Category Archives: Alumni

Will You Sing Me a Song?

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. 

Will You Sing Me a Song?

Angela Williams

As a beginning nursing student with no previous medical background, I was determined to learn the ins and outs of every procedure and do an absolutely perfect job at clinical. My first and second days of clinical went all right and I gained a little more confidence. During the second week of clinical, I was determined to get some new nursing skills down and spent the day concentrating on the new world I was discovering at the hospital.

I was assigned to a basic Med-Surg floor and had one patient, an elderly gentleman, who was recovering from surgery. He was doing well and my duties were not that difficult, now that I look back, but it was a whole new world to me at the time. I was so nervous about doing something wrong that I focused more on what I had to do than on the patient himself. Each time I left the room, I would ask the patient if there was anything I could do for him. He smiled and answered, “Can you sing me a song?”

I took his request as a joke because who in the world would really want to hear me sing? Smiling back at him, I would respond, “Now, you really don’t want to make your ears sick too!”

He would smile at me and say nothing else as I went about my business. The next day the same gentleman was my patient. I went in and did my assessment as efficiently as possible, trying to concentrate on what I was supposed to be looking for and how exactly I would chart it. Again came the question, “Can you sing me a song?” and again the response, “You don’t really want to hear me sing.”

Later, while I was concentrating on making sure his medication dosages were right and that he swallowed all the pills, came the question, “How about a song?” with only a smile at my response. The day continued like this until lunchtime, when another nursing student came with me to deliver his lunch tray and to do the midday assessment. As I focused on finding his pedal pulses and deciding whether to grade them as a l+ or 2+ the same question came: “Do you have a song for me yet?”

But this time the response was different. As I was about to smile and laugh off his request, the other student nurse responded: “I think we can handle that. We’ll get some of the other students so you can have a real choir and we’ll sing you a song later this afternoon before we leave.”

His smile grew and I kept thinking, “Can we really sing him a song? That doesn’t seem very nurse-like.”

During post conference my friend recruited several students to join us in singing my patient a hymn. We picked the song “I Need Thee Every Hour” and, armed with a couple of hymnbooks, we stood at the end of his bed and sang him his song:

I need thee every hour, In joy or pain.

Come quickly and abide, Or life is vain.

I need thee, oh, I need thee;

Ev’ry hour I need thee!

Oh, bless me now, my Savior;

I come to thee!

(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hymn #98, 1985)

As the last note rang clear, we looked at each other and saw tears in everyone’s eyes. The patient took a deep breath and said, “That’s the best medicine I’ve gotten at this hospital yet.”

I left the hospital that day with one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in nursing school, and to my surprise, found that it had nothing to do with assessments, procedures, or medications. It was that I, as a nurse, could take the time to participate in the healing of someone’s heart or soul. This is, unlike what I originally thought, part of the nurse’s domain. The trick, I discovered, is to really listen to my patients. They may not know what they need on the medical level, but they will convey what they need from you on the spiritual level. I am grateful that my friend knew that already and was willing to listen to my patient when I was too focused on my own learning to do what he really needed. Being a new nursing student, I found myself focused more on my learning rather than on truly caring for my patient. My friend took the time to listen and gave me a true example of The Healer’s Art.

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The Importance of Apologies

Marie Prothero received the college’s 2016 Alumni Achievement Award in recognition for her contribution to the nursing profession. This article contains excerpts from her BYU Homecoming address, delivered October 13, 2016.

“I believe that for us to move healthcare forward into achieving quality healthcare and outcomes, [we must] have transparency,” says Marie Mellor Prothero (MS ’96), MSN, RN, FACHE. A nurse administrator, Prothero is the executive director of quality for St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. She oversees quality assurance for her organization that includes electronic reporting, patient concerns, and physician compliance. She also strives to improve process flow and safety efforts.

Prothero is currently working on a PhD in nursing from the University of Utah; her dissertation is focused on transparency in healthcare and the role of an apology following a medical error.

The attributes of an apology include expressing regret and sorrow, admitting fault with a statement that an error occurred, listening with dignity and respect, correcting the mistake and ensuring it will not happen again, and offering restitution to the victim.

Her studies highlight several antecedents, such as why we apologize and the corollaries of not apologizing when there is a medical mistake or accident.

“We must realize [that the] consequences of not apologizing affects our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being,” says Prothero. “And if left unresolved, [mistakes] can create feelings of bitterness and even increase litigation and settlement costs.”

To give an effective apology, one must express regret and sorrow; you cannot fully apologize without remorse. “A conversation casually informing a patient of the error is inadequate,” says Prothero, “and so is a statement that seems forced and insults others’ intelligence.” Appropriately apologizing takes the right setting and practice.

Prothero’s research serves as a starting point for additional inquiry to explore the nature and types of apologies. It will help other nurse leaders identify what comes after the apology and if the patient-provider relationship can be repaired.

“There must be ongoing communication as additional details are learned—with the patient and family members, as well as with unit staff and hospital administrators,” she says. “Once we identify system changes, we need to involve others in the process to ensure needs are met and proper training occurs.”

Further, Prothero’s studies clarify the role of nursing in disclosure, apology, and the creation of a culture of safety in which everyone feels valued and able to speak up. “We must continue the important work of quality assurance, process improvement, and system improvement,” she says. “Never forget that every patient matters.”

She also emphasizes that nurses have the opportunity to be leaders with a broad impact in their organization.

“Leadership is interdisciplinary and [is] a team approach,” she says. “You must know your strengths and weaknesses and understand what you bring to the team. Then surround yourself with people who are different from you and learn from each other for success.”

Prothero has been a leader her whole career. Before St. Mark’s, she was the CEO of Utah Valley Specialty Hospital in Provo for seven years, a CEO of Ernest Health for four years, and an operations officer with Intermountain Healthcare for 22 years.

“Never stop learning and developing your nursing and leadership skills,” she concludes. “Success comes from ensuring the success of your peers. Take time to remove roadblocks, recognize achievement, and encourage others. By being a positive influence, you can see the best in your team.”

 

Alumni Perspectives

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From the Fall 2017 magazine. See more at http://nursing.byu.edu/Content/development/fall2017-online.pdf

 

My Career as an Adrenaline Junkie

I was a graduate in the fourth graduating class of our great college of nursing. I am an adrenaline junkie and had a fabulous 50-year career as a certified emergency nurse and mobile intensive care nurse. I had the pleasure of precepting many RNs and paramedics and saved many lives with the help of the Holy Ghost and the educational start at BYU.

Eleanore Hacking Scott (BS ’59)

Trinity Center, CA

 

A Lifesaving Education

As I was submitting the top three choices for my nursing capstone, I felt like I should put med/surg down as my first choice, even though I wasn’t particularly interested in that area. I was able to create a relationship with the med/surg director where I was placed and got hired there after graduation. The director was fantastic to work with, and after a few months of being there, I had my second baby. She let me come back to work PRN status and work just one shift per week, which was perfect for my family.

On Christmas Eve that year, my grandpa had a horrible, racking cough. He sounded just like the many pneumonia patients I had taken care of on the med/surg unit over the last year. He had been sick for a while but had refused to go to the doctor. Even that night as I talked to him, he wasn’t willing to seek medical help.

I talked to my mom and grandma and told them that I took care of lots of pneumonia patients in the hospital and that I thought they should take him in. They went to the ER, where the doctor diagnosed him with pneumonia and told them that they’d “gotten him there in time.” The doctor seemed to think that if they hadn’t brought him in that night, he would have died.

I’m so grateful for my nursing education and career that enabled me to save my grandpa’s life.

Julie Jacobs Taggart (BS ’07)

Orem, UT

College of Nursing Masterpiece Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Few BYU students may realize that one of the most iconic paintings on campus is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. That’s because they can’t find this masterpiece in any traditional Museum of Art gallery or HFAC display, but in the nursing student lounge on the first floor of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

In 1992, the BYU College of Nursing commissioned former BYU professor Trevor Southey to paint a work entitled “I Would Learn the Healer’s Art.” The four-by-six foot oil on canvas commemorated the 40th anniversary of the College. The painting’s inspiration came from a line from the hymn, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” that has become a motto for the College: “I would be my brother’s keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.”

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Southey wanted the painting to capture an intimate moment of healing between nurses and patients. He experimented with several different ideas in his sketches and finally decided to leave the patient resting peacefully, as the nurse prepares to care for her charge. Her arms are delicately out-stretched, ready to practice the Healer’s Art.

“I really love this painting not only because of its beauty, but also because of the symbolism it contains,” dean and professor Dr. Patricia Ravert shares.

Trevor Southey Healers Art

“I Would Learn the Healer’s Art” contains three specific symbols that form an inverted triangle within the painting. The red square on the right side of the painting represents blood and the human experience. Opposite the square is a golden sphere that symbolizes the spirit and things of eternity. At the bottom of the painting is an eternal flame, a tribute to the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

“I think ‘I Would Learn the Healer’s Art’ does a great job of showing what it means to be compassionate,” observes nursing student McKenna Warren. “That’s something that we try to learn, not only as nursing students, but also as disciples of Jesus Christ.”

For more information, watch this video: I Would Learn The Healer’s Art

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

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 nursingpr@byu.edu.

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.