Monthly Archives: August 2019

Brad Walker: Helping All, From Coal Miners to Railroad Workers

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With a long and fruitful career, the College of Nursing is grateful for alumni like Brad Walker. Photo courtesy of Bingham Memorial Hospital.

By Quincey Taylor

Pioneers in the nursing field make leaps in the industry every day. We rely on their innovative research and technological developments to help nursing progress. There are also nurses that make social steps forward in the nursing world. One of those people is BYU alum Brad Walker (BS ’75), who joined the nursing community in a time period when male RNs made up only 2.7% of the working force.

When he came to BYU, Walker was one of the first male nursing students ever in the BYU nursing program. He is grateful for his experience at BYU, saying, “I feel that my education and training at BYU directed me and had me ready to begin a lifelong career. As I have practiced as a family nurse practitioner, I have made friends from every walk of life.”

He remembers once during his senior year, he was challenged to “go outside of nursing” and do something new or adventurous. He reflects on the experience, “So I went out to the skydiving school and made 2 jumps out of perfectly good airplanes.  I absolutely loved it.  I have never done it since.” He is grateful for the ways the college stretched and challenged him in all areas of life.

Brad went to college with the aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer, but his career path took a significant turn because of his mother. After the birth of Brad’s first child, she suggested a part-time job at the hospital to help pay for the bill. He started in housekeeping, and worked part time in the operating room. This experience peaked his interest in medicine and later that year, he was accepted into the RN program.

Walker, who is a recent retiree, had a long and fulfilling career after BYU. His first work experience was in East Carbon, Utah. He worked out of Utah Valley Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Keith Hooker. He was responsible for caring for the workers in two coal mines at the East Carbon Clinic. He routinely flew in Hooker’s private plane to rural clinicals. Walker remembers, “One day we were trying to take off from a plateau near Castledale, Utah.  As we started to take off, a gust of wind caught us and slammed the plane into the ground.  We walked away without any injuries of any kind.” He learned a lot with that experience, delving into the medical world as a nurse practitioner for the first time.

Walker and his family then moved to the Pocatello, Idaho area, where he practiced as a nurse practitioner for the past 41 years. His NP license number in the state of Idaho is only 85, illustrating how few NPs there were in Idaho at that time. He worked for several orthopedic surgeons, as well as worked in the ER for almost 20 years. He was one of the original Lifeflight crew members in his community. He not only worked with coal miners in his career, but even helped many railroad workers as well. He then worked at the UP Railroad clinic for 30 years.

He loved working with that population, and says, “I served the needs of many railroaders over the years. These men and women are like family to me. I am in the process of telling my patients goodbye. This is not easy. It’s been a great life and wonderful career starting with my time in the College of Nursing at BYU.”

Lastly, Walker worked for Bingham Memorial Hospital and had his own practice in Pocatello. He also worked for the past 20 years in urgent care clinics around the area. “One thing for sure,” Walker laughs, “I was never without a job or two.” Over the years, he developed a particular skill for suturing, one that served him well.

For a time, Walker would come down to BYU and help teach nurse practitioner students orthopedics and how to apply different casts and splints.  He worked in close connection with Vicki Anderson.  She also graduated with his class as a nurse practitioner in 1975.

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Walker and his wife are excited for their new adventure. Photo courtesy of Walker. 

On April 1st, Walker and his wife left for their new adventure, serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is so grateful for his journey that started at BYU, saying, “BYU and the College of Nursing set me on a path for success and happiness.”

Walker looks back on his time at BYU with fondness, and continues to support the college. He loves to watch BYU sports and had season football tickets for almost 10 years. He concludes, “The Lord has taken care of myself, my wife and my family through a career as a nurse practitioner.  I have always had work, and worked at something that I loved.  Especially in taking care of many patients.  I love taking care of patients and being able to see them improve their health.” None of that would have been possible without BYU.

The Valor Award: Serving Our Heroes

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Julie Minson is honored to receive this year’s Valor Award for future nurse practitioners. Photo courtesy of Minson.

By Quincey Taylor

Serving others that have given so much in honor of this country is a privilege that only select nurses get to enjoy. Some of these nurses are alumna Emily Lance Santillan (’19) and current nursing graduate student Julie Minson, both of whom received the Valor Award during their respective times in the nursing program, the first during her bachelor’s and the second during her time as a graduate student.

The Valor Award is a great opportunity for students that want to learn skills in a specialized environment. Given to students at differing times in their education, the Valor Award is modified to best help recipients at their current point of training. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, mimicking a paid internship, while graduate students can use the hours gained at the VA towards becoming a nurse practitioner.

Surrounded by experienced nurses and guided by their preceptors, Santillan and Minson readily cared for a population that is in need of their love and attention.

Emily’s Experience

The Nursing VA Learning Opportunity Residency (VALOR) Program is for outstanding students who have completed their junior year of an accredited baccalaureate nursing program and may be interested in a nursing career in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under the guidance of a VA registered nurse preceptor, VALOR students have opportunities for clinical practice and competencies in a nursing specialty area. The student will also complete an independent, problem-focused, clinical project.

Santillan was so grateful for the experience she had at the VA. She says, “It was a huge growing and learning experience. My confidence as a nurse just skyrocketed. From the beginning to the end, I feel like I was ready to graduate and be a nurse, like the next day if I could.”

She felt that this chance to learn was different than other opportunities that she’d had. She continues, “Sometimes during clinical, it gets you close, but not quite to that point where you are on your own. At VA, I felt like I could do most things independently for the whole day. I could do charting, meds, interventions, everything. That was invaluable for me to have that confidence.”

Santillan was inspired to apply for the Valor Award after doing clinical at the VA with assistant professor Dr. Julie Valentine during her third semester. She loved the experience and decided to apply that next summer. The application process for her was almost like any other job interview, and she was thrilled when she was selected.

That summer, she worked almost full time in order to achieve 400 working hours by the start of fall semester. If she wanted to return to work there now after graduation, it would be a relatively simple process.

Santillan is grateful for her time at BYU and says, “It stretched me a lot and challenged me a lot, but was very rewarding. I feel like if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and grow… I know I’m a completely different person. I know I’ve improved so much since when I started at BYU.”

Since completion of her Bachelor’s degree, Santillan has had a baby, and hopes to return to nursing in the fall.

Julie’s Experience

The VA funded learning opportunity for nurse practitioner student clinical training is reserved for graduate DNP and MSN students interested in a nursing career in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their working hours gained at the VA can go towards their clinical hours to become a nurse practitioner.

“This award actually came as a great surprise to me,” she remarks. She had been thinking about where she wanted to work when she was done with school, and the VA came to mind. She applied to their internship program, where she will be doing her capstone. She was thrilled when she was selected to participate.

She says, “I had been talking to associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy about how excited I was about applying and how I was looking forward to how rigorous the training is, and the growth I will have there.  They see lots of complex patients with complex problems and I know that I will learn so much.”

Unbeknownst to Minson, Luthy nominated her for the Valor Award and she was chosen! She says, “I was humbled and also very grateful to receive this award. I have always loved the elderly.  I started out as a CNA in high school and worked at rest homes and doing home health care with the geriatric population to get through my undergraduate. I also love the grandmas of my ward and love sitting with them.  I’ve always loved their deep well of knowledge and life experiences; they have a deep reservoir of love for their fellowmen because of what life has taught them. Taking care of an aging body with such a deep and wonderful heart can be a challenge, and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

Coming back to school at 40 years old with three children was not easy for Minson, but she has enjoyed every minute. She says, “I’ve been blown away by how much each professor is individually interested in me and my learning.  This is a topnotch program and if you’re thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner then BYU is the best choice!”

She wants to give a special thanks to Luthy and associate teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters for their confidence in her and nominating her.

CON Online Cheerleader: Alumna Marianna Pugmire

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It really takes a village! Only with the support of alumni can the college continue to thrive. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By Quincey Taylor

Chances are, any College of Nursing Facebook post has a comment from alumna Marianna Pugmire. One of the college’s most vocal supporters, Pugmire (AS ‘67), never misses a chance to vocalize her appreciation for the college as well as remind us of how nursing has changed in the last 55 years. The College of Nursing team wants to thank Pugmire for her continued efforts to remember her alma mater.

In 1964, Pugmire was admitted to the BYU nursing program. Thinking back on getting that wonderful news, Pugmire reminisces, “You never forget the joy and relief when that notice is received.” She started out in the Bachelor’s program, but when life shifted and she became engaged, she switched to the two-year program. She like that it was focused more on patient care rather than management. Ironically, even though the plan was to focus more on bedside nursing, she eventually spent most of her career in management.

Many things have changed since Pugmire’s time at BYU. That first year, she received a full-tuition scholarship which totaled to only $220.

Facebook has become Pugmire’s way to continue to engage with the college, feeling the Spirit of the Y. She says, “I love to see the posts of the new students and they bring back so many great memories.”

She continues, “I am always happy to see the Facebook posts from the nursing program and to see the wonderful things they are doing. I am disabled by a very bad back and knees and I don’t get out much, so Facebook has become my window to the world.”

The team at the College of Nursing is so grateful for cheerleaders like Pugmire and want to thank her for her continued support. Pugmire realizes the difficulty of what is asked of the students and adds, “The nursing program isn’t easy and I will continue to encourage the students.” Thank you, Marianna!