Category Archives: College of Nursing News

100% of BYU Nursing Students Pass NCLEX for the Second Quarter in a Row

By Quincey Taylor

Michael Scott ATIStudent Michael Scott studies ATI to prepare for the NCLEX.

NCLEX-RN. Even mentioning the name of the National Council Licensure Examination makes most aspiring nurses nervous. That is not true, however, for the students at the College of Nursing at BYU. For the past two quarters of 2018, BYU students have passed the NCLEX and received their nursing licenses at an astounding 100% first-time passing rate. This is an amazing accomplishment considering the average passing rate for U.S.-educated registered nurses in those same quarters was only 89.5% (Utah average was 88.32%). College officials explain how the members of the program have achieved this above-average rate and why students should see the value in the (sometimes arduous) ATI testing.

Students in the College of Nursing take multiple Assessment Technologies Institute exams during their stay in the program. Most undergraduate BYU faculty use ATI material as an integral part of their curriculum starting with the second semester students. They are provided with a textbook, online study guides, flashcards, and other useful aids. This is great practice because in many ways ATI mirrors the style of the NCLEX, which is nothing like usual school exams that test mostly for technical knowledge. The NCLEX, on the other hand, tests students’ ability to analyze situations and apply this same knowledge. Critical thinking skills are needed, and the questions require test-takers to make the kind of judgments they would face in the real world.

ATI-100All Utah nursing programs NCLEX passing rates. See the link for more information https://dopl.utah.gov/nur/rn_pass_rates_2018.pdf

When asked why the ATI exams are important for student preparation, associate teaching professor and undergraduate program coordinator Dr. Peggy Anderson says, “It’s a good predictor, and that’s why we keep it. We can kind of tell where your knowledge base is and where it’s lacking.” She also added that it is a great tool professors can use to know what information they need to go back and readdress to help their students.

Additionally, professor Dr. Renea Beckstand offers an NCLEX prep course for students to take during their capstone. Her class simulates what taking the test really will be like. Even if students do poorly on the practice exam, in many cases that is the added motivation they needed to take an extra study class or to dedicate more time on their preparation, helping them pass in the end. For those students who might be struggling a bit, associate teaching professor Karen de la Cruz teaches a study skills course to add to their tool belt. It focuses on the fundamentals of studying, like how to interpret questions and have a good test-taking strategy.

While low ATI scores by no means guarantee a low score on the NCLEX, in almost all cases the nurses that did not pass the NCLEX the first time around had poor ATI marks. Associate Dean and associate professor Dr. Katreena Merrill comments, “I looked at it across several semesters, and the people that did not pass the NCLEX had lower scores on their ATI’s all the way across the board.”

For the graduating classes of December 2017 and April 2018 who passed the NCLEX the first time around, faculty want to say congratulations on such a remarkable achievement. Merrill adds, “I am so proud of them and it shows the kind of quality we are producing. Being a brand new nurse is hard, so they should be proud of passing the NCLEX the first time around.” She also urges those alumni to pay it forward and find ways to help the younger generation of students along the same journey.

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Updated College Mission, Values and Vision

By Quincey Taylor

Peterson with ValuesAssistant Professor, Dr. Neil Peterson with the new college mission, values and vision statements.

Recently, the College of Nursing at BYU has updated its mission, values and vision. As a direct reflection of the college beliefs, these statements were revised by a core group of faculty in order to better portray BYU Nursing as a whole.

Assistant professor, Dr. Neil Peterson, chair of the Future’s Task Force of the College of Nursing, explained that he and a group of four other faculty members got together to discuss the college mission, values, and vision. They wanted to know how they could be updated to better reflect the goals of the college. It had been years since their original creation, and none of the current faculty had helped in their formation.

A project a year in the making, Peterson expressed elation at the change and says, “Revisiting and refreshing are good and will bring more awareness about this important issue.” He also clarified, “We wanted it to be more applicable to anyone within the College of Nursing, students and faculty alike.” It is the hope of college administrators that these changes unite all participants within the College of Nursing in striving to become like the Savior. Dean and Professor Dr. Patricia Ravert explained that the mission, values, and vision “now reflect principles that nursing faculty, staff, students, and alumni can understand, support, and emulate in their careers.”

College Mission Statement

“The mission of the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University is to learn the Healer’s art and go forth to serve.” With an emphasis on learning the Healer’s art as well as the BYU motto “Go Forth to Serve,” the new mission statement brings to light the need for students to not only learn as much as they can, but to also apply their knowledge throughout their lives. It is not good enough for a student to focus solely on his or her academic success; he or she must also strive to let that knowledge change who they are as a person. The mission statement highlights the administrative desire of the College of Nursing to not only prepare high quality nurses for the field, but also high quality, well-rounded members of society.

College Values

Accountability, Collaboration, Compassion, Innovation, Inspiration, Integrity, Learning, and Service. To introduce these new values, eight short video segments narrated by Dean Ravert are being released in the following weeks. Each video highlights one value, as well as an individual within nursing history that emanated this value exceptionally well. For example, Clara Barton is featured as a glowing model of a nurse with compassion. Her nursing career during the Civil War eventually led her to implementing The Red Cross organization for the first time in the United States. These eight videos will be released each Monday starting September 17.

College Vision

“Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art by: leading with faith and integrity; advancing the science of nursing and healthcare; promoting health and wellness; alleviating suffering; and serving individuals, families, and communities.” One significant change to the college vision was bringing the Savior in as the ultimate example as the Healer. Neil Peterson and his team felt strongly to include the gospel in the vision statement because this is something that sets this university apart from any other. As summarized by Dean Ravert, “The Savior taught the gospel, and our efforts must focus on His instructions, love, and example.” The college hopes to remind consistently the students and faculty of their ultimate goal of becoming like Jesus Christ.

Following these changes, Peterson mentioned that he has noticed an increased awareness among faculty and students of what the mission, values, and vision are. College officials trust that this increased awareness will ultimately lead to an amplified application of these core beliefs, bringing all students and faculty a step closer to learning the Healer’s art.

 

Nursing Faculty Honored for their Work

By Mindy Longhurst

Recently, two faculty members of the College of Nursing won awards for their excellence in nursing and teaching.

rod newmanAssistant teaching professor, Rod Newman, receiving the NP State Award for Excellence. Photo by AANP News.

Rod Newman

Assistant teaching professor, Rod Newman earned the American Association for Nurse Practitioners State Award for Excellence. He received this award in Austin, Texas. This award recognizes one NP from each state who shows exemplary nursing care.

Newman obtained this award for his expertise and experience as a cardiology NP, his dedication for developing and running the critical care unit for Mountain View Hospital in Payson, his work as the CCU Nursing Director, his role at establishing and piloting the NP role at Utah Valley hospital and for the dedication to mentoring and helping students throughout Utah County.

Gaye Ray FWA Excellence in Teaching 2018 (2)Associate teaching professor, Gaye Ray, with Patti Freeman receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Gaye Ray

Associate teaching professor, Gaye Ray recently attained the Excellence in Teaching Award from the BYU Faculty Women’s Association. This award is given to those who have expert skills and knowledge in their designated field and teach with excellence with the need of the student always in mind.

Ray was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award at the FWA Spring Retreat.

Congratulations to both Rod Newman and Gaye Ray for their excellence in nursing and the awards they have received!

Welcome New Students Fall 2018!

By Mindy Longhurst

IMG_3850As a new semester starts, the College of Nursing welcomes a new class of future nurses to the program! It is an exciting time of the year. A total of 67 new undergraduates were admitted this semester, eight of which are returning from previous deferment.

A standard of excellence continues within the college considering the average BYU GPA for admittees is an incredible 3.88, along with an ACT score of 30. The average age is 21 consisting of 64 females and 3 males.

IMG_3860Associate dean and Assistant professor Dr. Katreena Merrill.

The program is well represented with students from across the country and even internationally. There are students from Peru and Canada, while 12 different states are represented including: Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The newly accepted students attended an orientation and dinner last night. These first semester nursing students spent the time getting to know their fellow classmates and learned about the mission, values and creed of the College of Nursing.

Students expressed why they gravitated to the field of nursing. Callie Livingston explained that she was injured frequently and discovered that she loved the care that she received from nurses. Another student, Laura Wilcox, had a strong desire to become a nurse after a dog bit her badly. She said that the nurses gave her feelings of peace. “The nurses inspired me! It made me realize that nursing is more than just physical healing— it is also about emotional and spiritual healing.”

Congratulations on getting into the College of Nursing program!

 

Young Scholar Award Recipient

By Mindy Longhurst

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Dr.  Julie Valentine.

Assistant professor, Dr. Julie Valentine, received the Young Scholar Award at last week’s University Conference. This award is given to three assistant or associate professors on campus who have demonstrated exceptional research in their designated field. The recipients must be within their first 10 years of working at Brigham Young University and must be nominated by their respective college.

Valentine received this award for her research related to the field of forensic nursing, specifically in sexual assault and criminal justice system response to sexual assault. She researched sexual assault kit submission rates and predicting variables throughout Utah. Valentine’s research was instrumental in policy and legislature changes, resulting in passage of Utah House Bill 200 in 2017. This change in policy now requires submission and testing for all sexual assault kits in the state of Utah. Previously it was not required to have the kits submitted and tested.

Additionally, Valentine’s studies has focused on trauma-informed training programs with law enforcement to improve the response to sexual assault victims. Valentine has served on national committees to establish best practice guidelines for sexual assault kits.

When Valentine was informed that she would be receiving the award, she said, “I was very honored and surprised! I was especially happy because it provides extra funds for my research.”

With the award, Valentine is able to receive additional funding for her research, helping to improve our understanding of sexual and interpersonal violence to reduce violence in our communities.

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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Graduating from the Classroom to the Delivery Room

By Calvin Petersen

Perhaps more than anything, graduation is a time for questions. Those graduating ask questions like: Will I get more sleep now? What am I going to do with my life? Will I live where I want to? Will I find a job? Will I be any good at it?

Those who aren’t graduating yet ask: Will I get more sleep now? What am I going to do with my life? How can I be ready for graduation when it’s my turn? Will I be prepared for the real world?

Larissa Black, who graduated from the BYU College of Nursing last December, is evidence that some of these questions really do have answers.

The New Nurse on the Unit

Larissa is from Tomball, Texas, and has a pair of fake cowboy boots and a love of barbecue to prove it. After graduating and conquering the NCLEX, Larissa began her job as a labor and delivery nurse at the University of Utah Hospital.

“My patients come in pregnant and they leave with a baby. That’s the best way to describe it,” says Larissa.

However, the transition from college student to full-time nurse hasn’t been as seamless as Larissa had hoped.

“Starting my career has been difficult because I feel like I’m trying to figure out a million things at once,” she says. Those million things include learning a charting system she’s never used before, remembering policies specific to her hospital and a long list of things to check for every patient. Larissa found that one of the best ways to take on her tasks is simply observing how others do it.

Larissa works closely with three nurses who take turns training her. “Everything always gets done,” she says, “but they go about it a little bit differently.” Seeing the nurses’ different methods for doing things gives Larissa the opportunity to decide for herself which practices are most effective and which ones aren’t. By taking the best practices together, Larissa will already have an efficient routine when she finishes her training.

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A Labor of Love (or a Love of Labor)

Since she sees people “at their worst” every day, Larissa has frequent opportunities to practice the Healer’s art and demonstrate compassion.

“The most important thing is to be kind and non-judgmental,” she says. “Besides the physical tasks of nursing, like hanging medications and taking vital signs, there is a side of nursing that’s about helping someone to heal emotionally and spiritually. It’s easy to forget that aspect, but remembering it is so important in helping people.”

It was out of a desire to help people that Larissa initially decided to become a nurse. She’s also fascinated with the human body and even watched ‘Untold Stories of the ER’ when she was younger.

“I was really lucky to be one of the few who knew what they wanted to do from the beginning,” she says. “I never had to change my major.”

Her passion for women’s health made labor and delivery a natural fit for Larissa. Of her experience in the L&D unit so far, she says, “I just love it, it’s amazing! And it never gets old. Every time I’m with a patient and am able to be there when she has her baby, it is 100 percent the coolest thing ever, every single time.”

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Reflections on Nursing School

Something Larissa wishes she would have done while still in school is work in a hospital part-time.

“I’ve noticed that my cohorts who worked as CNAs or phlebotomists or medical assistants in some aspect are much more comfortable with the way that hospitals and clinics run because they’ve been there. They’re already used to it, so when they graduate they’re just stepping up into a different role.”

Nevertheless, one of the most valuable experiences Larissa had at BYU was working as a TA in the simulation lab. Each semester she set up and administered simulation labs, as well as voiced the manikins during simulations.

“That helped me in so many ways,” Larissa explains, “I saw simulations several times, so now if I ever have a patient who shows certain signs and symptoms, I’ll remember what to do.” Her job also led to lasting friendships with faculty and peers.

When asked what she does for fun outside of work, Larissa laughed and said, “Sleeping.” Apparently, even after the stress of homework and finals are long gone, sleep is still a rare commodity.

Larissa doesn’t have all the answers and still isn’t sure what her future holds. However, she’s never forgotten what her capstone preceptor often said, “Larissa! Slow down. You don’t have to walk that fast.” This response to Larissa’s constant power-walking to and from patient rooms has become a mantra for her life. “Just slow down,” Larissa says, “It’s okay. Take a deep breath, everything is fine. Eat a snack if you need a snack. Take care of yourself and then go take care of others.”

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