Category Archives: College of Nursing Students

Intermountain Medical Center Hires Three Fresh BYU Graduates

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IMC’s newest hired ER nurses Mikaela Jones (third from the right) and Daniel Smith (far right) with fellow students during a clinical outside ER ambulance entrance. Photo courtesy of Jones.

By Quincey Taylor

For nursing students at BYU, it might be hard to imagine what it would be like to attend another college of nursing. How would it compare to BYU? Would students receive as many chances to gain clinical experience? Would opportunities post-graduation be different?

Recently, a conversation had by teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad truly illustrates how our college compares to other educational institutions in the eyes of employers.

Our Students are Impressive

During the winter semester 2019, Blad was at Intermountain Medical Center with his students to do their Emergency Department clinical. He needed to speak with the nurse manager there, and she had something she wanted to say to him.

The nurse manager and the assistant nurse manager had just barely finished interviewing applicants for three open nursing positions in the hospital. They had 125 applicants and interviewed only a select few. Out of all the applicants, four freshly graduated BYU students applied.

The nurse manager said, “We don’t normally hire new graduates, but your students were so amazing in how they presented themselves, their resumes, and their letters that they wrote for the application. We were so impressed by what they had done already in the program. We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing with these new graduates.”

She even went on to say that one of the applicants received a perfect score on their application, a score the hiring staff rarely, if ever, gave. She remarked, “We don’t know what you’re doing there, but whatever it is, please don’t stop.”

Our Students are In Demand

Even though they were originally only looking for three new hires, they ended up asking for special permission from administration to open more spots in order to offer jobs to all of the BYU applicants. Being the biggest Level One trauma center in Utah, it is rare for IMC to hire recent graduates. However, the hiring staff could not pass up such stellar applicants.

Only three BYU students accepted the offered positions, including BYU alumni Mikaela Jones and Daniel Smith, along with another student from BYU-Idaho. The staff at IMC was eager and excited to add these stellar nurses to their team.

Blad was so moved by their opinion of the college, and says, “They really did appreciate our program and the way that we prepare our students for real life. When I walked out of there I felt so proud to be associated with our program that has such a good reputation.”

Our Students are Prepared

This praise of the program motivated Blad to be the best professor he can be, and he said, “To think that we, as faculty, have even a little part in students’ preparation, it just made me feel so good. We are preparing them not only adequately, but above and beyond what is expected. It was just a proud moment.”

Blad would also like to attribute the college’s success to the wonderful students who are so ready and eager to learn. With the high-quality training given by the college and the efforts of amazing students, the resulting success is definitely a team effort.

Jones is so grateful for the opportunity to work in the ER at IMC since January and says, “My education from BYU gave me the confidence to chase a job that scared me. I didn’t even capstone in the ER, but I had confidence that I had the knowledge I needed to get me started. The IMC ER actually said no to my online application because of lack of experience. I was determined and just showed up at the ER with my resume and a letter of 3 reasons they should hire me for the job.” It was because of her confidence that Jones was hired.

She goes on to say, “The reason I tell this story is because I really do believe BYU instilled in me a sense of confidence that I could be a great nurse if I really worked at it.”

Smith is also grateful for how the college helped him prepare and says, “The College of Nursing taught me to push myself, be a dependable team player, and prepare myself for a lifetime of learning.” He loves his new job and says, “Being a new grad here is like drinking from a firehose… I never thought I would be a psych nurse, a pediatric nurse, a women’s health nurse, or work with law enforcement so much on top of working with critical patients.”

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Smith and fellow nurses in HAZMAT suites, one of the many skills he has learned on the job. Photo courtesy of Smith.

For his Global Health trip when he was in school, he served among the At Risk population in the prison. This was a helpful experience to prepare him for his current job. He says, “I love being able to say I work with some of the sickest and most injured patients in Utah and that I’m making some of their worst days a little better.”

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Smith really loves his new job! Photo courtesy of Smith. 

Blad reassures students in the program that the BYU College of Nursing amply prepares its students and says, “We just want our students to know if they will stick with the program and do the things that they’re supposed to, that they can have confidence that they will come out and be well prepared for whatever opportunities are out there.”

 

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Nurses Are Tough! Nursing Student Helps BYU Women’s Rugby Win National Championship

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The BYU women’s rugby team is now the best division one women’s rugby team in the nation!

By Quincey Taylor

Among the 30,000 students that currently attend Brigham Young University, there is only one that is both a nursing student and a member of the BYU women’s rugby team. Her name is Larissa Graham, and she helped the team win the 2019 Spring College National Championship on May 4. The College of Nursing wants to say congratulations and is proud to have one of our students participate on this intense sports team.

Graham, who just finished her first semester in the nursing program, originally attended Western Michigan University on a basketball scholarship. It was only after dropping her scholarship to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that she decided to transfer to BYU.

She had not considered playing rugby until a fellow student and past team player urged her to try out. Graham explains, “Someone in my writing 150 class was actually on the team previously, and she said, ‘Oh, yeah, you should totally do it.’ I saw posters around the school and it kind of peaked my interest.” Rugby tryouts happened to be the same week as basketball tryouts. She decided to go to both.

After seeing the close relationship between the rugby players, Graham felt the excitement and wanted to be a part of it. It impacted her when she heard the players call each other “sisters” instead of “teammates.” She says, “I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever found a team that had as close to a bond as this rugby team did.”

Even though she had never played the sport before, Graham made the team. She has now been a critical member of the team for the past four semesters. She plays “lock,” which is a position that does a lot of the tackling. She is in the core of the scrum, and is not afraid of getting a little roughed up. She is also the player that is lifted during lineout, having an increased advantage by being six feet tall.

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After winning the national championship, the team rushed the field, hugging and crying out in joy.

Graham always knew she wanted to help other people. She says, “Since I was little, I wanted to work somewhere in the medical field. I wanted to be a doctor at first, and then I met fantastic nurse practitioners at our local family clinic and I just really wanted to be like them. They’re like the nurses that knew your name every time you came in. They remembered your family history and background. They asked you about the sports season that you’re in or religion stuff going on and they just knew who we were. I just wanted to be a personal nurse like them and help make an impact in someone’s life like they did in mine.”

Graham enjoyed her first semester and is excited to continue in the program. It has not been easy balancing the two passions, but Graham feels she has found equilibrium in her life. “I’ve noticed that the busier I am, the more likely I am to succeed. It’s kind of backwards,” she expounds, “It forces me to have a schedule.”

With such a physical sport, it is not a surprise that Graham regularly uses her nursing skills on the field with the help of assistant coach and nursing alumna Monica Jackson (’13). She laughs, “A lot of the players know that I’m a nursing student and they ask me every question in the book.” She has been able to give advice to players who are injured and is excited to grow her pool of knowledge in the following years.

Rugby has made a huge impact in Graham’s life, and she intends to continue playing on the team for as long as she can. She says, “It’s been really awesome to have a support group and immediate friends… It’s actually been a really big blessing in my life.”

So, look out for number five next time you see the team play! For anyone considering going to the next tryouts in August, know that you could not be joining a better group of sisters out there. Graham comments, “I’m excited to see the talent that we get, and I’m excited for the momentum that we have. I feel like we’re just starting the momentum. It’s building. So, I’m excited. I think the team is excited. The program as a whole is excited.”

 

 

 

2019 Graduate Students, Assemble!

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This year’s incoming master’s students, assembled for the first time.

By Quincey Taylor

With the start of the spring semester, the College of Nursing welcomes a new batch of superheroes to its ranks. They have succeeded in earning a bachelor’s degree and now face their next challenge: conquering a master’s degree! These 15 graduate students will be a valuable addition to the CON team!

This new group consist of:

  • Two male students, 13 females
  • 13 students from Utah, one from Nevada and one from Virginia
  • 8 BYU alumni and seven students from other nursing programs including Weber State University, University of Utah, University of Texas Arlington, and BYU Idaho

There is no denying these students are high-caliber considering their average GPA is 3.87 and their average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is 306. Congratulations on being accepted!

Virginia Jefferies’ Convocation Speech: Courageous in the Face of Fear

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Master’s program graduate Virginia Jefferies and her son.

Excerpt from Virginia Jefferies’ convocation address, delivered on April 25, 2019.

I didn’t think that I could ever become a nurse.  I was so afraid of blood and needles. When I was little, I passed out at my cousin’s house when he stapled his thumb, I passed out at the dentist office when he fixed my cavities. As a young woman, I passed out at church on Easter Sunday when my teacher talked about the Crucifixion, and as a college student I passed out watching the Miracle of Birth video in a family life class.  Then before my mission, I passed out at work at my office job, when my boss was telling me about what it’s like to have an episiotomy. She even called 911 and an ambulance came for me. I remember coming to, under my desk, with a paramedic removing my blazer. I certainly didn’t think that I would ever be able to become a nurse.

Then I served a mission… and while I was on my mission I almost passed out several more times. We visited patients in hospitals.  Just walking into a room with an IV in someone’s arm made me feel faint.

But when I came home from my mission, my own little sister lay in a hospital bed.  She had just had her spine fused and a metal bar installed in her back.  Out of my love for her, I stayed the night with her in the hospital.  While I was there . . .  I saw angels.  They were wearing scrubs.  They visited my sister all through the night, responding to her moans and cries.  They spoke to her in gentle, hushed tones and ministered to her.

That night changed me and I felt called to be a nurse. But that night didn’t take away my weakness. A few months later, I found myself at the BYU counseling center where a wise counselor guided me to start small and simple and to work up from there to overcome my fears.  She had me write a list in ascending order – of situations with blood and needles that scared me – and then slowly work through them to overcome my fears.

The first task on my list was to prick someone’s finger.  Fortunately, I had a friend that was an ER nurse that was kind enough to oblige my first attempt.  I was so scared. But grateful that I knew he would be able to take care of me if I fainted. I did survive that first lesson: sweaty, and clammy, but without passing out.

I was eventually accepted into the nursing program at BYU.  Unfortunately, I did pass out during orientation . . .  across the feet of the two girls sitting beside me.  During the break I heard one of them say, “maybe you should get a different major.”

Yeah, well, you can’t just get a different major if God tells you to be a nurse.  So, I persisted with faith and prayer, and miracles happened one after the other, and I did make my way through that list.  By the second year of the nursing program I faced the fear at the top of my list.  Witnessing open heart surgery.  As a nursing student I stood at the head of the operating table beside the anesthesiologist.  The chest was cleaned and draped for surgery.  I watched as the sternal saw cut the sternum. The ribs were spread.  I stood in awe of the wonder of the glory of God as blood dripped to the floor before me.  Just then the kind anesthesiologist turned to me and asked, “you alright?” and I said, “yeah, I’m alright.”  And I am standing here to tell you today that that was a miracle.

 

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. (Alma 37:6-7)

 

This is the work of God. When he calls us, he qualifies us too. Elder Neil L. Anderson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “When we are on the Lord’s errand, he will be with us, he will strengthen us, he will build our capacities.” Friends, I testify to you that the Lord makes weak things strong.  When we get into the yoke with him, we do not pull alone.

Serving God’s children as a nurse is practicing the Healer’s Art.  With him, we walk on sacred ground when our patients experience heartache, loss, sickness, and pain. I have held a patient and cried with her after she received a cancer diagnosis. I have spoken with love to a young man who reluctantly survived an overdose.  We share our patients’ deepest sorrows and greatest joys.  I am so grateful to be a nurse.  The Healer’s Art is beautiful. He is with us. And he will make more of us than we could ever imagine.

More than a decade after I got my nursing degree here at BYU, I felt my Father calling me back to become a nurse practitioner. Several weeks ago at an urgent care, I had the opportunity to do suturing for the first time on a patient. His lip was split open, and blood was spilling freely from the wound.  I approached him with a gentle smile on my face, and my suture and needle driver in my gloved hands.  It was a big day for me! Ironically, I had just used my asthma inhaler. One of the side effects of albuterol is tremor. But I wasn’t scared. Once again, love replaced fear.

Our God is surely a God of miracles.  He joys in using the weak and the simple to do his work. Bring what you have, even if it’s just a few loaves and a few small fishes and you carry them in your shaking hands.  Don’t be afraid of the smallness of your offering. The Savior will take you with your talents and multiply them in his service.  With him, you can care for the five thousand. And when the wind picks up, and the waves start slapping at your legs and you get scared, just put your eyes back on him.  He will lift you. And together you will walk on water.

Our work is his work.  With him, we can do it. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, teaches, “the Lord has never required expert, flawless effort. Instead he requests a heart and a willing mind.” Nurses and friends, we don’t have to be perfect today. The Savior gives us the gift to be human. You get to make mistakes and it’s okay.  Making mistakes is part of learning and growth.  Don’t give heed to voices that discourage you. God is with you. He will give us our daily bread. He will direct the spindles in our Liahonas as we exercise our faith in him to do the small and simple things. We can go forward with faith and there will be wonders among us. As our dear professor, Lacey Eden, told our class, “there are people out there who need you.”

Graduate Michael Scott’s Convocation Speech: By Small and Simple Things

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Nursing graduate Michael Scott and his wife, Amy Taylor Scott

Excerpt from Scott’s convocation speech, given on April 25, 2019.

There is one experience that I would like to share in detail from my global health practicum about a patient that we’ll call Terry. I invite you to look for the small, simple things and their impact on the people involved.

Just so you have an image, [Terry] is African American, lean, and his bicep was about the size of my head.  At the time we cared for him, Terry was serving a sentence at the Utah State Prison.  “During our shift, [Terry] was admitted to the psych unit for suicide watch because he had just been assaulted and would not speak to anyone.  While in the cell, he fell to the ground and clenched his chest.  He was pulled out of the cell and placed in the infirmary.  The nurse asked us to place a 12-lead EKG.  Over and over, the guards, nurse, and PA asked Terry what had happened.  He just kept pointing to his heart and then his jaw.

They seemed frustrated and the EKG came back normal although his blood pressure and pulse were elevated.  It seemed like he was having a panic attack.  The PA later speculated as much.  Everyone cleared the room besides one guard. James and I stayed behind with [Terry].

It was quiet for a minute and then James placed a hand on [Terry]’s shoulder and said something along the lines of “we’re here with you, you’re not alone.”   [Terry]’s eyes welled up and tears poured down his cheeks.  He told us how this past month, he had lost everyone he loved.  His dad had died of cancer, his brother in-law had committed suicide and his Aunt and nephew had died in a car accident.

Terry had committed a serious crime and spent the last 15 years in prison but as we listened to Terry, I remembered the words “in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…”

For me, Terry was an example of “the least of these my brethren.”  As a nurse, I have rarely felt so privileged with an opportunity to serve the Lord as I have inside the prison.  It is a place where an understanding of divine identity and the reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is tested and expanded.

My experience with [Terry] impacted me.  It reminded me that the Gospel should be at the center of every care plan.  Moving forward from this experience, I hope to serve not only the patients who seem to be most deserving but also those who seem least deserving.

Staying when others leave or placing a hand on another’s shoulder are small simple acts, but they had a significant effect on Terry and on the two young nursing students by his side.

As nursing students, we have regular opportunities to make small and simple decisions that make a great difference in the lives of those around us. To mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. To succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. We can advocate for the right each person has to govern their own health care and to accept or reject lifesaving interventions.  We can give our love, time, energy, and hope to others.

Out of the many small and simple things we can do, loving others seems to me to be the most valuable.

And I believe the small and simple decision to love our patients is what changes nursing from a collection of tasks into practicing the Healer’s art.

Lauren Leininger’s Advice as She Leaves BYU

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Graduate Lauren Leininger looks forward to a bright future. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

By Quincey Taylor

Walking into your last clinical for your senior capstone is an experience all nursing students will eventually have. While sometimes daunting, leaving behind your preceptor to independently care for patients acts as a springboard from which nurses can launch themselves into their new careers. Lauren Jones Leininger, fresh graduate from the BYU College of Nursing, shares her thoughts and advice as she reminisces past experiences and looks towards the future.

Leininger is extremely grateful for the impactful experiences she has had in the BYU nursing program. She truly feels that the individuals she met here have left a lasting impression on her in every aspect of her life.

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Leininger and fellow nursing students on their Global Health trip to Ecuador. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

Here is some of her advice to nursing students that will follow:

  1. Become a licensed practical nurse your fourth semester

Leininger took the NCLEX-PN her fourth semester and became a certified LPN. She works at Horizon Home Health and Hospice, which hires many BYU student nurses every year. With this organization, she does home visits for children. While it is a great option for students to make money while in school, Leininger sees the value it gave her in building personal confidence as a healthcare professional.

She says, “While being an LPN isn’t what I want to do for my nursing career, it’s just been really great to have an experience where I’m the primary caregiver for a patient. I’ve grown a lot by being in charge and making decisions.”

It might seem nerve-racking to not have a preceptor helping you, but it is beneficial in the end. Leininger adds, “My biggest takeaway is I’m capable, I can do this. I’ve gained so much confidence.”

  1. Trust in your preceptor assignment

Leininger’s experience with her capstone preceptor in the Utah Valley Hospital ER was greatly impactful. She says, “The faculty at BYU work a lot to match us up with the right preceptor. I believe there’s inspiration involved with that, because I know that the preceptor I had matched me and was the perfect kind of mentor I needed.”

“At my last clinical shift, my preceptor and I just kind of talked about what my biggest takeaways were, and he left me with the challenge,” she says. He challenged her “to never give report of a patient to another nurse in a way that would taint their perspective of that patient.”

She has taken this challenge to heart and says, “We should be our patient’s advocate and stand up for them. It’s easy to make judgments and think of them a certain way, but this can impede the care you give.”

“Once you tell your own opinion of that patient to another nurse, you’re ruining that next nurse’s experience. My preceptor’s challenge to me was to always give my patients the benefit of the doubt and never, never label them. Because, no matter what, they are a person, a human being, and a child of God. Whatever they’re going through, they deserve respect. They deserve to be given dignity.”

  1. Be as involved in clinicals as you can be

Leininger believes that clinicals are a unique opportunity to learn and put into practice the things you learn in class. She says, “Make the most of every clinical shift you have and learn as much as you can. Be as involved as you can, even if it means measuring your patient’s urine output or something like that. That will show the nurse you’re working with that you want to be there and you’re willing to learn. Then they’re going to be a better mentor and a teacher to you.”

It’s also an important time to make mistakes and learn from fellow nurses, because once you graduate every decision has larger consequences.

  1. Listen to the faculty’s advice

BYU faculty are unlike any other faculty on the planet. They are able to teach not only the temporal but also the spiritual. Leininger is so grateful for the chance to be taught by such amazing faculty.

She says, “Obviously, I’ve never attended another nursing school. So I don’t know exactly how BYU is different from other schools. But I do know for certain that we have the spiritual aspect integrated into our curriculum that isn’t present in other universities. That was my favorite part about the nursing program: how our professors could incorporate the gospel into everything we learned. A huge part of being a nurse is being able to have the spirit with you to help you discern your patient’s needs and to empathize with them.”

That’s what learning the Healer’s art truly is.

In the future, Leininger is preparing to take the NCLEX-RN and find a job as a registered nurse. She feels well-prepared and recognizes the need to continue her education. She says, “A nursing career is a career of lifelong learning. You’re never going to stop learning; things are always changing.”

Getting Involved: BYU Graduate Students Help to Pass Bill at Utah State Legislature

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Students Libby Willmore (left), Charlie Rowberry (center), and Julie Palmieri (right) lobbying at the state capitol.

By Quincey Taylor

When you think of a House of Representatives or a state legislature, what kind of people do you imagine there? Perhaps middle-aged men in tailored suits? Well, first year BYU graduate nursing students Libby Willmore, Charlie Rowberry, and Julie Palmieri are breaking that stereotype. These students were not afraid to stand up and work towards making changes that will directly affect them after graduation.

These motivated students had the chance to assist associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy – who is also the Legislative Chair for the Utah Association of Nurse Practitioners – in lobbying House Bill 336 in the Utah State Legislature. Getting a bill passed is a long and difficult process, but these students were up to the challenge as they were led by their stalwart professor.

 

Why was House Bill 336 created?

A nurse practitioner’s scope of practice, or what they’re allowed to do, is dictated by every individual state. There are no national guidelines or regulations. As a result, some states choose to allow NPs to practice full authority within the NP scope of practice, while other states extremely limit what NPs can do. Many times these restrictive states require by law for NPs to be under the direction of a physician at all times.

Utah’s laws fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. For example, when NPs in Utah graduate, they are subject to the Consultation and Referral Plan (CRP) which requires them to be under the direction of a physician for the first two years or 2,000 hours of practice when prescribing controlled substances.

When a physician opts to be responsible for an NP, he signs a mandated document that many physicians charge NPs thousands of dollars to receive.

While originally written to more closely regulate the prescriptions of opiates and other dangerous substances, these laws have evolved to a rule that ties the hands of newly graduated nurse practitioners and requires them to pay thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that likely will sit in a filing cabinet until they reach two years of practice or 2,000 clinical hours, whichever comes first.

This was also a problem because nurses could easily avoid these charges if they simply chose to move to a state that doesn’t require them, thus driving nurses away from Utah practices.

 

What happened when House Bill 336 was implemented?

After working with legislators and coming to a common agreement, HB 336 was passed. The law was changed to require newly graduated NPs to have a CRP only for the first year or 2,000 hours of practice if opening their own clinic. They also changed who could give out a CRP mandated document, now allowing other senior NPs in the field to act as their referral.

This will now be friendlier to small practices opened up by nurse practitioners, allowing them to hire employees without the need for physician supervision. They can practice more easily in rural areas where there might not be a surplus of physicians.

Changing the law will also save new NPs thousands of dollars they might have paid to physicians in past years.

 

Why were these students interested in participating?

These laws would have affected any nursing student that decided to stay in Utah after graduation. This was something that personally motivated Willmore to get involved. She said she became interested in helping when “Professor Luthy was talking about her work at the capitol building during class and mentioned that she could use some help. I figured that working with law makers to change practice regulations for nurse practitioners will directly affect me when I graduate so I better get in there and help out.”

These students were active participants in Luthy’s legislative committee and personally lobbied to gain support to pass the bill. They dutifully participated, coming up to the capitol multiple times a week during the campaign.

Luthy is so proud of the efforts of these students and says, “All three of those students were fully engaged. Every day they were up at the capitol. They were lobbying. They were attending committee meetings. They testified in committee hearings. I mean, it was completely amazing.” She is looking forward to future developments to progress the cause of nurse practitioners.