Category Archives: College of Nursing Faculty

Teaching Professor Dr. Kent Blad Receives Award for Critical Care Nursing Excellence


The college is proud to support our faculty in their accomplishments and pursuits. Photo courtesy of Blad.

By Quincey Taylor

Last week, our own faculty member teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad was recognized for his “superiority in critical care clinical practice and education.” He received the 2020 Norma J. Shoemaker Award for Critical Care Nursing Excellence and was presented with a plaque of honor by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

This award honors Norma J. Shoemaker, RN, MN, FCCM, who was the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s first executive director. Her career spanned decades during which critical care evolved into a recognized specialty. She nurtured the organization, helping it become the professionally respected, international and multiprofessional organization it is today. This award is meant to push critical care nurses to seek excellence, never settling for less than that.


There is no doubt that Blad is deserving of such an honor. Photo courtesy of Blad.

Dr. Blad has worked tirelessly at the BYU College of Nursing, focusing special attention for his passion for helping veterans. He is extremely worthy of such an award and has the college’s full support. As a veteran himself, Blad has a special understanding of the struggles and needs of his patients. He works to instill a love for veterans in his students and finds unique opportunities for his students to learn about them, including the annual Honor Flight.

As part of the award, a poster display featuring Dr. Blad will be hung at the 2020 Annual Congress. In addition, he received an honorarium for $1,000. Blad is grateful for the recognition and humbly accepts the award for his efforts.

BYU’s Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi: Pushing for the Platinum


Platinum is the highest level of Phi Kappa Phi’s Circle of Excellence awards; Image provided by Phi Kappa Phi

By Lyndee Johns

Members of BYU’s Division I chapter of Phi Kappa Phi don’t just go for the gold—they push for the platinum.

Phi Kappa Phi is, as the BYU pamphlet boasts, “the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines.” Juniors in the top 7.5 percent and seniors and grad students in the top 10 percent of their classes are invited to join Phi Kappa Phi, where they are encouraged to participate in chapter activities and be on the student board.

And, as chapter president and college assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes puts it, BYU’s chapter is “doing something right.”

The BYU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi has recently received the 2019–2020 Circle of Excellence Platinum award. This prestigious award shows that BYU has met chapter requirements, has both social and service events, and has an active student board.

And according to Himes, it is the student board that makes the chapter what it is.

“It’s a student-driven organization,” says Himes. “As the faculty members, or more the faculty/staff, we help keep things running. But we try to help them set the vision . . . We have some of the brightest students on campus, and they can make a lot happen. So we will give them opportunities to do that.”

Run by two elected vice presidents, the student board plans chapter activities. Last year, Phi Kappa Phi partnered with My Story Matters to meet refugee families living in Utah, and to record their stories. The families were later given a bound book that contained their stories, and a family picture. “It was very impactful for the kids to see them realizing that their story matters, their story is important,” says Himes.

Phi Kappa Phi’s current plans for the semester include an interdisciplinary Jeopardy event, and partnering with Dahlia’s Hope—an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking transition back into healthy living.

One of the chapter’s goals for the new year includes running a successful initiation banquet, where the Circle of Excellence award will be announced. Their other goals? “Supporting the students and their service and social activities, and, you know, trying to find ways that we can do good in the world,” says Himes.

Here’s to BYU’s Phi Kappa Phi, and may their programs stay platinum.


Differences Make You Better: Dr. Corinna Tanner’s Connection to Terry Johnson’s Dog Driven


Dr. Corinna Tanner provided many of her own experiences for Terry Johnson to use in her book

By Lyndee Johns

“The thing that is sort of funny about this is that anybody that knows me knows I’m terrified of dogs,” says assistant professor Dr. Corinna Tanner.

Considering her role in Terry Lynn Johnson’s book Dog Driven, the statement is truly ironic.

Dog Driven image

Dog Driven was released on December 3rd, 2019; Photo courtesy of Amazon

Dog Driven tells the story of Mckenna Barney, a fourteen-year-old musher who decides to participate in a Canadian sled-dog race carrying a very important piece of mail—her sister’s letter about raising awareness for Stargardt disease. The holdup? Mckenna has been losing her vision to the same disease for the last year, and desperately trying to keep her vision loss from her family and her peers. During the perilous race, Mckenna makes important self-discoveries. “It’s about her journey of grappling with this disability and having the courage to tell people about it, and having the courage to be okay with it,” says Tanner, who has Stargardt’s herself.

While Tanner has, in her words, “perfect peripheral vision,” the disease has affected her central vision—rendering her completely blind in that area.

One of the challenges that comes with Stargardt’s is that recognizing people tends to be very difficult. “And so that makes social situations really awkward and challenging sometimes because you can’t tell the difference between people . . . And in a high school setting where the halls are crowded and you don’t know very many people, it’s very, very intimidating because you can’t tell who people are . . . It can be very socially isolating, and so she captured some of that challenge in the book,” Tanner says.

In 2017, Johnson connected with Tanner though an online blindness support group, asking whether Tanner would be interested in being interviewed. Tanner met with Johnson for interviews over the next five to six months. Johnson asked about Tanner’s experience with Stargardt disease, especially about her experiences as a teenager. Some of these memories, such as Tanner having to move closer and closer to the chalkboard until she had to stand directly in front of it to be able to read it, are included in the book. “But one thing that came out of the interviews that she said she really wanted to capture was my positive attitude about blindness, about my acceptance of blindness. She wanted her character to have that same kind of acceptance and positivity around her disability,” Tanner says.

When Tanner listened to the book the first time, she found herself getting so caught up in the story’s plot and adventure that she actually forgot that she had inspired many of Mckenna’s experiences. “Hearing her experience about what she could see, what she couldn’t see, and how she did it, I was like ‘Oh, that’s just like me,’” Tanner says. “And I was like ‘That is me!’’’


Dr. Corinna Tanner appreciates Terry Johnson’s accurate depiction of Stargardt’s

Tanner describes the main character Mckenna as a combination between herself and Johnson, who has experience with dog-sledding and lives in Canada. But Tanner says that she could take from Mckenna’s example of overcoming fear by applying it towards her own fear of dogs.

While some moments of the book are taken directly from Tanner’s experiences, there are some differences. While in the book Mckenna’s little sister gets the disease first, Tanner says that it was the opposite for her. “In my case, I got it first . . . then my younger sister did develop Stargardt’s too, and hers was more severe than mine . . .  [Johnson] just kind of flipped the story a little bit.”

Tanner also had a slightly different method of coping with her vision loss growing up. “I don’t think I was actively trying to hide it as much as this character was as just trying to suck it up and tough it out, because my parents were busy.”

When Tanner at first noticed problems with her eyesight, she’d chalked it up to needing glasses. And as her mother had her hands full with trying to raise seven young children and caring for a developmentally delayed uncle, it took a year—and a school vision screening test—to find out what was really going on.

Standing in front of volunteer moms and her classmates, the only letter that Tanner could make out on the chart was the gigantic letter E. “And the moms thought I was just being a smart aleck. They thought I was trying to be funny, and the kids thought I was trying to be funny too. So everybody was laughing. And I ran out of the school crying,” Tanner says. The incident led to a trip to the eye doctor, and an eventual diagnosis of Stargardt disease.

Tanner has three main messages that readers should take away from Dog Driven:

  1. “It’s respectable to be blind.”
  2. “Blind people can do most things sighted people can do, but they do it in a different way.”
  3. “Sometimes blind people don’t look blind.”

“It’s important to think about the fact that if someone had known—if any of the adults in her life had known—about her vision impairment, she likely would not have been permitted to join the race,” Tanner says. “And that’s unfortunate. I feel like children with disabilities and people with disabilities are frequently held back from reaching their full potential out of concern for their safety, which is valid, but on the other hand, there is spiritual and psychological and emotional safety too that are important to be considered . . . She could have gotten hurt on the trail, but so could any of the other mushers.”

One line from the book still stands out to Tanner—particularly because it is her own. In Dog Driven, one of Mckenna’s opponents has a lead dog, Zesty, who is visually impaired. However, Zesty is the most hardworking and focused dog on the team. Near the end of the book, Mckenna comes to an earthshaking conclusion: “Zesty is not disabled. Her differences make her better.”1

And that’s what Tanner takes away from it all: “My blindness hasn’t made me disabled. In the end, it’s made me better.”

  1. Terry Lynn Johnson, Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), 242.

Dr. Janelle Macintosh Receives The Alcuin Fellowship

Janelle Macintosh

Receiving this award meant the world to Macintosh, and she looks forward to continuing her efforts.

By Quincey Taylor

Sometimes peoples’ efforts behind closed doors go unnoticed. Many people strive for excellence and never receive the deserved accolades. For associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh, however, this is not that case. Recently, Macintosh was awarded the Alcuin Fellowship for 2020- 2022 from Brigham Young University.

The Alcuin Fellowship award recognizes teacher-scholars who have gone beyond the regular limits of their disciplines and made significant contributions to the general education and honors curriculum. This perfectly describes Macintosh’s efforts over the years, and she says, “I feel so blessed by this recognition.”

As an Alcuin Fellow, Macintosh has been invited to teach an Unexpected Connections Course for the honors program. It is an exciting opportunity for a BYU College of Nursing faculty member. She has been paired with Dr. John Talbot from the English department, and together they are creating a course about literature and health, which will be taught during winter semester for three years. Macintosh says, “I know I will learn so much from Dr. Talbot and the honors students in the classes. Together we will enlarge our worldview and expand our sphere of influence.”

The College of Nursing would like to congratulate Macintosh on this amazing accomplishment. She thanks college supporters and says, “This opportunity would not be feasible without the support of the administration at the College of Nursing, the BYU Honors Program faculty and staff, and my colleague who nominated me for this fellowship. Thank you!”


Walking Into a “New Life”

dustin 1

Dustin (far right) loves doing all she can to serve her patients! Photo courtesy of Dustin.

By Corbin Smith

The BYU College of Nursing has an international reach that has no limitations. Faculty and students travel across the world to places such as Taiwan, India and Tonga to serve locals with their knowledge of the Healer’s art. Assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin is one of those faculty members who does not shy away from going abroad to share her nursing talents. That is why each September she goes to El Salvador with an organization called Operation Walk Utah.

Operation Walk Utah’s motto is “Restoring mobility to those in need… One joint at a time.” As their motto reflects, their ultimate goal is to give El Salvadorians a “new life” through hip and joint replacements. Since their beginning in 2007, Operation Walk Utah has created a strong reputation of providing successful joint replacements. They work out of the Hospital Nacional San Rafael in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, normally staying for a week each year. They complete about 70 replacements each trip.

For Dustin, she volunteers each year as a pre-op nurse. She gives patients medications and helps prepare them for their own life-changing operation. She also works in the recovery room and is able to see the impact of their work. “People line up and wait for hours for their chance for an operation. After the operation, it is humbling to see them leave with a new hope in their life.”

Over the years, while Dustin has seen so many amazing things happen within the organization, she is also quick to recognize that the impact on each individual is much more important. “The daily pain they suffer is so debilitating mentally,” Dustin explains, “They are so strong. They are so amazing.”

dustin 2

Dustin is constantly amazed by the strength of her patients. Photo courtesy of Dustin.

Joint problems can be painful and decrease mobility to the point where you can’t work. In places like El Salvador, their livelihood depends on work, and Operation Walk Utah gives them that opportunity to go back to work. Dustin shares, “We took care of an elderly man who had both of his knees replaced at the same time. Even as a 74 year old man, he was still working but he was getting to the point where his knees didn’t allow him to work and produce for his family anymore. He was thrilled when we did this operation for him and helped him get back to work.”

However, the gratitude of the patients is what continues to inspire Dustin and Operation Walk Utah to return each year. “Most of our patients are very Christian oriented. They tell the surgeons and the nurses all the time that we are their angels from heaven,” Dustin says with a smile.

Undoubtedly, Dustin and her co-volunteers have incredibly blessed the people of El Salvador through their dedication to help those who suffer physically. They work and sacrifice things from their own personal lives, for the benefit and healing of others. That is the essence of the Healer’s art. They truly are nothing less than what their patients describe them year after year: angels.


If you would like to learn more about Operation Walk Utah visit their website:

Not So Different: BYU Professor Speaks at Tongan Nursing Day Celebration


Reed, wearing a traditional ta’ovala gifted to her for formal occasions. Photo courtesy of Reed.

By Quincey Taylor

BYU professors take the mantra, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” very seriously in their careers. During this summer’s Tonga section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course, associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed was asked to give a speech as part of this year’s International Nursing Day celebration.

This holiday, which is celebrated extensively on the island, was a wonderful opportunity to show what BYU stands for and why we immerse ourselves into other cultures. An overwhelming lesson all students learned was that they weren’t so different from Tongan nurses, sharing the same mission and desires.

Reed, who was returning to Tonga for the eighth time, was elated to have the chance to speak to a people that had grown to mean so much to her. She thought the best way to show what Tonga has meant to BYU students would be to read their thoughts on the experience.


BYU nursing students (red) with local Tongan nursing students. They became fast friends. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed started her speech, saying, “At the BYU College of Nursing, we are learning the Healer’s art, or in other words, trying to learn to heal as our Savior, Jesus Christ, would heal… I am going to tell you today some of the things that students have learned in Tonga.”

Robin, who came to Tonga as a student the first year in 2010, said, “My nursing education was greatly enhanced by my experiences in Tonga. I learned that the Healer’s art is not always found in medications or in treatments. Instead, it is found in the sincere caring of one person for another. I loved to watch how the nurses in Tonga cared for their patients with the utmost respect and care. They inspired me to be a better nurse, and perhaps more importantly, a more caring person.”

The next year in 2011, Reed returned with 12 students. Unfortunately, that year most of them contracted gastrointestinal illness, and three of the students had to be hospitalized. They experienced Tongan healthcare by being a patient. Jaclyn, one of the students, said, “Tonga taught me about family, medical family, and love of healing.”


Honoring the elderly is a big part of Tongan culture. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed and her students enjoyed the celebrations for International Nursing Day, and witnessed the reverent respect locals have for nurses. An award and cake were given to an elderly member of their society who had been a nurse in the local hospital for many years.


Reed and her daughter with local nurse and her daughter. Family ties bring people together! Photo courtesy of Reed.

The college’s time in Tonga is treasured by all who go there. So many invaluable lessons are learned, by both professors and students. Reed, as well as everyone at the College of Nursing, hope to continue this blossoming relationship with Tonga.

Reed concluded her speech by addressing local healthcare professionals: “Just think of the impact that you all have on these students! We thank you for the compassion and caring you have shown us, and the compassion and caring you have taught us, as well as many other things that help us to be better nurses. Malo ‘auptio! Thank you very much.”

Helping Babies Breathe: BYU Students in Fiji


BYU nursing students crossed a river in Fiji to teach about the importance of helping babies breathe.

By Quincey Taylor

During the Fiji section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course this summer, associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh had the chance to teach locals how to help babies breathe. In life-threatening situations, these skills are critical considering they don’t have many of the modern medical luxuries we in the United States enjoy. According to the Health Newborn Network, 40 million women [annually] around the world give birth accompanied by their mothers, sisters, or aunties instead of trained health care providers who could intervene if complications arise. More than 2 million women give birth completely alone.

baby manikin

NeoNatalie simulation manikin helps the students put into play what they’ve learned before the situation arises.

“Helping Babies Breathe” is a low fidelity simulation education that was created by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and around eight other global partners. It is a very structured education system that is meant for low-resource countries. The purpose is to teach healthcare providers what to do if someone gives birth and how to help that baby if it is having trouble.


BYU nursing students interact with local Fijians, educating them on this important skill.

A few BYU nursing students, along with Macintosh, took the master training class at the University of Utah. Their goal was to disperse their knowledge to the nursing students and faculty in Fiji.


Faculty were excited to learn, and eagerly participated in activities.

When Macintosh was asked how the locals reacted to the program, she said, “They loved it. They actually asked us if we would come back. So we are planning on going back this next year, with the hope that then we can just reinforce the teaching and that they can be self-sustaining.”


This class, given to the hospital staff in Savusavu, was excited to put their skills to the test.