Category Archives: College of Nursing Faculty

Walking Into a “New Life”

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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.”

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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: https://www.operationwalkutah.org/

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

“There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

By Corbin Smith

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Tanner is so excited about her first semester at BYU!

As a society, we are captivated by people who don’t let physical limitations control and define their lives. We love hearing about those who don’t accept “you can’t do that” as a valid excuse. Influential figures like President Roosevelt and Stephen Hawking were confined to a wheelchair during their public lives, but did that ever stop them? Never. One of the coolest parts about being a nurse is that you are always surrounded by amazing people that have their own tough yet inspiring circumstances. New BYU College of Nursing faculty member, assistant professor Dr. Corinna Tanner, has dedicated her life to serving this demographic, a group that is especially close to her heart.

As a young girl, Tanner lived a relatively normal life. She went to school and played with her friends, just as any young girl would do. She lived with a small vision impairment, but when she was 14 years old, that impairment began to affect her a lot more. “We had to go to the medical specialists and figure out what it was. It wasn’t that I just needed glasses, I had another type of an eye problem,” Tanner remembers.

As it turns out, Tanner was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a genetic disease that causes progressive damage to the macula, the area of the eye that is responsible for straight-ahead vision. This means that those with Stargardt disease can only see out of their peripheral vision.

Tanner is the first to admit that growing up wasn’t easy. “I had to put a lot of energy into the things I did,” she says, “I wasn’t able to do reading and math and other school subjects the way that other kids did, so I just had to work harder.”

Even with her eyesight worsening as time went on, Tanner was able to find her niche. She learned how to play the violin purely by ear and also pursued dance. In fact, when Tanner came to BYU as an undergraduate student, her original major was dance!

It wasn’t until later that Tanner found nursing. Years later she became a single mother who needed to provide for 3 kids. In that circumstance, she looked into what a possible nursing career could bring. “I thought there would be so many opportunities in nursing, because I could see nurses doing things that I could imagine myself doing, in spite of my vision impairment,” she says, “What I didn’t expect was that I would be able to develop a specialty helping the blind, and I could use my own life experience to help others.”

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Tanner loves this painting of Christ healing a blind man. She tries to emulate Christ’s love each day.

By taking 24 credits a semester, Tanner was able to complete two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree in 5 years! One was a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Metropolitan State University and the other was a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado, while adding a Masters in Nursing from the same university. She then went on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.

Getting her degrees was not easy, especially with 3 kids at home and vision impairment, but she never let any of it stop her. At school, she used special instruments that allowed her to do the same things her classmates were doing. Meanwhile at home, she dedicated the weekends to her family so she could support her children however she could, and she continues that to this day!

With her university training and expertise, Tanner has worked constantly to help those who suffer from vision loss. Prior to coming to BYU as a professor, she worked as a health educator at the John A. Moran Eye Center and the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. She still teaches a vision loss orientation seminar there and offers those who are new to blindness various tricks, tips, and resources to use their remaining vision optimally.

She also takes her knowledge and skills abroad, to help visually impaired communities outside of the US live fulfilling lives. Among her many volunteer efforts, in the past, she has worked with LDS charities in Barbados, which she plans on continuing soon.

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Tanner has already done so much for the blind community, but she doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. She knows that she can bring a special perspective that can help others overcome trials in their life. She explains, “I have a great career in nursing, not, despite my blindness, like I thought, but because of my blindness.”

Tanner has since re-married and now has a little 5-year old to keep her and her husband company at home. She enjoys going to concerts, traveling with her family and keeping a small garden.

 

 

 

Finding Joy in the Journey: Welcome to New Faculty Member Marc-Aurel Martial

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The Martial family is happy when they are together. 

By Quincey Taylor

Welcome to one the newest college faculty members: assistant professor Dr. Marc-Aurel Martial! Born to some of the first church members in Haiti, married to his college sweetheart, and father of three children whose ages range from 21 to 2, Marc adds a light to the college that fellow faculty and students thoroughly enjoy. Even though he has had some trials in his life, he sees these as an opportunity to learn and rely wholly upon the Lord.

Marc came to the United States when he was around 17 years old. One of his heroes, the mission president of the Port-Au-Prince mission in Haiti from 1991 through 1996, was named Fitzner André Joseph. Joseph always treated Marc with respect, and inspired him to consider serving a mission. He followed Joseph’s advice and served in the Ivory Coast Abidjan mission.

After returning home, Joseph and his wife helped Marc with the application process to come to the United States and attend Rick’s College. Marc’s family came together to sponsor him and he started his journey. He eventually transferred to BYU and applied for the nursing program in 1998.

Marc met his future wife, Paka, when the two were at BYU. He knew marrying her was the right choice after he saw Paka and his mother interact. Even though they didn’t share a common language (Marc’s mother spoke Haitian Creole) they connected and became friends. They were later married in 2001 and continued with their education – Paka in statistics and Marc in nursing.

The road to having children was not an easy one for Marc and Paka, a road that included infertility and eventual adoption. Although the heartache was always present, they filled their pre-parenthood years with good deeds and experiences. They did humanitarian work, continued in their careers, and bought a house.

Throughout the years, different friends and family members would suggest adoption, but the Martials weren’t ready yet. They were holding out hope that they would be able to have children biologically. However, in 2009, they decided to submit their application for adoption. Only a month and a half later, the process quickened when they met with the birth mom of their future son. In September of that year, Dahiren was born and became a part of the Martial family.

Although suddenly becoming parents was slightly overwhelming, the Martials found support in their community, church, and family. Little did they know that their family was only beginning the process of growth.

The next year, they heard about the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit the island of Haiti. A friend of theirs from the church had passed away, and her 12-year-old son, named Levi, was being cared for by the bishop of the ward. His only living immediate relative was his older sister, who was currently attending BYU-Idaho.

Marc and Paka contacted the sister, wanting to know her desire for her brother. She wanted him to come to the United States to be closer to her, so the Martials started to try and find a way to make that happen.

After jumping through legal hoops for ten months, Levi finally came to the US under the Martials’ guardianship. Two years later, Levi asked to be sealed to the family eternally. Fast forward to today, and Marc describes Levi as “the leader of our children; he is a good example, caring and loving.” He is currently attending BYU.

However, the Martial family wasn’t complete yet. In the summer of 2016, Paka found out the wonderful news that she was expecting. Nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl they named Dahlia. Marc laughs, “She’s the center of the universe.” Dahlia, who is now two and a half, brings so much light and excitement to the family.

Marc and Paka were worried that Dahlia might forget about Levi when he left on his two-year mission, but since the change where families can FaceTime with their missionaries every week, their relationship blossomed. They’ve definitely seen the prophet’s promise when he said this change would strengthen family bonds.

Marc loves to play racquetball and soccer, and enjoys more time to do so after finishing his PhD. He keeps an avid journal and recommends the practice to everyone.

 

Airplanes and Game-Shows. Welcome to BYU, Denise Cummins!

DeniseBy Corbin Smith

Listen up all you travel-junkies and game show fanatics! New faculty member Denise Cummins (AS ’86) is someone you have to meet!

For the inner adventurer in you, you can go ask Cummins about the more than 10 countries that she has visited in her lifetime! She has gone places like England (where she was born), Belgium, Morocco, the Mediterranean and more! Wherever she goes she loves to kayak and visit historical sites! Go ask her about the tons of experiences she has had all over the world!

For you lovers of games such as Jeopardy and The Price is Right, along with dreamers to one day compete on a program like that, Cummins can be your guide! Years ago, while living in Los Angeles as a newlywed, she competed on three game shows! She played Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime, Secret Password and The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour and racked up some sweet prizes! For those who want to follow in her footsteps, she is the one to talk too!

Cummins life, however, is more than traveling to exotic places and playing game shows. “It is amazing to make a difference in someone’s life. You truly can make a big impact through being a loving and caring nurse,” she says. Cummins loves being able to serve people and make their lives happier each day!

This semester Cummins is teaching Nursing 320, 351 and 352. She is so excited to work with BYU students and faculty this year!

 

To learn more about Cummins, read her official bio below!

 

When it comes to gaining an education, Denise Cummins (AS ’83) is not hesitant about traveling afar. She came from England after joining the Church to attend BYU, where she earned her first nursing degree. She has lived in California since graduating but has earned additional degrees and credentials from BYU–Idaho, Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky, the University of Sheffield in England and, most recently, from the University of Utah, where she completed a doctoral program in nursing.

The traveling continues! Within weeks of starting her BYU position, she and another nursing professor took a group of nursing students to India, working with a Hindu organization and caring for families affected by leprosy as part of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course.

Cummins’s professional experience is just as unique. After becoming a registered nurse, she cared for women and babies in a variety of settings, including small community hospitals, a large university teaching hospital, a midwife clinic, and even a mobile health van. Later, after becoming a nurse practitioner, she supervised a hospital-based maternal-fetal medicine clinic, serving women with high-risk pregnancies, and coordinated its perinatal research program. Most recently, Cummins was the director of quality and regulatory compliance for a rural hospital district, while concurrently teaching an online nursing research class for BYU–Idaho.

She considers her undergraduate education at BYU to be one of the great privileges of her life. It prepared her not only for a career in nursing but to live a life and raise a family centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a new faculty member, she is excited and honored to help students prepare for these experiences in their own lives. After entering BYU to learn, then going forth to serve, she is pleased to return to teach. Cummins currently instructs the nursing care of women and newborns course and clinical labs, and scholarly inquiry in nursing.

When she is not in the hospital or teaching, you will find her traveling between California and Utah, where much of her family still resides.

Welcoming New Faculty Member Brandon Thatcher

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Realizing that teaching seminary may not pay the bills but wanting to use spirituality and helping others to make a difference in a career, assistant teaching professor Brandon Thatcher earned a bachelor of art in Spanish from Utah State University as a prerequisite for a fast track nursing program. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in 2009 and a master’s degree in 2013—both in nursing from the University of Utah.

Before becoming a board-certified psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), he worked for five years as the charge nurse for both the child and adolescent inpatient units at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute in Salt Lake City. As a PMHNP, he worked in various settings including a psychiatric crisis center, several substance use disorder treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and at the BYU Student Health Center on an outpatient basis.

Thatcher has also been an adjunct clinical instructor for the BYU College of Nursing since 2014. He recently teamed up with professor emerita Dr. Barbara Heise for a publication on child suicide screening methods.

He currently teaches the stress management course, preview to nursing course, and the psych/mental health nursing class and clinical. During the 2019 spring term, he accompanied another professor and ten nursing students in Ghana, Africa, as part of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course.

Employment at the university lets him include a spiritual side to healthcare when teaching students. He values the religious aspects that can be added to mental health discussion and healing. As a practitioner with the student health center, he saw the Lord’s hand in many things. “When a student required a few or many additional minutes for a session, the subsequent time slots would always cancel, allowing the time we needed. This happened in every instance I needed more time with my patients for three and a half years,” he shares.

He and his wife, Danina, have three children. He enjoys family time most of all, playing guitar, wrestling kids (his own), watercolor painting, and spending time outdoors.