Author Archives: marissabrownd17

About marissabrownd17

I am a senior at Brigham Young University. I am studying English and Portuguese. I love to read and write but most of all I love to serve others. It is my goal to make someone's day, everyday.

BYU Nursing Alumni Consistently Satisfied with Their Education

Every year, BYU sends out a survey to all alumni who graduated three years prior. In 2015, the graduating class of 2012 was asked about their satisfaction with BYU and their respective college.  After receiving numerous responses, BYU compiled the data and informed each college about their performance.

Over the past 12 years, between 94-97% of alumni rated their BYU experience as good or excellent, with 88% stating they would “probably or definitely” choose BYU again if given the choice.

BYU nursing alumni had the highest satisfaction rate with their major, with 100% of graduate alumni and 99% of undergraduate alumni stating that the nursing program developed their commitment to professional standards of practice.



Students study in one of the Mary Jane Rawlins Geertson Nursing Learning Center



Additionally, 99% of alumni expressed that in-class training prepared them for clinical. Specifically, when asked about the Mary Jane Rawlins Geertsen Nursing Learning Center, 100% of surveyed alumni felt that it helped bridge the gap between the classroom and clinical.

Respondents also said that their clinical experience prepared them for professional practice. Of those mentored by faculty, 97% felt that this collaborative opportunity was influential in their education.

Overall, both undergraduates and graduates have been highly satisfied with education at the BYU College of Nursing. The faculty and staff strive to increase these percentages and continue to give students the best educational experience as they learn the Healer’s art.


2880 x 1800

Beanies of Love

Nursing students have the opportunity to serve many people by fulfilling their clinical assignments. The following is a touching story contributed by Janet Bergera, an instructor of one of these clinical sections. 

While BYU College of Nursing students are serving our country’s veterans at the Mervyn Sharp Bennion Central Utah Veteran’s Home in Payson, one of those veterans is giving back.  This 86-old Navy veteran (name withheld for HIPAA reasons) has, for the past two semesters, knitted BYU blue and white beanie caps for each of the students doing their N292 clinicals at this facility.


He initially started making these beanies as a way to identify students at a BYU football game. This project turned into an act of love resulting in 32 beanies so far, including one for their clinical instructor, Janet Bergera, RN MSN.

It takes him about two days to complete each hat, knitted on a small plastic loom, and if he makes a mistake, he undoes the stitching and starts over.  When his yarn supply gets low, the instructor or one of the students will replenish it, making sure the colors are just right.


This act of service is not limited to nursing students either.  This octogenarian has knitted beanie hats for staff members, newborns of staff members, and fellow residents at the Veteran’s Home.  His eyes sparkle with glee and his grin is wide as he turns over these handmade gifts.  A hug or handshake is all the payment he will accept.

He truly exemplifies the motto of the facility he now calls home, “Service Before Self.”

Literally, Raising the Bar

Most nurses can lift patients and their spirits, but Maddy Tipton, fourth-semester BYU nursing student, can lift much more than that.

Starting in 2010, Maddy sparked her interest for Olympic-style weightlifting while participating in CrossFit. This fitness program incorporates many aspects of different sports, and Olympic-style weightlifting is one of them. Maddy always had a knack for lifting and was constantly participating in CrossFit competitions. However, her athletic dreams came to a tragic halt due to an accident while rock climbing. Luckily, she did not break her wrist, but she still had to rest and let it mend for about a year.

Once Maddy recovered, she knew that she wanted to do some sort of sport and after deciding that CrossFit and BYU women’s rugby were not what she wanted to do, she looked into Olympic-style weightlifting. Near her home in California is one of the best weightlifting gyms in North America, called Catalyst Athletics. There Maddy learned to lift. She took her surface level knowledge of lifting that she had learned with CrossFit and started to train.

Now, Maddy trains for about 10 to 12 hours a week. She wakes up five days a week around 4:30 am and goes to her gym in American Fork. There she trains, doing all sorts of strength training exercises.



Maddy performing “the snatch” at The 2016 National University Championships 


In Olympic-style weightlifting, there are two different lifts: “the snatch” and “the clean and jerk.” Everything that Maddy does in the gym is to prepare and perfect these two lifts. This means she practices lifting the bar from different positions and doing “a ton of different squatting: back squats, front squats, overhead squats, all the squats.” She works with dumbbells as well and does a lot of pushing work, strict presses, and overhead strength training.

Her rest day is the day she has clinical, and still, she wakes up before 5 am.

Weightlifting originated in Europe, and therefore the weights measurements are in kilograms, which Maddy says, “for many nurses, this is applicable because we know what kilos are.” However, she did convert from kilograms to pounds in response to how much she can lift. In “the snatch,” she can lift 72 kilos (about 158 lbs.), in “the clean and jerk,” she lifts 85 kilos (187 lbs.), and her best back squat totaled 112 kilos (246 lbs.).



Maddy mid squat, performing “the clean and jerk” at The 2016 National University Championships


Maddy has competed in quite a few local and state meets, and two national level meets, the Junior National Championships in Philadelphia and the University National Championships in New Orleans. She plans to continue to compete at these levels, though she says that we will not be seeing her in the Olympics themselves because she is a nurse first. Instead of living, breathing, and sleeping weightlifting, Maddy chooses to excel in school, work part-time, and participate in other extra-curricular activities.

“I value my career in nursing and where that’s going as well as my family and future family.” Even though she loves to lift, Maddy explains, “Nursing will always be a bigger priority than lifting, but when I can fit them together, I will absolutely do both. When I’m able to lift, it helps me be a better nurse in a weird way, because I’m able to manage everything better. Lifting is an outlet.”

Maddy raises the bar above her head and for all those around her, being a great example of hard work, balancing life, and endurance.

“Moments that Matter”

As a part of the 50th anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, a book was compiled called “The Healer’s Art: 50 stories for 50 years.” It has been 15 years since this book was first published and these stories were shared. We plan to regularly post selections from this book to help each of us remember and cherish the experiences of nursing and learning the Healer’s art. 


Moments that Matter

by Timothy Bartell (BS ’02)

            As a new nurse, I started working in a long term care center, which can be very challenging. Often times I would start working the minute I got there and continue working the eight-hour shift until the end, without any breaks. Patient numbers were always high. Most of the time I had twenty to fifty patients at a time. This left very little time for the individual patient care and attention many of these residents needed. There is one particular resident who has stood out as I have considered this. I will call her Ruth.

During the later part of Ruth’s life, she had several battles with cancer. Until the last few months of her life, she had won those battles. Finally, the cancer-fighting drugs seemed to work no longer. She lost an unbelievable amount of weight as the cancer started to spread. She also lost nearly all of her ability to function. Eventually, all of her ADLs (activities of daily living) were done by nurses and CNAs.

Her physical condition made it very uncomfortable for her to remain in the same position for extended periods of time. She would ask for help with positioning each time someone entered the room. Many of the facility staff became very impatient with her, especially when she requested help only minutes after receiving it. Often CNAs complained about having to work with Ruth because of her constant requests for attention.

I felt a lot of compassion for Ruth since I lost a close relative to cancer. As I watched the effects of cancer in Ruth, I remembered the discomfort my relative had gone through. I decided that whenever possible, I would take the time to help Ruth reposition and get more comfortable. Each time I would do so, she would take my hand and offer a sincere, heartfelt thank you. At the time I did not consider the significance of those expressions of gratitude.

Her husband died many years earlier, leaving her with two young sons to raise on her own. She worked hard to raise and provide for her children. She remained spiritually strong all of her life and taught her sons to follow her example. Now, this strong, independent woman was not able to do anything for herself. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have been active and independent all of my life and now unable to do anything for myself. I tried to imagine the frustration she must have felt because of her helplessness.

In her final days, she was hardly able to swallow. We struggled to get her to eat or drink anything. Her doctor stopped her regular medications and ordered medication only for comfort measures.

The night before she died was very busy. I went to her room and tried to help her drink a small amount of supplement. I worked with her for a few minutes and then repositioned her. Just as I was about to leave she took my hand and kissed it, looked into my eyes and offered the most sincere thank you I have ever heard in my life. I bent down and told her what a great person she was and that she had led a great life. Somehow I knew that this would be the last time I would see Ruth alive, and I believe she knew it too.

There were never any heroics in my actions. In the end, it was a little bit of extra time that mattered. Though I often spent only moments with her, those moments not only increased her comfort but showed her that someone cared. Let us, as nurses, never forget that it is often effort outside what is “expected” that matters to our patients.



Connecting Emotions in the Scriptures with Mental Health

“Jesus Wept: Emotions in the Scriptures” is the new exhibit in the Brigham Young University Education in Zion Gallery. Until mid-November 2018, viewers from all across campus have the opportunity to learn about emotions in the scriptures through interactive displays and thought-provoking visual aids.

The exhibit is the second in a series by the Education in Zion Gallery that examines connections between the scriptures and areas of academic interest. Emotions—positive, negative, and neutral—are highly connected to mental health, and therefore psychiatric nursing.

Nursing students interested in Mental Health and those taking Nursing 461 and Nursing 462 should be especially interested. The emotions featured in the scripture-based exhibit are the basic, universally recognized ones: happiness, anger, disgust, surprise, sadness, and fear. The exhibit includes graphs, charts, and other diagrams to help students visualize the emotions felt by deities and mortals in both the scriptures and modern-day life.

The display poses many rhetorical questions to help students better recognize their own emotions, which in turn helps them develop the critical skills to analyze other peoples’ emotions. The first thing you will see upon entering the exhibit is a mirror asking you to identify your emotions.

South Wall

The exhibit includes an explanation of why emotions like happiness, anger, and fear are important to humankind, providing many scriptural narratives that involve feelings as well as quotes from contemporary authors about those same feelings. Part of the exhibit features a spinning wheel, but instead of listing prizes to win, this wheel features solutions to emotions or unhealthy reactions to those emotions. Some of these solutions include, “Endure a little longer” and “Go to the temple.”

The display will help students to recognize that emotions are not always negative and all emotions come from God.

When they attend, nursing students specifically will expand their ability to study from scripture and begin to understand the divine origin of common adult and child psychiatric disorders. Knowing how to recognize these emotions, and understanding their divine origin, will also help nursing students develop communication skills suited for individuals suffering from mental health disorders. Being able to communicate, considerately and confidently, with those suffering from mental and emotional disorders is a specific aim of nursing courses relating to psychiatric nursing. Nursing students, from the exhibit, will learn to “Integrate the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as part of caring,” which is one of the Nursing Program’s outcomes.

Come, look in the mirror, spin the wheel, and enjoy this new exhibit! It is a unique opportunity to learn more about the emotions found within the scriptures and start to discover different truths related to psychiatric nursing.

From Canterbury to Cannula

Last spring term, before entering the nursing program, Adrianne Robinson (second- semester Nursing student) went on the London Center Study Abroad through Brigham Young University, and she loved it! From the weeks in London learning about famous people like Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth to the few days in Paris seeing the sights. The surroundings were enthralling, the fish and chips were delicious, and the professors she traveled with were excellent.

But what does “art history stuff” and Greek and Roman mythology have to do with nursing? Nothing, or so it would seem.


Adri in front of BYU’s London Center

Adri explains, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a while.” Her mother has a Master’s Degree in medieval history and her father is a practicing anesthesiologist. On one side of her family, English language and history are a prevalent influence while on the other, Adri was encouraged to enter the medical field.

While she considered herself a “history and English girl,” her father would still talk to her about looking into medical school. From early on, Adri found herself choosing between two different options, trying to decide which would be her life story, much like a lot of other teenagers.

Adri took various classes in high school: AP Human Geography and other various AP History and as many AP literature classes offered at her high school. She had become a “history and English gal.” However, the public school system did require her to take chemistry, which she liked and was rather good at it.

She then tried her hand at other science classes including psychology and anatomy, where she discovered that she was not just good at science but was very interested in that kind of learning. Adri does add that it was not until taking nursing prerequisite courses her first year at Brigham Young University, and her additional experience in shadowing her father, that she became confident in her ability to learn and apply science, and therefore would want to start a nursing career.

After her freshman year, Adri knew she would do nursing, but Adri also grew up knowing that she wanted to do a London Study Abroad with BYU. Adri enthusiastically calls it an “unquestionable” reality. “Most of my mom’s side of the family has done a study abroad in London,” she explains, “So it was … almost a family tradition. I’ve … always grown up hearing … about it; and [remember] really being interested.”

So, Adri upheld ‘tradition’ and went on the study abroad during the spring term. Every day started with a group lecture at the London Study Abroad Center, and then the students would split into two groups led by their professors. While one group visited a museum, the other would visit another historic site, like an art gallery, then the groups would switch. On the weekends, they would take day trips in either large groups or small ones, to enjoy what other things London had to offer, visiting places like Stourhead, Stonehenge, and Canterbury.

While there were no courses on nursing and, of the other 45 students, no other nursing students, Adri did learn a few useful things that apply to nursing.

She says:

  • “I learned so much about being more accepting of other people.”
  • “I definitely learned … that I just need to let people do their thing. It’s not necessary to always have to implement myself and what I would do.”
  • “It reaffirmed that [nursing] is what I wanted to do… I still liked it and being able to have a variety of what I was learning, but I guess I’m glad I’m not studying [English and History] permanently.”
  • “I’d say I learned a lot more about culture and respecting, and having to deal with differences sometimes when you don’t want to.”



Adri and friend at Canterbury Cathedral

For Adri, nursing is not only what she wants to do, but has become a part of who she is. From Adri other students can learn that whether you are in Canterbury or learning how to use a cannula, nursing can be a present part of a nursing student’s life, both at school and abroad. Adri is excitedly looking into future opportunities to work in London as a nurse because of both her experience here at the BYU College of Nursing and her time in London, where she grew to love the people and the culture.

A Study Abroad is not only “an easy, really fun” way to fulfill some General Education requirements, it is also an advantageous way to learn some of life’s lessons.