Category Archives: Experiential Learning

BYU Faculty Members Wins 2020 Rivers Foundation Explorer Award

By Corbin Smith

Craig Nuttall

The Garhwal Himalaya range is located in Uttarakhand, India and is home to some of the tallest mountain ranges in the world. Not only does it have beautiful mountains and a glacier that feeds the Ganges River, but it also has sacred Hindu religious sites that can be found hidden in the mountain range. These religious sites draw thousands of tourists and pilgrims each year to go experience the wonder and beauty of these areas.

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The mountain ranges in Uttrakhand, India are beautiful and mesmerizing.

The mass travel to these remote mountain areas can lead to some problems, as I am sure you can imagine. While on the trails or on the pilgrimage, though, there is minimal access to medical care beyond the small and sparse clinics that are connected to each major temple. What if a pilgrim underestimates the effect of altitude on their hike and they get stuck somewhere on the journey? What if a tourist travels alone and sprains their ankle while walking on the path?

That is where associate teaching professor Dr. Craig Nuttall comes in. He has created a project called the Garhwal Mountain Rescue Project in response to this increasingly visible problem!

Do you remember the story about Extreme Wilderness Nursing? Don’t worry, I’ll give you a short recap. Nuttall, along with assistant teaching professor Scott Summers, received a special certification in mountain medicine from the University of New Mexico. They did a year-long online program and they participated in some outdoor nursing simulations to complete the course. So, basically, both Nuttall and Summers are extreme wilderness nurses. They, especially Nuttall, loves the outdoors and helping those who need their help outside the hospital.

Now, back to the story at hand. On a recent trip to the Himalayas, Nuttall noticed a major problem. “I could not get over the poverty, illness and health challenges that villagers, pilgrims, and climbers faced as they interacted with this rugged environment,” he says. He saw them struggle with a plethora of ailments, unable to get the necessary care to make sure their trip was a success. He goes on by saying, “I vowed I would do what I could to help improve access to medical care in this area.”

His solution was this: he was going to oversee the development of a first-of-its-kind training program for local medical professionals so they can be prepared to meet the outdoor heath care needs of the region. “We will be working to improve the medical care for those in one of the most challenging and remote mountain ranges in the world,” Nuttall explains, “Our hope is that this training program will benefit this region for years to come.”

Nuttall was asked to develop and implement this program by the All India Institute of Medical Services, a medical school based in New Delhi. It is a 6-12 month course that focuses on altitude and mountain medicine, something Nuttall has become heavily involved with since he received his DNP in New Mexico.

This project, however, also involves a long expedition and journey that Nuttall will take that will require him to adventure all across the Himalayas. That is where the Rivers Foundation 2020 Explorer Award come in. The Explorer Award is a recognition that honors individuals who are passionate about adventure and humanitarian service in developing regions of the world. Winners are those who care about education, development and medical well-being in poorer, international communities. Nuttall fits that description perfectly.

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Nuttall is one of 6 winners in 2020. Photo courtesy of The Scientific Exploration Society

Each year the winner is given 5000 pounds (which is about 6200 US dollars) to invest in the expedition they presented to the Scientific Exploration Society, the group that awards the recognition. This year, as you can probably guess, our very own Dr. Craig Nuttall won the award!

“The people that live in these remote areas are some of the kindest loving people that I have met,” Nuttall says, speaking on what the future holds now he has received the award, “When they are sick they sometimes need to travel 12 hours by road to reach a hospital. They don’t have the luxury to have clinics all around them like we do. They need our help. My project may be just a start to addressing the problems they have, but it will definitely help.”

As of now, Nuttall’s plans are to continue to develop and perfect the course and continue to train a new group of medical providers to serve in these mountain villages in future years.

BYU to Columbia: A Dream Come True

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6th semester student Abby Anderson is so excited to continue her nursing journey across the country!  Photo courtesy of Anderson.

By Corbin Smith

Our students here at the BYU College of Nursing are incredible. Each one of them consistently inspire us with their work ethic and dedication to learning the Healer’s art. That commitment is obvious for all of us here on campus, in labs and classes. Off campus and even across the nation, our reputation precedes itself thanks to our wonderful students and alumni. This, along with the relentless devotion to realize her dreams, led to one BYU nursing undergrad to an opportunity that comes to only a select few: acceptance into the prestigious Columbia University’s graduate DNP program.

For 6th semester student Abby Anderson, going to Columbia University has been a dream of hers for years. In fact, she knew almost immediately after choosing to study nursing at BYU that Columbia is where she wanted to go for her graduate studies. She even had an “email Columbia” reminder on her phone for over a year to help her remember to keep pushing toward her dream.

As Anderson’s research progressed she fell even more in love with the program and the University. “Columbia has several Collaboration Centers with the World Health Organization and the School of Nursing provides extensive funding for global health research. Being that pediatric nursing is my greatest passion, I knew Columbia was the perfect fit for me,” she says.

It is clear that the impact that Anderson hopes to have is through serving children all over the world. She believes that Columbia University will help her build upon the nursing foundation she constructed during her time at BYU through clinicals and her public and global health nursing course. “No matter where I end up, Columbia University will provide me networking opportunities to help me make an impact on a global scale,” Anderson says. Columbia is an excellent place to further her education and life goals.

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Photo courtesy of Anderson

Anderson, however, was not the only BYU undergraduate student to be accepted into one of Columbia University’s DNP programs. Fellow 6th semester student Alyssa Hildt was accepted into Columbia’s nurse midwifery program. While humbled by the acceptance into Columbia University, Hildt has yet to decide whether she will attend Columbia or the University of Utah for her graduate nursing studies.

That being said, Anderson is ecstatic to pack her bags and start her journey in New York City. “I love the diversity in New York City and I love the rigor of a Columbia education,” she says. “I am excited to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to explore a new city and to impact lives through the field of nursing!”

We all wish you luck, Abby! Go Cougars!

Extreme Wilderness Nursing

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Summers and Nuttall are now prepared for ANYTHING. Seriously. Anything. Photo courtesy of Summers.

By Corbin Smith

Extreme wilderness nursing at the BYU College of Nursing.

Yep, you read that right. Let me say it again.

Extreme wilderness nursing at the BYU College of Nursing.

What does that mean?

Allow me to explain.

Imagine with me that you and a group of your friends have gone to Zion National Park for a weekend camping trip. In the afternoon, the group decides to go on a hike to a nearby lookout point. While you’re walking, a rock is accidentally kicked from above and hits one of your friends in the head and knocks her out. Do you, as a nurse, know what to do?

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What if while you’re on a campout with your children and one starts showing signs of hypothermia? What do you do then, when you are possibly miles away from the nearest medical facility and you are the only trained nurse in the area?

Assistant teaching professor Scott Summers and associate teaching professor Dr. Craig Nuttall want to assure that all BYU nursing students could feel just as comfortable in those situations as they would in a hospital or emergency room.

That being said, every great teacher knows that before you can teach others certain skills, you must develop those skills and have specific experiences to challenge those skills before you can teach others those things. Summers and Nuttall knew they would need more than just their current nursing credentials and a burning passion. They would need one more thing: a special certification.

This led these two adventurous faculty members to the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, where they received a diploma in mountain medicine! It was a year-long program with online classes and two, ten-day practicums in the wilderness where different scenarios are simulated for the students to learn and use their new skills.

“We want to develop curriculum for the undergrad nursing students,” Summers says, “Undoubtedly these kinds of things will happen in life and we want our students to feel confident when it happens, and then everyone looks at you, the nurse.”

During the “extreme” nursing class, both Summers and Nuttall found themselves in some very unique situations. For one, they had helicopter training! They learned how to pick up an injured patient, how to lead them into a basket so the helicopter could express them to the hospital (even Summers and Nuttall go to ride in the basket!).

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They were sky-high this summer! Photo courtesy of Summers

Considering all the crazy things they did during their wilderness trips, the most memorable activity for Summers was the hypothermia simulation. “It was 33 degrees outside that day,” Scott remembers, “and they filled up a kiddie pool with water and tons of ice then made us sit in it with our swimsuits on. After that, they measured our temperature every two minutes to see what our core temperature was. They tried to get us as close to hypothermic as they could!”

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Legend has it that Scott and Craig might still be shivering to this day! Photo courtesy of Summers

Now cold to the bone and close to hypothermia themselves, they were taught different ways to warm up patients. “I shivered for probably four hours straight!” Summers laughs.

While Summers and Nuttall probably won’t get permission from the University to push students to hypothermia every semester, they have begun to envision what the class may look like and how they run things. Students would likely be divided up into rescue teams and given a set of scenarios to complete based on the skills they learned in class. Students won’t be able to receive the same certification that Summers and Nuttall were awarded from the University of New Mexico, but, according to Summers, that isn’t their primary focus.

“We want the students to recognize that they have learned a lot in the hospital, but those skills can be adapted to an environment where you don’t have all the resources you would in the hospital. We want to augment and stretch the knowledge they already have,” Summers says.

Summers and Nuttall are also going beyond the classroom to teach others about the subject that can be simplified as “wilderness nursing.” In the future, they will be speaking at a conference about hypothermia, heat illness and altitude sickness. Summers also volunteers with the Utah County Search and Rescue, perfectly putting to use the unique skills he has gained.

So yeah, let me remind you again that you did read that right.

Extreme wilderness nursing at the BYU College of Nursing.

However, before you get too excited, it must be noted that it may be a few semesters before we see the class Summers and Nuttall are envisioning. Even though you may not be able to take their class, you can take comfort in knowing that if you ever get injured in the middle of nowhere with Scott or Craig around, you’ll be well taken care of. Now, isn’t that peace of mind we have wanted all along?

Student Spotlight: Jenna Lewis

By Corbin Smith

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Photo courtesy of Lewis

As we all know, nursing takes on many faces. Nursing is special because careers can range from a variety of fields. The BYU College of Nursing values all extracurricular activities and organizations and encourages students to participate in those opportunities so that students can be exposed to a wide collection of these fields. This past summer, 4th semester student Jenna Lewis found herself involved with a relatively unknown organization among students called Camp Kesem.

Camp Kesem is an annual summer camp, driven by college students, to support youth whose parents currently deal with or have dealt with cancer. Camp Kesem had its beginnings in 2001 at Stanford University and has since expanded to over 100 chapters across the US, including one here in Utah Valley! Understanding the financial burdens taken by families whose parents are cancer patients, Camp Kesem and its volunteers fundraise year-round so camp can be free for the families each year.

During camp, the children participate in an array of activities and games, completely led by college students. The student volunteers, including Lewis, are assigned a specific age group of children, whom they assist both physically and emotionally during the week. All is done with the purpose of helping the children forget the hardships going on in their families through the companionship and empathy of the volunteers.

How Kesem Found Her

Lewis’ life-changing journey to Kesem started last year on an ordinary Wednesday night. Her roommate had been attending weekly meetings for a camp that Lewis had never heard of. That day, her roommate invited her to go with her to a meeting. Lewis reluctantly accepted her invitation to go, not ready to commit to camp because she knew how time consuming it would be.

When she arrived, the meeting was nothing like she expected it to be. “When I got there we talked about service and love, played games and sang camp songs and watched a powerful video. That is when I knew this was a special place,” says Lewis. That night, Camp Kesem found its way into her heart.

Camp!

After months of preparation and fundraising, camp finally arrived. The week’s activities included swimming, a water fight with over a thousand water balloons and even a camp-wide paint war!

Nevertheless, Lewis says the best part of camp was getting to know the campers. “They just change you,” says Lewis, “They soften your heart. They teach you about empathy and loving people unconditionally.” Their influence and example changed her perspective on nursing as well as her heart.

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She had one experience that epitomized the change she felt at Camp Kesem. One afternoon of camp a group of 6 and 7 year-old campers were running around, jumping from bench to bench trying to avoid touching the ground. One little boy slipped, fell down and scraped his knee. At the sight of a tear, without hesitation, Lewis jumped up and quickly calmed him down with a small bandage and pep talk. From that moment on, Lewis had created a strong friendship with this young camper, constantly being showered with hugs and smiles the rest of the week. “That experience helped me realize that when you are willing to help people in the way they need to be helped, they’ll open their hearts and you will see what they need.”

This lesson has continued to help Lewis as she continues in school and in her clinical rotations at the Huntsman Cancer Center. Camp Kesem helped her see first-hand the effect cancer has on families. That knowledge has helped her as she tries to serve patients in her clinicals. Her experience with Kesem gives her a perspective few of her peers possess. “Kesem has helped me understand a tiny part of their needs and worries,” says Lewis, “I even talk to some patients about Camp Kesem for their kids and it brings light to their eyes.”

Why Kesem?

Kesem’s ultimate purpose is to bring joy into the lives of the campers, but, in the end, it changes the lives of all those involved. Explaining why Kesem changed her life so dramatically she explains, “At Kesem you learn the value of being vulnerable and allowing others to be vulnerable with you. You learn to care about people other than yourself, and it’s contagious! It is incredible to go into a group of relative strangers and be loved selflessly.”

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Photo courtesy of Lewis

It is a unique opportunity to participate in a camp such as Camp Kesem. For Lewis, not only did it change her life as an individual, but it also transformed the way she thinks of nursing and how it can be applied. Without a doubt, Lewis returned from Kesem inspired and prepared for her next step in school and in life. “Until next summer,” she exclaims!

Lets Talk About It!

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By Corbin Smith

One of the world’s greatest tragedies has to be the normalization of mental illness and sexual assault among adults. Terms such as “depression” and “anxiety” have become ordinary to us.  We are no longer completely surprised when we see horrifying cases of rape and assault constantly in the news. The sad truth is that 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual assault during their life. There is so much work to be done to lower these numbers and make the world a happier place. This is why current second-year graduate student Shylettra Davis has dedicated her Master’s project to develop a better practice for screening those who experience mental illness or sexual assault.

Over the past few months, Davis has teamed up with associate teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles and associate professor Dr. Julie Valentine to tackle this project. For their research, they collected data from and studied over 5000 cases of sexual assault. What they learned is that a majority of sexual assault have had a form of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. “Basically,” Davis says, “those who experience mental illness are more vulnerable to be victimized than someone who doesn’t experience a mental illness.”

For that reason, Davis’ project is to improve the quality of nursing care for patients that struggle with mental illness. “I want health care professionals and nurses to ask about any sexual assault history and help the patient understand that they are at risk to be targeted by predators,” Davis explains.

Davis also knows that it is easy for a victim to develop another mental illness if they are assaulted and aren’t able to deal with it and be treated professionally. Victims can easily feel isolated, lost and confused about what happened. “At the end of the day, we want patients to feel empowered,” Davis says.

Inspired by her work, Davis took her research and gave a presentation at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association in New Orleans in October. Dr. Miles accompanied Davis at the conference. While presenting their poster, they received a lot of interest from psych mental health professionals from all across the country.

Davis knows that they are off to a good start in raising awareness to this topic that sometimes isn’t discussed enough. “The biggest thing we need to do is to be aware of what is going on. When we are on high alert, we can watch out for one another and stop possible attacks.” Prevention through learning and understanding is key.

She is not alone in understanding the effects of mental illness and in having personal experience working with and being close to people who have been victims of sexual assault. Her desire to help better the lives of those victims have been her motivation for her project. “Sometimes they just need someone who recognizes what they are feeling,” Davis explains, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk around with that burden. I wish we could prevent everyone from having to suffer through those experiences. That’s what I try to do.” Let us all join in with Davis in making the world a better place!

 

Walking Into a “New Life”

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Dustin (far right) loves doing all she can to serve her patients! Photo courtesy of Dustin.

By Corbin Smith

The BYU College of Nursing has an international reach that has no limitations. Faculty and students travel across the world to places such as Taiwan, India and Tonga to serve locals with their knowledge of the Healer’s art. Assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin is one of those faculty members who does not shy away from going abroad to share her nursing talents. That is why each September she goes to El Salvador with an organization called Operation Walk Utah.

Operation Walk Utah’s motto is “Restoring mobility to those in need… One joint at a time.” As their motto reflects, their ultimate goal is to give El Salvadorians a “new life” through hip and joint replacements. Since their beginning in 2007, Operation Walk Utah has created a strong reputation of providing successful joint replacements. They work out of the Hospital Nacional San Rafael in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, normally staying for a week each year. They complete about 70 replacements each trip.

For Dustin, she volunteers each year as a pre-op nurse. She gives patients medications and helps prepare them for their own life-changing operation. She also works in the recovery room and is able to see the impact of their work. “People line up and wait for hours for their chance for an operation. After the operation, it is humbling to see them leave with a new hope in their life.”

Over the years, while Dustin has seen so many amazing things happen within the organization, she is also quick to recognize that the impact on each individual is much more important. “The daily pain they suffer is so debilitating mentally,” Dustin explains, “They are so strong. They are so amazing.”

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Dustin is constantly amazed by the strength of her patients. Photo courtesy of Dustin.

Joint problems can be painful and decrease mobility to the point where you can’t work. In places like El Salvador, their livelihood depends on work, and Operation Walk Utah gives them that opportunity to go back to work. Dustin shares, “We took care of an elderly man who had both of his knees replaced at the same time. Even as a 74 year old man, he was still working but he was getting to the point where his knees didn’t allow him to work and produce for his family anymore. He was thrilled when we did this operation for him and helped him get back to work.”

However, the gratitude of the patients is what continues to inspire Dustin and Operation Walk Utah to return each year. “Most of our patients are very Christian oriented. They tell the surgeons and the nurses all the time that we are their angels from heaven,” Dustin says with a smile.

Undoubtedly, Dustin and her co-volunteers have incredibly blessed the people of El Salvador through their dedication to help those who suffer physically. They work and sacrifice things from their own personal lives, for the benefit and healing of others. That is the essence of the Healer’s art. They truly are nothing less than what their patients describe them year after year: angels.

 

If you would like to learn more about Operation Walk Utah visit their website: https://www.operationwalkutah.org/

Living a Healthy Lifestyle in Prison

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By Corbin Smith

 

Sometimes, as a society, it is easy for us to forget that prisoners truly are human beings. We often think of inmates as savages, people who deserve to suffer for the crimes they have committed. We think of people like Ted Bundy or Bonnie and Clyde and it fills our hearts and minds with disgust towards these men and women. Not only that, but we are also scared of jails, only thinking about the horrific stories and rumors we hear. We timidly gaze at the walls as we drive by on the freeway, wondering if what the media tells us is true. Never would we choose to go inside!

That’s not how associate teaching professor Dr. Peggy Anderson thinks! For many years, Anderson has worked with, loved and served those who are currently in prison. In fact, in the past Anderson served as the Relief Society President in the Utah state prison, providing both temporal and spiritual support for the prisoners.

Along with her own personal endeavors, Anderson has begun to invite students to participate in a women’s fireside inside the prison as part of their clinical practicum of the public and global health nursing course. However, this experience is much different than the clinical practicums that take you abroad.

On May 19th, Anderson, accompanied by a group of students, went to the Utah State Prison with the goal to serve, bless and teach those inside. The theme of the fireside was “Enjoying a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus of Anderson and the students was to help the inmates understand the importance of not only physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health. Speaking of their purpose in the prison, 5th semester student Kayla Brantley says, “The prison is supposed to be a correctional facility. Correction needs to take place and they need help to make that correction for themselves, which is what we are there for.”

For that reason, students shared small devotionals with the inmates on a variety of topics. Some of the topics shared by the students included self-worth, dealing with stress, strength in Christ and even the Atonement. Brantley and her husband, Adam, also shared their talents in a unique way through a special musical number, singing “I Know My Redeemer Lives” with the ukulele!

While this fireside was beneficial for the inmates, it also was impactful for the students. Talking about his experience with the inmates, 6th semester student James Reinhardt says, “It was cool to be able to feel the Spirit in the prison and even feel the Spirit with them.” Since the fireside, Reinhardt has begun working shifts in the prison and has decided to do his capstone project there too!

It was an unforgettable experience for all who participated in the fireside. The greatest lesson the students were able to learn was that, even though in prison, each of the women attending the fireside are people who have value and worth. “It’s easy to think about what terrible things they could have done to get into prison, but as soon as you meet and see them you remember God loves them and Jesus sacrificed himself so they could be freed,” says Brantley.