Category Archives: Events

Honoring Veterans on a Utah Honor Flight

By Mindy Longhurst

image

An image of Sandra Rogers and Mary Williams with their veterans before leaving for Washington D.C. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Once a year, the College of Nursing sponsors a Utah Honor Flight. An Honor Flight is meant to recognize and show appreciation for those who have served and sacrificed for our country. During this experience, these veterans are each assigned a guardian to take care of them. The veterans fly from Salt Lake City to Washington D.C. where they are able to look at many historical and memorial sites for the wars they served in.

This year, we had nursing students and faculty members participate in the Utah Honor Flight. Also in attendance was Sandra Rogers, the International Vice President for Brigham Young University. Rogers is the former dean and nursing alum of the College of Nursing.

Both Rogers and associate professor Dr. Mary Williams had uncles who made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in the service of their country. Because of these experiences, both were raised in homes where gratitude and appreciation for those who have served our country were readily expressed.

8456

An image of Rogers with others at the WWII Memorial at the Washington Mall. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Sandra Rogers’ experience

During their time in Washington D.C., the veterans and guardians were able to visit many historical and memorial sites. They first visited the National Archives Museum, where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are showcased. Rogers explains how impactful this was for the veterans, “I did not anticipate how much the veterans appreciated seeing the archives. It was like it was in their patriotic DNA, it was part of one of the reasons why they had served. These were the documents that set out the freedoms that they were defending and what they were fighting for.”

Following the National Archives Museum, they attended the WWII Memorial where Congressional Contingency from Utah were there to greet the veterans and express their appreciation. While in Washington D.C., they also visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key penned “The Star Spangled Banner” and they were able to attend the Arlington National Cemetery.

Throughout her experience with the Utah Honor Flight, Sandra Rogers was constantly amazed by the organization and efficiency of the program. There was always someone to help with food and travel. She was impressed with teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad who organizes the event for the College of Nursing global and public health nursing course practicum. Being a veteran himself, Blad has a love for those who have served this country, and that was evident throughout the entire experience.

The ultimate lesson that Rogers was able to learn was about the importance of gratitude. It surprised her during the Honor Flight experience how complete strangers would come up to the veterans and individually thank them for the service and sacrifice they made for this country. She was amazed by the crowds of people in the airports with signs and banners cheering for the veterans. She says, “I looked at these veterans on the bus and I thought about the families that worried about them, the families that prayed for them while they were gone, the families that hoped heaven would watch over their loved one while they were providing this service.” After this experience, she now says that she is more motivated to approach a veteran and ask where they served and to give thanks for their service.

8457

Image of Williams and Rogers and their veterans at the Korean War Memorial at the Washington Mall. Image courtesy of Rogers.

Mary Williams’ experience

Williams loved the experience that she had during the Utah Honor flight! A moment that she remembers clearly is when the veteran for whom she was guardian visited the Lincoln Memorial. Her veteran served in the Korean War and is an artist. He really wanted to observe the artistic beauty of the Lincoln Memorial. She says of this experience, “At the Lincoln Memorial, my veteran was so desirous to view the Lincoln Memorial. That day the elevators were broken, but he was determined to climb the many steps to the top so he could experience the memorial and he did so with great energy.”

Williams expressed how life-changing this experience was for her. She was able to take the time to learn about their war stories and to learn about their lives. She says, “My life has been changed forever. I was again reminded that freedom is not free. The price for freedom is paid with blood, tears, loss of life and sacrifice of families. I was indeed overwhelmed with gratitude for the men and women who sacrifice so much. Truly, this experience was one of the highlights of my life with love of country and freedom etched on my heart forever and gratitude for those who keep it free never to be forgotten.”

 

 

Advertisements

Peery Film Festival: College Hosts Films for Students

peery

By Quincey Taylor

Starting on Friday, November 2, the BYU College of Nursing is hosting two different films during the Peery Film Festival. Both will be free of charge. It will be a great opportunity for students to get together and support their university, as well as a fun time enjoying high quality films about the medical field.

To start off, there will be a showing of Leave No Trace on Friday, November 2 at 5:45 p.m. at the Varsity Theater. This film received great reviews, including 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It tells the true story of a father and daughter that lived for four years undetected in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve in Oregon. After being discovered, they must assimilate into normal society, a task made difficult by the veteran father’s PTSD and inability to function around other people. This film is extremely relevant for students to understand the difficulties that veterans, as well as their children, face and how nurses can help as healthcare administrators.

The following week on Tuesday, November 6, the college is hosting a showing of Shout Gladi, Gladi – a  2015 documentary about efforts to help African women suffering with obstetric fistula. It will show at 5:30 in room 1060 of the HBLL. This medical condition, which is caused during childbirth, consists of damage to the bladder that severely inhibits women’s urinary control. An estimated two million women in Africa contract obstetric fistula during labor per year. These women are often rejected by society and live in isolation. This debilitating condition can be completely cured with simple medical procedures, which are easily available in developed countries. The documentary—filmed in Kenya, Malawi, and Sierra Leone and narrated by Meryl Streep—follows the story of nurses who make a push to eradicate the condition and save these distressed women. These women are released not only from a life of bodily suffering, but also reintroduced into society as newly independent individuals.

Both events are free. For other dates and times available check out peeryfilms.byu.edu.

Graduate Student Experiential Learning

By Mindy Longhurst

maren with students on boatGraduate student, Maren Topham and assistant teaching professor, Daphne Thomas with undergraduate students in Tonga. Image courtesy of Topham.

The College of Nursing undergraduates participate in a Public and Global Health study abroad during the spring of their senior year. This experience allows them to learn more about a different culture and study nursing techniques from other parts of the world. In some instances, a graduate student will come and be a mentor figure for the undergraduate students. With the help of a Graduate Mentoring Assistance Grant, graduate student Maren Topham was able to mentor others in the Kingdom of Tonga this past spring.

teaching childrenTeaching Tongan children about hygiene. Image courtesy of Topham.

Topham was able to supervise some of the clinical rotations, teach the undergraduate students and supervise the work with the nurses in Tonga. The purpose of the public and global health clinical is to be completely submerged in another culture. Topham says, “In nursing you take care of a variety of people. I learned valuable lessons that will help me with my career. We had many different cultural experiences. We wanted to learn about how they view family, healthcare and religion.”

blood pressureA nursing student taking someone’s blood pressure. Image courtesy of Topham.

Assistant teaching professor, Daphne Thomas, was able to accompany Topham. It was exciting for Thomas to see Topham mentoring others. Thomas expounds, “Maren was a role model for the undergraduate students! You get to build a relationship with students that you can’t get anywhere else.” A nursing student explains, “I think having a graduate student enhanced our experience because we could have an example of applying the classroom to ‘real life’. We try to do that as nursing students, but we do not yet have that experience! It was great to see how Maren brought education and application together!”

peopleNursing students in Tonga. Image courtesy of Topham.

The experiences and events that they had in Tonga will help everyone to become more loving and compassionate nurses. While in Tonga, they were able to learn more about rheumatic fever and heart disease. This disease in more common in Tonga and is usually a result of untreated strep throat that negatively effects the heart valves. The students were able to learn from the nurses in Tonga about how they treat rheumatic fever and they discussed the ways that it is treated in the United States. Topham loves to be able to learn more about how other countries perform healthcare and how others learn.

weavingA nursing student learning how to weave a rug. Image courtesy of Topham.

The Graduate Mentoring Assistance Grant is given to a certain number of graduate students throughout the university who will be using the funds for experiential learning. This type of learning includes having experiences that help graduate students mentor undergraduate students. With this grant, her whole time in Tonga was financed. The grant even allowed them to be able to have transportation to go into more communities, learning more about the Tongan culture and healthcare system. The experiential learning program allowed Topham to have a life changing experience.

pretty tongaThe beauty of Tonga. Image courtesy of Topham.

Alumna Receives the President’s Volunteer Service Award

By Mindy Longhurst

pence and swensenImage of Melissa Swensen with Second Lady, Karen Pence. Image courtesy of Pence’s Twitter.

BYU College of Nursing alumna, Melissa Swensen (BS’99) received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in April! She received the award from Second Lady, Karen Pence, from Pence’s office on the White House grounds.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is given to members of the community who exemplify a remarkable amount of service hours for a cause or organization. There are different requirements for the different levels of awards (children, teens, adults). Swensen received the bronze President’s Volunteer Service Award for her 100+ hours of service she has done in a 12 month time period.

Swensen volunteers as a nurse with the American Red Cross to help those at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Swensen works with those who have served our country who are currently suffering from PTSD or TBI.

awardThe President’s Volunteer Service Award. Image courtesy of Pence’s Twitter.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award comes with a certificate, an award pin, medallion or coin. The award also comes with a letter from the President of the United States.

Pence even mentioned Swensen on her Twitter page saying, “As part of National Volunteer Week, had the privilege of presenting the President’s Volunteer Service Award to military spouse, Melissa Swensen. She volunteers as a nurse w/the @RedCross at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence @Fort_Belvoir. Congrats! You are amazing!”

guestsSwensen with guests. Image courtesy of Pence’s Twitter.

The volunteer work she does for those who need it really is amazing. But, what is even more amazing is that during her time she has volunteered, Swensen is also getting her psychiatric DNP at George Mason University. In addition, she is a mother of five children and her husband serves in the military! Melissa Swensen really is an amazing lady. Congratulations!

Welcome New Students Fall 2018!

By Mindy Longhurst

IMG_3850As a new semester starts, the College of Nursing welcomes a new class of future nurses to the program! It is an exciting time of the year. A total of 67 new undergraduates were admitted this semester, eight of which are returning from previous deferment.

A standard of excellence continues within the college considering the average BYU GPA for admittees is an incredible 3.88, along with an ACT score of 30. The average age is 21 consisting of 64 females and 3 males.

IMG_3860Associate dean and Assistant professor Dr. Katreena Merrill.

The program is well represented with students from across the country and even internationally. There are students from Peru and Canada, while 12 different states are represented including: Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The newly accepted students attended an orientation and dinner last night. These first semester nursing students spent the time getting to know their fellow classmates and learned about the mission, values and creed of the College of Nursing.

Students expressed why they gravitated to the field of nursing. Callie Livingston explained that she was injured frequently and discovered that she loved the care that she received from nurses. Another student, Laura Wilcox, had a strong desire to become a nurse after a dog bit her badly. She said that the nurses gave her feelings of peace. “The nurses inspired me! It made me realize that nursing is more than just physical healing— it is also about emotional and spiritual healing.”

Congratulations on getting into the College of Nursing program!

 

All Hands on Deck: BYU Nursing Students Onboard the USNS Mercy

By Calvin Petersen

As BYU nursing students and faculty boarded the thousand-bed floating hospital moored in San Diego Bay, they realized their experience on the USNS Mercy was going to be more than just salutes and strict rules. Over the next two days, they had the unique opportunity to see firsthand how the military cares for its veterans.

A Rare Invitation

The San Diego trip resulted from a phone call Dr. Kent Blad received one sweltering morning last summer. Blad is a teaching professor and director of the veteran global health program at the BYU College of Nursing. When he answered the phone, Blad was surprised to hear the man on the other end introduce himself as lieutenant commander of the USNS Mercy, the hospital ship commissioned to serve the Pacific fleet. In addition to supporting military personnel with medical and surgical services, the Mercy undertakes humanitarian relief missions.

The Mercy’s lieutenant commander had read about BYU’s veteran global health course, co-taught by Blad and assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker. He asked, “What can you tell me about what I just read?” “Funny you ask,” Blad replied, “I’ve been waiting for this phone call.”

By the end of the conversation, the lieutenant commander invited Blad, Hunsaker and their nursing students to San Diego to tour the Mercy and Naval Medical Center San Diego. Naval Medical Center San Diego is one of three major U.S. polytrauma centers that serve wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That was the first time we’ve received an invitation,” explains Blad, “Usually we go out there and beg, ‘Can we please come do this?’ And he asked, ‘Can you please come here?’”

image_6483441 (2)

When the USNS Mercy is en route, nurses do simulations, much like at BYU’s NLC, to keep their skills sharp.

First-class Veteran Care

Although veteran global health students travel to Washington D.C. each spring to tour military medical facilities, Blad and Hunsaker felt the additional trip to San Diego would further enrich the students’ military cultural understanding. What the two professors didn’t know was how beneficial the experience would be for them as well.

“I’ve cared for veterans, but until being with them an entire day and spending that time, it was hard to understand the magnitude of the military in their lives,” says Hunsaker, “It’s a part of them, it’s not just a little job. They’re part of a military family, they have a set of beliefs and they love their country. And they really are willing to do whatever needs to be done to serve it. I don’t think I ever knew, to that extent, and hadn’t felt as grateful as I should to them.”

Jeana Escobar, one of the global health nursing students on the trip, learned that veteran care starts with the basics. “Every Navy sailor we met said the same two things: first, that every veteran has a story and you should take time to listen to it and, second, veterans don’t want your sympathy. Veterans want you to listen to them and tell them what they need to do to progress in the healing process.”

SanDiego 2

BYU nursing student Jeana Escobar practices CPR on one of the USNS Mercy’s simulation lab manikins.

Students repeatedly saw nurses’ compassionate care for veterans as they toured Naval Medical Center San Diego’s facilities. A therapist working in the wounded warrior unit even confessed that, after starting work with “these brave men and women,” he would find himself crying randomly because of so much pent-up emotion.

The hospital’s courtyard, which was retrofitted with different terrains and a rock climbing wall for amputees to practice using new prosthetic limbs, impressed several students. “I was especially touched by what the physical therapist shared with us about the rock wall,” says nursing student JeriAnn Pack. “He described how, when someone is discouraged and thinks they will never progress, they can look up and see someone with an injury as bad or worse than their own climbing the wall. I can only imagine how inspiring that would be.”

“The students learned very quickly to appreciate these men and women and the part that nursing plays in helping these veterans recover,” Blad says of the nurses on the Mercy and in the naval hospital. “It truly is the Healer’s art in action. The love they have for their country and their patients is inspiring. We could all be more like that with any of our patients.”

image_6483441 (3)

An Unforgettable Experience

The Navy specifically planned the two-day trip in February to meet College of Nursing veteran global health objectives. In addition to touring the Mercy’s simulation center and hospital facilities for a day, students spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, as well as at Navy facilities on the base. “They really took their time and effort and energy, not only to make us feel welcome, but to help us in educating our students,” says Hunsaker.

To several students, the highlight of the trip was a panel where Navy officers and nurses shared their perspectives and personal stories of how they came to join the military. “It was really cool to see how different everyone was, and that they had all been brought to this common cause,” says nursing student Lauren Bretzing.

image_6483441

“They don’t have amazing living quarters,” says Heather Wilkinson. Seven nursing students show how cramped living quarters on the USNS Mercy are.

For students like Heather Wilkinson, who had previously interacted with elderly veterans, seeing young men and women recovering from current conflicts changed her perception of what a typical veteran looks like. Other students were impressed with the camaraderie and respect of military culture. Undoubtedly each student thought, as Breeze Hollingsworth did, “Maybe military service will be in my future and maybe not. But one thing is for sure: I want to better serve all veterans and active service men and women I come across.”

Because the San Diego trip was such an all-around success, the Navy has already invited Blad and Hunsaker’s class to come again next year. “We feel very strongly that our nurses need to learn how to care for veterans,” says Blad. “It doesn’t matter where they go or what hospital they serve in, as long as they’re within the United States, they’re going to be caring for veteran patients.”

image_6483441 (1)

Taking Wing to New Heights

By Calvin Petersen

From extreme sports to nursing and humanitarian work, Debra Wing isn’t afraid of trying new things. Now after teaching at BYU’s College of Nursing for 11 years, Wing will again embrace something new: retirement. And considering her life so far, Wing’s retirement will be far from dull.

Debra4

Debra Wing (left) and her husband Kelly (second from right) with their three children. Wing says her children and three grandchildren are “the joys of my life.”

Nursing Runs in the Family

Growing up, Wing watched her two older sisters attend nursing school and work at hospitals. As they shared inspiring experiences, Wing thought she would love nursing too.

“I started my freshman year at BYU taking all the nursing prereqs and working in a hospital,” she remembers, “and I kept thinking, ‘I hate this.’”

Wing decided to study business instead at a neighboring college. But before she left BYU, she married Kelly Wing, a military man who had just returned from serving an LDS mission. “We met in a BYU family home evening,” she recalls with a chuckle. After graduating with a business degree, Wing spent the next 10 years as a businesswoman.

“Yet, I always felt something was missing,” she says, “so, with very small children, I went back to nursing school and finished my bachelor’s.”

This was made possible by an opportunity with the military. It needed nurses and was willing to help pay for Wing’s college; Wing needed a job and financial aid. With the added incentive that her husband was already in the Air Force, she joined. “I found out I loved the military,” Wing says, “so I just stayed in.”

Debra1

Wing with her sister and nursing professor, Deanna Williams, on graduation day.

Nursing on the Front Lines

One of the things Wing enjoyed most about her military nursing career was doing clinical oversight for EMEDS training. In this role, she instructed hundreds of National Guard and Army Reserve medical personnel on how to provide support in war zones. She also worked with Homeland Security to train national disaster relief organizations on how to respond to every kind of disaster—from hurricanes to hostage situations.

“Something I really loved about my career is that nursing continually reinvents itself,” Wing says, “what we thought we knew about nursing yesterday isn’t what we’re going to know about nursing tomorrow.”

Wing herself was “reinvented” dozens of times during her career as she took on new nursing roles. Perhaps her favorite “reinvention” was becoming a mission nurse for the LDS Korea Seoul Mission in 2015. According to Wing, her mission wasn’t the quietest in the world.

“We were right up by the DMZ, 17 miles from the northern border,” she says, “there were missile exchanges and gunfire right in our backyard.”

Debra2

Wing’s husband swearing her in as a United States Air Force officer.

In it for the Thrill

Outside of her nursing career, Wing is an extreme sports enthusiast. “I love anything that’s a little bit dangerous,” she says.

Before she met her husband, Wing’s boyfriend in high school and college was a racecar driver. “Our dates consisted of racing,” she remembers, smiling mischievously. Now one of her favorite things to do is drive cars at 150+ mph. However, since the Autobahn hasn’t come to Utah, she makes do with crawling over Southern Utah rocks in her Subaru Outback.

On top of racing cars, Wing is an extreme skier. In fact, she used to race the downhill and super-G professionally. With her approaching retirement, Wing plans to finally take up the extreme sport she’s always wanted to: skydiving.

Debra3

Wing (second from left) and colleague Gaye Ray (second from right) hold up a sign for the anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, established in 1952. The two professors traveled with students, including Erin Marshall (left) and Mike McNeil (right), to Pamplona, Spain, for the International Family Nursing Conference in 2017.

Onward and Upward

Wing’s other plans for retirement include working with several organizations to teach medical education in developing countries. “I’ll be leaving the University, but I’m not leaving nursing,” she says.

Wing has worked with Healing Hands for Haiti and IVUMED in past humanitarian efforts and intends to resume those efforts. “I’m excited to be able to go back and do that,” she says. Furthermore, Wing will continue to volunteer regularly at Provo Food and Care Coalition. She and her husband also want to serve another LDS mission.

Reflecting on her experience as a nurse, she says, “What made my nursing career worthwhile was the opportunity I had to serve people every day. I love that experience of giving of myself. There’s a reward that comes from caring that’s far greater than monetary rewards.”

If she could give her younger self any piece of advice, Wing says it would be to enjoy the journey more. “Don’t spend so much time worrying about what has to get done,” she advised, “I think we can become too serious about the task and forget how joyful the journey can be.”

Wing is proud of her accomplishments at the College of Nursing. In addition to working tirelessly to make the NLC expansion a possibility, Wing has mentored numerous students. “I’m very grateful for the students and I’m very grateful for my colleagues,” Wing says, “Working in the College of Nursing has been a beautiful experience because of them.”