Category Archives: College of Nursing Faculty

Establishing “Learning the Healer’s Art:” Dr. Mary William’s Retirement

Mary Williams

After 41 years of heartfelt service to the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University, associate professor Dr. Mary Williams (BS ’71) retired July 1, 2019.

As a student in 1967, caring faculty taught Williams the power of her potential, the love of nursing, and how to care for patients in the Savior’s way. After she failed bedmaking, faculty member Chloe D. Tillery (BS ’58) gave her private lessons (Williams can still make the tightest bed and the best square corner). She graduated in 1971 and went to work for LDS Hospital in the plastic/burn unit as a staff nurse, assistant head nurse, and head nurse.

In 1978, she accepted a teaching position at the College of Nursing and began teaching introductory and advanced medical/surgery and ICU courses. Realizing the national trend was for faculty to have advanced degrees, Williams returned to school and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Utah and a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Arizona.

Williams became the associate dean for the graduate program in 1990 and served in that capacity with five different college deans for 27 years (until June 2017). She was the chair of the college’s 40th, 50th, and 60th-anniversary celebrations and was instrumental in establishing “learning the Healer’s art” as the mantra for the program, which was the theme of the 40-year gala. On the university level, among many roles, she was part of the graduate council, the student ratings evaluation taskforce, and the BYU Women’s Conference committee.

Professional and community service have enriched her life as she served as the chair of the Utah Board of Nursing, on the trustee council of the Utah Hospital Association, and, for the past 20 years, as chair of the Mountain View Hospital.

In 2009, Williams was honored with the university’s Wesley P. Lloyd Award for Distinction in Graduate Education. Her influence in student research has kept the students and their theses strong. She has chaired over 44 master’s projects or theses, served as a committee member for an additional 42, and coauthored or written more than 30 publications focusing on timely issues and trends in the nursing industry.

What’s next? Williams, who raised four of her deceased sister’s six children, plans to spend more time with them and her 17 grandchildren. She will find time for church service and take time to travel or visit new places. Mostly she will frequently ponder how blessed she is to have such good friends associated with her time at the university.

Mary Williams Spotlight Video

Watch a faculty spotlight video of Mary Williams.

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Professors Were Nurses First: CON Professors Help Woman in Distress

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Faculty and students were excited to visit the National Institute of Health. Photo courtesy of Hunsaker.

By Quincey Taylor

To some students, their professors are simply that, just professors. What they do not realize is that their professors are people, but more than that they are also nurses with years of experience caring for patients. Rarely do students get to observe their professors in a clinical setting.

This changed, however, for the veteran section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course this summer. When an emergency happened, students observed assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker and teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad jump into action.

In May 2019, 18 students and three faculty members were in Alexandria, Virginia on a study abroad. It was Sunday, and the group was attending the local church building. This ward was used to having visitors, welcoming them with open arms.

As they were getting ready to leave, one of the students rushed to Hunsaker and told her that somebody had fallen. Since Hunsaker’s background is in emergency care, she was the perfect person to help. She was accustomed to either significant injuries or minor injuries.

When Hunsaker, Blad, and the students arrived, they saw that a lady, stepping down the ledge while exiting the church, had fallen and twisted her ankle. She was laying on the steps and there was no way for people to enter or exit the church without stepping over her. There was already a small group of people surrounding her, helping her. They had put a pillow under her head and were trying to protect her from the falling rain.

The woman was extremely emotional and was hyperventilating. Her ankle didn’t look deformed, but she was complaining of severe pain. Hunsaker let everyone know that she was an emergency nurse. She asked someone to go get some ice from the kitchen. She could tell the woman was very anxious.

Hunsaker says, “I decided that the number one priority was to talk to her, get some information and get her distracted a little bit. I started talking to her, but she was still really anxious. So I just held her hand and asked her more questions and we talked a little bit about her.” The woman thought her ankle was broken.

This accident turned into a ministering opportunity for all involved. Hunsaker strives to be an example, “even to other nurses or people of how Christ would treat other people in their times of need. He would treat them in a loving, caring way to show them that they have value.”

Hunsaker continued to ask her questions about her life, her friends, her family. This woman, whose name was Margaret, took care of her husband and children. She was the only active church member in her family.

The students observed their professors in this situation. Margaret was given a blessing right there by a ward member, which was sweet to all who witnessed. Hunsaker hopes that, “just taking an extra minute to let her know that we really did care and wanted to help her and make her feel important and valued would help her relax a little bit.”

Margaret said about the experience in a letter to the dean:

What happened to me was a series of miracles and tender mercies. It was no coincidence that your nursing students and instructors just happened to attend that particular ward at that particular time. When I rolled my ankle and heard the crackle and pop, I went into immediate shock. It was no coincidence that the two instructors were former ER nurses. They came immediately to my aid, held my hand and calmed my breathing. They were on the Lord’s mission that morning. Their tender care is something I’ll always remember.

It ended up being a wonderful missionary opportunity as well. Margaret continues:

It goes much further than that. You see, I had a dear friend who lost her father a few days before and the next day lost her mate just before I came to D.C. She’s not a member of the church. When I told her my plight, she said she now has a purpose… helping me and my husband who has Parkinson’s. I’m sharing bits and pieces of the gospel with her now.  Even my husband who isn’t a member calls this a miracle.

She truly feels that, “The Lord is personally involved in our lives and your staff and students were a part of that.”

Hunsaker is glad for this chance to be an example to her students. She says, “There are a lot of opportunities to teach students, but they often don’t get to see us actually interact with patients. I really appreciated that opportunity, because it lets them know that we’re real. We are nurses, and hopefully that gives them a good example of what they hope to aspire to be in the future.”

It would do students well to follow their professors’ examples and minister in the way the Lord would. Hunsaker finishes, “I like to think of nursing as ministering. It really is an amazing opportunity we have in our chosen career to minister every day. I get paid to minister which is pretty cool, because you can put a little extra effort in rather than just following the steps of your job. I love that because I can show patients, even difficult patients, that I’m trying to understand them and I care for them. I really believe that those interactions can show Christ’s love.”

 

Daphne Thomas Elected as ENA President in Utah

Daphne Thomas

Thomas is one of six BYU College of Nursing faculty members serving in Utah’s ENA council in 2019.

By Corbin Smith

This January, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas was elected president of the Utah chapter of the ENA. She is joined by BYU College of Nursing assistant teaching professors Stacie Hunsaker, Ryan Rasmussen, Scott Summers, Dr. Craig Nuttall and associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston in various responsibilities in the chapter. Thomas has already served as president-elect for a year and will serve as chapter president until the end of 2019.

ENA stands for emergency nurses association. It is an international organization with the goal to assure that top quality practices take place in emergency rooms through education. This is done by providing classes and certifications to help continue a nurse’s education and maintain competency. They offer many classes, including trauma and pediatric courses, both taught by Thomas.

When asked why she has decided to take on such an intense commitment Thomas says, “I’ve been an emergency room nurse for about 20 years and I just love making it better.” She continues, “I understand the importance of being an active advocate for these nurses… not only so that they have a better job satisfaction but also that we have better patient outcomes.”

Thomas is also quick to recognize that she needs her whole team to have a successful tenure as ENA president. “There are a lot of different roles and people making sure everything is running smoothly and is organized. There is a lot going on and it takes a whole team to be effective.”

As president of the ENA, Thomas hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on emergency nursing. She shares, “Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives. That is what nursing is really all about. Its very service oriented and we want it to stay that way.”

BYU Nursing Boasts Seven Champions in Washington DC

ShotatLife4BYU’s Shot@Life champions meet with congressman Ben McAdams in Washington DC.

By Corbin Smith

We love to imagine what we would do if we were gifted a million dollars. If you had a million dollars, what would you do? Would you share it or keep it for yourself? How would you use that gift to make a difference?

Even though associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden don’t have a million dollars, they do have another powerful tool that has helped them make a difference in the world: their voices. Their own passions have led to them to unite their voices with a global health program called Shot@Life.

Shot@Life is part of the United Nations Foundation. Its purpose is to ensure that all kids, wherever they may be in the world, gets access to the vaccinations they need to have a healthy childhood. They work with organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Vaccine Alliance to help them in their goal for global health.

Luthy, Eden and five graduate students—Dan Smith, Virginia Jeffries, Emily Richards, Katie Bates and Deborah Gibbons—have all been named Shot@Life champions. Shot@Life champions are, according to their website, “individuals who are dedicating their voice, time, and support to stand up for children in developing countries.” They were selected as champions by the United Nations Foundation and were invited to attend the champions summit in Washington DC last February.

Shot@Life receives its funding in two major ways: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the US government. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates millions of dollars each year to the program in support of global health. The Shot@Life program’s goal each year is to convince congress to match the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s donation by renewing global health funding. This is where the Shot@Life champions come in.

The three days spent in Washington DC at the champions summit are to teach and persuade congressman from your state to vote in favor of continuing global health funding. For Eden, Luthy and their students, it was an exciting time to meet with politicians and prepare to teach them the benefits of global health.

For the BYU group, the first day was spent meeting in groups made up of champions from each state, finalizing research and learning how to give an effective and powerful sales pitch to a congressman. Day two is all about the presentations. Messages are refined and glossy handouts are passed out as the champions from each state present to their state’s congressman. After a successful day presenting, the final day in DC was for debriefing.

All those who attended the summit felt like they had done something positive for the world. “I really feel like I am making a difference,” says Luthy, “It feels so good to be a part of something that helps so many people worldwide.”

Due to the hard work of the champions, Shot@Life has been crucial in helping get vaccinations to the places people need them the most, slowly ridding the world of many terrible diseases. According to the WHO, in 2018 only 33 cases of Polio were found, compared to 350,000 in 1988.

Even with all their success, the end goal for the Shot@Life program is to eradicate all fatal and avoidable diseases from the world. “We live in a world where most of these diseases are completely preventable,” says Luthy, “and we have to do everything we can to stop the suffering.” Thanks to the dedication and passion of Luthy, Eden and Shot@Life champions all over the nation, that goal is in reach.

It is easy to get involved with the Shot@Life program! Visit shotatlife.org to find out how you can get involved and help every child around the world have their own shot at life.

 

BYU “Levels Up” in Exercise is Medicine Program

Neil Peterson

Dr. Neil Peterson is excited to continue working toward a healthier BYU community.

By Corbin Smith

Click the link to see what Dr. Peterson and his team did last year to achieve the bronze level campus recognition!

https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/byu-earns-bronze-level-campus-recognition-from-american-college-of-sports-medicine/

For some, it may be easy to believe that BYU’s only focus is the spiritual well-being of our community. Assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson is dedicated to showing that BYU is also very committed to the physical well-being of the campus.

In 2017, BYU was awarded a bronze level campus recognition from the American College of Sports Medicine after the success of the Pokéthon 3K run/walk event Dr. Peterson spearheaded in October 2016. This year, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Peterson and many others, BYU was recognized again, receiving a silver level campus recognition.

The Exercise is Medicine On-Campus program is unique in that they require a university to do different things to receive the various levels of recognition. For example, a bronze recognition requires a campus to have an event to raise awareness for physical health, like BYU did with the Pokéthon run/walk. To reach a silver level recognition, the university must implement a program to educate its community on the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. BYU was one of the 56 universities in the nation to receive the silver recognition in 2019.

To educate the community on physical health, BYU started with its students. In the undergraduate program, Associate teaching professor Gaye Ray instructs her students about the importance of physical activity as well as how to measure it in their patients during her physical assessment class. Dr. Peterson also teaches this on the graduate level. All is in an effort to prepare students to help future patients improve exercise and health habits.

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Dr. Peterson and his team had another successful event in October 2018: The Super Hero Fun Walk. Photo courtesy of Peterson.

The BYU Wellness Program has also done a lot to help BYU receive a silver level recognition this year. “BYU wellness has monthly wellness talks and activities. They provide resources to the community for people to participate and teach everyone how to be active in their lives,” says Dr. Peterson. Visit wellness.byu.edu to check out some of their resources and find info for later events!

In the future, Dr. Peterson has plans to work with the Student Heath Center on campus to work toward the gold level recognition, the level received when a system to measure physical activity is put into place.

It is not hard turn those bad habits into healthy ones. “We just have to do these little things to make our lives a little bit better,” says Peterson.

Below are five of those simple tips that Dr. Peterson recommends for healthier living!

 

5 Pro Tips to a Healthier Lifestyle at Work

  1. Take Short, Mental Breaks Each Hour.

To be able to maximize your ability to focus, you need to give your brain some time to rest. You work hard and you have people to help, but taking 3-5 minutes to relax and give yourself a short break will make a huge difference in your productivity.

  1. Take the Stairs!

To live a healthier lifestyle, it is important that you get your heart rate up occasionally. Taking the stairs is the perfect way to get your heart pumping and your body moving. You’ll feel better and be getting a little bit of exercise in!

  1. Get a Workout App

Need a constant reminder to get active? Downloading an app that suggests short workouts is the answer. Some apps even help you monitor your diet and set health goals. Dr. Peterson uses “Streaks Workouts” to keep not just himself but also his students to stay active during class!

  1. Go Outside Every Few Hours

Being inside all day can take a toll on your eyes. “When you go outside your eyes can focus on something in the distance, like the mountains. That allows for your eye muscles relax and go straight,” says Peterson. Get headaches frequently? This could be your solution!

  1. Do Some Work Standing Up

Not only can working standing up help reduce back pain, but you also burn an average of 1000 more calories a week by standing instead of sitting! Even if you can’t get a standing desk, standing up every once in a while will still make a positive impact on your health.

 

Dr. Katreena Merrill: Using Edmunds Fellowship to Combat Superbugs

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Untreatable bacteria are on the rise and the cause? Overusing antibiotics. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By Quincey Taylor

Every year, a member of the BYU College of Nursing faculty is awarded the Mary Ellen Edmunds “Learning the Healer’s art” Fellowship. The awardee receives funding for three years to put towards their research in progressing the Healer’s art. Receiving this fellowship is a great honor, and this year’s honoree is associate dean and associate professor Dr. Katreena Merrill.

Merrill’s current research, which emphasizes quality and improvement in patient safety, revolves around the education of nurses about the appropriate use of antibiotics. In America’s current healthcare system, antibiotics are extremely overused. Everything from a cold, a sore throat, or a virus is usually treated with a dosage of antibiotics.

However, overprescribing this useful tool in treating sickness has resulted in the development of resistant bacteria. These “superbugs” do not respond to the antibiotics that were successfully used in the past. Essentially, there is no treatment strong enough to be effective against them. In fact, reducing superbugs’ resistance to antibiotics is one of the primary focuses of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, each year in the U.S. at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die.

The ultimate goal of Merrill’s research is to improve the knowledge and attitude of student nurses towards “antibiotic stewardship.” This term implies that nurses have a responsibility to control the usage of antibiotics and even withhold them when necessary. This way, nurses can be the first line of defense against superbugs.

Merrill has worked with Intermountain Medical Center to research what nurses know about antibiotics and their role in healthcare. In their research, they identified some gaps in nurses’ knowledge, including students’ knowledge as they prepare to go into a workplace where antibiotic resistance is an issue.

To curb this lack of knowledge, Merrill is using her Edmunds fund to collaborate with students and develop education modules for nursing students. Preparing these nurses for the hospital or clinic setting will assure them how to proceed in certain situations and combat superbugs.

For example, Merrill hopes to implement training to help nurses dig deeper and not rule out less extreme drugs like penicillin when a patient says they are allergic to it. By asking questions like ‘When did you last have penicillin?’ or ‘What happened to you when you took it?’ or ‘Have you tried penicillin since then?,’ nurses can avoid using harsher antibiotics more often.

Merrill has really enjoyed using implementation science to truly see if nurses’ knowledge has been improved in this area and progressing the Healer’s art.

She comments, “For me, quality improvement and patient safety really align itself to the Healer’s art, because the Savior was an exemplar of how you could always be better or do better. When he talked about the widow’s mite, he said that she was doing a great job giving her one little portion. He’s not saying that the other people giving more money were doing bad, but rather it is one example saying that we can do better. Even though I’ve been a nurse for a very long time, I can always do better, right? To me, that’s what the Healer’s art is about in nursing, not only being compassionate but doing the best we can with the evidence that we have and continuing to grow and learn and become.”

 

Thanks, SNA For Another Great Year!

By Jessica Tanner

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

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

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

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

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

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