Author Archives: BYU Nursing

BYU College of Nursing Annual Essay Contest to Award $150 First Prize!

Get some extra cash for your summer kick-off by participating in the annual College of Nursing’s essay contest.

Current College of Nursing students (pre-nursing, undergraduate, and graduate) are welcome to submit an essay with the theme “Engaging in the Scholarship of the Discipline” by 4 p.m., Friday, April 21, for a chance to win $150. The second prize winner will receive $100 (checks will be issued in May 2017). Alumni from December of last year are also welcome to participate.

The essay should range between 600 to 800 words and include a title. Coursework that meets the competition’s criteria is acceptable as long as it was written during the 2016-17 school year; maintain patient privacy, HIPPA, and FERPA policies also apply. Patient or nurse mentor names may be changed, but please indicate this. Student names will be included as the author of the material. Individuals may submit more than one article, however, only one cash prize per person will be awarded.

Submit the essay to The College of Nursing will announce the winners on Tuesday, April 25 on its Facebook page.

*Submitted entries may be used in future BYU College of Nursing publications.


Nursing student demonstrates Etch-A-Skillz

Nine-year-old Madeline Skillings stared at her reflection in the dark airplane window. Although they had only been en route to Hawaii for an hour, it felt like days. She wiggled restlessly and poked her mom sitting in the seat next to her, asking for something to play with. Reaching into a bag, her mom pulled out a small, red rectangle with a gray screen and two little white knobs. For the next several hours, Madeline drew picture after picture on the new toy. Before she knew it, she was getting off the plane. She came out of the gate with something very special under her arm, her first Etch A Sketch.

Madeline, now in her third semester at the BYU College of Nursing, has built up her Etch A Sketch skills throughout the years to become a great artist. She is mentored by Christoph Brown (the world’s fastest Etch A Sketch artist), and just this summer became the brand ambassador for Spin Master, a toy making company.

Although Madeline can also draw and paint, she loves the Etch A Sketch because of its simplicity. “I think that today there are a lot of things competing for people’s attention,” she says. “Typically, those are things that dazzle and excite you. I like being able to make something beautiful that draws attention away from touch screens towards something that’s really basic.”

Despite challenging classes and clinicals, Madeline still likes to Etch A Sketch on the side. She has a YouTube channel and Instagram account to showcase her artwork. Madeline always shakes the Etch A Sketch after she finishes a piece, so most people only ever see a picture or video of her art. For Madeline, this temporary aspect of Etch A Sketch art is beautiful.

“People get so sad when I shake it,” she says. “But I tell them I think it’s beautiful that it doesn’t last. You can’t preserve it or hang it on a wall, so you have to enjoy it in the moment. Every piece you make is truly original, then it’s gone, and you can’t re-create that ever again.”

Although being an Etch A Sketch artist hasn’t played directly into her nursing career so far, Madeline has learned several lessons that have helped her become a better nurse.

“You definitely learn patience because Etch A Sketching is something that doesn’t come easily at first,” she says. “It takes work to master and it’s not always fun, but it’s so worth it when you finish.”

It’s the same with nursing: not every experience is fun. It’s hard work, and sometimes you have to keep reminding yourself of why you do it. But, every once in a while, you have a moment where you think, ‘Ah, this is why I’m doing it’, and you see why it’s worth it. For me, it’s typically when I’m with a patient and I’ve been able to do something small that’s made their day better.”

Click here to watch a time-lapse of Madeline’s drawing for the College of Nursing.

Why serve? Nursing students practice Healer’s art 24/7

2Clinicals, class time, projects, homework: nursing students don’t always have a very flexible schedule. Under such a heavy class load, most of us would savor any available free time, hunkering down with a blanket and indulging in a well-deserved Netflix binge. However, two BYU College of Nursing students are taking their free time and doing just the opposite: serving.

Third semester students Johny Jacobs and Elise Millward are involved with the BYU Center for Service and Learning (Y-Serve) and volunteer during their free time. With a rigorous school schedule and time-consuming responsibilities, they are staying busy and learning to put the Healer’s art into daily practice.

johnny_2As a member of the Y-Serve marketing team, Johny spreads his love for service. He has a conviction that service benefits the community and makes people happy and successful. Y-Serve commitments also stretch him to use available free time more wisely.

“Being in both the nursing program and Y-Serve really help manage my time,” he says. “I procrastinate a little bit sometimes, but having such a busy schedule keeps me on task. When I get an assignment, I’ll have a good estimation of how long it will take me and I HAVE to get it done. If I didn’t have that, I would just be distracted on social media.”

Elise Millward currently serves the program director for Special Olympics at Y-Serve, providing sporting opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It’s a lot of work, but she feels the extra time she puts in serving people outside of class is well worth it.

1“Serving these athletes has taught me how to love and how to have compassion,” she says. “I’m gaining valuable skills and it’s so fulfilling to experience their pure, innocent love. It seems like they have less than I do, but in having less they know how to give more.”

Both Johny and Elise know that serving people makes them happiest. Elise also recognizes that her classes and extra service are stepping stones that will teach her how to help others experience the Healer’s art, the same way she experienced it when she was sick.

While on her mission in New Jersey, Elise became quite ill. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome kept her immobile in bed. Mission rules made it difficult to get clearance to go to the hospital. She spent about a week and a half in bed, spoon-fed by her companion, get weaker and weaker.

One night Elise knew that regardless of clearance, she needed to get to the hospital. “I knew that if I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up,” she says. “I was going to die. I told my companion, ‘Get me to the hospital now. I don’t care if I’m cleared, just get me there.’”

Elise was rushed to the hospital and placed in the ICU as doctors worked to save her life. Her experience there would have a lasting impact on her decision to become a nurse, and to learn the Healer’s art.

“I remember waking up and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude as I looked up and I saw this really small, young girl who was my nurse,” she says.

img_4680“I knew that if the Savior were here, he would be playing her role as I lay on my deathbed. He would be the one who had all the skills to know what to do if my health tanked. He would be the one who was by my side through the night, making sure that I was o.k. He would get to know me and my hopes and dreams. He would make me feel like I really had a future, even though everything was uncertain at the time.”

Despite their sometimes hectic schedules, Johny and Elise couldn’t be happier and plan on helping out with Y-Serve as long as they can.

“Serving helps you focus less on your own needs and more on others,” Johny says. “I’ve found that having a less-selfish perspective really does make me happier. One of my favorite quotes about service comes from Arthur C. Brooks when he said, ‘You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.’ I wouldn’t give up the feeling I get when serving for anything.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Y-Serve and service opportunities can visit

College of Nursing Hosts “Nursing Know-How Academy” for BYU donors and families

The BYU College of Nursing was selected to participate in this year’s President’s Leadership Council (PLC) Family Reunion. Members of the PLC brought their children and grandchildren to campus to participate in several activities, including a stop at our Nursing Learning Center (NLC).

d-13The PLC is a group of donors who each give $1 million or more in donations to BYU. Every two or three years they come to campus with their families to tour and learn more about a few colleges at the university. Being selected to participate meant a lot to the College of Nursing and presented a great opportunity to get to know the donors a little better.

“The goal for the Nursing Know-How Academy was to meet the donors and give everyone who came some fun, hands-on experiences so they could learn more about the nursing profession,” says Carol Kounanis, an associate director, major gifts at the College of Nursing. “We were so impressed with the turnout we had and the excitement from the kids who got to participate.”

Participants were guided through six different stations in the NLC where they learned about several aspects of nursing and health. Nursing student volunteers walked the participants through proper hand washing techniques, splint application and some hands-on interaction with our high-fidelity manikins.

dsc01860Five-year-old Lily from Orem, Utah and her twin, Mia, both used a UV light and teaching gel called GloGerm to see if their hand washing technique got rid of all the germs on their hands. “I liked washing hands best because it helps you not get sick,” Lily says. “I learned to wash my hands at certain times.”

Many other participants mentioned how much they enjoyed using a stethoscope to hear a high-fidelity manikin’s heartbeat. At the end of the activity, everyone received a pin for their PLC Family Reunion lanyard and selected from a variety of College of Nursing gifts, such as sunscreen or lip balm.

Lori Collyer, Lily and Mia’s grandma, noticed how excited both her granddaughters were during the activities and is thrilled that they both want to be nurses for Halloween this year. “When they have an impression at this age it really makes a difference,” she says. “It sets things up for what they might want to go for in their future.”

Meningitis Angels Spread the Word about Not Spreading the Disease

On Friday, September 16, Brigham Young University will host the Meningitis Angels, a nonprofit meningitis awareness group.

Several reasons to visit campus are to educate students that this disease is deadly and debilitating and that there are vaccines to prevent it, and that there are two separate vaccines they need to prevent it.

“The thing that people need to understand is that meningitis is not something where you’re going to go to the hospital, come home and be over it. It’s a lifelong disease,” says Frankie Milley, founder and national executive director of Meningitis Angels.



Frankie Milley

As a mother who lost her college-age son to the illness, she has firsthand experience with how devastating it can be. Ryan, a healthy 18-year-old athlete, contracted it and was dead in less than a day.

After his passing, Milley formed the Meningitis Angels organization to help other families who had faced the disease and also to educate the public and policymakers on its effects. One of their main purposes has been to increase the amount of information available to families.

Meningitis, defined by the Mayo Clinic as an “inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord” comes in several forms, one of the most dangerous being bacterial meningitis, which claimed Ryan. The consequences can be devastating, with some dying in less than 24-hours.

Despite not being as prevalent as other diseases, the fact that some forms of meningitis spread rapidly in close quarters means that schools can be hubs for the disease, especially when there are students who are not immunized. The last few years have seen several types of meningitis outbreaks in Colorado, California, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon, and other locations; some of these have been on college campuses.

This week, the Angels are working at Utah colleges to help students know the facts, especially with the need to obtain two different vaccinations to be fully protected—Meningococcal C4 and Meningococcal B.

“One child is too many, especially if it’s your child,” Milley says. “Ryan did not have to die. He could have been vaccinated and I would have my precious son with me today.”




Johnny Dantona

Accompanying her are Leslie Meigs, 26, and Johnny Dantona, 21. Both contracted meningitis at a young age and survived, but not without significant health impacts. Meigs has extensive internal scarring and organ damage and had to receive a kidney transplant several years after the infection. Dantona lost both legs and sustained brain damage. Both are now members of the Angels organization and work to help fellow students get vaccinated.


“You don’t want to wait until it’s too late to where you have to understand the value of life and the value of living a healthy life,” Meigs says. She stressed that each person can protect not only themselves but others in their community by getting immunized.

Assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden and associate professor Beth Luthy have been instrumental in helping the Angels in their recent campaign. They hope that this week’s event will have a good outcome.

“There’s not many people that know a lot about Meningitis B,” Eden says. “Even if we can educate a very small percentage of those people, hopefully those people will then educate their friends, and then their friends will educate their friends, leading to  increased awareness across campus.”

The Meningitis Angels will be in the Wilkinson Student Center on Friday from 10 am to 12 pm presenting information and answering questions.



Understanding Forensic Nursing Principles: Providing Trauma-Informed Care

Julie Valentine, Assistant Professor, PhD, RN, CNE, SANE-A; Linda Mabey, Assistant Teaching Professor, DNP, APRN, PMHCNS; Leslie Miles, Assistant Teaching Professor, DNP, APRN-BC

Nurses work with many individuals who have suffered trauma. BYU College of Nursing faculty—Dr. Julie Valentine and Dr. Linda Mabey (along with Dr. Leslie Willden Miles and several undergraduate nursing students)—are researching the neurobiology of trauma, the repercussions of experiencing trauma, and interventions to improve the lives and functioning of traumatized individuals. They are specifically focusing on the impact of sexual assault trauma.

The most frequently encountered traumas involve a life-threatening accident, a natural disaster, or witnessing a traumatic event. A nurse who is caring for a patient who has experienced significant trauma should remember that it is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone but the individual’s experience of the event and the meaning they make of it. Those who feel supported after the event (through family, friends, spiritual connections, etc.) and who had a chance to talk about and process the traumatic event are often able to integrate the experience into their lives, like any other experience.


Dr. Leslie Miles

It is important for nurses to understand and remember that there are no right or wrong reactions to trauma, as there is significant variability in behaviors. Some patients cry uncontrollably while others may become nonresponsive or emotionally displaced. During trauma, a hormonal flood is released, triggering a fight, flight, or freeze response. While some individuals fight or flee during trauma, others freeze—a response known as tonic immobility. Sexual-assault victims often experience tonic immobility, which makes them unable to run, fight, or yell.1

In addition to meeting basic needs and physical care, it is vitally important to address the psychological needs of the traumatized patient. During and after a traumatic event, individuals feel a loss of control. Nurses can help patients regain a feeling of control by informing them of what will happen next and providing choices in their care. Research supports that when nurses express compassion, believe victims, explain care, and provide choices to victims of sexual assault trauma, the victims report that the nurses’ actions help in their emotional recovery from the trauma.2


Dr. Linda Mabey

The influence of these professors’ studies is reaching outside of the nursing community. Last year Valentine, Mabey, and Miles co-authored a chapter on the neurobiology of trauma in a textbook published by Sigma Theta Tau.

Mabey recently completed and published a literature review on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with severe mental illness. Her mental-illness materials suggest that nurses should be part of the efforts to develop, test, and implement treatment models.

For the past two years, Valentine worked with the police department of West Valley City (WVC), Utah, and with the Utah Prosecution Council (UPC) to train officers on the impact trauma has on sexual-assault victims. This collaboration led to implementing new protocols that aim to ensure compassionate treatment and support for sexual-assault victims.


Dr. Julie Valentine

After reviewing the cases of 2014, the results of Valentine’s work with WVC showed that sexual-assault prosecution jumped from 6 percent to 24 percent. Her work helped validate the importance of the Trauma Informed Victim Interview, which takes into account the effect of trauma on a victim’s memory and behavior. With that impact in mind, investigators conducting the interviews were more successful and comprehensive when compared to interviews gathered with previous investigative techniques. Valentine conducted a survey of the victims and found high levels of satisfaction. She also analyzed the data regarding screening and prosecution rates.

There are plans to expand the study to other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices, depending on funding.

  Before Study During Study
Screening of Adult Sexual-Assault Cases 33% 68%
Declination Rate 75% 56%
Charges Filed 9% 32%
Prosecuted 6% 24%


  1. Campbell, R. (2012). The neurobiology of sexual assault. An NIJ Research for the Real World Seminar. Retrieved from


  1. Bryant, R. A., Friedman, M. J., Spiegel, D., Ursano, R., & Strain, J. (2011). A review of acute stress disorder in DSM‐5. Depression and anxiety, 28(9), 802–817.