Category Archives: College of Nursing Faculty

All Hands on Deck: BYU Nursing Students Onboard the USNS Mercy

By Calvin Petersen

As BYU nursing students and faculty boarded the thousand-bed floating hospital moored in San Diego Bay, they realized their experience on the USNS Mercy was going to be more than just salutes and strict rules. Over the next two days, they had the unique opportunity to see firsthand how the military cares for its veterans.

A Rare Invitation

The San Diego trip resulted from a phone call Dr. Kent Blad received one sweltering morning last summer. Blad is a teaching professor and director of the veteran global health program at the BYU College of Nursing. When he answered the phone, Blad was surprised to hear the man on the other end introduce himself as lieutenant commander of the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship commissioned to serve the Pacific fleet. In addition to supporting military personnel with medical and surgical services, the Mercy undertakes humanitarian relief missions.

The Mercy’s lieutenant commander had read about BYU’s veteran global health course, co-taught by Blad and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. He asked, “What can you tell me about what I just read?” “Funny you ask,” Blad replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call.”

By the end of the conversation, the lieutenant commander invited Blad, Hunsaker and their nursing students to San Diego to tour the Mercy and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Naval Medical Center San Diego is one of three major U.S. polytrauma centers that serve wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was the first time we’ve received an invitation,” explains Blad, “Usually we go out there and beg, ‘Can we please come do this?’ And he asked, ‘Can you please come here?’”

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When the USNS Mercy is en route, nurses do simulations, much like at BYU’s NLC, to keep their skills sharp.

First-class Veteran Care

Although veteran global health students travel to Washington D.C. each spring to tour military medical facilities, Blad and Hunsaker felt the additional trip to San Diego would further enrich the students’ military cultural understanding. What the two professors didn’t know was how beneficial the experience would be for them as well.

“I’ve cared for veterans, but until being with them an entire day and spending that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the military in their lives,” says Hunsaker, “It’s a part of them, it’s not just a little job. They’re part of a military family, they have a set of beliefs and they love their country. And they really are willing to do whatever needs to be done to serve it. I don’t think I ever knew, to that extent, and hadn’t felt as grateful as I should to them.”

Jeana Escobar, one of the global health nursing students on the trip, learned that veteran care starts with the basics. “Every Navy sailor we met said the same two things: first, that every veteran has a story and you should take time to listen to it and, second, veterans don’t want your sympathy. Veterans want you to listen to them and tell them what they need to do to progress in the healing process.”

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BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar practices CPR on one of the USNS Mercy’s simulation lab manikins.

Students repeatedly saw nurses’ compassionate care for veterans as they toured Naval Medical Center San Diego’s facilities. A therapist working in the wounded warrior unit even confessed that, after starting work with “these brave men and women,” he would find himself crying randomly because of so much pent-up emotion.

The hospital’s courtyard, which was retrofitted with different terrains and a rock climbing wall for amputees to practice using new prosthetic limbs, impressed several students. “I was especially touched by what the physical therapist shared with us about the rock wall,” says nursing student JeriAnn Pack. “He described how, when someone is discouraged and thinks they will never progress, they can look up and see someone with an injury as bad or worse than their own climbing the wall. I can only imagine how inspiring that would be.”

“The students learned very quickly to appreciate these men and women and the part that nursing plays in helping these veterans recover,” Blad says of the nurses on the Mercy and in the naval hospital. “It truly is the Healer’s art in action. The love they have for their country and their patients is inspiring. We could all be more like that with any of our patients.”

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An Unforgettable Experience

The Navy specifically planned the two-day trip in February to meet College of Nursing veteran global health objectives. In addition to touring the Mercy’s simulation center and hospital facilities for a day, students spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, as well as at Navy facilities on the base. “They really took their time and effort and energy, not only to make us feel welcome, but to help us in educating our students,” says Hunsaker.

To several students, the highlight of the trip was a panel where Navy officers and nurses shared their perspectives and personal stories of how they came to join the military. “It was really cool to see how different everyone was, and that they had all been brought to this common cause,” says nursing student Lauren Bretzing.

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“They don’t have amazing living quarters,” says Heather Wilkinson. Seven nursing students show how cramped living quarters on the USNS Mercy are.

For students like Heather Wilkinson, who had previously interacted with elderly veterans, seeing young men and women recovering from current conflicts changed her perception of what a typical veteran looks like. Other students were impressed with the camaraderie and respect of military culture. Undoubtedly each student thought, as Breeze Hollingsworth did, “Maybe military service will be in my future and maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I want to better serve all veterans and active service men and women I come across.”

Because the San Diego trip was such an all-around success, the Navy has already invited Blad and Hunsaker’s class to come again next year. “We feel very strongly that our nurses need to learn how to care for veterans,” says Blad. “It doesn’t matter where they go or what hospital they serve in, as long as they’re within the United States, they’re going to be caring for veteran patients.”

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The Glory of Nursing

By Jonathan Schroeder

When people ask me what I do for work, I tell them that my job is to make nursing students look good. What I don’t tell them is that sometimes I wonder why they pay me to do it (or anyone else for that matter).

During my six months working for the college of nursing media team, I’ve met some extraordinary people. I’ve met a senior who somehow found time to study for anatomy midterms while prepping for a rugby national championship. I’ve chatted with an alumni mom who’s also a body-builder who can dead-lift twice my body weight and I’ve marveled at students who have graced the dancefloors with the likes of BYU Vocal Point and Studio C.

But probably the most baffling thing about all of this is that as awesome as these students are, not very many of them are willing to talk about it. Because in addition to being super smart, super involved, and super kind, most nursing students are also super humble and super modest. In other words, they don’t like to talk about themselves. This was easily the hardest and sometimes the most frustrating part of my job. Some days I’d feel like a detective, sleuthing for clues to new blog stories I could put up. Others days I felt like a police interrogator, trying to get nursing students to fess up to cool experiences they had. “But it’s nothing that special,” I’d hear time and time again.

(If you’re ever curious as to how I found out about the above-mentioned stories, let’s just say it’s amazing what you can find out from a five-minute conversation with the folks in the advisement center.)

Now I realize that not everyone likes broadcasting their story to the world and nobody likes being that one person who only talks about themselves. But I feel like there’s a way to be modest and still celebrate yourself.

Now before I get into this, I need to disclose something. I hate talking and writing about myself. I hate being interviewed and I’m my own worst critic. Fortunately, as a Communications major, I spend a lot more time writing other people’s stories instead my own, otherwise I’d be unemployed. So for those of you who don’t like “tooting your own horn,” please know that I’m more sympathetic to your cause than this article might make it sound. That being said, I wanted to share something with you that has changed my perspective about my own self-worth and accomplishments.

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In 1942, CS Lewis gave a famous sermon entitled “The Weight of Glory.” You might have heard it quoted in conference talks or BYU devotionals a few times. In the sermon, Lewis talks about how “glory,” specifically “desiring our own good and earnestly hoping for the enjoyment of it,” isn’t a bad thing.

A lot of times when we think about the word “glory”, we see it in a negative context of self-aggrandizement, of focusing only on ourselves and our own achievements. But in the closing remarks of his sermon, Lewis says that glory is not only a positive trait, but a divine one.

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“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…All day long we are helping each other to this destination. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them that we should conduct all our dealings with one another…There are no ordinary people.”

Now it’s easy to take this quote and think about others; but how often do we apply this quote to ourselves? How often do we consider ourselves as a possible god or goddess? How often do we remember that, no matter how unimportant we feel our own contributions or actions may be, that “there are no ordinary people”? Furthermore, how often do we stop to consider how our own stories and experiences might inspire the potential gods and goddesses around us?

“Perfect humility, dispenses with modesty,” Lewis says. “If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself.” Obviously there’s a point where recognizing our own accomplishments can turn humility into pride; but I would suggest (at least in the case of most Nursing/BYU students that I’ve met) that most of us tend to sell ourselves short more often than not.

Matthew 5: 14-16 says that, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Senior woman is visited by her doctor or caregiver

Through my time working at the College of Nursing, I have become convinced that BYU Nursing students are among the brightest lights on this campus –not only to their fellow students at this University, but also to the world. Their stories have the potential to change lives and inspire others to come unto Christ, as they embody “The Healer’s Art.” My hope and prayer is that they will not only embrace this destiny, but that they will not be afraid to take a few moments to “glory” in the wonderful people that they are and the glorious beings they will become.

Debbie Edmunds: Nurturing Through Nursing

By Jonathan Schroeder

Debbie Edmunds, then a mission nurse, was just getting ready for bed when the call came. It must have been the third or fourth call she received that night, yet she still reached for the phone with the same loving eagerness she always did.

When she answered, Edmunds could hear a young sister missionary holding back tears on the other end of the line. The stress and strains of the mission had taken their toll on the young 19-year-old, who was struggling to adjust to her new life as a missionary in Fiji. As the conversation unfolded, Edmunds listened quietly and offered words of support and encouragement. She could tell that what this young missionary really needed at that moment was someone to help her feel loved.

Missionaries that served in Fiji and BYU nursing students alike will tell you that such love and care are not uncommon with Debbie Edmunds. Her compassionate personality and instruction during her time at the College of Nursing have helped hundreds of students along the pathway to nursing. Now after eight years of teaching, Edmunds will retire to serve another mission and spend more time with her 18 grandchildren.

A Mother’s Touch: from Stay-at-Home Mom to Hospital Nurse

Many students may be surprised to learn that Edmunds didn’t actually plan on becoming a nurse until almost 20 years after she graduated high school. Growing up, her dream was to become a teacher. Those dreams got put on hold after she met Gary Edmunds in a high school production of the musical “The Fantastics”. The sweethearts were married shortly after their high school graduation in 1974.

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Edmunds spent the next two decades raising the couple’s seven children, while her husband worked in the construction industry. Her experiences with raising children sparked an interest in nursing, especially after she delivered a baby who was stillborn.

“I really wanted to help other women who were in that same situation,” Edmunds recalls. “I knew just how important it was, as a nurse, to be sensitive to their needs.”

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In 1994, Edmunds returned to school and began working on her associate degree in registered nursing at Salt Lake Community College. At the time, her children ranged in ages from four to twenty-years-old. Occasionally, she had to ask advice from her oldest daughter, who was also working on her college degree. Edmunds would later go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a master’s degree in nursing education from the University of Utah.

After earning her associate degree, Edmunds worked in a labor and delivery unit at Alta View Hospital. It was during her time there that Edmunds enjoyed some of her most cherished experiences, as a nurse.

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“My most memorable moments as a nurse are when I was involved in the sacred processes of childbirth,” Edmunds says. “Whether everything went perfectly or whether there was a complication, I was generally one-on-one with the patient. It’s an experience and a reward that’s hard to explain, but the thank you notes that I received from those patients afterwards were always so heartfelt. They were always so grateful that I was there, listening to them and providing the support they desperately needed.”

The Road to BYU Nursing

After two years at Alta View, Edmunds began working in an OB/GYN clinic at South Valley Women’s Health Care, as well as a childbirth educator at Intermountain Health Care. During this time her passion for teaching began to resurface. For two years, she served as a clinical instructor at Utah Valley University and the University of Utah. Then in 2007, she was approached with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; organizing a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program for the Mountainland Applied Technology College.

“Organizing the LPN program was a big task, because I had to start everything from scratch,” Edmunds explains. “The college had not had an LPN program, so I had to develop a curriculum, get the program accredited, hire the faculty and develop the criteria for accepting students (among other things).”

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After founding the LPN program, Edmunds went on to serve as its director for four straight years. During that time, she met associate professor Dr. Mary Williams, who approached her about teaching at BYU.

“It really was not on my radar to teach at BYU,” Edmunds admits. “It was one of those situations where the Lord had bigger dreams for me than I had for myself.”

Edmunds began teaching as a clinical instructor for BYU in 2010, and became a full-time faculty member in 2012.

Paving New Pathways

During her time at BYU, Edmunds has left an indelible impression on not only the BYU College of Nursing, but also on her students.

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“One of my favorite things about teaching is getting to teach the Nursing 180 [Preview to Nursing] class,” Edmunds says. “I love being there for those new students and getting to know them on a one-on-one basis, as I help them discover whether nursing is the right path for them.”

In July 2016, Edmunds took a twelve-month leave of absence to serve a mission with her husband in Suva, Fiji. While there, Edmunds served as the mission nurse specialist providing support and medical advice for 135 missionaries. She also became intimately familiar with the Fijian healthcare system, making dozens of connections with nurses and hospital directors. These connections provided the basic framework for BYU’s global health practicum in Fiji. This summer, Edmunds will return to her mission –this time with the first group of BYU Nursing students to perform clinicals in that country.

But Edmunds says she isn’t ready to stop there. She and her husband are already waiting on their second mission call, this time, (hopefully) to a mission in the Caribbean.

“It’s been such a blessing to me to know that I’ve been an instrument it the Lord’s hands to help people fulfill their dreams,” Edmunds says of her BYU experience. “Being here at BYU has been wonderful. It’s a wonderful environment with wonderful faculty and wonderful students. It’s something that I will dearly miss.”

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When asked what advice she had for future nursing students and faculty members, Edmunds said, “I would suggest living your values. Whatever it is that brings you that joy and meaning, make sure you’re living your life in a way that you can do that. Follow your dreams and do what makes you happy.”

BYU Grad Study Uncovers the Truth Behind E-Cigarette Labels

By Jonathan Schroeder

A recent BYU study suggests that e-cigarette users may be getting more than they paid for – twenty times as much. The study, conducted last year by BYU Nursing graduate student Barrett Raymond and associate professor Dr. Katreena Merrill, found the nicotine content of some US produced e-cigarette solutions to be significantly higher than advertised. The study was among the first of its kind to focus on prominent U.S. e-cigarette manufacturers.

“Whenever you’re doing a study, you want it to have a big impact,” Raymond said of his thesis project. “I felt like focusing this study on prominent e-cigarette manufacturers was the best way to do that.”

Raymond’s interest in the e-cigarette industry partly stems from his brother, Daniel. Daniel was a veteran of the Iraq War who returned to the States with an addiction to tobacco cigarettes. Eventually, Daniel was introduced to e-cigarettes and within two months was tobacco free. Before long, Daniel quit his job as a deputy sheriff and started a successful e-cigarette shop in Idaho Falls.

“I remember visiting my brother’s shop and watching as they made the e-cigarette solutions,” Raymond descibes. “They would use measuring cups and kitchen utensils to mix the chemicals together – poly-ethylene glycome, vegetable glycerine, a flavoring component, and a nicotine component. The nicotine would originally come in super high concentrations (1000 mg/mL) and they’d mix all the chemicals together in a five-gallon bucket; following these little recipes that were hand-written down.”

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E-Cigarette Solutions at Daniel’s Store

“It just blew my mind that this was what they were selling to consumers. The math on the recipe made sense, but they had no idea if there was any residual nicotine left on the container or utensils they were using or if there were any other factors that could impact the final product.”

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E-cigarette Solutions of 0, 3 and 18 mg/mL Concentrations

Raymond decided to conduct a study to see if the nicotine levels of e-cigarette solutions being sold actually matched what was listed on the labels. However, rather than focus on just a local cigarette shop in Idaho, Raymond focused his study on major U.S. e-cigarette manufacturers.

“I didn’t want to conduct a study that only applied to Utah or Idaho,” Raymond explains. “I wanted it to apply to the U.S., as a whole. The only way to really do that was to go online and look at major manufacturers.”

Raymond and Merrill identified the seven most popular US-based e-cigarette manufacturers using a Google search. They then purchased samples of the five most popular flavors from each manufacturer in nicotine concentrations of 0 and 18 mg/mL and tested them with the help of the BYU Chemistry and Nutrition departments to see if the nicotine content matched what was on the label. The results were pretty shocking.

“Of the thirty-five 18 mg/mL samples we tested, we found that most of them varied from 35 percent below the stated nicotine amount to 53 percent higher than the stated amount,” Raymond states. “To give you an idea, one of the manufacturers told us that the acceptable range of tolerance for nicotine levels is plus-or-minus 10 percent. Most of our findings fell outside of this range.”

However, the real surprise came in the results for the ‘nicotine-free’ samples. Of the thirty-five 0 mg/mL samples, almost all of them (91 percent) contained at least a trace amount of nicotine or more. Four samples of these samples contained more than 20 mg/mL of nicotine.

“What these results show is that adolescents who use e-cigarettes that are labeled ‘nicotine free’ could be constantly exposing themselves to small amounts of this addictive substance, without even realizing it,” Raymond adds. “What’s more is that their parents may unwillingly approve of their child’s e-cigarette use because they assume there’s no nicotine, when in reality that’s not always the case.”

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A donut-flavored “nicotine-free” vaping solution purchased from a major e-Cigarette manufacturer.

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This last finding could place Raymond’s study at the center of an ongoing national debate. A recent study by the National Institute of Health revealed that more than a third of high school seniors in the US had used an e-cigarette in 2017 – and that’s just among upperclassmen. In 2016, the US Surgeon General reported that the use of e-cigarettes among high school students had increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015. In light of this crisis, many officials in Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have started to push for greater oversight of the $4 billion e-cigarette industry.

Raymond says he hopes this study will prompt e-cigarette companies to step forward and make improvements, on their own—a call to action that some manufacturers have already answered. Not long after the study was published, one of the manufacturers reached out to Raymond, asking him to share the product code of the study samples so they could identify the problem.

“I appreciated that,” Raymond remarks. “This is the kind of impact you hope to have when you do a study like this.”

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Barrett Raymond presenting his findings at a Tobacco Nicotine Research Symposium in Florence, Italy

Raymond also had the opportunity to present his findings at a Tobacco Nicotine Research Symposium in Florence, Italy. There he had the chance to interact with other e-cigarette researchers from around the world.

“It was an awesome opportunity to meet with these experts and share ideas with them,” Raymond says. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Merrill and the BYU College of Nursing for making this experience possible.”

Raymond and Merrill’s study, “The Nicotine Content of a Sample of E-cigarette Liquid Manufactured in the United States” was recently published in the March/April 2018 edition of The Journal of Addiction Medicine

 

Taking Wing to New Heights

By Calvin Petersen

From extreme sports to nursing and humanitarian work, Debra Wing isn’t afraid of trying new things. Now after teaching at BYU’s College of Nursing for 11 years, Wing will again embrace something new: retirement. And considering her life so far, Wing’s retirement will be far from dull.

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Debra Wing (left) and her husband Kelly (second from right) with their three children. Wing says her children and three grandchildren are “the joys of my life.”

Nursing Runs in the Family

Growing up, Wing watched her two older sisters attend nursing school and work at hospitals. As they shared inspiring experiences, Wing thought she would love nursing too.

“I started my freshman year at BYU taking all the nursing prereqs and working in a hospital,” she remembers, “and I kept thinking, ‘I hate this.’”

Wing decided to study business instead at a neighboring college. But before she left BYU, she married Kelly Wing, a military man who had just returned from serving an LDS mission. “We met in a BYU family home evening,” she recalls with a chuckle. After graduating with a business degree, Wing spent the next 10 years as a businesswoman.

“Yet, I always felt something was missing,” she says, “so, with very small children, I went back to nursing school and finished my bachelor’s.”

This was made possible by an opportunity with the military. It needed nurses and was willing to help pay for Wing’s college; Wing needed a job and financial aid. With the added incentive that her husband was already in the Air Force, she joined. “I found out I loved the military,” Wing says, “so I just stayed in.”

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Wing with her sister and nursing professor, Deanna Williams, on graduation day.

Nursing on the Front Lines

One of the things Wing enjoyed most about her military nursing career was doing clinical oversight for EMEDS training. In this role, she instructed hundreds of National Guard and Army Reserve medical personnel on how to provide support in war zones. She also worked with Homeland Security to train national disaster relief organizations on how to respond to every kind of disaster—from hurricanes to hostage situations.

“Something I really loved about my career is that nursing continually reinvents itself,” Wing says, “what we thought we knew about nursing yesterday isn’t what we’re going to know about nursing tomorrow.”

Wing herself was “reinvented” dozens of times during her career as she took on new nursing roles. Perhaps her favorite “reinvention” was becoming a mission nurse for the LDS Korea Seoul Mission in 2015. According to Wing, her mission wasn’t the quietest in the world.

“We were right up by the DMZ, 17 miles from the northern border,” she says, “there were missile exchanges and gunfire right in our backyard.”

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Wing’s husband swearing her in as a United States Air Force officer.

In it for the Thrill

Outside of her nursing career, Wing is an extreme sports enthusiast. “I love anything that’s a little bit dangerous,” she says.

Before she met her husband, Wing’s boyfriend in high school and college was a racecar driver. “Our dates consisted of racing,” she remembers, smiling mischievously. Now one of her favorite things to do is drive cars at 150+ mph. However, since the Autobahn hasn’t come to Utah, she makes do with crawling over Southern Utah rocks in her Subaru Outback.

On top of racing cars, Wing is an extreme skier. In fact, she used to race the downhill and super-G professionally. With her approaching retirement, Wing plans to finally take up the extreme sport she’s always wanted to: skydiving.

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Wing (second from left) and colleague Gaye Ray (second from right) hold up a sign for the anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, established in 1952. The two professors traveled with students, including Erin Marshall (left) and Mike McNeil (right), to Pamplona, Spain, for the International Family Nursing Conference in 2017.

Onward and Upward

Wing’s other plans for retirement include working with several organizations to teach medical education in developing countries. “I’ll be leaving the University, but I’m not leaving nursing,” she says.

Wing has worked with Healing Hands for Haiti and IVUMED in past humanitarian efforts and intends to resume those efforts. “I’m excited to be able to go back and do that,” she says. Furthermore, Wing will continue to volunteer regularly at Provo Food and Care Coalition. She and her husband also want to serve another LDS mission.

Reflecting on her experience as a nurse, she says, “What made my nursing career worthwhile was the opportunity I had to serve people every day. I love that experience of giving of myself. There’s a reward that comes from caring that’s far greater than monetary rewards.”

If she could give her younger self any piece of advice, Wing says it would be to enjoy the journey more. “Don’t spend so much time worrying about what has to get done,” she advised, “I think we can become too serious about the task and forget how joyful the journey can be.”

Wing is proud of her accomplishments at the College of Nursing. In addition to working tirelessly to make the NLC expansion a possibility, Wing has mentored numerous students. “I’m very grateful for the students and I’m very grateful for my colleagues,” Wing says, “Working in the College of Nursing has been a beautiful experience because of them.”

Seize Your Moment! — Taking the Initiative for Mentored Learning

By Jonathan Schroeder

Fourth-semester BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar has never been afraid to take initiative. At the age of 16, Escobar performed her first surgical operation after her dog developed a tumor on the scruff of his neck. Before her parents could stop her, Escobar went to her dad’s tool bench, found some sharp tools, and took the tumor out herself (much to her parent’s dismay and the vet’s amazement). Now years later, Escobar’s initiative has led her to a new project – a unique mentored learning opportunity developing a post-fall assessment tool for nursing homes.

It all started during a class lecture in Escobar’s second-semester gerontology course. Assistant teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters paused to mention that he was interested in writing a paper on post-fall assessments.

“Whenever a patient falls in a medical setting, you need to do a thorough assessment to make sure they’re OK before you put them back into bed,” Escobar says. “But oftentimes in a long-term care facility, the person who finds the patient doesn’t have the proper training to conduct those assessments.”

Winters explained that in older adults, injuries often take longer to manifest than in younger patients. “He talked about how if you or I fall and bump our elbow, we’ll have a bruise almost immediately,” Escobar says. “But in older adults, bruises can take a day or more to manifest.”

It was little more than a brief tangent to the lecture. Most students probably didn’t even take notice of it. Escobar, on the other hand, was already getting excited about the possibilities.

“In high school, my teacher always talked about the importance of getting involved in your discipline during college. It really is the best time because you have time and you have plenty of opportunities to interact with professors. Really, the only thing holding you back is yourself. So when I heard Blaine mention this paper, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Within a few weeks, Escobar was hired on as research assistant and began meeting with Winters and assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin. Together, the three of them sifted through dozens of studies and academic articles for information on post-fall assessments. Much to their surprise, they were only able to find four articles written on the subject over the past two decades. The team then came to a decision that none of them had originally anticipated. Instead of writing a paper, they would develop a standardized post-fall assessment tool.

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Image Source: Pexels, 2018.

The post-fall assessment tool is a procedure that long-term care facility staff can follow to ensure that patients receive the care they need. It’s based off of advanced trauma life-support (ATLS) procedures, as well as other important post-trauma assessments. The idea is that long-term care facility staff will be able to follow this procedure to provide better care for their patients.

And while some college research opportunities may seem like busy work, Escobar says she’s enjoyed being fully involved in this project.

“Blaine and Tracy are so supportive,” Escobar explains. “They make me feel like I’m an equal member of the team. I don’t feel like it’s their project and I’m just a footnote somewhere, helping him file papers. I’m really equally involved with them and that they value my input.”

Now that the tool has been developed, Escobar, Winters, and Dustin are working with the College of Nursing Media Team to create several training videos that will explain the tool to long-term care facility personnel. The hope is that, together with the tool, these videos will help staff provide better care for their patients.

“It’s been so exciting to see this tool come together,” Escobar says. “When Blaine mentioned he wanted to write a paper in class, it was almost like a passing thought. Now we’ve created this tool and we’re getting ready to create the training videos so we can test it out. I’ve loved seeing just how if you have an idea and you just put your best effort into it, it can really come alive.”

When asked what this project meant to her BYU experience, Escobar expressed how grateful she was for the chance to be involved and contribute to the nursing discipline. She also found that this project helped her rediscover her passion for gerontology.

“I always knew I liked gerontology; I think older adults are amazing. But participating in this project helped me see that not only do I like them, but I have a passion for their well-being and improving the quality of care that they receive.”

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Image Source: Pexels, 2018.

Even though she still has a year left in the nursing program, Escobar has already started looking at graduate programs that specialize in adult critical care and gerontology.

“When opportunities are presented to you, you just need to go for it,” Escobar advises other students seeking mentored learning opportunities. “If there’s something you’re interested in, even if you’re just curious about it, you should go talk to the professor and see what you can get involved in. If they don’t have any projects, tell them something you’re interested in and more than likely they’d be happy to work with you. But you’ll never know until you ask.”

The post-fall assessment training videos are scheduled to be introduced at several long-term care facilities in the Utah Valley sometime this summer. Escobar, Winters, and Dustin plan to present their findings on the effect of the training video at the Utah Nurses Association Conference in September 2018.

Mentored Learning 101

When BYU student Kielee Wiser (BS’ 17) entered the College of Nursing, she set important goals that would lead to her playing a pivotal role in a major research study that not only advanced scientific understanding, but also prepared her for her career as a nurse.

“When I started in the nursing program, I had a couple of goals for myself, one of them being to become involved in some form of research,” she says. As part of achieving this aim, she took a research class taught by assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson. When the semester ended, she joined Peterson’s research team.

Peterson’s research project centered on testing the accuracy of fitness trackers like the Apple Watch and Fitbit. As part of the team, Wiser found herself taking on responsibilities that helped her expand her research skill-set.

“My role in this project was to collect the data,” she says. “I promoted the study on campus, met with participants, ensured they understood the study and their role, and later processed the data on a statistical software.  This process took a little less than a year and was something I was continually working on with Neil.”

Each student on the research team had a specific device they were in charge of testing. In addition to being responsible for the Apple Watch, Wiser was also responsible for large portions of the project as a whole.

“She really was the project manager,” Peterson explains. ““Anything that she felt like she could do I just let her take on that responsibility. She met with the participants, entered data, and met with other research assistants to help make sure that they had everything that they needed. Some of my research assistants either graduated or went on study abroad during the spring term, so she picked up for them. She really did a lot of work and made it happen.”

Peterson’s research team is a classic example of mentored learning. Peterson set the overall goals of the project and gave important advice while the students, including Wiser, carried out the project.

The students felt like Peterson was constantly available and willing to help.

“Dr. Peterson was very helpful when I, or any of my fellow research assistants, had any questions,” Wiser says. “He provided specific instructions that were easy to follow.  He placed a lot of trust in me, which made me feel like I was an integral role in this study.”

Overall, the study found that the devices were generally accurate, however, there were differences between which aspects of the devices was most valued by each gender. Men tended to like the technological features, while women wanted to make sure the device looked good.

Aside from impressive project results, one of the most important conclusions reached through the research was that the students were capable of achieving great things with a little help.

“I learned more about the process of research and also became more passionate about promoting exercise,” Wiser says, “It was helpful to understand all aspects of the research process, as well as what I could potentially do in my future career.”