Category Archives: Alumni

Immunization Exemptions and Pediatric Care

As a family nurse practitioner working in a pediatric outpatient clinic, assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden (BS ’02, MS ’09) educates parents about the general health of their child. Eden frequently addresses parents’ questions and concerns regarding immunizations for their child due to the requirement that parents provide either proof of completion or a certificate of exemption before their child can be enrolled in school.

Because of her experiences talking with parents about immunizations, Eden decided to research the rising immunization exemption rates in Utah. She is currently working on a standardized education module for immunization exemptions and also a mobile app called Best for Baby.

Education Model for Immunization Exemption Rates

Immunization exemption rates, particularly those granted for philosophical reasons, have risen drastically in Utah over the last few years. The rise in exemptions may have played a role in several recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (measles and pertussis) in Utah, which prompted Eden to research the education provided for parents who wish to obtain an exemption. Currently she is investigating the specific education requirements for philosophical immunization exemptions in all states across the country and how effective this education is at combating the rise in exemption rates.

In her research, Eden found that all 50 states allow medical exemptions for immunizations, 48 states allow religious exemptions, and 18 states allow philosophical exemptions. Utah is one of the 18 states that allows all three types of exemptions. While 18 states allow philosophical exemptions, only 14 states require education before granting exemptions. The type of education parents receive varies from state to state and from county to county throughout Utah.

Eden has discussed her study with several prominent leaders of various associations and departments, including the health director and the immunization manager at the Utah State Health Department and the chair of the Utah Department of Human Services, in efforts to implement a standardized education module for Utahns to complete in order to gain a philosophical immunization exemption. She has also been invited to participate on an immunization exemption task force with several key participants in the state and with fellow College of Nursing faculty—Dr. Beth Luthy (MS ’05), Gaye Ray (AS ’81), Dr. Janelle Macintosh, and Dr. Renea Beckstrand (AS ’81, BS ’83, MS ’87). This task force is charged with creating a standardized education module that can teach parents the signs and symptoms of diseases, what to do if their child contracts a disease, and what to do in the case of an outbreak. The module will also answer frequently asked questions about immunizations and provide information about obtaining low-cost immunizations.

The Association of Immunization Managers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have contributed to this project by aiding in the data-collection process and reviewing the research questions on educational requirements in reducing immunization exemptions.

Best for Baby App

In 2013, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) published its recommendation that pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccination between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. Infants do not receive this vaccine until two months of age, but in the womb they do inherit temporary protective antibodies from their mothers, so it is essential for mothers to receive the vaccine and pass antibodies to their children in utero.

Despite being recommended by the ACIP, very few women receive the Tdap vaccine during their third trimester, so Eden, who serves as chair of the Utah County Immunization Coalition, decided to educate soon-to-be parents through a free mobile-device app called Best for Baby (now available on iTunes).

Though geared toward increasing Tdap immunization rates, the app does much more than just teach about vaccines. The program sends expectant parents weekly push notifications that provide updates on their baby’s development and when they need to see their OB/GYN. Additionally, updates tell parents what tests to expect at their next appointment, what those tests look for, and why they are performed. The app continues to give parents monthly push notifications for two years after the birth of the child. These updates include when the child should see a care provider, what developmental milestones he or she should reach during the month, and what immunizations that child should receive.

I Would Learn The Healer’s Art

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. 

I Would Learn The Healer’s Art

Judy Malzahn Ellsworth

Working in the Operating Room at Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia meant never having a dull moment.  Fairfax Hospital is just blocks off the western end of the Washington D.C. Beltway on the Virginia side.  Each day brought new challenges, and we had to be ready for anything.

I was working as the Assistant Head Nurse in charge of the Operating Room from 4:00 pm until midnight every day.  One Sunday afternoon I got a call from the delivery room telling me that they had a very serious situation.  A mother who had just delivered was hemorrhaging and they were unable to control it…did we have an operating room available?  We had four rooms running, and that was the maximum we could run that afternoon.  I told them I would call them right back.

I talked with Anesthesia, and we decided that I could scrub the case, and we would pull a circulator from a case that would be finishing within the hour to circulate for me, if Delivery would send an RN down to circulate in the ‘easy’ room.  Arrangements were made with the Critical Care Supervisor to man the OR desk, and the go-ahead was given for the case to proceed.

I rushed to pull the case, scrub, and set up the room.  While I was busy, the doctors brought the anesthetized patient into the room and prepped her for abdominal surgery. I put all the drapes on a draping table and told them they were on their own, as I was still opening instruments and setting up the Mayo. By the time I brought my Mayo to the field, I had gowned and gloved a doctor and two residents, and the patient was fully draped and ready to go.

The case was truly a serious situation.  This was in the days before the ‘Bovie’, and we clamped and tied each bleeder.  Every time a bleeder was clamped, the clamp acted like a hot knife going through butter.  We changed to using a needle to just tie off the bleeders.  This didn’t work any better.  We packed her abdomen and waited to see if the bleeders would clot off.  This was not successful.  The situation was getting desperate.

I was feeling heartsick at our seemingly helpless situation.  I knew this particular doctor was not one that any of us would refer anyone to, and I knew we needed help.  I felt like the patient was my sister, and I could feel the tears beginning to sting my eyes.  I was the charge nurse, and I was scrubbed in the case and unable to call for anyone to come to help us.  While we were waiting to see if packing the abdomen was going to be successful, I turned to my back table, closed my eyes and pleaded with Heavenly Father to please send someone quickly, as this new mother needed more help than this physician was able to give her.

About 10 minutes later the door to the operating room opened slightly and the Chief of OB/Gyn peeked inside.  He said he’d been out on a Sunday drive with his boys, and he felt like he needed to stop in at the hospital to see how everything was going.  The doctor who was operating explained the situation, but said he thought he had everything under control.  The Chief asked if he thought he could use another hand, to which the doctor said, “No!”  I was shocked, and I looked at the Chief and said, “I have an extra gown here, what size gloves do you wear?”  (He later told me the look in my eyes told him he’d better start scrubbing STAT!)

We worked for three more hours, with the Chief eventually taking over the case.  The patient was saved, and my grateful heart said several prayers of thanksgiving while we were working.

As we were finishing the case, the doctor said that he was so happy that we had been able to save her.  She was LDS and this was her eighth child.  I said to him, “Will you tell her that I am also a Mormon, and I was her nurse during her surgery?”

When the patient was taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (Recovery Room), I realized that the doctors and circulator had forgotten to take her chart with them.  I picked the chart up and started to take it to PACU when I read the nameplate of the patient.  Imagine my shock when I realized that my impressions during the surgery of this being “my sister” were correct.  She had been my visiting teaching companion when we both lived in Seattle, Washington several years before!  Neither one of us knew that we were now both living in the Washington, D.C. area.

I called up to the Delivery Room and asked for her husband to come down to the Recovery Room.  When he arrived, I asked him if he had his consecrated oil with him.  He did, and he had a friend with him.  I arranged for them to give his wife a blessing.

I am grateful that not only was I privileged to learn The Healer’s Art at the Lord’s university, but that I was also taught to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and act accordingly.  Being a BYU graduate has been an honor, and it has allowed me many missionary opportunities.  Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been an enormous blessing to me personally, and to all those who have been entrusted to my care.

Patient as Healer

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. 


Julie and her grandchildren in Berlin, Germany with the #YNursing52 logo. There is still time to send images of your travels with the logo; send them to

Patient as Healer

Julie Price (BS ’85)

One experience that meant so much to me personally during nursing school involved a patient “healing” me.  I had gone through the entire secondary education program, hoping to become a high school biology teacher. During my final semester of student teaching, however, I decided I did not want to become a high school teacher.  I had all of the prerequisites for nursing so I applied for the program and was accepted.

As I started the program, I was feeling a bit discouraged: I was older than most of the students and couldn’t decide what I really wanted out of life. Most of my friends were married. Was I supposed to go on a mission? Was I a loser?

Those were my feelings when I met one of my first patients at the hospital.  He was an older dignified gentleman.  After chatting with him a bit and going in and out of the room a few times, he stopped me and told me to come closer to him.

I will never forget his words to me.  He looked me right in the eye and said, “You are a really good girl, aren’t you?”

I didn’t know where he was going with that kind of question.  I answered, “Well, I’m trying to be.”

He patted my hand and said, “I am a Stake Patriarch and I can tell those kinds of things.  You are well loved.”

My eyes filled with tears as he confirmed what I already knew, but was beginning to doubt.  I left the hospital that day feeling so much better about myself.  God loved me and in the eternal scheme of things, whatever happened, it would be all right.

I have thought of that conversation often over the years and it always fills me with joy and hope.  That patient taught me the art of healing.

The Stillborn

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. 


The Stillborn

Tyrone Brown

We often think of the nurse who has The Healer’s Art, but on this particular day, it was two patients that touched my heart. Three years ago, my life plan took a dramatic change. I was a football player for Brigham Young University, a nationally ranked division I team. Like many players, I had the dream of playing in the National Football League. During my sophomore year I suffered an injury that caused two herniated discs in my lower back and ended my career as a football player. Not only was my dream cut short, it was completely obliterated. Despite this unfortunate event, I was a firm believer that other doors will open when one closes.

I had a close friend who encouraged me to go into nursing. I courageously, and with an extreme alteration to my ego, acted upon his advice! I applied to and was accepted into the nursing program at BYU.

After about half a year in the program I was going into the clinical rotation that I dreaded most: Labor and delivery. This is where my story begins. You see, I’m six-foot-three, male, muscular, African American, and bald (by choice). Sometimes I see myself in the mirror and I get scared! I was terrified that the patients and other nurses would be so afraid of me, they would ask me to leave the room or wait outside the door during my time there. Most of all I thought, “How am I, a man, going to offer encouragement and support to a woman when I have no clue what it is like to be pregnant and in labor?” I thought my whole time there was going to be miserable and a waste of time.

Ironically, this turned out not to be the case at all; it turned out to be one of my most memorable rotations as a nursing student. It was during this rotation that I had an experience that would expand my perspective and outlook on life, for it was this experience that taught me what the Healer’s Art is all about.

On this particular day, I was assigned to work with a nurse who would be helping a mother and her family recover physically and spiritually after giving birth to a stillborn that morning. When we walked in the room to introduce ourselves, a Catholic priest was there giving the baby a blessing. The baby was in the arms of a young boy who was lying down asleep on a bed. I later learned that this young boy had cried himself to sleep with his baby brother in his arms. The room was dark and smelled of blood and body fluids. The father was in the bathroom.

We learned from the night shift nurse that the father had passed out when the baby was born. The mother was lying in bed with the underlying sheets covered in blood. She was sad, disappointed, and confused. This would have been her eighth child. She was diagnosed with chronic hypertension and had had poor prenatal care.  The baby had apparently been dead for a month because upon her admission to the hospital she reported no fetal movement for about this length of time.

Finally, the priest left the room and then the nurse also left to get a consent form to have an autopsy performed, so it was me alone with this family. I sat beside the father as he held his baby boy in his arms. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything at all; I just put my hands on his shoulder. The nurse returned to the room with the consent form. The father then asked me if I could hold the baby while he signed the papers. It was a moment in time that I will never forget.  There was not the usual movement, crying, or opening of the mouth and eyes. There was blood around the baby’s mouth, eyes, and on his head. Vernix was still around his arms and legs. A million thoughts rushed in my mind. I thought about what this little boy’s spirit would have been like. I thought about all the fun things he would miss out on in life, like learning how to throw a baseball or ride a bike or his first kiss.

The nurse and I finished helping this family. We switched the mother to another bed. We took the baby to the morgue. I learned all about the process and the extended amount of paper work that must be done in these terrible situations.

Later that day as I was sitting at the nurses station watching the fetal monitor of a new patient, one of the nurses walked by with a newborn and asked me if I would hold the baby while she finished getting a few things together. As I held this live and active newborn in my arms, I thought about my earlier experience. I could feel the heartbeat of this new baby boy I was now holding. He opened his mouth wide and moved his arms and body. I couldn’t help but smile and feel love for this precious gift of life. My troubled heart was becoming mended.

The first time I held a baby in Labor and delivery was when I held the stillborn. The second time was later that day when I held the live newborn. In just one day I saw and felt the whole spectrum of the good and bad in Labor and delivery.

You see, most of the time we think of the nurse as the one who has The Healer’s Art, but on this day it was these two tiny little babies that opened my heart and touched it forever. Who knows, maybe it was part of this little stillborn’s mission to come to earth and touch my life. I will never forget him. He will always remain close to my heart. Wow, the children—no wonder Jesus loved them so much. Theirs is truly the kingdom of Heaven.

Help Celebrate the College of Nursing’s 65th Anniversary


To recognize the 65th anniversary of the Brigham Young University College of Nursing—established on September 29, 1952—we’re inviting all alumni and students to help celebrate. Since the influence of our program is known worldwide, we’re wondering, “Where will the college logo travel in the next few months?”

From now until September, we are asking our alums and students to do the following:

  1. Cut out/use the college logo from the 2017 college spring magazine (page 13) or print the image from above.
  2. Bring the logo with you on your journeys—near and far—this spring and summer.
  3. Take a photo of you, your family, or your friends with the logo in front of your favorite location.
  4. Post your images on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #Ynursing52.



Kaylee Hunsaker at National Institute of Health in Washington, DC

If you are not planning any trips, no need to worry. Snap an image in your backyard, community, or workplace. These photos will track all of the adventures and accomplishments of our alumni and students. We’re planning a display in the fall 2017 issue of the magazine, during Homecoming, and at the Scholarly Works Conference in October. To be considered for inclusion in the fall magazine, entries must be received by June 15; otherwise, photos are due September 15.


You don’t do social media? Email high-resolution photos (JPG file in original size) to, or mail them to BYU College of Nursing, 65th Anniversary Celebration, 572 SWKT, Provo, UT 84602.

Let’s see how far our celebration can go! Who will take the logo with them? Stay tuned.



Cory Paul (BS’17) in Antarctica 


Fortitude and Faith: How a Rare Disease Brought a BYU Professor’s Family Together


Assistant teaching professor Scott Summers and his family have spent the past two years working to cure Koven (center) of a rare genetic disease.

Each year, around twenty million people flock to Walt Disney World to experience the adrenaline rush that rides going at breakneck speeds provide, as well as the overall atmosphere of enjoyment that comes with an amusement park.

This winter break, however, the park will have guests who themselves have been on an emotional and spiritual roller coaster far more potent and turbulent than anything in the Magic Kingdom.

Assistant teaching professor Scott Summers and his family have spent the past two and a half years handling the severe illness of the youngest member of the family. His recent improvement, however, is offering the family the chance to adapt to a new normal where instead of frequent trips to the hospital, family outings can be to the mountains or even faraway Orlando.

Summers has been involved in nursing ever since he graduated from Idaho State University in 2007; it’s also where he met and married his wife, Kendra. Summers eventually got a masters’ degree from BYU in 2011 and returned to teach this year. His expertise is helping patients with head, neck, ear, nose, and throat surgeries.

In fact, that became critical when his son Koven, the youngest of three, became ill.

“When he was four months old, he got sick and we ended up being life flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital and spent two weeks up there,” Summers recalls. “He had surgery on this big neck infection he had. It was crazy because at that time I was the one who found the neck infection because that’s what I specialize in.”

A few months later, Koven again became ill. Summers grew more concerned; Koven’s symptoms were beginning to look like chronic granulomatous disorder (CGD), a rare genetic disease that reduces the body’s ability to fight certain types of infections.

Testing revealed that Koven did have CGD. For Summers, this was hard to bear both as a parent and as a medical professional.

“It’s good to have the background knowledge, and it’s bad to have the background knowledge,” he says. “I call it the burden of knowledge because you see and know what to expect with certain situations, outcomes, percentages, and different things like that. It’s good because then you also know what we need to be doing and what the next step is, so it’s not always that uncertainty.”

The next two years would be replete with challenges as the Summers worked to preserve Koven’s health.

“His white blood cells can’t fight certain types of infection, so certain bacterial infections and fungal infections, he’s really susceptible to,” explains Summers. That vulnerability, he says, “kept us a little more grounded within a half hour of Primary Children’s Hospital.”

Koven was in and out of the hospital frequently, which was difficult for the family to manage. Oftentimes, grandparents would have to be called in to watch the other two children while Summers and his wife were with Koven. This was challenging, but also provided unexpected blessings to the family.

“Over the past couple years, we’ve had to ask a lot of help, which we don’t love doing,” he says. “I think it’s made us stronger. It’s taught us to rely on each other, to keep other members of our family in our prayers and thoughts.”

One of the turning points for Summers was when he asked his father to give Koven a priesthood blessing.

“In the blessing he gave some special promises,” Summers says. “I then knew things were going to be OK regardless of what happened, and it changed a lot of my thinking going forward.”

That hope was important as the Summers looked for ways to cure Koven.

“Before we knew that he could do a transplant, because we didn’t know if we would have an adequate donor, [we kept him] on medication to try and manage the number of infections, but the medication was particularly hard on him, and it limited what we were able to do as a family,” Summers says. “One medication made him so sensitive to the sun that he would break out in blisters all over his skin, so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside that summer.”

Faith helped sustain the family during these difficult times. Scott was grateful for his knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which served as a strong foundation in trials.

“It’s been a journey, but on the other hand it’s been really nice having my knowledge even outside of medicine to fall back on, my knowledge of the gospel and knowing that regardless of what comes out of it, it’s going to strengthen our family and allow us to continue to progress with Heavenly Father’s plan,” he says. “Obviously we hoped that with time everything will go back to normal and we would have a happy, healthy little boy, and this would just be a memory. I guess it was more of a hopeful optimism, but as things progressed, I began to more easily see blessings in our lives that maybe we wouldn’t have noticed before or had not fully appreciated, which just further strengthened my belief in our Heavenly Father’s love for our little family.”

Over time, a new light appeared on the horizon. One of the techniques for curing CGD that has been developed in recent years is doing bone marrow transplants from suitable donors. This requires specific donor qualities, which the Summers found out their six-year-old daughter had. Preparation quickly began for the procedure, but even that entailed immense struggles since Koven’s immune system had to be essentially annihilated to prevent his body from rejecting the new marrow.

“After we got the okay for transplant, we had to wait until [Koven] was healthy enough to undergo the transplant,” Summers says. “At the time he had a nasty infection in his bone, and we were still waiting for the fungal infection in his lung to clear up enough so that we could kill his somewhat functioning immune system with chemotherapy in preparation for the transplant.”

Following this difficult process, the transplant was completed at the beginning of this year. Koven spent a month in the hospital, following which began the waiting period at home to see if his body would reject the transplant. It was fraught with risks of more infection, but as Summers says, “We were back together as a family, which gave us a new kind of hope.”

Luckily for the family, the transplant appears to be working.

“Months have gone by since that time, his hair has grown back to normal,” Summers says. “He still has a risk for other things down the road with having a bone marrow transplant, but it now gives him bone marrow that can fight those infections. Just like any kid he can get a runny nose and whatnot, but now his body can actually respond and fight that bacteria that’s causing it and hopefully be a happy and healthy little kid.”

The ultimate evidence of Koven’s health rebound is the family vacation to Orlando this Christmas. “That’s our big hurrah to take our kid to the germiest place on earth and let his immune system be challenged and excitingly not have to worry about it,” Summers says.

Summers has come to understand the importance of patience, empathy, and hope during trials, and is now excited for his family to enter a new stage of life.

“I just explain the process like walking through the forest. You have a map, so you know where you need to go, but the trail is a little different for everyone,” he says. “There can be trees that have fallen down, but for us, there is now light at the edge of the forest and just a few more trees on the path.”

Service in September: How a BYU Nursing Alumna Raised Money for Childhood Cancer Research


                      BYU nursing alumna Beth Vanderwalker stands in front several of the gold bows that she helped sell this month to support childhood cancer research.

One of BYU’s slogans is “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” Nursing alumna Beth Vanderwalker (BS ’95) has spent September turning that phrase into reality as she dedicates time to help combat childhood cancer.

“I have always been involved in charity events and promoting causes close to my heart,” she says. This month, that dedication was taken up a notch.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. While not as prevalent as cancer in adults, statistics show that it is the second largest cause of death in children ages five to nine (the first is accidents). The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 10,380 children will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States, and that 1,250 children under the age of fifteen will die from it.

For Vanderwalker, it’s a cause that hits close to home. One of her high school friend’s young daughters passed away from cancer, and her husband lost a brother to it earlier in life. However, she says, “there continues to be very little funds available for pediatric cancer research.”

One organization dedicated to changing that is Cookies for Kids’ Cancer; founded by parents who lost their child to cancer, the group sells cookies to raise money for childhood cancer research. It also organizes fundraising events within communities.


This year, Vanderwalker worked as a neighborhood representative in her neighborhood’s “Paint the Town Gold” event, which supported Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This was a mix of fundraising activities, including selling gold bows to hang on mailboxes (gold is the color for National Childhood Cancer Awareness month), getting donations from local businesses, and bake sales. The impact was far-reaching in many aspects, including monetarily.

“In just two weeks, I was able to raise $1100 and have 110 yellow bows displayed throughout our neighborhood,” she says. “Working with other neighborhood representatives, a total of over 1600 bows were sold, raising over $16,000.” This is money that will be donated to help study childhood cancer and how to treat it.

Vanderwalker appreciates how her family and many others have worked together to make this initiative a success, and also that it has been an eye-opener for the neighborhood.

“This has brought awareness of the research needs and has also brought attention to families that live in our community that are fighting this fight,” she says. “When a child gets cancer, you feel helpless.  Much of this burden falls on the family supporting the child.  This event has allowed me to honor these families, remember children that have passed away, and give back in a small way.”

With September coming to a close, Vanderwalker looks forward to getting involved next year. Some may wonder how much impact one person serving can have, but Vanderwalker believes that “every little bit of effort adds up quickly.”

“As a wife, mother, and working full time, it would be easy to think it is too hard to find time for anything more,” she says. “However, this event gave me the opportunity to meet new neighbors, bring awareness to the needs of children and families fighting cancer, and raise money for research.  It’s amazing what you can do with just a few hours to make a difference.”