Category Archives: College of Nursing Students

Nursing Graduate Student Exemplifying Love through Refugee Care

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Nicki Broby completed refugee research in Jordan and Greece.

As August graduation draws near, graduate student Nicki Broby looks back at how far she has come since starting the family nurse practitioner program (BYU’s master degree in nursing), as well as see how life prepared her for her research focus.

Broby’s nursing career began while she was on an LDS mission in Washington D.C. She was serving during the 9/11 attacks, and one of her immediate responsibilities was to help the Red Cross in their relief efforts. As she finished this service, she realized that nursing was the right path for her.

She transferred from BYU to Arizona State University to study undergraduate nursing, and after graduation started work in a pediatric intensive care unit with no thought of becoming a nurse practitioner. That changed when she got the service opportunity of a lifetime.

“In 2011, I quit my job in the PICU because I had the chance to live on a Navy ship for five months,” she says.  As an LDS Charities nurse representative, she traveled with other volunteers to nine countries, providing medical services to around 80,000 people. While serving as a translator for various nurse practitioners, she developed a deep respect for their ability to offer high levels of care to patients, sparking a desire to earn her advanced nursing degree.

Read Related Story: Five Month Nursing “Cruise” On A Naval Hospital Ship

After serving a two-and-a-half year part-time mission for the Church as a medical volunteer, she entered BYU’s graduate program in April 2015 and focused a thesis project on what makes international aid interventions effective.

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“When I was doing my thesis, I found out that there was very little information for someone who says, ‘Hey, I want to start my own international medical disaster response team,’” she explains.

She presented the idea to then associate dean Dr. Mary Williams, who was immediately supportive and helped her assemble her committee, which included Dr. Jane Lassetter and Dr. Blaine Winters. All proved invaluable as mentors during the entire project, helping Broby improve as a nurse, writer, and researcher.

Step one was to interview leadership in various aid organizations in the United States, getting their opinion on what made their operations effective. Those interviews were transcribed and evaluated for successful strategies. Step two required obtaining input from workers on the ground.

“To do that, I was hosted generously by the International Medical Corps at their field operation sites in Greece and Jordan,” Broby says. For two weeks, Broby and a colleague traveled to three refugee camps, interviewing dozens of local aid leaders to figure out what improved and impeded their successes.

“It was jam packed; it was amazing and exhausting, and extremely informative,” she says. Their research highlighted various factors that people who want to get involved in aid work should consider. It also gave her a closer look at the refugee crisis, offering her precious insights into how ordinary people can show charity through service.

 

DSC_0765Broby also admires how both BYU and the College of Nursing specifically rely on the teachings of the Savior to enhance students’ experiences.

“It is obvious that Jesus Christ is the exemplar that we’re not just told to follow in this program, but that our professors are following,” she says. “That touches everything that we do, whether we are learning about how to treat the common cold or going to a refugee camp in Greece, it touches all of that, it changes all of that, and it deepens all of that.”

Trekking for Cultural Understanding

Amy Boswell looked down at her hiking shoes and sighed. The deep tread on the bottom had long since filled with mud and was now useless. She had known there would be a lot of trekking on the trip, but this went beyond that. Going straight up the mountain, no switchback trails, she wondered how the native guides ahead of her did this day in and day out. Suddenly her foot slipped. Startled, sliding, skidding, she fell. Finally stopping, covered with mud, she looked up to see a smiling guide, hand stretched out to help her back up.

In spring 2016 BYU College of Nursing students traveled to Vietnam for the first time. There they experienced a clinical practicum for the Public and Global Health Nursing course unlike any other. Students journeyed to a remote region in northern Vietnam, visited the hill tribes there, lived with local families, and provided instruction on healthcare. This cultural immersion provided an exceptional experience for students to gain perspective they will apply in their future careers.

 

THE PREPARATION

Associate teaching professor Cheryl A. Corbett (BS ’89, MS ’96) knew she needed to find a site where students could learn from a truly foreign culture. She knew Vietnam would fit the bill, but she did not know how enthusiastic students would be.

“One of my concerns was if I would have students who would want this kind of experience,” Corbett says. “We needed students who could sleep with the bugs, live in the rafters with the people, and eat their unique foods—things which might put someone out of their comfort zone.”

Corbett pressed forward with her plan and traveled to Vietnam for a two-week scouting trip. She found great clinical opportunities among some amazing people and came back ready to take students who were willing and ready to go on an adventure.

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THE TREKKING

Nestled near the Chinese border in the hills of northern Vietnam is a town called Sa Pa. Residents include people from several ethnic minorities, including the Hmong, who also live in scattered tribes across the surrounding countryside. Nursing students spent three weeks trekking up and down mountains to reach these villages. With the help of their three Hmong guides, the nursing students were able to reach several isolated communities, sometimes hiking 10 to 12 miles per day.

“Our guides were literally in slip-on sandals running up and down the mountains,” says Boswell, a sixth-semester nursing student. “Here we were in these beautiful hiking shoes slipping and falling everywhere we went. I remember one guide, named Mai (we called her Mama). She would always help us up after a fall. I especially had a reputation for falling up and down the mountains.”

With the nearest healthcare facility more than eight hours away, students had to rely on their own abilities and use caution. However, even though the trekking was more intense than expected, the group realized it was worth it as they became immersed in the unique culture.

“The people in the hill tribes are shy, but they want to share,” says associate teaching professor Karen M. Lundberg (AS ’79). “Our Hmong guides were able to get us into tiny villages that we wouldn’t have been able to get into otherwise.”

The group found that simply spending time with the people worked best to help them open up. Rather than quickly asking to see homes and healing practices, they stopped and took the time to communicate with them through gestures, smiles, and exchanges. And with the help of their guides, the students felt the Hmong people become receptive.

 

HMONG HEALING PRACTICES

None of the group members will ever forget the elderly female shaman they came across performing a ceremony in one of the villages. The Hmong people believe they have a certain number of spirits in their body. When they get sick the spirits leave, and it becomes necessary for a shaman to perform rituals to collect the spirits and put them back in the bodies of patients. The memorable healing ceremony included the shaman sacrificing a duck.

Following the experience, group members were struck by the reaction from the people of the village. Lundberg recalls the trust that developed because they were accepting of the Hmong culture. “After we had that experience, the shaman asked us to see one of her grandchildren, who suffered from something like cerebral palsy,” Lundberg says. “She wanted to know if the child could be cured if he went to the hospital; the family wanted our opinion. I believe if we had just walked in and asked if there were something we could teach or do, they wouldn’t have let us in to see this child.”

Although a hospital trip wouldn’t have cured the child, students were able to provide him with care to make him more comfortable. They found this developmentally delayed child lying in a state of atrophy. His feet had been tangled in a fishing net so tight that it cut off his circulation. The students checked his skin for breakdown, cut the nets off his toes, and explained what needed to be done to further care for him. The students smiled at the child and called him by name, hoping to provide the comfort he needed.

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TEACHING AND LEARNING

Throughout their experience students learned how to build trust and listen to the people, incorporating Hmong beliefs with Western medicine to create healing together. They were also able to teach some simple healthcare practices and deliver much-needed supplies.

Eyesight is crucial in Hmong culture. Villagers make all of their own clothing, from growing the hemp plants to dyeing the finished product. The women are expected to do intricate hand stitching on all their clothing, but as they get older, they cannot see up close and can no longer be productive.

Corbett remembers distributing reading glasses they brought to these Hmong women. “To watch them put on these glasses and see a whole new world open up was so amazing,” she says. “They could see little things again. Seeing their smiling faces made me think of how much we take eyesight for granted… Getting these eyeglasses was like the best present they ever had.”

Students also got to teach dental hygiene and hand-washing techniques to the Hmong people they met along the way. The students were happy to give away toothbrushes and eager to teach good practices. They found that many families had only one toothbrush to share and would often use it for cleaning purposes, including scrubbing the mud from their shoes when they got home from the rice fields

LIVING AMONG THE HMONG

The BYU group spent nights in the homes of the people they were visiting. They slept on mats in rafters where the families usually store their rice. During long treks and the quiet nights in the villages, students had time to reflect on the people they were around.

Boswell found the generosity of the Hmong people particularly impressive. “While trekking, those we met would invite us into their home, asking if we had eaten that day and if they could share their rice,” she says. “The Hmong people have so much less to give than I do, and they were so willing at any second to just give it. I came back realizing I need to open my heart and be more hospitable and kind to people.”

The group was also impressed by the Hmong family dynamic as the villagers sat together on the dirt floors of their homes and cooked over open fires. The Throughout their experience students and families would have dinner together, talk together, and laugh together.

“Dinnertime is notable for the Hmong,” Lundberg says. “Even though they just have one small light bulb hanging over the table, they sit around and talk and laugh late into the night. It was so awesome seeing how connected the families were, with several generations living in the same home.”

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GIVING BACK

The Hmong people are subsistence farmers. During the planting season, whatever rice they plant is what they will live off of for the next year.

In one village, the students found a widow who was unable to get her rice planted. Instead of just observing her predicament, the students got to work in the rice paddy.

Corbett remembers how much the group learned from this experience. “Rather than put on someone else’s shoes to learn about them, we had to take ours off,” she says. “We were in the mud up to our knees for over five hours doing backbreaking work. It was so eye-opening to learn the intricate process of planting. . . . I think we all left with a new appreciation for rice. None of us ever want to let a single grain of rice fall off a table ever again.”

 

BRINGING IT BACK HOME

Even though their Public and Global Health Nursing course was not in a hospital setting, students found that the things they learned had extraordinary applications in their own healthcare practice.

“When students step out of their ethnocentric viewpoint, they gain the ability to see the world in a different way,” Corbett says. “They can take that and use it whenever they treat a patient from another culture. They can understand the patient’s belief and use that to help heal them.”

And students learned that cultural beliefs can vary from patient to patient. They found that some Hmong people were culturally opposed to a hospital visit while others would choose the option when they need it.

“You can’t just assume something about an individual based on the culture,” says Megan Zitting (BS ’09, MS ’16), a graduate student who came on the trip as an assistant. “What an individual believes about healthcare and what they desire the moment they’re sick and need treatment might be completely different.”

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LOOKING FORWARD

The inaugural Vietnam trip provided an excellent foundation for coming trips. This year organizers plan on helping the Hmong trek guides learn first-aid and dental-hygiene education and practices.

Students will continue to bring a minimal amount of first-aid and dental hygiene items. They do not want to change the Hmong people, just provide them with healthcare concepts. “We want them to be self-sufficient and not rely on outsiders bringing things to them. Our plan is to bring materials they wouldn’t have access to but need,” Corbett says.

Zitting adds, “You have to dig deep and establish connections in a place before you can help them. You have to be able to see what their needs are and see what you actually can or cannot do to help them. Some people have this idea that they can just help people everywhere, but it takes some time and relationship building to be able to get in there and make a difference. And we’ve got a great start in Vietnam.”

This story was published in our spring 2017 college magazine. It was written by Nathan Brown, a college student employee.

An Arabic Major’s Humorous Experience Learning How to Administer an IV

Watch the video version of this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJYqP5tS_uA.

“Be sure to inform the patient of the prick…”

I vaguely registered these words as I stared at the computer monitor. The presentation seemed to be dragging itself out a little, and my concentration was slipping.

“Be sure to properly dispose any blood-splattered material…”

My eyes shot open. Run that by me again? Blood-splattered material? Was I practicing to be a nurse or a butcher?

The flurry of medical terms that began erupting from the headphones about cannulation and catheters confirmed that indeed, this was IV placement training, and augmented how out of place I felt in the Mary Jane Rawlins Geertsen Nursing Learning Center.

My name is Steven Tibbitts, and I am a public relations assistant in the BYU College of Nursing. I am also a Middle East Studies/Arabic major. This means that when nursing faculty and students start talking about dyspnea and dilation, I’m usually grabbing a dictionary.

Given my non-medical background, it was decided that I would go through some of the same computer/machine training for IV placement that nursing students complete in order to write a story on the difficulty level.

Summary to the non-initiated—it’s hard. Lazy readers can stop here.

NLC Assistant Supervisor Kristen Whipple guided me through the process, giving me the same instructions she gives to normal students. The whole system is composed of a computer program and a small machine to which you administer the IV. For a nursing student to pass, they have to earn a 73% on the procedure.

I first had to watch several training videos. They made me feel good by reminding me how much easier Arabic is to understand than medical terminology.

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“What does this all mean?”

Following that, an image flashed on the screen about a patient to whom I would administer an IV, complete with a backstory about the accident that put her in the hospital. I could not help but think that the accident might not wind up being the worst part of her day by the time we were done.

It was time to get down to business. I selected the mid-arm as the injection point, and then scrambled to figure out what supplies I would require, my lack of understanding evident in the questions I asked myself aloud. How many needles? Which kind? Wait, IV needles come in gauges? (Nursing students, try not to mock me too much here.)

The program then had me prepare to administer the IV, first by informing the patient of the impending procedure, and then putting on rubber gloves with a satisfying snap. It then instructed me to test the viability of my selected injection site. This was accomplished by touching the part of the machine that mimicked human skin and feeling the pulse that it generated.

Easy, I thought, just like surgery class in first grade when Miss Conn taught us how to identify strong blood flow by palpating the patient’s veins…wait…

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“Here goes nothing…oh wait, there’s blood!”

With a site selected, I washed it on the computer and then realized that it was actually time to use the pointy thing. I apologized profusely to the imaginary patient, picked up the needle, and gingerly began to maneuver it into the hole on the machine that represented the insertion point. I watched my progress on the screen, realizing that most likely a real patient would be filling out lawsuit papers by now with the arm that I had not maimed.  However, after some fiddling, I did manage to place the catheter.

About that point, I remembered that I needed to warn the patient that I was going to place the IV, so they received a heads up a solid two minutes after the fact.

As you might guess, my initial score was not superb.  The report had many tips that Whipple helped me understand, like not moving the needle back and forth in the vein (be grateful that I will never be a nurse) and warning the patient before I poke them.

I practiced several times, achieved a 92 on the third, and then called it quits when my scores began precipitously plummeting to the 60s. In fact, I never managed to completely the procedure successfully by the program’s standards. One of the times even resulted in the patient bleeding profusely (this attempt is highlighted in the above video).

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“I need to flee the country before they sue!”

While I was contemplating my failure, Whipple explained to me the same thing that she does to Type A nursing students who get only a 73.

Obviously, the computer program is not a real patient. It is like a nursing video game whose purpose is to initiate students into IV training. This training is coupled with practicing on manikin arms and other materials, so the skill is finely honed during first semester, despite what people’s initial results may be with the machine. It is all about practice.

The experience showed me that a) I’m happy to stick with العربي and b) nursing students are very well trained and capable. Their program is rigorous and ensures that students are able to provide care in an effective way, all with the Spirit. The BYU College of Nursing holds its students to a high standard, which translates into better patient care and safer medical practices.

In summary, if you’re in a hospital and you find a BYU College of Nursing graduate administering your IV, rest easy, you’re in good hands.

If it’s me, run for the hills.

Nursing Student Works to Raise Money to Combat Childhood Cancer and Honor His Grandfather

BYU College of Nursing student James Reinhardt’s grandfather has always been a positive example for him. He loves admiring his grandfather’s woodwork in the handmade clock in the family house, and he describes the former elementary school teacher as a peacemaker and a critical influence in the life of Reinhardt’s father.

There is only one catch: Reinhardt has never met him. His grandfather died of cancer in 1991, but his legacy lives on. That legacy is inspiring Reinhardt to participate in the Great Cycling Challenge USA fundraiser this June, where he will be biking hundreds of miles to raise money to combat childhood cancer.

“I saw it on Facebook, of all places,” Reinhardt says of the event. “It’s essentially where people across the nation will ride for the fight against cancer.” For the challenge, riders pledge to ride a certain number of miles, and they recruit friends and family to donate either by each mile or in a lump sum. Reinhardt hopes to reach $500 by the end of the month.

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Reinhardt’s grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1991

To complete the challenge, Reinhardt is using a bike that actually belonged to his father while he was in college, and his grandfather’s story drives him to reach the 200-mile goal he has set.

“It’s cool to me to be riding my dad’s bike in honor of his dad who passed from cancer because we all think we’re going to be 100 and that you’re going to be able to see your great grandkids,” he says. “Well, he has to see them from the other side of the veil. That would be pretty cool if we could get more and more research so people could expect to live past their retirement age.”

The Great Cycle Challenge USA’s website says that its riders have gone 3,397,199 miles over the past two years and have raised $4,717,515 for cancer research. Riders often offer incentives to donors to contribute, and Reinhardt is considering letting the highest donor choose a costume for him to wear the last week of June.

Anyone who wishes to support Reinhardt can go to his rider page to donate (https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/JamesReinhardt). Others who want to be riders can go to the Great Cycle Challenge USA website and sign up.

Learning the Truth Behind The Healer’s Art

As a part of the 50th anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, a book was compiled called “The Healer’s Art: 50 stories for 50 years.” It has been 15 years since this book was first published and these stories were shared. We plan to regularly post selections from this book to help each of us remember and cherish the experiences of nursing and learning the Healer’s art. 

Learning the Truth Behind The Healer’s Art

Robyn Carlsen

When I began college, choosing a major was hard because I found it unfathomable to have to decide on that one thing I enjoyed enough to commit to for the rest of my life. When I finally chose nursing and began the prerequisites, it made so much sense. I had been sick much of my life with asthma, allergies, kidney stones, and infections; I felt there was no one better to empathize with those in pain. After all, what more could an eighteen year old girl go through? I had been in the hospital more times than all my known acquaintances combined. When I began the nursing program, I was confident in the hospital setting, with the medical terms, and with the seemingly complicated medical technology. I was going to be able to master this profession. I guess I could say I was “prepared” many years before! All of my confident empathy and nonchalance regarding patients vanished one term. It forever changed how I thought about myself and how I interacted with others.

During an oncology nursing elective, I arrived at the children’s hospital outpatient oncology clinic prepared to learn as much as I could about childhood cancer. We saw the first patient around 8:00 am and prepared him to see the doctor and answer any questions. Matt and his mother were waiting inside one of the exam rooms. The nurse had prepared me to see the patient by telling me about the patient’s disease, history, and reason for the visit while walking to the room. Matt was a seven year old who had been diagnosed with Leukemia over a year ago. It had gone into remission, only to be rediscovered a month ago. At the beginning of every patient’s new treatment cycle, they were given a treatment calendar that displayed all the different injections, chemotherapy, and radiation appointments scattered over the next few weeks.

As I went over all of the appointments with Matt and his mother, something sprang alive inside me. Big eyes, scrapes on his knees, and dirty hands all contributed to the picture worthy of a Saturday Evening Post cover. Matt was old enough to know what was happening to his young body. He had not yet had a chance to attend school without this diagnoses hanging over his head. He was learning to read from the books that were stacked next to the IV poles and learning to tell time from the clocks that hung over his chemotherapy. It was an uncertain future for a boy who had barely had time to dream, but still had large ones.

I began to think about all the things he needed and how little my nursing knowledge and hospital experience mattered to this boy with a potentially fatal disease. I knew my controlled asthma, antibiotics, and dreams for the future were not the things that were going to enable me to sympathize with and help these patients. There was nothing I had experienced that would compare to the courage this boy was already required to show the world because of the harsh regular treatments he had to endure and unsure future he looked forward to.

As a student, I had extra time to spend with patients, and I quickly learned pediatric patients loved to play games. I played checkers with him to pass the time. When waiting for a doctor or for a treatment to end, it always seemed like the minutes stretched on for days. I never was very good at checkers and when he beat me for the second time in a row, I smiled and threw up my hands in defeat, “Why do I try playing against a master? You are just too good. Tell me your secrets!” He giggled and looked at me innocently while setting up the checkers for another triumph. We played until his mother got back from lunch, the treatment was over, and he had to leave. I waved goodbye and was rewarded with a blue smile – the product of a large sucker he was given.

I knew the things I had previously relied on to give me the credentials needed to survive nursing heartache and triumph day after day did not include a special insight into hospitalization. I wanted all the patients who were facing the unknown to know that although I had not experienced the many things they were dealing with, I did have something more than understanding: I had love.

Oh, It’s a Jolly Holiday with Leslie! Yoga and Fingerpainting Are Back In Style In Nursing Relaxation

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major. This post contains the summaries of two of the previous classes, with the first focusing on yoga and the second on fingerpainting.

Part One: On Pain, Reflexology, and Yoga Nidra

I showed up to the stress management class excited, ready to finger-paint. I noticed quickly that everyone was wearing comfortable clothes, and was informed that there had been a change. It was now yoga day, and I was in jeans.

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Students prepare to follow instructor Maria in yoga.

Yoga and I have always had an interesting relationship. Once while visiting the mission doctor, his wife had made me do intensive yoga while I waited, a process that just barely fell short of violating the eighth amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

I thought that I had escaped, but I was later called in to translate for a meeting with her and my mission president, in which to my horror I found myself communicating my mission president’s desire for her to teach yoga to the entire mission. That’s how the Chile Santiago North Mission found itself doing yoga at zone conferences in suits and ties, and how I became a wanted man.

For the class, we had an instructor named Maria who teaches therapeutic yoga as a way to help patients recover from medical issues. Maybe, just maybe, she could de-stress a bunch of Type A nursing students and an Arabic major doing yoga in a button up.

We started by rolling a racquetball under our feet. This was based on the ideas of reflexology, a school of thought that says that points on the hands and feet are connected to the rest of the body. By relieving those points, you can relieve other areas like the back.

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Students massage their feet with racquetballs. Reflexology says that this will help them take pressure off various points in their bodies.

Now came real yoga. We did moves that aimed to help our muscles relax. We bent over, twisted, and performed various motions. Through it all, I found myself slowly starting to feel a bit less tense. All the while, Maria explained the benefit of each move. At one point, she told assistant teaching professor Leslie Miles that we would be working on something to help her back.

“Yay, we’re going to fix me!” she cried out in glee. We all were repeating that statement in our heads.

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Maria shows students how to prepare for the puppy pose.

One of our final move combinations was first to put our legs against the wall and leave them there for several minutes. Then we laid on our backs and adjusted our feet so that our backs had less pressure.

That was when it happened—I suddenly felt asleep, but I was awake. It was a weird, halfway point. I stayed in that immensely relaxed state for a few minutes until it was time to get up, upon which Maria informed me that I had been in yoga nidra. I’m still not sure what that means, but it was nice.

By the end of the session, I felt more relaxed, as usual. This class is so helpful for figuring out the ways to de-stress that best work for each person.

Now, if you come across me with my legs propped against the wall not talking, just keep walking. It’s just yoga nidra.

 

Part Two: Oh, It’s a Jolly Holiday with Leslie!

It was the afternoon. Students milled around, hauling large sheets of paper and eagerly grabbing the paint. Fingers were saturated in orange, blue, red, yellow, and purple as they worked to create masterpieces. Sometimes it got on the desks, but the teacher was used to this.

Spoiler: this isn’t a kindergarten class. This is nursing stress management, and I may or not have been the main culprit behind the paint on the desk (I cleaned it up!).

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Students gather supplies for painting and coloring.

Assistant teaching professor Leslie Miles had brought in lots of paper, both to color and to fingerpaint. Everyone was excited. Today was art and music therapy day, possibly the most anticipated class of the term.

After reviewing our stress levels in groups, we proceeded to discuss how music aids relaxation. Miles explained that not all music is equal in this area—songs with various chord changes are better suited than many modern songs, which are simply repetitive. She impersonated a rap song, but my life would be in jeopardy if I dared repeat it here.

With that, we each got our supplies and began our artistic adventures. In the background, Miles was blaring one of her favorite albums—the original Mary Poppins soundtrack.

I began a relentless campaign to replace every white spot on my paper with some color. In the end, my creation resembled many of my friends returning home from the Festival of Colors.

Others, however, were superbly done. Miles was surprised at the quality of the artwork, and I was surprised at how each student seemed to be focused wholly on the project and not any impending nursing deadlines.

I could go on, but pictures here do more justice than words.

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On Prayer, Gumption, and Gratitude

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

Shortly after I entered class, Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles was beginning to tell a story from one of the times she took nursing students to study in Finland. We all were busting a gut (or LOLing, in the terminology of my fellow millennials), but the story ended up laying the foundation for the rest of the class.

Basically, she and her students were struggling to get around during Finland’s equivalent of 4th of July. Both the public areas and the tram they managed to get on were crowded with rowdy, inebriated Finns who were making life, shall we say, interesting for the students. To make matters worse, the tram stopped far from their desired destination and the conductor, who didn’t speak English, wanted them to get off.

Through a combination of prayer and gumption, Miles somehow managed to convey to the driver that they needed to go to their hospice. Under no requirement to do so, he left his assigned route and graciously drove them through the city to their hospice, ignoring angry people waiting to board at other stations. It was nothing short of miraculous.

The off-the-cuff tale was followed by the usual review of our week and our stress levels. The topic of our discussion was to be gratitude. I wondered if this would be like one of many Sunday School lessons I had heard on the topic. However, Sunday School lessons usually don’t start with a Ted Talk.

In it, a little girl and an old man give their perspectives on life. The little girl matter-of-factly acknowledges how much adventure lies outside her home, while the older gentleman says that each of us should live each day as if it were our first and our last. This was an interesting thought, since frequently, life tends to get in the way of us stopping to smell the roses or enjoying a fresh Cougar Tail.

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Students discuss their stress levels.

Miles poignantly asked the students if they had lost their imagination since entering nursing school. There were chuckles, but everyone was wondering the same thing: had they?

Miles discussed how oftentimes it is hard to be grateful in stressful situations. These situations test us and push us to the limit, which makes finding things to be grateful for even more important. Calmness can come, she assured us.

Then she weaved in her earlier story—the reason that she had been calm on that tram in Finland, she said, was because “I knew that I would be guided to what I had to do.” That trust in God had allowed her to protect the students and get home safely.

With that, we were assigned to make lists of things for which we were grateful. The lists were not to be just the typical answers like life and the Gospel, but more specific ideas. Some that came to me included not having to use Roman numerals and the fact that I have shoelaces (and shoes, on top of that). As we discussed our simple responses, we realized just how much good we have in our lives.

The best part, Miles said, was that if we made it a habit to do this kind of exercise, we would be not only be more relaxed, but we would have more to talk about with Heavenly Father at the end of the day.

This class may not have had as much interactive activities like the last few times, but it did manage to open my mind more on the topic of gratitude. I could not help but think of President Hinckley, who said, “Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” How true indeed.