By Lyndee Johns
BYU alumni Mary Ellen Jackman (BS ’77, AS ’75) encourages BYU nursing students to take the campus message “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve” to heart.
When examining her life, it is clear that Jackman has done this herself.
Jackman has worked for Intermountain Healthcare for 33 years, all but 18 months of those years at American Fork Hospital in labor and delivery.
Last November, Jackman traveled to Honduras as part of a humanitarian trip with Smiles for Latin America—an organization that provides medical and dental services to future missionaries.
In San Pedro Sula, 30 dentists and six oral surgeons set up shop in the local stake center to give fillings and root canals. Jackman assisted as a recovery room nurse. Altogether, they were able to serve 670 prospective missionaries.
During the trip, Jackman also helped to deliver supplies to an orphanage and maternity kits to a maternity hospital.
Jackman considers the trip a “very rewarding experience.”
“The Saints are very appreciative and very humble,” Jackman says.
In addition to serving people in Honduras, Jackman has made a significant difference in her own American Fork Hospital.
About ten years ago, Jackman noticed a problem during the clinical days where students would come to assist in the hospital: both nurses and students were getting frustrated. Students wanted to share what they had learned in their classes, and the nurses were overwhelmed by simultaneously trying to mentor students and handle patients. “The only satisfaction the nurse gets is if the student is receptive to learn and take direction, not over-anxious to share what they think they know. In real life it looks different,” says Jackman.
Something had to change.
Jackman worked with the instructors, discovering ways to fulfill both the needs of the students and the needs of the nursing staff. “The immediate difference for the nurses may have been that the nurses were given a way to voice their concerns and plans were made to solve problems,” says Jackman.
Another change was the addition of a student orientation day a week before the clinical day. At student orientation, students are welcomed to the hospital and given a tour. During the tour, Jackman gives the students instructions as to how the unit works and how the students can utilize their skills. The student orientation day is meant to “help them feel welcome and that we care,” says Jackman. “We were all students at one time.”
The changes, as Jackman says, “help students come away empowered and that they’ve had a good time . . . The goal is to have a good experience for both our staff and the students. When we’re at ease with our environment, and our feelings count, it provides a fertile field for learning.”
Jackman frequently acts as a liaison for students coming into American Fork Hospital. She has personally mentored many nursing students who have expressed their gratitude in the form of thank-you cards that Jackman still keeps in her scrapbook.
Jackman serves as an organist at the Mount Timpanogos Temple and in her ward. She enjoys gardening and doing temple work. “Most of all, I love to spend time with my children,” Jackman says. She has six children and 22 grandchildren, with another on the way. She hopes to do another humanitarian trip and to go on a mission. Meanwhile, she is serving at the MTC, helping missionaries arriving from third-world countries and that are in need of clothing items and other supplies.
Jackman wants to remind current and incoming nursing students that nursing is, in her words, “a very diverse field.” The skills that they learn at BYU can be used in a variety of different environments, including hospitals, cruise ships, education, hospice and home health. “A nursing education is adaptable at different times of life, to be built on from an AD or BS degree to masters and doctorate levels. Nursing is a blessing to parents with children as they use their skills for their family.”
“‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve’ will last the rest of your life.”