Category Archives: College of Nursing Faculty

Professor, Leader, Veteran, Nurse: Dr. Kent Blad

BOOM!

It was January 1991, during the Persian Gulf War. Another Iraqi Scud missile had just been knocked out of the sky by an American Patriot missile battery, a regular event given that Saddam Hussein’s forces were lobbing dozens of missiles at coalition troops. Some might have found the massive explosions unsettling—for military nurse Kent Blad, however, they ensured that he would sleep calmly that night, knowing that his odds of being hit by an Iraqi projectile were being significantly reduced.

Fast-forward twenty-six years to 2017, a year that marks two important milestones for Dr. Blad, now BYU College of Nursing associate dean. In June, it will be his 30th year as a registered nurse. Second, it is the end of his five-year term as associate dean, after which he will continue to teach as a professor. It will be one more transition in a career that has spanned decades and seen Blad serving everywhere from Provo to Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly, Blad didn’t start off studying nursing. He at first was majoring in pre-med to become an orthopedic surgeon. However, once he got married he started to have second thoughts about being a surgeon.

“When I got married, I figured I wanted to be married to this woman, not to a profession,” he says.

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Blad as a military nurse

His older brother was a military nurse, and his example helped Blad decide to enlist in the military and concurrently enroll in nursing school. He worked as a military operating room technician to pay his way, and once he had his degree he was made an officer. He served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where he had the harrowing experience of listening to Scud missiles streak across the sky. However, he was not injured during the war and was able to serve his country faithfully.

Blad left the military two years after the Persian Gulf War ended, and by this point, nursing was in his blood.

“The more I got into it, the more I obtained a passion for it because I soon realized that not only is it a profession, but it’s a service profession where you spend your whole life serving others,” Blad says.

For ten years, he worked at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, primarily in critical care. He then enrolled at BYU to get his master’s degree, which opened up new, unexpected doors to him. Immediately upon graduation, he was offered a job to work in the College, which he accepted.

This was in 1999, and he describes the following years as “18 wonderful years, not without their share of challenges, but certainly with many, many blessings.”

The first few were spent teaching, until 2012 when Dr. Patricia Ravert, the newly installed dean, asked him to serve as one of two associate deans in the college. He accepted, undertaking the many responsibilities that come with being an associate dean.

“There was never a time that I was able to just sit around and stare out the window,” he says. Blad’s duties include supervising the Nursing Learning Center and the advisement center, distributing faculty assignments, managing the curriculum, and attending various university meetings, all on top of continuing to teach classes and contributing to the discipline.

One of Blad’s biggest pieces of advice to both faculty and students is to find balance, stressing the fact that nothing should come before their top three priorities, namely their family, their well-being, and their religion. He had to take his own advice in this new job, constantly evaluating his life to see how he could better prioritize his time.

Despite the difficulty of managing so many different tasks, there have been numerous positive impacts that Blad can see in the past five years, mainly due to the cooperation between members of administration and the College faculty.

For one thing, the College just passed its accreditation review with no negative recommendations. The Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center was completed and is now running smoothly. Blad has also had the satisfying privilege of helping distribute increased scholarship funds to deserving students and helping coordinate teacher-student mentoring. The past five years have also seen a focus on promoting professionalism and courtesy among the faculty, which Blad says has created a wonderful working environment.

“That’s the thing I’m going to miss the most as a leader is that comradery and the love that you share with your peers,” Blad says. “We have tremendously excellent faculty. In my travels around the country, it is seconded by no other faculty in the US. We have the top faculty that can be put together.”

One of Blad’s biggest contributions to the College is also one of his biggest passions: treating veterans. Blad was the one who in 2005 recommended that one of the clinical practicums for the Public and Global Health nursing course be focused on treating veterans, and since then the program has become the leading program of its kind in the United States.

“It’s pretty special,” he says. “It’s a satisfaction in my career that is matched by nothing else.”

Outside of work, Blad spends most of his time either with family or as a bishopric member in a YSA ward. He and his wife have seven children, and eleven grandchildren. Now that he will have more time, he expects them to continue old family traditions like camping, hiking, and picnicking. Blad also enjoys doing yard work and gardening.

Learning from a Military Nurse

There are very few people who can talk about NATO, nursing, and kimchi in the same conversation. Assistant teaching professor Debra Wing is one of them.

Wing’s passion for nursing started while she was young. That passion also runs in the family: one of Wing’s nursing professors at Weber State University was her older sister.

“I have always felt that nursing was paramount,” Wing says. “To me the one-on-one aspect that you give to your patient and the love and respect that you offer them is an opportunity to show them you are walking in the Savior’s shoes. You are truly His representative.”

Spotlight--DebraWingThe emphasis on providing care in the Savior’s way has served Wing immensely during her career.

Both Wing and her husband served in the U.S. Air Force as medical personnel. They have had joint assignments with NATO and with the Surgeon General of the Air National Guard office. “My husband is a hospital administrator, so he ran hospitals for the air force all over the world,” she says. “We’ve been able to see some fascinating things.” Her husband is a veteran of three wars, while Wing is a veteran of two.

“I’ve worked just about everywhere you can work in a hospital setting,” Wing says. Her list of assignments is almost as extensive as the list of countries that she and her husband have visited and lived in (42 between the two of them). These include being a charge nurse, a nurse manager, a chief nurse executive, and a school nurse. Additionally she served as the clinical oversite for EMEDS (Expeditionary Medical Support) training for the Air National Guard.

“EMEDS is the modern version of MASH. I had the responsibility to train physicians, nurses, techs, and dentists in wartime delivery of care in trauma,” Wing says. In fact this assignment was where Wing first became acquainted with simulation training, which she has used in her college positions at BYU since joining the faculty in 2010.

With these military assignments came travel. Of all the places the family lived, Turkey was a favorite. “My children will say that they’re half Turkish,” Wing jokes.

One of her most impactful experiences was in a Turkish airport when her then 3-year-old son was lost in a crowd. Having heard horror stories about Turkey, she feared for his safety. After two hours of searching, Wing’s husband found their son safe and sound with a Turkish security guard. A traveler had come across the wandering child and brought him to the guard, who did not speak English. While efforts were made to locate his parents, the guard calmed the weeping toddler by bringing him ice cream and attempting conversation, despite the language barrier. The tenderness of the moment altered Wing’s perception of the Turkish people forever. “That was a changing point for me,” she says.

Last year Wing and her husband returned from a military relations mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Korea. Back at BYU now, she teaches Community Health Nursing, Strategies for employment, and leads a clinical practicum for the Public and Global Health Nursing course in Finland/Czech Republic each spring.

“I love the students,” she says. “There is something so exciting about watching the students grow and progress, and things that were so difficult for them at the beginning of the nursing program are second nature by the time they get to capstone, and then to see them integrate everything they’ve learned in a capstone experience—I think that is my favorite.”

Wing and her husband have three children and three grandchildren, whom she describes as the joy of her life.

How the West Was Won—By Nurse Practitioners

Meet assistant teaching professor Rod Newman, one of the BYU College of Nursing’s newest faculty members. He’s a mild-mannered teacher, nurse practitioner, and…cowboy action shooter?

Open Fire

Newman zeroes in on a target with his handy Wild West era rifle in a competition.

This is just a sampling of his many interests and hobbies.

Newman has been a nurse practitioner since 1979, a period spanning 38 years. He initially started studying nursing at Ricks College to be a nurse anesthetist, but he quickly found that the field was not for him.

“I like patient interaction a lot more, so I decided to go in that direction,” he says. After getting his associate’s at Ricks, he came to BYU for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

Since then, he has worked at various places in Utah Valley, including a 25-year stint at Revere Health. He worked mainly in cardiology and critical care, with some work in internal medicine.

From Newman’s perspective, being a nurse practitioner offers multiple benefits. It is an expanding job field that lets nurses have real patient interaction. Newman still has patients at Revere Health who refuse to see anyone but him due to the relationship of trust he has established with them.

BYU offers Newman the chance to teach the importance of this trust to students in what he describes as “a wonderful environment.”

“This is a choice place to be,” he says. “The College of Nursing is fantastic and supportive, and I can’t say that professionally I’ve been happier anywhere else.”

In addition, Newman will be using the College’s ultrasound machine to examine ways that nurses can measure pulmonary hypertension without having to resort to either an expensive procedure or partially accurate tests.

When he is not at the hospital or teaching, you can often find Newman at the shooting range. One of Newman’s biggest hobbies is cowboy action shooting, which involves dressing up as a cowboy and shooting authentic guns from the time-period.

Watch out Black Bart

Newman in a competition that requires both speed and accuracy

“The big thing is you dress up like a cowboy, so you go back to your childhood,” he says. Firearms include old Winchester rifles and single-action revolvers. What’s more, Newman has won several shooting competitions.

The one thing that has lasted longer than his career as an NP is his marriage, which is now in its 42nd year. He has seven children and twenty-three grandchildren.

Horse

Newman with one of his horses