Category Archives: family

Melissa Heinonen: Applying the Healer’s Art

melissa fam

By Corbin Smith

“I would learn the Healer’s art.”

One of the main goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to teach its students the Healer’s art. That includes caring for each of God’s children not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. The college hopes that each graduate will dedicate their life to that service as they move on to healthcare sites all over the world. Now, more than 10 years later, class of 2007 graduate Melissa Heinonen looks back and is confident that she has been able to do exactly that, serving like the Healer did.

Physically

Since her graduation, Heinonen has healed her patients of all ages across the globe. Upon graduating from BYU, she worked in Primary Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City. There she realized that she was passionate about working with young children and their families.

From there she moved to Austin, Texas where she worked at the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Central Texas for two years. “I loved working in Texas,” she says, “It was so inspiring to take part in helping a young child receive strength again.” It was here that she saw both the devastating effects of disease and healing power a nurse can bring.

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Heinonen with a mother and daughter during her medical mission trip to Nigeria in 2012.

These experiences inspired Heinonen to go abroad and use her medical talents overseas. Her first experience was in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. A few years later, she traveled to Nigeria where she provided primary care services to a rural community. Once again, her eyes were opened to the positive influence nurses can have on a community.

In 2014, after receiving a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington, she and her young family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they currently reside, where she works part-time as a family practitioner in a private practice called Grow Pediatrics. Even though now she spends less time at the hospital she cherishes the time she can spend with her two boys. “I love the flexibility my job brings. I can spend a few days a week doing what I love without having to give up time with those whom I love,” she says.

Mentally

Heinonen also knows that a nurse’s job description goes beyond just physical healing but also mental healing. While working in Texas in the cancer clinic Heinonen saw the suffering felt by the children and their parents. While nursing the patient as best she could, she also provided support for devastated mothers and fathers who were distraught from the situation of their child. In fact, she still maintains relationships with many of those families today.

She also did this on the medical missions that she completed. In Haiti, she saw how the earthquake shook people’s lives. Thousands were injured physically, but thousands more were hurt mentally and emotionally. Her presence as a nurse comforted people as they dealt with the tragedy that changed their lives completely.

Spiritually

Heinonen also attributes her career to her strong testimony in the gospel. “Nursing has strengthened my testimony that each person is a unique and a loved child of God,” she explains, “I know that our Savior loves each of us individually and my work certainly teaches me more about that every day.”

That testimony that she has been able to form has helped her professionally with her patients and, possibly more importantly, with her four year-old and two year-old sons. As she teaches them about God, she often draws upon her experiences as a nurse. She says, “I try to teach my children that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and love as the Savior would. I help them understand the pure love He feels for us and His special ability to heal us.”

Her career in nursing has also helped her be a missionary. Her experience has helped her develop skills in communication and teaching as well as increasing her capacity to serve and be compassionate. She explains, “Now it is easier for me to connect with patients and get to know them and their unique circumstances. That gives me the courage to share the gospel and be an example of the Healer.”

Now, looking back at the life she has lived, Heinonen sees how each experience has been for her benefit. Even with all of her travels and homes across the nation, she knows that wherever she is, she can take the Healer’s art with her. “I love that I was able to learn nursing as the Healer’s art at BYU. It helps me see the Lord’s hand in my life and motivates me to strive to be the best nurse and mother I can be each day.”

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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.”

Thank You, College of Nursing!

By Mindy Longhurst

Mindy Longhurst has worked as a Public Relations Assistant in the BYU College of Nursing since May 2018. She just completed her bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Family Studies.

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An image of Mindy Longhurst. Image courtesy of Andrew Holman.

I am alive today because nurses helped to save my life. My twin sister and I were born prematurely at 24 weeks. We both weighed a little over a pound and the doctors did not have good prognoses for our chances of living. We were born at a university medical center and were each assigned a nurse to watch us daily. Throughout the five months that we were in the NICU, our parents would visit us daily and the doctors and nurses became like family. They watched us struggle and eventually triumph, being able to leave the hospital without any major medical complications.

A love for nurses was instilled in me when I was very young. Growing up, my mom would always speak fondly of the nurses who helped us. My mom calls our nurses from the NICU every year on our birthday. She calls them to give them an update on our lives and to thank them for the countless hours that they spent taking care of us.

Since I have a love and appreciation for nurses, the opportunity to be an intern for the College of Nursing was a dream come true! I was thrilled to start to promote the great work that nurses do. I expected that the students, faculty and staff for the College of Nursing were going to be brilliant. I knew that they would have good hearts to want to help others. But, what I did not expect was the welcoming and joyous nature that everyone has in the College of Nursing. The students, faculty and staff are all wonderful people who made me feel a part of everything from the time that I was hired. This has meant so much to me!

I have loved getting to know the faculty and staff members better. It has been amazing to learn about their interests, hobbies and the research that they have conducted with students. I think it is amazing that undergraduate and graduate students are able to have the experiences of working with faculty to make a difference in healthcare.

Getting to know the nursing students has been fun! I love the opportunity to be able to meet new people and have met some of the nicest students on campus in the College of Nursing. I have enjoyed seeing them at conferences, in the hallway and have especially enjoyed getting to know them through the various articles I have written.

As I have seen the students, faculty and staff learn the Healer’s art, I have been able to have my testimony strengthened of the love that the Savior has for each of us. As I have tried to learn medical terms, I am reminded of how amazing God’s creations are. My internship has allowed my relationship with my Savior and my Heavenly Father to be strengthened.

I will always remember my internship experience with fondness. Thank you to all of the nursing alumni, students, staff, faculty and donors who have been so kind to me! Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I have felt while working here. Thank you College of Nursing for the opportunity to work here!

Student Spotlight: Angela Nickerl

By Mindy Longhurst

Angela with little girl

Image of Angela Nickerl with a girl from her Ghana public and global health nursing course practicum. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Being a non-traditional student (a student 30 years of age and older) at BYU can sometimes be challenging. But, College of Nursing fifth semester student, Angela Nickerl loves the experiences she has had as a non-traditional student. Nickerl is older than most BYU students, but loves the opportunity to share the wisdom she has gained throughout her life.

Ever since Nickerl was in high school she knew that she wanted to become a nurse. She says, “Throughout my experience being a mother in healthcare, I noticed that the nurses made a huge difference and impact on their patients.” Nickerl’s journey to becoming a nurse was very spiritual. She loves to learn about the body. Taking care of someone who is sick is a spiritual experience that brings her closer to God.

Nickerl started taking some nursing prerequisite courses while her family was living in California several years ago. When her family decided to move to Utah, she was able to apply to BYU and the nursing program and was accepted into both.

familyAn image of Nickerl’s children. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

At the time that she started at BYU (January 2016) three of her children were going to college. Now, all five of Nickerl’s children are currently going to college. This helps Nickerl to be able to relate more to her children. Nickerl explains, “It is interesting having my children in school with me at the same time. It can be stressful because we are all stressed about midterms and finals at the same time. But, this has helped me to be able to relate to my children so much more!”

Overall, Nickerl has enjoyed her time within the nursing program. She expounds, “I love the nursing program at BYU! Often in the middle of a busy semester it is difficult to find positive things because you’re tired. However, in spite of being tired, one of my favorite parts of the program is that our professors truly embrace our school motto, learning the Healer’s art. We are taught that in every setting, we should care for people the way the Savior would. Reading a nursing textbook and studying for the NCLEX is going to be the same regardless of where you study, but at BYU we are taught our nursing skills from a different perspective. Not only are we encouraged to view our patients differently, but our professors model it by treating us that way. I think they are phenomenal examples of what they teach about the Savior.”

group photoImage of Nickerl with other nursing students. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Nickerl has some advice for those who are non-traditional students. She says, “Being a non-traditional student, I feel like I value what I am learning more because it really is my choice to be here. Sometimes when you are younger you do it because it is the social norm. As someone older, this is not the right thing I am supposed to be doing with my life. A lot of people are often surprised when they find out that I am a college student. I am grateful for the things that I am learning, because I am choosing to be here.”

Another lesson she has learned is the importance of balancing her schedule. She explains, “If you absolutely know that you are supposed to be doing school and you know that the Lord is supporting you in it, then it all fits. If you are doing what the Lord wants you to do, if you are putting your priorities in order, if you are attending the temple, serving in your church calling, if you are putting your family time first, then Heavenly Father makes it fit. That is something that I have felt over and over again. And I feel like my relationship with the Savior has been strengthened as a result of nursing school.”

In the future, Nickerl hopes to become an oncology nurse.

 

DAISY Award Winner: Bret Lyman

Bret Lyman

Bret Lyman with award. Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

By Quincey Taylor

The DAISY Foundation is a non-profit organization, established in 1999, by the family of Patrick Barnes. Barnes passed away from complications of an autoimmune disease called Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura at the age of 33. Before he passed, his family saw the dedicated service and kindness offered to him by the nurses responsible for him. After his death, the Barnes family founded DAISY—an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System—to honor their son and express gratitude to exceptional nurses around the world.

The DAISY Award is given to a faculty member at the BYU College of Nursing twice a year. Assistant professor Dr. Bret Lyman was nominated and selected to receive the award this fall semester. He teaches the capstone course and the undergraduate ethics course. Students are profoundly impacted by his dedication to truly learning the Healer’s art and teaching that to his pupils.

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Bret Lyman and his family. Photo courtesy of Zak Gowans.

In the nomination, one student described Lyman as “fully invested in bettering healthcare through both improving the hospital system in his research and molding compassionate nurses in his teaching.” The student told the story of how during their capstone semester, his or her financial aid fell through and he or she became homeless. The student described Lyman’s compassionate service, how he “took the time to listen and was able to connect with the college to find resources so I could finish. This is when I really understood that he cares about the success of his students. Teaching is not just a job for him.”

As this story illustrates, Bret Lyman truly practices the Healer’s art. Lyman finds inspiration from the Savior, and says, “I think when we keep the Master Healer, Jesus Christ, in mind it will keep us grounded. He helps us move past some of our personal imperfections and personal struggles. You know that He is going to be there to help cover that gap between what we can do with our best effort and what needs to be done.”

Watch the video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4vHTW2M0ak

Michael Scott Receives the DAISY In Training Award

By Mindy Longhurst

Michael 2 - Edit - IMG_4959 (2)Image of Michael Scott receiving the DAISY In Training Award.

The DAISY Foundation is a non-profit organization, established in 1999, by the family of Patrick Barnes. Barnes died from complications of the auto-immune disease, Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (or ITP,) at the age of 33. Like many families that experience loss, the Barnes family decided to do something positive to honor him. After his death, the Barnes family founded DAISY—an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System—to thank nurses who cared for Barnes and recognize exceptional nurses around the world.

The DAISY In Training Award is given to an extraordinary nursing student twice a year at the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University. Michael Scott received this award from the nomination he received. A student says, “Michael is one of the most compassionate people I have met. He shows compassion for his patients as well as for his fellow students. He is always willing to take the time to explain difficult concepts to his peers. Michael is kind to everyone that he meets, and he is always there to cheer you on when you are feeling discouraged. He is very involved in the nursing discipline, and has served in leadership roles in SNA as well as participated in research with faculty. Not only is he intelligent and skilled, but he truly exemplifies the Healer’s art in the way that he interacts with his patients and peers.”

Michael 4 - Edit - IMG_4995 (2)Image of Scott with his family.

Scott explains that before he was in the nursing program he was a firefighter and worked as an EMT. He felt like he needed to do more to help his patients, and was inspired one day as he watched nurses love and take care of their patients. He decided that he wanted to become a nurse, so he moved his family across the country to obtain a nursing degree from the College of Nursing.

The journey that Scott has taken to get to this point is incredible. Scott explains, “I was inspired by someone who spoke during General Conference. He spoke about how we should treat people with love and respect. We should treat people the way that their parents would treat them. I now think about this whenever I am with a patient.”

Scott continues to set an example and love those around him in the nursing program and with the patients he interacts with.

Watch our video about Scott earning the DAISY In Training Award: https://youtu.be/aLW4UOh0OUU

Three Generations of BYU Nurses

By Mindy Longhurst

Rasmussens

Image of the Trapnell family at Lauren’s wedding. From left to right: Nancy Trapnell, Lauren Young and Laurie Rasmussen. Image courtesy of Rasmussen.

Nancy Trapnell (BS ’65), Laurie Rasmussen (BS ’90) and Lauren Young (semester five) are three generations of BYU College of Nursing graduates. The Healer’s art runs in the blood of these women; as all of them have gone on to serve others within healthcare. This love of service is a bonding desire that grandmother, mother and daughter all share.

Each of them were drawn to nursing for personal reasons. This legacy started when Trapnell was a little girl. She says, “Ever since I was little I wanted to be a nurse. I read a lot of Nancy Nurse Golden Books.” She studied nursing at BYU and went on to have a career that she thoroughly enjoyed.

Following her mother’s example, Rasmussen decided to pursue nursing as well. She says, “I grew up watching my mom as a nurse and the satisfaction that she felt at work. She then came home and talked about her career. That is what inspired me.” Rasmussen now works at a surgical center helping patients with same day recovery.

Following suite, Young began studying nursing as the third generation. The influence of her mother and grandmother inspired her. Young says, “I followed the same path. I really liked how my mom and grandma always helped our family when anything was going on. They were always helping neighbors. I felt like a nursing career was a great way that I could be a Mom and be actively involved with my family and community.” She hopes to work in the ICU after she graduates in April 2019.

Nancy at BYU

Image of Trapnell when she was a nursing student at BYU. Image courtesy of Rasmussen.

Trapnell loves to talk to her granddaughter and see the changes that have happened in the BYU College of Nursing since she has been there. Trapnell explains, “When I was a student, nothing was disposable. We had to sharpen needles and clean the gloves and bedpans. We lived by the LDS Hospital in a dorm. That was a lot of fun because our class got so close! We still are very close.”

However, one thing that has not changed is the college’s mission to teach its students the Healer’s art. Young explains, “I have been able to learn so much by learning nursing with a gospel perspective. It has just been really eye opening to understand how much God really is involved in our lives and how much the Savior sacrificed for all of us. I can think of an instance just last week while I was at clinical. I took care of a patient that was dirty, stinky, drug addicted and homeless. My first impression was that I did not want to take care of the patient. But, I really did have to step back and think ‘I have been taught to serve everyone I have come in contact with as a nurse.’ I feel in those situations it is so much easier to think that I can be like the Savior; I can implement the Healer’s art. Treating everyone with kindness and love is exactly what the Savior would do.”

Trapnell currently works as a hospice nurse, where she learned the beauty of the Healer’s art after spending a Christmas day with a patient rather than her family. She describes, “Two Christmases ago, I got a call that someone had fallen at the nursing home I worked at. They called me in to help assess the patient. At first, I was frustrated because I had to leave my family. When I went inside, I discovered this patient had fallen on the ground and broken his hip and I was able to give him pain medication to make him comfortable. I stayed for about an hour and a half waiting for his family to come. This was one of the nicest Christmases I had because I gave up something for myself in order to give to someone else.”

BYU changed the way that these women were able to live the gospel and learn about nursing through the lens of the Savior.

Trapnell explains, “I grew up in a home that was not very active in the church. When it was time for me to choose a college, my father told me that I needed to come to BYU for at least a year. When I came here, I absolutely loved it! I loved the spiritual aspect. I just loved BYU! BYU taught all of us to always be honest. It was able to set me for life. I was able to be married in the temple and continue faithfully in the Church for the rest of my life.”

Rasmussen was influenced by her mother’s love for BYU, and was raised by parents who were big BYU fans. She says, “I grew up thinking that BYU was great, and growing up in Arizona, I knew that is where I wanted to go. I remember it was hard to get into the nursing program, but I was able to get in. I loved the clinical experience and the feeling in the nursing program. Everyone is united and supports each other. I love BYU!”

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Image of Young while learning how to insert an IV. Image courtesy of Rasmussen.

Continuing the legacy, Young came to BYU to study after a year at SUU. BYU was always in her backyard, and that is where all her friends wanted to go. She decided to attend her freshman year at SUU and says, “While there, I missed being surrounded by people who believed the way that I believed. Having professors that understand what I believe makes a difference. They teach here differently because they make it applicable to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think it took me getting away to realize that I am lucky to have this so close to home. I found my place at BYU when I was accepted into the Nursing program. I feel like I will not just be a better nurse, but I will leave here being a better person because of BYU.”

As a side note, Rasmussen is married to Assistant teaching professor Ryan Rasmussen. To learn more about his latest project, visit https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/improving-communication-in-the-trauma-room/.