Category Archives: Awards

The Valor Award: Serving Our Heroes

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Julie Minson is honored to receive this year’s Valor Award for future nurse practitioners. Photo courtesy of Minson.

By Quincey Taylor

Serving others that have given so much in honor of this country is a privilege that only select nurses get to enjoy. Some of these nurses are alumna Emily Lance Santillan (’19) and current nursing graduate student Julie Minson, both of whom received the Valor Award during their respective times in the nursing program, the first during her bachelor’s and the second during her time as a graduate student.

The Valor Award is a great opportunity for students that want to learn skills in a specialized environment. Given to students at differing times in their education, the Valor Award is modified to best help recipients at their current point of training. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, mimicking a paid internship, while graduate students can use the hours gained at the VA towards becoming a nurse practitioner.

Surrounded by experienced nurses and guided by their preceptors, Santillan and Minson readily cared for a population that is in need of their love and attention.

Emily’s Experience

The Nursing VA Learning Opportunity Residency (VALOR) Program is for outstanding students who have completed their junior year of an accredited baccalaureate nursing program and may be interested in a nursing career in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under the guidance of a VA registered nurse preceptor, VALOR students have opportunities for clinical practice and competencies in a nursing specialty area. The student will also complete an independent, problem-focused, clinical project.

Santillan was so grateful for the experience she had at the VA. She says, “It was a huge growing and learning experience. My confidence as a nurse just skyrocketed. From the beginning to the end, I feel like I was ready to graduate and be a nurse, like the next day if I could.”

She felt that this chance to learn was different than other opportunities that she’d had. She continues, “Sometimes during clinical, it gets you close, but not quite to that point where you are on your own. At VA, I felt like I could do most things independently for the whole day. I could do charting, meds, interventions, everything. That was invaluable for me to have that confidence.”

Santillan was inspired to apply for the Valor Award after doing clinical at the VA with assistant professor Dr. Julie Valentine during her third semester. She loved the experience and decided to apply that next summer. The application process for her was almost like any other job interview, and she was thrilled when she was selected.

That summer, she worked almost full time in order to achieve 400 working hours by the start of fall semester. If she wanted to return to work there now after graduation, it would be a relatively simple process.

Santillan is grateful for her time at BYU and says, “It stretched me a lot and challenged me a lot, but was very rewarding. I feel like if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and grow… I know I’m a completely different person. I know I’ve improved so much since when I started at BYU.”

Since completion of her Bachelor’s degree, Santillan has had a baby, and hopes to return to nursing in the fall.

Julie’s Experience

The VA funded learning opportunity for nurse practitioner student clinical training is reserved for graduate DNP and MSN students interested in a nursing career in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their working hours gained at the VA can go towards their clinical hours to become a nurse practitioner.

“This award actually came as a great surprise to me,” she remarks. She had been thinking about where she wanted to work when she was done with school, and the VA came to mind. She applied to their internship program, where she will be doing her capstone. She was thrilled when she was selected to participate.

She says, “I had been talking to associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy about how excited I was about applying and how I was looking forward to how rigorous the training is, and the growth I will have there.  They see lots of complex patients with complex problems and I know that I will learn so much.”

Unbeknownst to Minson, Luthy nominated her for the Valor Award and she was chosen! She says, “I was humbled and also very grateful to receive this award. I have always loved the elderly.  I started out as a CNA in high school and worked at rest homes and doing home health care with the geriatric population to get through my undergraduate. I also love the grandmas of my ward and love sitting with them.  I’ve always loved their deep well of knowledge and life experiences; they have a deep reservoir of love for their fellowmen because of what life has taught them. Taking care of an aging body with such a deep and wonderful heart can be a challenge, and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

Coming back to school at 40 years old with three children was not easy for Minson, but she has enjoyed every minute. She says, “I’ve been blown away by how much each professor is individually interested in me and my learning.  This is a topnotch program and if you’re thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner then BYU is the best choice!”

She wants to give a special thanks to Luthy and associate teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters for their confidence in her and nominating her.

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Resiliency in the Face of Adversity: Susan Jero

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Jero speaking at Nightingale College of Nursing graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Nightingale College of Nursing.

By Quincey Taylor

Something the faculty at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University hopes to teach their students is resiliency. Nursing is not an easy occupation. There are days when patients are irritable, challenges are overwhelming, and topping it off, your feet hurt from standing all day. There is one alumni example, however, who demonstrates the power and determination that accompany resiliency. Susan Jero (AS ’75, BS ’79, MS ’98) has continuously shown a refusal to give up in the face of daunting adversity.

A Challenging Youth

Jero had a difficult childhood and faced obstacles that no child should. Her mother died when she was seven years old, changing her life forever. At age eight, she gained a new stepmother who struggled with alcoholism. To escape, she left home and became married at 15 years old. Even though she never finished high school, Jero highly valued education and was determined to continue school. At 17, she returned to finish high school. Unfortunately, she was expelled—at that time, a married mother was not welcome in public schools.

Jero always had a dream to become a registered nurse. At 18, she completed training and started work as a certified nurse’s aide. She says about her dream, “I wanted to make a difference in patient’s outcomes. I wanted to help them return to good health.”

One day at work, Jero was informed that her husband had been killed in the Vietnam War. She says, “I was devastated.” A widow and mother at age 19, Jero had to find a way to support her family.

Stepping Up to the Challenge at BYU

At 23, Jero learned that she could become a non-matriculated student at Brigham Young University with only a GED. After completing 24 credits, she could apply for full admission. At this time, she was remarried with young children. She remembers, “I was determined; I was resilient. I completed those credits successfully and—with a three-week-old infant—began nursing school.”

Completing her nursing degree was a major turning point in Jero’s life. Over six years, she completed an associate’s degree and then a bachelor’s degree at BYU. Twenty years later, she received her master’s degree in nursing administration.

She says, “My experiences at BYU were pivotal in receiving a blessed career. Because of the College of Nursing, I was successful at serving as a nurse manager for eight years in a busy, intensive care unit.”

With a master’s in nursing administration, Jero was successful in chief nursing positions at two different hospitals as well as later serving as the director of nursing education services at Nightingale College. She reflects, “The skills I learned prepared me to meet the expectations of very demanding positions. I’ve loved every position I’ve ever held, and my success has been due to a great education from BYU, where I received an associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.”

Susan Jero from her

She continues, “I can never thank the professors and mentors at BYU enough, including Donna Fosbinder and Dr. Mary Williams, to name a few. Always supportive, always guiding, they made a huge difference in my life.  They taught me how to be a professional.”

Founding Nightingale College

In 2010, accompanied by four other individuals, Jero was part of starting Nightingale College, something she considers her proudest achievement. She served as the director of nursing education services for several years up until her retirement. In honor of Jero and her resilient spirit, the college created a scholarship in her name.

Jero is so grateful for the connections she made at BYU. Photo courtesy of Jero.

The concept of the Susan J. Jero Resiliency Scholarship was originated by Mikhail Shneyder, President & CEO of Nightingale College. While attending the Sundance Film Festival, he had the good fortune to see a film about an impoverished high school in the Mojave Desert where poor and underprivileged teens struggled with life. The high school adopted unique techniques to support and assist these teens to a better outcome.

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Jero will be sorely missed by her students and colleagues. Photo courtesy of Nightingale College of Nursing.

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In keeping with Nightingale College’s mission, he brought the concept to the college and approved a full-ride scholarship to a high school graduate who has faced challenges in their young life and demonstrated resiliency.

According to the Nightingale College Summer 2018 Graduation Recap, “This scholarship will cover the entire cost of tuition for a learner who exemplifies what Susan Jero always has—the ability to overcome, rise, and be strong. The presentation of the scholarship, as well as Jero’s subsequent induction into the newly created Nightingale Hall of Fame, impacted her greatly. We love you, Ms. Jero!”

Enjoying Retirement

Jero retired in March 2019 after 44 years of a successful nursing career. She says, “My life has been very blessed.” Jero has exciting plans for retirement and says, “I plan on spending time at home in Mexico, enjoying my three daughters and grandchildren, and reading books that I have been collecting for years but haven’t had time to read.”

Resiliency is core to Jero’s success. She remarks, “I could have never accomplished what I completed without resiliency. I am so proud and so honored to have this scholarship bear my name.”

Nursing Staff and Administration Receive SAERA Awards

Photo courtesy of BYU Human Resources

By Jessica Tanner

Three of our incredible staff and administration have recently been recipients of the Staff and Administrative Employee Recognition (SAERA) Award: Kathy Whitenight, Cherie Top, and Cara Wiley. These amazing women have displayed levels of continual learning, innovation, and care that have improved the College of Nursing and BYU. The University-sponsored SAERA Award recognizes those who have shown competency, respect for sacred resources, integrity, teamwork, exceeding customer expectation, respect for all individuals, innovation and accountability. These women have definitely achieved that.

Kathy Whitenight

Kathy Whitenight

Competency: Striving for excellence and sharpening skills on a continuous basis, 2018.

“As an assistant dean, Kathy Whitenight is essential to the workings of the college of Nursing,” writes Dean Patricia Ravert, who nominated her for the award in 2018. On receiving the award Whitenight reports, “I know when other people are getting the awards but I had no idea I was submitted. So it was a big surprise and really an honor to get it.”

There were several reasons why Dean Ravert nominated Whitenight in the competency category. Whitenight has kept up with legal matters, managed updates in physical facilities, and overseen human resources.  Another major department she oversees is Risk Management, where she helps students get the care they need in case of incident or injury. In this duty, Whitenight demonstrates personal care to each student. “They have my cellphone; they can call me 24/7,” she explains. “I’ve only gotten one call in the last year at 3:00 a.m. but I want them to that. I’d rather have them do that than not get the care they need and the financial coverage.” Whitenight keeps up on policies and procedures to help students avoid potential problems.

On Whitenight’s wall hangs James C. Christensen’s painting The Widow’s Might. “I have this picture on the wall,” she explains, “because…most of the things [we do] are done through tithing dollars. And that’s the widow’s mite.” Working with finances, Whitenight handles sacred resources with great care and respect.

Whitenight has to learn continually to keep up with technology and policies. “Each day something new could come in that I’ve never experienced before. And that’s what makes it exciting.”

Cherie Top

Cherie Top:

Exceeding Service Expectations: Serving the needs of others beyond what is expected, 2018

Cherie Top, the Graduate Program and Research Secretary, was awarded for exceeding service expectations. Associate Dean and Professor Jane Lasseter nominated Top after seeing her interact with the students that would come up to apply for the graduate nursing program. “When we have our new applicants coming in they have to do a writing prompt,” Top explains. “And when they come in for their writing prompt we take their photo so that we can use it for the interview…So I make them take a picture up against the wall right next to Jane’s office. In her letter she talked about how I’m really nice to them because they come in and they’re really nervous for the writing prompt.” She helps to put these students at ease as they apply for their future.

Top is also consistently helpful and kind to the other faculty and staff. In fact, the people she gets to work with are her favorite part of her job. “The thing I like most about working here is the environment and the people that we work with. I feel like the staff and the faculty are a really close-knit group but they’re also really inviting.” She immediately felt included when she started working at BYU almost four years ago.

As for receiving the award, Top says, “I was super, super surprised. I didn’t even know they did those awards,” she admits with a laugh. “And they kept it a really good secret—they did it during college assembly and it was just a normal college assembly and I didn’t know it was going to happen.” It was a pleasant surprise, and the clock she received (the SAERA Award trophy) sits shining on her cabinet.

Cara Wiley

Cara Wiley

Innovation: Finding ways to improve products/services to change the way work is accomplished, 2019

Advisement Center Supervisor Cara Wiley was nominated for the SAERA Award by Associate Dean and Associate Professor Katreena Merrill in the innovation category. This was prompted by Wiley’s push for and implementation of an orientation class for first-semester nursing students.

“Before, the students had nothing,” says Wiley. When she became part of BYU nursing advisement, there was no orientation at all for nursing students. An orientation dinner was introduced, but it still was not enough. Wiley remembers, “I researched…other schools here at BYU who have limited enrollment programs, and they had orientation meetings.” It seemed to work for them, so Wiley worked to implemented it in the College of Nursing. It eventually turned into a 390R class so students could have it in their schedules.

“We’re trying to develop emotional intelligence, students’ resiliency, and [also] working on perfectionism,” Wiley explains.  “It’s literally meant to orient them, [to say], hey, this is what it’s going to be like in the nursing program.” Students are able to meet future faculty and learn about a wide variety of subjects. Wiley reports it is a work in progress. “We just keep tweaking it, trying to make it better, trying to help them come in and learn how to be resilient in the first semester so that when they hit the harder semesters, they can handle it.”

Wiley has enjoyed being a part of the orientation class. “It’s nice for me, for the advisement center, to be involved in this orientation class because the students get to know us.” It also brought about the nomination for the SAERA Award. Though she was shocked to get the award, she was also grateful. “I haven’t gotten an award like that in my 14 years of being here and it was really nice to be recognized by my boss…We’ve been doing a lot of changes, and now we’re seeing the results.”

 

Thanks, SNA For Another Great Year!

By Jessica Tanner

What do J-Dawgs, College of Nurses’ students, and a dunk-tank all have in common? All were at yesterday’s closing social for the Student Nursing Association. The society is student-run and works to coordinate events and help students become more involved in the community.

At the closing social, students were able to enjoy the crisp but sunny spring weather, eat food, chat, and dunk their favorite teacher or staff member. Assistant Teaching Professor Scott Summers was a particularly popular target as students got him back (in good humor) for a tough semester in his Pharmacology class.

SNA knows how to have fun. Izzy Algeier, SNA’s newly nominated president says that SNA strives to “provide different activities so that they can de-stress and be able to have fun, make relationships, and ultimately to become more unified as a college.”  They also know when to be professional. “Our vision is to help students…have professional opportunities while they’re in the nursing program,” says Algeier.

“It’s been awesome,” says Kami Christiansen, an SNA board member. “I got to go to the National Student Nursing Association conference. That was way fun.” At NSNA, students represented BYU and its values. “I’m grateful for it,” says Christiansen as she looks forward to future involvement.

The evening also included the announcements of the recipients of the SNA Scholarship. Congratulations to Jessica Daynes, Camille Johnson, Megan Western, Christina Hobson, and Katy Harrison. These students showed excellence in participating in several professional and service-oriented SNA events.

Thanks to all SNA members who have made these opportunities and events possible. We look forward to another year!

 

Connection Is Up To You: Dr. Sabrina Jarvis Receives DAISY Faculty Award

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Dr. Sabrina Jarvis with her sister after receiving the DAISY Award

By Jessica Tanner

“I was really surprised to be honest,” says associate teaching professor Dr. Sabrina Jarvis after receiving this year’s DAISY Award  Faculty Award. She was nominated by a student to whom she had shown kindness and care. Living by life philosophies taught to her by her father has opened doors to connecting with others and blessed many lives.

Dr. Jarvis worked as a family nurse practitioner in Veterans Administration Hospitals. It was in her clinical practice she not only found fulfillment in nursing but was also introduced to teaching. However, she reports, “It was quite the learning process,” as she was shy and unfamiliar with giving presentations. Thankfully, she had a mentor, one who could teach her about presentations tap on a projector if she was going overtime. “As you go along, you learn,” Dr. Jarvis says. “I don’t think you spring up being a full-blown teacher; you have to learn the craft.”

Those early experiences prepared Dr. Jarvis to teach at BYU, as she has for the past twelve years. For her the craft of teaching is not just in planning lessons or grading projects; it is about the relationships she builds with her students. She lives life by a philosophy her father taught her:  “In every encounter during your day, it’s usually not neutral; it’s either going to be positive or not.”  Those encounters are often small, such as a smile or asking someone how their day is going. Dr. Jarvis is also a firm believer in communication. “I also don’t believe in ESP—that if we don’t ask, we don’t know.”

“We go past a lot of people and how much connection you make is up to you,” says Dr. Jarvis. She makes a habit of talking with her students after class and strives to learn a new name every day. These simple, trust-building acts have paved the way for opportunities to give of herself. “You don’t realize you’ve made an impact in the moment because you’re just trying to help someone and you learn from them,” Dr. Jarvis says.

One student who nominated Dr. Jarvis for the award wrote, “I nominated her as I was impressed with how supportive and positive she was as she helped me during a project. She created an environment where I felt important and could turn to her for help if needed. I knew I had an advocate who wanted to see me excel. During the semester, she followed-up and showed genuine care for me. My understanding of the Healer’s Art has been expanded and deepened thanks to the example of Sabrina Jarvis.”

Dr. Jarvis was touched by the award but the real reward was in the relationship. Of the student’s letter, she said, “It really just touched my heart. You don’t think you’re having that impact on a person, and for her to go to the time and effort and the beautiful words she wrote…that to me was the award.” For Dr. Jarvis it has always been about making connections. “You helped them but the gift is you get to know that person. They’re part of your life, and that to me is what it’s all about.”

 

 

Integrity When No One is Watching: James Reinhardt Receives DAISY In Training Award for Winter 2019

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Reinhardt celebrates with his wife and son.

By Quincey Taylor

James Reinhardt, current BYU nursing student, was one of two students to receive this semester’s DAISY In Training Award, which is given to extraordinary nurses and nursing students. Selected by nomination forms filled out by other nursing students, Reinhardt really goes the extra mile in showing everyone around him that he cares. The college is proud to be represented by students like him.

When he found out he had been selected as one of this semester’s DAISY In Training recipients, Reinhardt felt surprised and humbled. He says about the experience, “I think it made me want to live up to those expectations a little bit more. To make sure that I can back up what they’ve said with my actions. It makes me want to make sure I’m doing everything, even holding the door open for somebody.”

“James never hesitates to help a patient that is in need. It doesn’t matter how smelly, how messy, how off-putting the job is. The patient doesn’t even need to be his – if he sees a call light that has been going off, he responds. He treats every one with respect and kindness,” says student Jane Harlan.

Allie Giguiere, current nursing student, illustrated this characteristic of Reinhardt’s by sharing an experience: “Last semester there was a code during clinical and James noticed that the patient’s father was alone and really struggling, so he went into the room and supported this dad and let him know that he was not alone. I was really impressed by his ability to notice a need and have the motivation and courage to fill that need. As a student, it is sometimes difficult to know your place in the clinical situation, but James put himself out there and did what he could to help a suffering soul. I think that is really what the Healer’s art is.”

It was really special for Reinhardt to have his family come and see him receive the award. Reinhardt enjoyed having his young son there and comments, “Having a kid in the nursing conference made me feel like a spy.”

When asked how he’d like to thank those that nominated him, Reinhardt laughs, “Besides owing them lunch? I guess I’m just really grateful that they notice the small things. It’s really cool to be caught doing something good when you don’t think that anybody else is watching.”

Reinhardt knows the importance of integrity at all times, at work and in his everyday life. He says, “Compassion is important in the workplace. However, it’s even more important outside the workplace because that’s when you’re not expected to be nice and you get to show who you really are.”

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Adventures in Paraguay

paraguay students

Photo courtesy of Rachel Matthews

By Jessica Tanner

As a nursing student, you fill hundreds of hours with your studies, your classes, and your clinical hours in hospitals. One day you wander by a flyer for a study abroad or see an email from one of your professors asking for student researchers. Do you keep walking? Do you disregard the email? Or do you consider the possibility of experiential learning outside the classroom? Though it may seem like there is not enough time nor resources, it may not be as impossible as you think. Two nursing students share how they got involved in a life-changing research trip to Paraguay.

These students joined Dr. Sheri Palmer, who was the recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, in Paraguay to address the issue of teenage pregnancy.  On this ten-day research trip, they had two objectives: the first was interview local teachers, principals and community leaders about Paraguayan teenage life.  The second was to teach Days for Girls classes, teaching young women and girls about maturation and teenage pregnancy. For fifth-semester student Rachel Matthews, one of the best parts was “seeing the girls understand something they didn’t before, see them get empowered about their bodies and … themselves.” She also enjoyed the one-on-one interviews. “I’d missed that Paraguayan soul,” she says.

Matthews had served her mission in Paraguay. Coincidentally, so had Dr. Palmer. Having recently returned from her mission, Matthews was in search of something that would take her nursing skills outside the classroom. Her opportunity came in the form of Dr. Palmer at an ORCA conference. Matthews was about to leave when she spotted her teacher next to a Global Health sign. “I thought if there is anyone I can talk to, it’s probably her,” Matthews remembers. “I went over to her, and I sat down and started explaining some of the public health issues I’d seen in Paraguay. It turns out she’d also served her mission in Paraguay, so we bonded really quickly over that. As luck would have it, she’d also applied for a Fulbright [Scholar Award] to teach at a university in Paraguay.”

A sixth-semester student, Julia Lee, also coincidentally connected with Dr. Palmer. After returning from a mission in Argentina, Lee attended a Spanish class that Dr. Palmer was auditing. Lee had taken a gerontology class from Dr. Palmer, and started talking with her. The more she talked with her, the more she learned about the upcoming research trip to Paraguay. And the more she learned, the more interested she became.

These stories share a commonality: both Lee and Matthews got involved by talking to their professor. Professors are there to help students learn, in and out of the classroom. “That first step is just getting out of your comfort zone and asking professors if there is something you can do,” says Matthews.   Teachers and students have ideas; it is usually together they can make those ideas a reality. For Lee, too, the key to gaining these experiences comes from connections and questioning. She relates, “I happened to be in the class with Sheri Palmer. I could have just not talked to her about it, but I was interested, so I asked. And she talked about it, and it was interesting, so I asked.” Matthews adds that professors are constantly reaching out through emails. It does not take a lot to get involved – it simply starts with asking questions.

Though study and knowledge are important, real-world experience is also required. “There’s more to what you learn than what’s just in the textbook,” says Lee. That includes empathy, people skills, and problem-solving.  She continues, “I highly suggest going on a study abroad because it really heightens your learning experience. It makes your learning more holistic.” Another student on the research trip, Megan Hancock, adds, “Travelling is fun on its own, but when you travel with a purpose to learn and serve, you really can’t travel any other way again.”  For Matthews, the reason she enjoyed the research trip was the same as her reason for going into nursing. “I just like helping people in that greatest moment of need,” she says. “Really being there on the front line at the bedside.”

It is with that attitude that these students got involved, and none regrets the experience. Their story can be your story.