Category Archives: College of Nursing Students

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.”

 

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From the Ballroom to the Emergency Room: Nursing Student Helps BYU Dance Team Win International Dance Competition

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Nicole Udall and her team leave victorious. Photo courtesy of BYU Dance Instagram.

By Quincey Taylor

On June 18, the Brigham Young University dance team returned victorious from the 2019 British Open Championship in Blackpool, England. Teams from various countries, including places like China and the Czech Republic, came to try and claim the title. BYU’s spectacular students, including recent nursing graduate Nicole Udall, brought them to victory. Their Latin dance team took first place overall, and the ballroom dance team took second.

Finding her Dancing Shoes

Coming to dance at BYU had been a dream of Udall’s since she was a little girl. As a child, she had danced different styles, including jazz and lyrical. She had no idea, however, that ballroom would eventually become her passion.

Her brother introduced Udall and her fraternal twin to the world of ballroom. At the time, he was on the BYU ballroom dance team going on tours. He had been doing ballroom since he was 13, and he wanted his younger sisters to start in that same stage of life. Udall and her sister loved to see their brother perform and to see the impact he was making.

She was inspired to try out ballroom for herself, and Udall loved it. She set the goal to one day dance on the BYU ballroom dance team and was successful, along with her twin.

Dance Led Her to Nursing

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Udall’s first IV insertion! Photo courtesy of Udall.

Udall soon found nursing, and immediately knew that it was the career for her. “I wanted to work with people,” she says, “As a dancer, I was so used to that. I wanted to have a deeper relationship with the people I worked with. When I looked for a career with those aspects, I found nursing. It checked those boxes that I had. I also wanted to find a degree that was intellectually challenging. I wanted to find something that would build me as a person and help me develop.”

Balancing Interests

However, balancing these two interests was not always easy. She reflects, “When I first came to the Y, I thought, ‘I’m going to do ballroom, that’s why I wanted to come to BYU.’ Then I found nursing. I was like, ‘This is the thing for me, this is the degree I want to do.’ However, when I was talking to people, they told me there’s no way I could do both. Nursing is a huge commitment. It definitely takes 100% of your effort. But dancing was such a part of me that I didn’t want to give it up.”

Udall did not give up and found a way to be able to do both. She says, “The thing that helped me balance the two was being able to communicate early with people. If you wait until the last minute, and came up to a professor and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be gone this week.’ Then they would say, ‘What? You can’t do that.’ Being able to communicate early and to present solutions to problems was key.”

She has worked on being present for whatever she is doing at the moment, and says, “It’s also helpful to learn to prioritize, giving 100% of my effort to whatever I was doing at the time. If I was doing nursing, I was focused on nursing. If I was dancing, I was focused on dancing.”

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Va va voom! Photo courtesy of Udall.

After years dancing, Udall attributes many life lessons to ballroom. She says, “You learn how to unify as a team and be able to build relationships with other people. You’re not only working with a whole team, you’re working as partners as well. It’s important to be able to communicate with one another and problem solve, while still being happy and joyful while you work hard towards a goal.”

Another blessing Udall has gained from dance was her husband, who took a ballroom class where they met.

Udall is not the only nursing student to be on the ballroom dance team. She has always been happy to give advice to other nurses helping them to balance their passions. Having others going through the same thing is comforting and empowering.

The Championship

Udall was ecstatic to compete at the British Open Championship this year, as it was her last year as a BYU undergraduate as well as a competing ballroom dancer. While she has competed on both teams, this year she danced ballroom instead of Latin. She comments, “It was a culmination of our whole experience working together. We were all working towards this common goal unifying as a team through the ups and the downs. Seeing the reward of our progress was really cool.”

Team members support one another throughout the experience. Udall explains, “We got to watch each other, and we are each other’s biggest fans. We were so excited.”

Advice for Future Students

When asked what Udall would tell other nursing students struggling to balance multiple interests, Udall says, “I think the best advice I could give is to just go for it! A lot of people will tell you that you can’t do things because they don’t know how you can do them. However, being open to early communication and being a problem solver can make it possible.”

She expounds, “Live your dreams. There were many times that I wanted to give up, but letting go of one passion was like letting go of a part of me. I think it’s important to still go for your dreams and live them, just prioritize and communicate.”

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Udall (third from the right) and her fellow students pose with associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed. Photo courtesy of Udall.

Plans After Graduation

After graduation and the dance championship, Udall plans on studying for and taking the NCLEX. She looks to find a job in the emergency room in Arizona, where she and her husband are moving. She plans to eventually go to school for a master’s degree to continue her education.

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.

 

Being a Nurse and Becoming a Father

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By Quincey Taylor

Becoming a father is a life-changing experience. You wake up one morning and it is just you and your wife, and the next day you wake up and there is an entirely new person depending on you for their survival. New plans for the future are formed and different routines are forged. Family dynamics and relationships change and evolve. For nursing students, becoming a father has its own differences, sometimes difficult but always rewarding.

Huge Life Change as First-Time Father

Hyrum Prestwich, a nursing student who will be completing his capstone this fall, was blessed with a baby girl on December 23, 2018. This baby, named June, has completely changed the way Prestwich sees the world. With a few months under his belt, Prestwich has some advice for new fathers or fathers-to-be.

Looking back, Prestwich says, “I had just finished my labor and delivery semester and I felt like the whole semester was in preparation like the final was my wife’s pregnancy. It was kind of fun to be able to have a little bit more information.” Some of the nurses that helped with his wife’s delivery were former BYU students. They enjoyed talking about their professors and the things they learned during their time at BYU.

When asked about things he did not foresee when becoming a father, he says, “I think just the greater purpose I have. When I’m going to school and going to work, it’s not just for me and my wife anymore. There’s this pretty much helpless, tiny human that’s relying on us. I think that it’s nice to have that greater purpose to do the things I’m doing, whether it’s school or bettering our future.”

It has not always been easy for Prestwich, but everything is always worth it in the end. If he had been asked two weeks after having June if they wanted more kids, Prestwich would not be so sure. However, now that they have had a chance to transition he says they definitely look forward to having more children eventually. He says, “It’s a little scary at times and it can be a little overwhelming. But overall, I think it’s definitely a positive. Obviously, it is a huge transition, but I think that you definitely adjust and the positives – like the small moments where she makes us laugh – make it totally worth it.”

Prestwich has enjoyed his nursing skills as he has become a father. Prestwich likes to use his stethoscope to listen to June’s heart, but luckily there have not been any emergencies in which he would have to use additional skills. Having that healthcare background, he says, “helps me just to have a little bit more of a comfortable feeling. I have resources where I can find information if I have questions.”

Prestwich strives to be like his father, who is one of his role models. He remarks, “My dad was just a great example of being a family man, and also instilling a hard work ethic in me. He’s also a great example of a Christ-like father, willing to correct us and keep us on the right path, and being loving to us. Hopefully, I can emulate that in my own life.”

To any students preparing to become a father, Prestwich says, “Just do the best you can in everything. It was always my mantra to do the best I can at school and work. Now, there’s just an added responsibility. So, doing your best might mean you might have to cut back a little bit in school or work so you can focus on more important things – like your family. It’s important to prioritize what’s the most important thing.”

 

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Diego and his family at a sporting event.

Finding Balance with Multiple Children

Diego Gonzalez, a BYU first-year nursing graduate student, is not new to the world of babies and fatherhood. He has two children, a six-year-old girl, and a three-year-old boy, and his wife is pregnant with their third – due in November.

When asked how things have changed with the arrival of each child, Gonzalez laughs, “Typically with the first child you have the most photos, then after that, it starts decreasing with each one.” Sometimes it will suddenly hit him that he is having his third child!

Occasionally it is hard for Gonzalez to focus on studying when he is at home because his children always are eager to play with him. For him, finding a balance between school, work, family, and the church is key. That is why Gonzalez is grateful for the constant reminder of why he chooses to do the things he does. His children are his motivation to continue in the graduate program, even when it is difficult.

It is not rare for Gonzalez to use his nursing skills in the home, whether the kids are sick with a cold or bump their head. It is a comfort to him to know that he can take care of his children and know their symptoms. Gonzalez is dedicated to being a constant strength and presence in his children’s lives and never wants to look back on the decisions he has made and have regrets.

This past term, he decided to try something new and took a rock climbing class. He absolutely loved it and encourages all parents to make time to have a hobby of their own. “Your children will be happier when they see you being happy.”

To all new fathers or fathers-to-be, Gonzalez urges each one to live in the present. Do not plan on spending time with your kids someday when you graduate or have a job or are released from a calling. Each moment is precious with children because they grow up so fast. In those family-bonding times, it’s important to be an active presence within the family. He says, “Sometimes you need to step back out of that reality, push it away, and then mentally be able to say, ‘I can enjoy this moment. I can be present. And I’m not worried about what is due tonight, tomorrow, or what I have to do.’ You know, keeping it real.”

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.”

 

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!