Category Archives: Current Issues

“There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

By Corbin Smith

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Tanner is so excited about her first semester at BYU!

As a society, we are captivated by people who don’t let physical limitations control and define their lives. We love hearing about those who don’t accept “you can’t do that” as a valid excuse. Influential figures like President Roosevelt and Stephen Hawking were confined to a wheelchair during their public lives, but did that ever stop them? Never. One of the coolest parts about being a nurse is that you are always surrounded by amazing people that have their own tough yet inspiring circumstances. New BYU College of Nursing faculty member, assistant professor Dr. Corinna Tanner, has dedicated her life to serving this demographic, a group that is especially close to her heart.

As a young girl, Tanner lived a relatively normal life. She went to school and played with her friends, just as any young girl would do. She lived with a small vision impairment, but when she was 14 years old, that impairment began to affect her a lot more. “We had to go to the medical specialists and figure out what it was. It wasn’t that I just needed glasses, I had another type of an eye problem,” Tanner remembers.

As it turns out, Tanner was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a genetic disease that causes progressive damage to the macula, the area of the eye that is responsible for straight-ahead vision. This means that those with Stargardt disease can only see out of their peripheral vision.

Tanner is the first to admit that growing up wasn’t easy. “I had to put a lot of energy into the things I did,” she says, “I wasn’t able to do reading and math and other school subjects the way that other kids did, so I just had to work harder.”

Even with her eyesight worsening as time went on, Tanner was able to find her niche. She learned how to play the violin purely by ear and also pursued dance. In fact, when Tanner came to BYU as an undergraduate student, her original major was dance!

It wasn’t until later that Tanner found nursing. Years later she became a single mother who needed to provide for 3 kids. In that circumstance, she looked into what a possible nursing career could bring. “I thought there would be so many opportunities in nursing, because I could see nurses doing things that I could imagine myself doing, in spite of my vision impairment,” she says, “What I didn’t expect was that I would be able to develop a specialty helping the blind, and I could use my own life experience to help others.”

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Tanner loves this painting of Christ healing a blind man. She tries to emulate Christ’s love each day.

By taking 24 credits a semester, Tanner was able to complete two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree in 5 years! One was a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Metropolitan State University and the other was a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado, while adding a Masters in Nursing from the same university. She then went on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Utah.

Getting her degrees was not easy, especially with 3 kids at home and vision impairment, but she never let any of it stop her. At school, she used special instruments that allowed her to do the same things her classmates were doing. Meanwhile at home, she dedicated the weekends to her family so she could support her children however she could, and she continues that to this day!

With her university training and expertise, Tanner has worked constantly to help those who suffer from vision loss. Prior to coming to BYU as a professor, she worked as a health educator at the John A. Moran Eye Center and the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. She still teaches a vision loss orientation seminar there and offers those who are new to blindness various tricks, tips, and resources to use their remaining vision optimally.

She also takes her knowledge and skills abroad, to help visually impaired communities outside of the US live fulfilling lives. Among her many volunteer efforts, in the past, she has worked with LDS charities in Barbados, which she plans on continuing soon.

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Tanner has already done so much for the blind community, but she doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. She knows that she can bring a special perspective that can help others overcome trials in their life. She explains, “I have a great career in nursing, not, despite my blindness, like I thought, but because of my blindness.”

Tanner has since re-married and now has a little 5-year old to keep her and her husband company at home. She enjoys going to concerts, traveling with her family and keeping a small garden.

 

 

 

Welcoming New Faculty Member Brandon Thatcher

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Realizing that teaching seminary may not pay the bills but wanting to use spirituality and helping others to make a difference in a career, assistant teaching professor Brandon Thatcher earned a bachelor of art in Spanish from Utah State University as a prerequisite for a fast track nursing program. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in 2009 and a master’s degree in 2013—both in nursing from the University of Utah.

Before becoming a board-certified psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), he worked for five years as the charge nurse for both the child and adolescent inpatient units at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute in Salt Lake City. As a PMHNP, he worked in various settings including a psychiatric crisis center, several substance use disorder treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and at the BYU Student Health Center on an outpatient basis.

Thatcher has also been an adjunct clinical instructor for the BYU College of Nursing since 2014. He recently teamed up with professor emerita Dr. Barbara Heise for a publication on child suicide screening methods.

He currently teaches the stress management course, preview to nursing course, and the psych/mental health nursing class and clinical. During the 2019 spring term, he accompanied another professor and ten nursing students in Ghana, Africa, as part of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course.

Employment at the university lets him include a spiritual side to healthcare when teaching students. He values the religious aspects that can be added to mental health discussion and healing. As a practitioner with the student health center, he saw the Lord’s hand in many things. “When a student required a few or many additional minutes for a session, the subsequent time slots would always cancel, allowing the time we needed. This happened in every instance I needed more time with my patients for three and a half years,” he shares.

He and his wife, Danina, have three children. He enjoys family time most of all, playing guitar, wrestling kids (his own), watercolor painting, and spending time outdoors.

Stroke Awareness Month: An Unlikely Hero

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Zak Gowans is happy that his dad, Ben, successfully survived a stroke. 

By Corbin Smith

There are very few things that can happen in a person’s life that can flip it completely upside down. Receiving a cancer diagnosis or the death of a loved one are just two examples. There is one, though, that many do not realize affects so many people each day.

Due to this fact, each May the world celebrates Stroke Awareness Month, reminding us the importance of being able to recognize and react to a stroke.

In 2016, strokes were the second leading cause of death in the world, amounting to almost 6 million deaths worldwide. Next month, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke; most unaware they are even at risk!

Since it is close to impossible to know when a stroke will strike, the National Stroke Association has created an easy-to-remember acronym called F.A.S.T to help identify the symptoms of a stroke. By knowing and quickly following F.A.S.T when you suspect someone is having a stroke, you could literally save someone’s life.

An Unlikely Hero

March 23, 2019 started as a normal day for Ben and Zak Gowans. Zak, the videographer for the College of Nursing’s media team, was spending some time doing homework in his room. His dad, Ben, having spent the day at his parents’ home, had just sat down on his bed to watch Avengers: Infinity War.

After a few minutes, wanting a break from homework, Zak came into the room and sat down on the bed to watch the movie with his dad. “The way we were laying, we couldn’t see each other. Then he sat up and looked at me. I saw his pupils were huge and he looked really confused. All I could ask was, ‘Are you okay?’” says Zak.

From Ben’s perspective he says, “I remember sitting there and thinking ‘I’ve seen this movie before but it doesn’t make sense what’s happening.’ I looked at my hands, and they were like someone else’s hands. They were moving oddly, not responding quite right, so I sat up a little and looked over at Zak.”

Zak jumped up, turned the movie off and ran over to the other side of the bed. “He couldn’t speak. I knew it was something with his brain, because he was acting very strange,” says Zak. “As I called 911,” Zak laughs, “My dad even started shaking his head no.” “It was because it was going to be expensive,” jokes Ben.

Within the next ten minutes, the paramedics arrived and Ben’s wife got back home from the grocery store to a great surprise. From the moment they arrived to when he made it to the hospital, he was bombarded with questions. “Every question they asked I knew the answer too, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I knew what to say but I couldn’t communicate it,” says Ben.

Stroke of Luck

The next few hours were filled with uncertainty and medical tests. He was given a CT scan to see what type of stroke he was having and where the blood clot was in his brain. He was offered a potentially dangerous clot-busting medicine to begin dissolving the clots.

After that, the emotional trial began. “I remember the first night. I was in a dark room and I couldn’t fall asleep. I remember laying there thinking that I wish I had just died. This was going to be a terrible life, and I didn’t want to do that. I just wished I had bled out,” says Ben.

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Ben was comforted by his family on his way to recovery.

He had a long line of people rooting for him, though, not letting him give up. His wife, Julie, stayed with him all night in the ICU and told him, “I’m not done with you, you can’t leave yet.” The next morning a steady stream of family members and neighbors from the community came in and helped strengthen him.

Ben amazed doctors and physical therapists by how quickly he regained his movement. On the other hand, they were puzzled with how a healthy 45-year-old man had suffered a stroke. Through some tests, they found an 8-millimeter hole in his heart, where a tiny clot had gotten through and shot straight up to his brain, causing the stroke.

After an operation to close the small hole, Ben is living a fairly normal and healthy life. He now laughs about the experience saying, “We joke about it all the time, it’s just good times. I don’t want to be sensitive about it, that’s just my personality.” Even in the face of hardship, Ben lives his life with a smile on his face.

Ben is very thankful to the nurses he had at Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Utah. “They lifted my spirits quite a bit and they were also very attentive,” he says. He is especially thankful, though, for the swift reaction of Zak. “I’m very fortunate that Zak was able to recognize the symptoms,” he says. Who knows if he would be here today without Zak’s actions?

Although Zak is not a nursing or medical student, he was able to save a life by simply knowing stroke symptoms and how to react. A stroke can hit in any moment, and it is important that we also know what to do, in case we need to become a hero in an instant.

 

Follow the link below to learn more about the risks as well as how to recognize and react to a stroke.

https://www.stroke.org/

Graduate Student Creates Coolsculpting Guide for Nurse Practitioners

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Photo of Harper. Photo by college employee Andrew Holman.

By Quincey Taylor

Body image is a hot topic in today’s society. From weight loss pills to diet regimens, it’s important for individuals to take the safe option for their own body type. Coolsculpting, also known as cryolipolysis, is one of the newest options on the market for individuals to change their body shape. Millie Harper, second year graduate student in the BYU College of Nursing, is creating a guide with the help of associate dean and professor Dr. Jane Lassetter for nurse practitioners to become more informed about this procedure in order to give the best care and advice to their patients.

It all started when Lassetter was at a beauty salon and noticed the coolsculpting procedure being done. “That didn’t really sit well with her,” explains Harper, “She thought that that should be something that should be overseen by health providers. She wanted to investigate further about the requirements and the risks and see if that was something that should be done in a beauty salon.”

Since then, Lassetter has done extensive research and has enlisted the help of Harper, acting as the chair of Harper’s writing project. This scholarly paper, which takes the place of Harper’s thesis, will act as a guide for nurse practitioners who may have patients who are interested in coolsculpting. Harper expounds that this will allow nurses to answer patients’ questions like, “Am I candidate? Would this be a good option for me? Is this something I should investigate further?” This guide will allow practitioners to be able to direct them to the best option.

In many cases, coolsculpting has provided lasting results for localized fat reduction. The procedure essentially freezes – and kills – fat cells in the body with a gel vacuum which are then reabsorbed into the system. Many times the process is focused on a certain area of the body, like the abdomen or upper arms. This isn’t necessarily a weight loss procedure, however, it focuses more on the sculpting of the body into a desirable shape.

Harper tells of the risks that are involved with the procedure, especially if the facility is questionable. She says, “Putting a cold device on your skin for 30 minutes isn’t always a good idea.” The biggest risk is frostbite, but other risks include increasing lipid levels and changing the chemical nature inside your body. Many times the individuals operating the machines have attended only a three-day course, and are only overseen from a distance by medical spa professionals.

It is important for nurses to be informed about this procedure because of its growing popularity. Body image is a big issue for a lot of people,” Harper says, “It’s important to be educated about it.”

 

Fulbright Scholar Award: Dr. Sheri Palmer

By Mindy Longhurst

20181022_114839_HDRAn image of teaching professor Dr. Sheri Palmer with people from the National University of Asuncion. Image courtesy of Palmer.

Teaching professor Dr. Sheri Palmer has had an incredible year spending time in Paraguay for two significant nursing projects including a Fulbright Scholar Award.

Studying teenage pregnancy in Paraguay

This past August, Palmer with two other faculty members and five nursing students went to Paraguay on a research project to learn more about teenage pregnancy in Paraguay.

Palmer first came to love the people of Paraguay while serving a welfare mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly after receiving her RN license thirty years ago. Since her time in Paraguay as a missionary, she has had a strong desire to go back and serve the people that she loves. While pondering this, Palmer came in contact with a nursing student named Rachel Trujillo who also served a mission for the Church in Paraguay. As they discussed their love for the people, Trujillo remembered the high teenage pregnancy rate in Paraguay and wanted to do something to help. She discussed this with Palmer and they decided to get a research team together to learn more about the teenage pregnancy rate in Paraguay.

(Watch a video about Trujillo and Palmer deciding on what to research in Paraguay https://youtu.be/BKjP1zyPqY0)

To study the teenage pregnancy, the students and professors went to Paraguay to interview local leaders and teachers about what might be contributing to the high rate of teenage pregnancy. Of these interviews, nursing student Julia Lee says, “We asked what is the frequency of teenage pregnancy here, what risk factors contribute to a teenager getting pregnant, what is happening now to prevent or reduce teenage pregnancy, and what suggestions does this person have to reduce teenage pregnancy.”

(Watch a video about the interview process https://youtu.be/nCzNfEdv7rY)

While they were in the schools in Cerrito, they would teach the girls from ages 8+ about maturation and sex education. They also provided each of the girls with a Days for Girls kit. This kit included underwear with built in washable pads so that the girls would be able to be clean during their menstrual cycle. Third semester nursing student Cortney Welch says, “I think teaching Days for Girls was really beneficial to those we were able to reach out to.” Trujillo expounds, “I think it will make a big difference, especially since our guides are now going around with Sheri, teaching the curriculum to other people. It has been cool because we have left other people in place to continue the legacy.”

(Watch a video about the Days for Girls program https://youtu.be/KA46WPHvqK8)

The 10 day research experience for the nursing students and faculty members was a great experience! Megan Hancock says, “I loved it! The entire time I was there I felt blessed to be there. It was nice knowing that what we are doing would lead to interventions that actually work because we were researching what is and what is not working.”

Fulbright Scholar Award

For six weeks from mid-October to the beginning of December Palmer was able to stay in Paraguay to help teach the nurses, teachers and students about nursing with her Fulbright Scholar Award. The Fulbright Scholar Award allows Palmer to be a visiting scholar to the national university in Paraguay (National University of Asuncion). Palmer was able to teach nursing classes to faculty members and students of the college in five different cities. She was able to teach at the Paraguayan Nursing Association, at private hospitals, public hospitals and at the Ministry of Health.

20181022_154935An image of Palmer with other medical professionals in Paraguay. Image courtesy of Palmer.

This is the first round of a two year experience in Paraguay for the Fulbright Scholar Award. The second round will be next March and April and the third round will be sometime in 2020. Going back and helping the Paraguayan people over the course of two years will help Palmer to make the biggest difference possible.

The love that Palmer has for the people of Paraguay is so evident, she lights up when she speaks about the people she has met while there. When Palmer would introduce herself and start her classes in Paraguay she would always try to explain the love that she and others have for the Paraguayan people. She explains, “Almost every time I was able to tell them about my mission, I would tell them that they were important. Just being able to express my love for them. It was neat to let them know that people think about you and care for you. We want the best for you.”

Palmer wants all of the nurses in Paraguay to feel empowered and to know that they are affecting so many lives. She says, “Empowering nurses is so important. One of the reasons I was there was to help empower the nurses, help their value of nursing to be greater in the country, to be looked upon as a worthy profession.” When she left the different cities she was teaching in, she did not realize the impact that she would have on others, just like the nurses in Paraguay do not always understand the impact they have on others.

Palmer is currently preparing for her next phase of the Fulbright Scholar Award. Palmer is eagerly looking forward to her next return to Paraguay!

To read more about Palmer’s experiences with her Fulbright Scholar Award read her blog https://palmerfulbrightinparaguay.wordpress.com/.

University Launches SafeWalk Feature on BYU App

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By Quincey Taylor

When I came to BYU, it was the first time that I found myself walking home alone in the dark. I had always had a car when I lived with my parents, so to be all by myself in a new environment was somewhat intimidating, especially as an 18 year old girl. I had an evening class and had to walk across campus every night to my apartment in Helaman Halls. Nothing scary or dangerous ever happened to me, but it would have made a huge difference to feel safe as I was walking to and from class at night.

BYU is one of the safest college campuses in the nation. According to Business Insider, an American business news website, BYU was ranked the number one safest college campus in the nation of 2016.* While number of assaults on BYU campus is low compared to other universities, unfortunate things still happen. It is sometimes difficult for victims to feel there is help in those vulnerable moments.

To address this concern of many BYU students, a team of students on the BYUSA Student Council set out to develop and launch a mobile service to help students feel safer. In the past, students were able to call a Safewalk hotline and be physically escorted home by a police officer. However, it is impossible for officers to walk all 33,000 students home. This feature was created as a “virtual escort” so that each student that wanted to take advantage of this service is able to. Launched during the 2017 fall semester, this app allows the BYU Police Department to monitor your location to ensure you reach your destination safely. It was even featured on Campus Security and Life Safety, a magazine focusing on efforts schools are making to become safer.

Follow these steps to try it out today:

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SafeWalk is a new feature on the BYU mobile app. To find it, click “Add Features” and select it from the list. You will need to click “Launch.” I tried it out on a stroll across campus and it was easy to use. It is important to read all the instructions in order to get the best use from the app. You will be asked to confirm your phone number to ensure they have the correct one.

 

 

 

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Next, you specify your destination by clicking on the map and setting a pin. Click “Confirm Destination” and your location will begin to be monitored by the BYU Police. You will receive a confirmation text to ensure that it is working.

 

 

 

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As you walk, your screen will show a red circle that, if clicked, will call the BYU Police immediately. Please do NOT close the app without ending your Safewalk session or the police will dispatch someone to check on you. Once you have reached your destination, click “I’ve Arrived Safely” to end the Safewalk. You will receive a text stating that your location is no longer being tracked.

Lt. Steven Messick with the BYU Police Department says about the new feature, “I think we live in a time where the need may be just the fact that we’re able to do it, and maybe there’s been a need for a long, long time, for this type of thing. We can do it now, we know how to do it and so why shouldn’t we use that to make BYU a safer place?” So, if you are ever uneasy or even just curious, try it out! You can never be too careful, even on a campus like BYU.

 

*See link for Business Insider article: https://www.businessinsider.com/safest-college-campuses-in-america-2016-1

Three Nursing Student Experiences with Ohio Internship

By Mindy Longhurst

all threeImage of Christin Hickman, James Reinhardt and Cortney Welch at The Ohio State University. Image courtesy of Hickman.

Three College of Nursing students were able to research with some of the best mentors in the field of cancer research this summer with The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). The experiences that they had this summer were once in a lifetime (to learn more about how they received the internship opportunity read our previous article https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/a-really-good-big-deal/). Christin Hickman, Cortney Welch and James Reinhardt were able to work with a team of fellow researchers on a certain topic about cancer or cancer-related research. The team that they worked with involved a statistician, a PhD supervisor and a few other research students. In Ohio, a study was conducted that focused on a wide range of health topics, from this information each of the students focused on one aspect of the questionnaire for possible correlations. Following the summer’s research, they worked on publishing an article about their research and presented to a room full of PhD professors on their research findings.

templeImage of Christin Hickman and others at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Columbus, Ohio temple. Image courtesy of Welch.

Christin’s experience

Christin Hickman, a fourth semester nursing student, wanted to participate in this internship experience to see if she wanted to do research full-time in the future. During this time, Hickman focused on colorectal cancer, which is a very preventable form of cancer through regular colonoscopy screenings. Hickman was able to see if there was a difference in knowledge and awareness of colorectal screening rates for those who live in urban areas versus rural areas. Through studying and research, she discovered that in Ohio there is little difference in the knowledge and amount of screenings in rural versus urban participants. The experiences that she had in Ohio helped her to prepare for the future and understand more about how research works. Hickman explains, “This experience helped me to secure my destiny. It feels like research is really what I want to do with my life.” In the future Hickman wants to study more about precision medicine and genetic research.

cortney welch with posterImage of Cortney Welch with her poster that was presented to PhD professors of her research findings. Image courtesy of Welch.

Cortney’s experience

Third semester nursing student, Cortney Welch, enjoyed her time in Ohio. She was able to research if there was a correlation in social cohesion in communities and colorectal cancer screenings. By the end of the summer, she was able to conclude that there is not a correlation in social cohesion in communities and colorectal cancer screenings. Along with the research, Welch was also able to work in a blood sample lab for patients who are using clinical trials for cancer treatment. She was able to help centrifuge, aliquoted blood and labeled the blood samples. Welch loved the experience that she received in both research labs. Welch says, “The internship was a growing experience. When I came home from the internship, I felt accomplished that I had experienced my first taste of a full-time job. I had learned how to do research, how to write a paper. I felt like it was a great use of my summer. It was hard and it was frustrating at times and tedious but I think it was well worth my time. I learned a lot.”

all three with HimesImage of Hickman, Reinhardt and Welch with assistant professor Dr. Deborah Himes. Image courtesy of Hickman.

James’ experience

James Reinhardt, a fourth semester nursing student, was able to focus his research on preventing cancer through a research study on men’s overall health. He studied at-risk participants on how they rated their health. Reinhardt tried to understand why some men would rate their health as poor. Since many of the participants did not take the survey throughout the intervention process, it was very difficult for Reinhardt to come to any conclusion about why these men rated their health as low. However, throughout the process in Ohio, Reinhardt learned many lessons. Reinhardt expounds, “I hopefully will be able to better see road blocks in future research projects. My overall experience was great! We did get to work along with medical students and students from different schools so that was a cool mix to be in. I got to learn how research is vital.”

Overall, the College of Nursing students had a great experience in Ohio. They were able to learn and grow to become better nurses. They are now taking the skills that they learned in Ohio and are implementing them into their current nursing studies.