Category Archives: Events

Brad Walker: Helping All, From Coal Miners to Railroad Workers

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With a long and fruitful career, the College of Nursing is grateful for alumni like Brad Walker. Photo courtesy of Bingham Memorial Hospital.

By Quincey Taylor

Pioneers in the nursing field make leaps in the industry every day. We rely on their innovative research and technological developments to help nursing progress. There are also nurses that make social steps forward in the nursing world. One of those people is BYU alum Brad Walker (BS ’75), who joined the nursing community in a time period when male RNs made up only 2.7% of the working force.

When he came to BYU, Walker was one of the first male nursing students ever in the BYU nursing program. He is grateful for his experience at BYU, saying, “I feel that my education and training at BYU directed me and had me ready to begin a lifelong career. As I have practiced as a family nurse practitioner, I have made friends from every walk of life.”

He remembers once during his senior year, he was challenged to “go outside of nursing” and do something new or adventurous. He reflects on the experience, “So I went out to the skydiving school and made 2 jumps out of perfectly good airplanes.  I absolutely loved it.  I have never done it since.” He is grateful for the ways the college stretched and challenged him in all areas of life.

Brad went to college with the aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer, but his career path took a significant turn because of his mother. After the birth of Brad’s first child, she suggested a part-time job at the hospital to help pay for the bill. He started in housekeeping, and worked part time in the operating room. This experience peaked his interest in medicine and later that year, he was accepted into the RN program.

Walker, who is a recent retiree, had a long and fulfilling career after BYU. His first work experience was in East Carbon, Utah. He worked out of Utah Valley Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Keith Hooker. He was responsible for caring for the workers in two coal mines at the East Carbon Clinic. He routinely flew in Hooker’s private plane to rural clinicals. Walker remembers, “One day we were trying to take off from a plateau near Castledale, Utah.  As we started to take off, a gust of wind caught us and slammed the plane into the ground.  We walked away without any injuries of any kind.” He learned a lot with that experience, delving into the medical world as a nurse practitioner for the first time.

Walker and his family then moved to the Pocatello, Idaho area, where he practiced as a nurse practitioner for the past 41 years. His NP license number in the state of Idaho is only 85, illustrating how few NPs there were in Idaho at that time. He worked for several orthopedic surgeons, as well as worked in the ER for almost 20 years. He was one of the original Lifeflight crew members in his community. He not only worked with coal miners in his career, but even helped many railroad workers as well. He then worked at the UP Railroad clinic for 30 years.

He loved working with that population, and says, “I served the needs of many railroaders over the years. These men and women are like family to me. I am in the process of telling my patients goodbye. This is not easy. It’s been a great life and wonderful career starting with my time in the College of Nursing at BYU.”

Lastly, Walker worked for Bingham Memorial Hospital and had his own practice in Pocatello. He also worked for the past 20 years in urgent care clinics around the area. “One thing for sure,” Walker laughs, “I was never without a job or two.” Over the years, he developed a particular skill for suturing, one that served him well.

For a time, Walker would come down to BYU and help teach nurse practitioner students orthopedics and how to apply different casts and splints.  He worked in close connection with Vicki Anderson.  She also graduated with his class as a nurse practitioner in 1975.

Brad Walker and wife

Walker and his wife are excited for their new adventure. Photo courtesy of Walker. 

On April 1st, Walker and his wife left for their new adventure, serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is so grateful for his journey that started at BYU, saying, “BYU and the College of Nursing set me on a path for success and happiness.”

Walker looks back on his time at BYU with fondness, and continues to support the college. He loves to watch BYU sports and had season football tickets for almost 10 years. He concludes, “The Lord has taken care of myself, my wife and my family through a career as a nurse practitioner.  I have always had work, and worked at something that I loved.  Especially in taking care of many patients.  I love taking care of patients and being able to see them improve their health.” None of that would have been possible without BYU.

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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

Hyrums famHyrum and his young family.

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.”

 

Diego and Family

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.”

Sharing EHR with the World

HPSN world

Photo courtesy of the HPSN World website

By Corbin Smith

One of the greatest opportunities a university faculty member can have is to receive funding that allows them to give a presentation at an academic conference. Yes, you read that right. Paid travel to go give a presentation. That is exactly what happened to two of our faculty members: assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker and simulation operations supervisor Kristen Whipple. Last February, MedAffinity, a company that provides electronic heath records software and is the software used by the BYU College of Nursing, sent both Hunsaker and Whipple to the Human Patient Simulation Network (HPSN) World conference in Orlando, Florida to present on BYU’s success using EHR systems in the classroom.

Since the fall of 2016, the BYU College of Nursing has incorporated EHR software for the nursing students in semesters one through five and for graduate students in year one. As students complete labs and assignments, they input what they did into the EHR system. The labs that the students do can be reset after each lab, so students can have the same opportunity to complete the scenario. The flexibility that MedAffinity’s software provides is what helps BYU’s EHR system be so successful compared to other schools.

Many other universities have been wary about using EHR systems due to the difficulty to make it work properly and efficiently. Due to its persistence and patience, the college has shown that it can be done. “That’s what we were trying to do,” Whipple says of her purpose at the conference, “to tell people that it’s doable…and the things that we did could be done with any program.”

One aspect presented by Hunsaker and Whipple at the conference was an orientation implemented by the college. The orientation done by Whipple to students is “another big thing that changed our experience” she says. While nursing students are in their first semester, Whipple and her team of TAs go in and teach them how to input data and save their progress so each student can hit the ground running from day one. This has gone a long way in helping students effectively operate the software.

Over the last few years, university teaching of nursing has quickly turned to the realm of patient simulation and electronic health records, with the BYU College of Nursing leading the way. Hunsaker and Whipple are adamant that these programs will better prepare future nurses for their careers, and thanks to their work to motivate other universities to employ this new technology, the world of nursing is well on its way.

Thanks, SNA For Another Great Year!

By Jessica Tanner

What do J-Dawgs, College of Nurses’ students, and a dunk-tank all have in common? All were at yesterday’s closing social for the Student Nursing Association. The society is student-run and works to coordinate events and help students become more involved in the community.

At the closing social, students were able to enjoy the crisp but sunny spring weather, eat food, chat, and dunk their favorite teacher or staff member. Assistant Teaching Professor Scott Summers was a particularly popular target as students got him back (in good humor) for a tough semester in his Pharmacology class.

SNA knows how to have fun. Izzy Algeier, SNA’s newly nominated president says that SNA strives to “provide different activities so that they can de-stress and be able to have fun, make relationships, and ultimately to become more unified as a college.”  They also know when to be professional. “Our vision is to help students…have professional opportunities while they’re in the nursing program,” says Algeier.

“It’s been awesome,” says Kami Christiansen, an SNA board member. “I got to go to the National Student Nursing Association conference. That was way fun.” At NSNA, students represented BYU and its values. “I’m grateful for it,” says Christiansen as she looks forward to future involvement.

The evening also included the announcements of the recipients of the SNA Scholarship. Congratulations to Jessica Daynes, Camille Johnson, Megan Western, Christina Hobson, and Katy Harrison. These students showed excellence in participating in several professional and service-oriented SNA events.

Thanks to all SNA members who have made these opportunities and events possible. We look forward to another year!

 

Earthquake at the MTC: Nursing Students Participate in Mock Mass Casualty Incident

By Jessica Tanner

Watch the video of the mock Mass Casualty Incident here!

In the cool, dark tunnels beneath the Provo Missionary Training Center, 100 victims cried out for help. At 4:00 pm on March 30, 2019, an emergency call was answered by BYU Emergency Medical Services and College of Nursing students, who quickly came to the rescue. They handled the situation with level heads and caring hands, treating scrapes and bruises, broken bones and shock. Within a few hours, victims had been treated and cared for.

Similar emergency simulations takes place each semester for fifth-semester nursing students, organized by BYU EMS. Each time is a different situation and location. The most recent disaster was an earthquake. BYU theatre students volunteered to be earthquake victims, with fake wounds and ripped clothes to set the scene. Some had scratches and bruises, others missing eyes or fingers, some had broken bones, and others had glass embedded in their wounds. Once in the tunnel, these students did not hold back in acting the part of a victim—wounded and afraid, calling out for help and for loved ones.

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BYU EMS carry an earthquake victim

Nursing students and EMS rushed in from various locations, including BYU campus and near-by homes. They searched along the tunnel for those in critical condition. Amidst a cacophony of moans and screams, they were able to identify which victims were in the most need by a wristband that identified their vitals and condition. They tied red tags on victims in critical condition, yellow tags for less serious injuries, and green who were not in need of urgent treatment. Most victims, however, fell into the first two categories.

Students set up a treatment center with incredible speed—a large tarp near the tunnel entrance with medical supplies at the ready. EMS carried red-tagged victims to the treatment area. Here, nursing students and EMS were direct and compassionate as they asked questions, such as “What is your name?”, “Can you hear me?” or “Where does it hurt?” They reassured the victims, saying, “We’re going to take care of you, all right?” as they called out for oxygen and gauze. Working together, nursing students and EMS were able to treat those in need.

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A nursing student treats and calms an earthquake victim

“I hope that they’ll see another side of healthcare,” says associate teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters on what he hopes the nursing students have learned from the simulation. “They’re usually in a very controlled environment in the hospital and when things happen outside of a hospital it’s not controlled, it’s chaos. So I wanted them to get an understanding of what goes on before the patient gets to the hospital. And then also to be able to function if they were to be put in that type of situation; to at least have a little experience of what they could do as a nurse in the field if they had to.”

Mockdisaster2

Nursing students and BYU EMS work together to treat patients

One important skill students learned, besides basic treatments, is communication. Fifth-semester nursing student Jaylee Bastian says, “We were working with other EMS as well as the patients, so it was good to know how to communicate and be open and friendly especially with the patients because they were in such dire circumstances.” Even though those “dire circumstance” were simulated, participants like Bastian were fully engaged in the process.

Emergencies happen. But being prepared for these situations, not only through study but through practice, can calm chaos and save lives.

 

The Healer’s Art in Action: Year Three of The Magic Yarn Project

By Jessica Tanner

The Magic Yarn Project is an organization that has delivered thousands of yarn wigs and crocheted caps to little cancer fighters around the world. There is no shortage to the need for smiles and comfort amid times of hospitals, needles, and pain. But Holly Christensen, the organization’s co-founder, is determined to do what she can to help.

The project, which now includes hundreds of volunteers, began with a simple act of kindness. Christensen was praying for purpose in her life when she got sad news from her friend and fellow graduate Rachel Mecham (both graduated from BYU College of Nursing in ’06). Mecham’s daughter Lily had been diagnosed with lymphoma. For the next six months, their family spent 80 nights in the hospital. Mecham kept a blog on Lily’s progress to update family and friends (including Christensen). An oncologist, Christensen sees the pains of cancer daily. As Lily underwent chemotherapy and lost her hair, Christensen decided to step in and help.

“She wanted to do something and knew she couldn’t take away her cancer or physically be there in the hospital,” relates Mecham. Christensen had recently learned how to crochet and made Lily a beautiful, bright yellow Rapunzel wig. “It really brought a lot of cheer to her and to our family,” says Mecham.

Soon, the project that started with one wig turned into dozens. Mecham knew of more people who could use a wig for their children fighting cancer, and Christensen began asking for volunteers. Three years later, Christensen and her team of Magic Makers host the project in several states with hundreds of volunteers, or Fairy Godmothers, lending helping hands.

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Hundreds of volunteers came to tie yarn to the crocheted caps.

Last week on Saturday, March 16, volunteers gathered at BYU to make these magical princess wigs and superhero caps. Among them were students, faculty, families, and local volunteers. “There are so many people willing to help and get involved and I feel that God works through us,” says Christensen. It has been a joy for us at the BYU College of Nursing to coordinate with The Magic Yarn Project in this endeavor, this year being year three for BYU.

Many nursing students have been involved these past few years. Sixth-semester nursing student Leah Guerrero says, “I love volunteering for The Magic Yarn Project!…I have had several family members diagnosed with cancer and I know how costly wigs can be and how important their wigs meant to them. So I have a lot of respect for this organization because it is all volunteer based and it does not cost a single penny for those who receive a beautiful yarn wig. I cannot imagine what these children go through as they fight cancer, but I hope their wigs are able to lift their spirits and bring a smile to their faces.”

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Magic Makers teach volunteers to style and decorate the wigs before they are sent off.

Wigs made will go to Primary Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, which offers a home-away-from-home for families with children fighting cancer. A representative from the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City came to share his gratitude and the impact the wigs have on the children. These wigs truly warm the hearts of these little cancer fighters and their families.

On Saturday, our goal was 500 wigs. Together we made 537! Thank you to all Magic Makers and Fairy Godmothers who helped with this great event.

For more information on how to get involved, visit themagicyarnproject.com