.” They were selected as champions by the United Nations Foundation and were invited to attend the champions summit in Washington DC last February.

Shot@Life receives its funding in two major ways: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the US government. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates millions of dollars each year to the program in support of global health. The Shot@Life program’s goal each year is to convince congress to match the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s donation by renewing global health funding. This is where the Shot@Life champions come in.

The three days spent in Washington DC at the champions summit are to teach and persuade congressman from your state to vote in favor of continuing global health funding. For Eden, Luthy and their students, it was an exciting time to meet with politicians and prepare to teach them the benefits of global health.

For the BYU group, the first day was spent meeting in groups made up of champions from each state, finalizing research and learning how to give an effective and powerful sales pitch to a congressman. Day two is all about the presentations. Messages are refined and glossy handouts are passed out as the champions from each state present to their state’s congressman. After a successful day presenting, the final day in DC was for debriefing.

All those who attended the summit felt like they had done something positive for the world. “I really feel like I am making a difference,” says Luthy, “It feels so good to be a part of something that helps so many people worldwide.”

Due to the hard work of the champions, Shot@Life has been crucial in helping get vaccinations to the places people need them the most, slowly ridding the world of many terrible diseases. According to the WHO, in 2018 only 33 cases of Polio were found, compared to 350,000 in 1988.

Even with all their success, the end goal for the Shot@Life program is to eradicate all fatal and avoidable diseases from the world. “We live in a world where most of these diseases are completely preventable,” says Luthy, “and we have to do everything we can to stop the suffering.” Thanks to the dedication and passion of Luthy, Eden and Shot@Life champions all over the nation, that goal is in reach.

It is easy to get involved with the Shot@Life program! Visit shotatlife.org to find out how you can get involved and help every child around the world have their own shot at life.

 

Being a Nurse and Becoming a Father

Hyrums famHyrum and his young family.

By Quincey Taylor

Becoming a father is a life-changing experience. You wake up one morning and it is just you and your wife, and the next day you wake up and there is an entirely new person depending on you for their survival. New plans for the future are formed and different routines are forged. Family dynamics and relationships change and evolve. For nursing students, becoming a father has its own differences, sometimes difficult but always rewarding.

Huge Life Change as First-Time Father

Hyrum Prestwich, a nursing student who will be completing his capstone this fall, was blessed with a baby girl on December 23, 2018. This baby, named June, has completely changed the way Prestwich sees the world. With a few months under his belt, Prestwich has some advice for new fathers or fathers-to-be.

Looking back, Prestwich says, “I had just finished my labor and delivery semester and I felt like the whole semester was in preparation like the final was my wife’s pregnancy. It was kind of fun to be able to have a little bit more information.” Some of the nurses that helped with his wife’s delivery were former BYU students. They enjoyed talking about their professors and the things they learned during their time at BYU.

When asked about things he did not foresee when becoming a father, he says, “I think just the greater purpose I have. When I’m going to school and going to work, it’s not just for me and my wife anymore. There’s this pretty much helpless, tiny human that’s relying on us. I think that it’s nice to have that greater purpose to do the things I’m doing, whether it’s school or bettering our future.”

It has not always been easy for Prestwich, but everything is always worth it in the end. If he had been asked two weeks after having June if they wanted more kids, Prestwich would not be so sure. However, now that they have had a chance to transition he says they definitely look forward to having more children eventually. He says, “It’s a little scary at times and it can be a little overwhelming. But overall, I think it’s definitely a positive. Obviously, it is a huge transition, but I think that you definitely adjust and the positives – like the small moments where she makes us laugh – make it totally worth it.”

Prestwich has enjoyed his nursing skills as he has become a father. Prestwich likes to use his stethoscope to listen to June’s heart, but luckily there have not been any emergencies in which he would have to use additional skills. Having that healthcare background, he says, “helps me just to have a little bit more of a comfortable feeling. I have resources where I can find information if I have questions.”

Prestwich strives to be like his father, who is one of his role models. He remarks, “My dad was just a great example of being a family man, and also instilling a hard work ethic in me. He’s also a great example of a Christ-like father, willing to correct us and keep us on the right path, and being loving to us. Hopefully, I can emulate that in my own life.”

To any students preparing to become a father, Prestwich says, “Just do the best you can in everything. It was always my mantra to do the best I can at school and work. Now, there’s just an added responsibility. So, doing your best might mean you might have to cut back a little bit in school or work so you can focus on more important things – like your family. It’s important to prioritize what’s the most important thing.”

 

Diego and Family

Diego and his family at a sporting event.

Finding Balance with Multiple Children

Diego Gonzalez, a BYU first-year nursing graduate student, is not new to the world of babies and fatherhood. He has two children, a six-year-old girl, and a three-year-old boy, and his wife is pregnant with their third – due in November.

When asked how things have changed with the arrival of each child, Gonzalez laughs, “Typically with the first child you have the most photos, then after that, it starts decreasing with each one.” Sometimes it will suddenly hit him that he is having his third child!

Occasionally it is hard for Gonzalez to focus on studying when he is at home because his children always are eager to play with him. For him, finding a balance between school, work, family, and the church is key. That is why Gonzalez is grateful for the constant reminder of why he chooses to do the things he does. His children are his motivation to continue in the graduate program, even when it is difficult.

It is not rare for Gonzalez to use his nursing skills in the home, whether the kids are sick with a cold or bump their head. It is a comfort to him to know that he can take care of his children and know their symptoms. Gonzalez is dedicated to being a constant strength and presence in his children’s lives and never wants to look back on the decisions he has made and have regrets.

This past term, he decided to try something new and took a rock climbing class. He absolutely loved it and encourages all parents to make time to have a hobby of their own. “Your children will be happier when they see you being happy.”

To all new fathers or fathers-to-be, Gonzalez urges each one to live in the present. Do not plan on spending time with your kids someday when you graduate or have a job or are released from a calling. Each moment is precious with children because they grow up so fast. In those family-bonding times, it’s important to be an active presence within the family. He says, “Sometimes you need to step back out of that reality, push it away, and then mentally be able to say, ‘I can enjoy this moment. I can be present. And I’m not worried about what is due tonight, tomorrow, or what I have to do.’ You know, keeping it real.”

BYU “Levels Up” in Exercise is Medicine Program

Neil Peterson

Dr. Neil Peterson is excited to continue working toward a healthier BYU community.

By Corbin Smith

Click the link to see what Dr. Peterson and his team did last year to achieve the bronze level campus recognition!

https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/byu-earns-bronze-level-campus-recognition-from-american-college-of-sports-medicine/

For some, it may be easy to believe that BYU’s only focus is the spiritual well-being of our community. Assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson is dedicated to showing that BYU is also very committed to the physical well-being of the campus.

In 2017, BYU was awarded a bronze level campus recognition from the American College of Sports Medicine after the success of the Pokéthon 3K run/walk event Dr. Peterson spearheaded in October 2016. This year, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Peterson and many others, BYU was recognized again, receiving a silver level campus recognition.

The Exercise is Medicine On-Campus program is unique in that they require a university to do different things to receive the various levels of recognition. For example, a bronze recognition requires a campus to have an event to raise awareness for physical health, like BYU did with the Pokéthon run/walk. To reach a silver level recognition, the university must implement a program to educate its community on the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. BYU was one of the 56 universities in the nation to receive the silver recognition in 2019.

To educate the community on physical health, BYU started with its students. In the undergraduate program, Associate teaching professor Gaye Ray instructs her students about the importance of physical activity as well as how to measure it in their patients during her physical assessment class. Dr. Peterson also teaches this on the graduate level. All is in an effort to prepare students to help future patients improve exercise and health habits.

group pic

Dr. Peterson and his team had another successful event in October 2018: The Super Hero Fun Walk. Photo courtesy of Peterson.

The BYU Wellness Program has also done a lot to help BYU receive a silver level recognition this year. “BYU wellness has monthly wellness talks and activities. They provide resources to the community for people to participate and teach everyone how to be active in their lives,” says Dr. Peterson. Visit wellness.byu.edu to check out some of their resources and find info for later events!

In the future, Dr. Peterson has plans to work with the Student Heath Center on campus to work toward the gold level recognition, the level received when a system to measure physical activity is put into place.

It is not hard turn those bad habits into healthy ones. “We just have to do these little things to make our lives a little bit better,” says Peterson.

Below are five of those simple tips that Dr. Peterson recommends for healthier living!

 

5 Pro Tips to a Healthier Lifestyle at Work

  1. Take Short, Mental Breaks Each Hour.

To be able to maximize your ability to focus, you need to give your brain some time to rest. You work hard and you have people to help, but taking 3-5 minutes to relax and give yourself a short break will make a huge difference in your productivity.

  1. Take the Stairs!

To live a healthier lifestyle, it is important that you get your heart rate up occasionally. Taking the stairs is the perfect way to get your heart pumping and your body moving. You’ll feel better and be getting a little bit of exercise in!

  1. Get a Workout App

Need a constant reminder to get active? Downloading an app that suggests short workouts is the answer. Some apps even help you monitor your diet and set health goals. Dr. Peterson uses “Streaks Workouts” to keep not just himself but also his students to stay active during class!

  1. Go Outside Every Few Hours

Being inside all day can take a toll on your eyes. “When you go outside your eyes can focus on something in the distance, like the mountains. That allows for your eye muscles relax and go straight,” says Peterson. Get headaches frequently? This could be your solution!

  1. Do Some Work Standing Up

Not only can working standing up help reduce back pain, but you also burn an average of 1000 more calories a week by standing instead of sitting! Even if you can’t get a standing desk, standing up every once in a while will still make a positive impact on your health.