Category Archives: Good to know

Nursing Student Works to Raise Money to Combat Childhood Cancer and Honor His Grandfather

BYU College of Nursing student James Reinhardt’s grandfather has always been a positive example for him. He loves admiring his grandfather’s woodwork in the handmade clock in the family house, and he describes the former elementary school teacher as a peacemaker and a critical influence in the life of Reinhardt’s father.

There is only one catch: Reinhardt has never met him. His grandfather died of cancer in 1991, but his legacy lives on. That legacy is inspiring Reinhardt to participate in the Great Cycling Challenge USA fundraiser this June, where he will be biking hundreds of miles to raise money to combat childhood cancer.

“I saw it on Facebook, of all places,” Reinhardt says of the event. “It’s essentially where people across the nation will ride for the fight against cancer.” For the challenge, riders pledge to ride a certain number of miles, and they recruit friends and family to donate either by each mile or in a lump sum. Reinhardt hopes to reach $500 by the end of the month.


Reinhardt’s grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1991

To complete the challenge, Reinhardt is using a bike that actually belonged to his father while he was in college, and his grandfather’s story drives him to reach the 200-mile goal he has set.

“It’s cool to me to be riding my dad’s bike in honor of his dad who passed from cancer because we all think we’re going to be 100 and that you’re going to be able to see your great grandkids,” he says. “Well, he has to see them from the other side of the veil. That would be pretty cool if we could get more and more research so people could expect to live past their retirement age.”

The Great Cycle Challenge USA’s website says that its riders have gone 3,397,199 miles over the past two years and have raised $4,717,515 for cancer research. Riders often offer incentives to donors to contribute, and Reinhardt is considering letting the highest donor choose a costume for him to wear the last week of June.

Anyone who wishes to support Reinhardt can go to his rider page to donate ( Others who want to be riders can go to the Great Cycle Challenge USA website and sign up.

Oh, It’s a Jolly Holiday with Leslie! Yoga and Fingerpainting Are Back In Style In Nursing Relaxation

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major. This post contains the summaries of two of the previous classes, with the first focusing on yoga and the second on fingerpainting.

Part One: On Pain, Reflexology, and Yoga Nidra

I showed up to the stress management class excited, ready to finger-paint. I noticed quickly that everyone was wearing comfortable clothes, and was informed that there had been a change. It was now yoga day, and I was in jeans.


Students prepare to follow instructor Maria in yoga.

Yoga and I have always had an interesting relationship. Once while visiting the mission doctor, his wife had made me do intensive yoga while I waited, a process that just barely fell short of violating the eighth amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

I thought that I had escaped, but I was later called in to translate for a meeting with her and my mission president, in which to my horror I found myself communicating my mission president’s desire for her to teach yoga to the entire mission. That’s how the Chile Santiago North Mission found itself doing yoga at zone conferences in suits and ties, and how I became a wanted man.

For the class, we had an instructor named Maria who teaches therapeutic yoga as a way to help patients recover from medical issues. Maybe, just maybe, she could de-stress a bunch of Type A nursing students and an Arabic major doing yoga in a button up.

We started by rolling a racquetball under our feet. This was based on the ideas of reflexology, a school of thought that says that points on the hands and feet are connected to the rest of the body. By relieving those points, you can relieve other areas like the back.


Students massage their feet with racquetballs. Reflexology says that this will help them take pressure off various points in their bodies.

Now came real yoga. We did moves that aimed to help our muscles relax. We bent over, twisted, and performed various motions. Through it all, I found myself slowly starting to feel a bit less tense. All the while, Maria explained the benefit of each move. At one point, she told assistant teaching professor Leslie Miles that we would be working on something to help her back.

“Yay, we’re going to fix me!” she cried out in glee. We all were repeating that statement in our heads.


Maria shows students how to prepare for the puppy pose.

One of our final move combinations was first to put our legs against the wall and leave them there for several minutes. Then we laid on our backs and adjusted our feet so that our backs had less pressure.

That was when it happened—I suddenly felt asleep, but I was awake. It was a weird, halfway point. I stayed in that immensely relaxed state for a few minutes until it was time to get up, upon which Maria informed me that I had been in yoga nidra. I’m still not sure what that means, but it was nice.

By the end of the session, I felt more relaxed, as usual. This class is so helpful for figuring out the ways to de-stress that best work for each person.

Now, if you come across me with my legs propped against the wall not talking, just keep walking. It’s just yoga nidra.


Part Two: Oh, It’s a Jolly Holiday with Leslie!

It was the afternoon. Students milled around, hauling large sheets of paper and eagerly grabbing the paint. Fingers were saturated in orange, blue, red, yellow, and purple as they worked to create masterpieces. Sometimes it got on the desks, but the teacher was used to this.

Spoiler: this isn’t a kindergarten class. This is nursing stress management, and I may or not have been the main culprit behind the paint on the desk (I cleaned it up!).


Students gather supplies for painting and coloring.

Assistant teaching professor Leslie Miles had brought in lots of paper, both to color and to fingerpaint. Everyone was excited. Today was art and music therapy day, possibly the most anticipated class of the term.

After reviewing our stress levels in groups, we proceeded to discuss how music aids relaxation. Miles explained that not all music is equal in this area—songs with various chord changes are better suited than many modern songs, which are simply repetitive. She impersonated a rap song, but my life would be in jeopardy if I dared repeat it here.

With that, we each got our supplies and began our artistic adventures. In the background, Miles was blaring one of her favorite albums—the original Mary Poppins soundtrack.

I began a relentless campaign to replace every white spot on my paper with some color. In the end, my creation resembled many of my friends returning home from the Festival of Colors.

Others, however, were superbly done. Miles was surprised at the quality of the artwork, and I was surprised at how each student seemed to be focused wholly on the project and not any impending nursing deadlines.

I could go on, but pictures here do more justice than words.




Move over Lewis and Clark, There’s a New Explorer in Town

“Do you remember that time we took Grandma spelunking?”

Assistant Teaching Professor Daphne Thomas gets that question from her sons every once in a while when they want to remind her of the escapades she took them on when they were younger. Those exploits have made for good memories for the adventurous Thomas, as well as her family.

“That’s the main reason I do it,” she says. “I love those memories and I love for my kids to have those memories and experiences.”

Some of her usual pastimes include hiking, kayaking, traveling, and occasionally snowmobiling (assuming the weather is not took cold). She’s always been prone to leave her comfort zone and see what else is out there in the world, like the time she took her two young sons and their grandmother on a spur-of-the-moment road trip through California and Oregon.

“I just love life,” she says. “[I just] try to live for each moment and make each moment better.”

This attitude has helped her in her twenty-seven-year career as a nurse and a nurse educator. She only began teaching nursing a few years ago, and recently started working at BYU. She loves the College of Nursing for its focus on helping everyone become better not only as nurses, but also as people.

Thomas has been around the block when it comes to nursing positions, with some of hers including staff nurse, charge nurse, trauma coordinator, and nursing manager. Management was definitely the job that stretched her the most, she says.

“It’s definitely a perspective most people don’t get,” she says. “As you get into management, it really starts to connect a lot of pieces that you’ve just never put together.”

Wherever she works, Thomas always keeps a focus on the big picture. One of her favorite areas of study is how to retain people in the nursing profession despite burnout. Her life is an example of overcoming stress and not feeling overburdened.

“Experience is always good,” she says. “I like to grow and to learn, so I like to stretch myself a little bit.”

For Thomas, that experience includes continuing to work as an emergency nurse. She looks forward to each shift, knowing that she will be able to make someone’s day a little better.

“I guess that’s what I try to aim my life at, just making a difference, whether that’s a difference in myself or in my family or my friends or even people that I don’t know,” she says. “I love to do that.”

On Prayer, Gumption, and Gratitude

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

Shortly after I entered class, Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles was beginning to tell a story from one of the times she took nursing students to study in Finland. We all were busting a gut (or LOLing, in the terminology of my fellow millennials), but the story ended up laying the foundation for the rest of the class.

Basically, she and her students were struggling to get around during Finland’s equivalent of 4th of July. Both the public areas and the tram they managed to get on were crowded with rowdy, inebriated Finns who were making life, shall we say, interesting for the students. To make matters worse, the tram stopped far from their desired destination and the conductor, who didn’t speak English, wanted them to get off.

Through a combination of prayer and gumption, Miles somehow managed to convey to the driver that they needed to go to their hospice. Under no requirement to do so, he left his assigned route and graciously drove them through the city to their hospice, ignoring angry people waiting to board at other stations. It was nothing short of miraculous.

The off-the-cuff tale was followed by the usual review of our week and our stress levels. The topic of our discussion was to be gratitude. I wondered if this would be like one of many Sunday School lessons I had heard on the topic. However, Sunday School lessons usually don’t start with a Ted Talk.

In it, a little girl and an old man give their perspectives on life. The little girl matter-of-factly acknowledges how much adventure lies outside her home, while the older gentleman says that each of us should live each day as if it were our first and our last. This was an interesting thought, since frequently, life tends to get in the way of us stopping to smell the roses or enjoying a fresh Cougar Tail.


Students discuss their stress levels.

Miles poignantly asked the students if they had lost their imagination since entering nursing school. There were chuckles, but everyone was wondering the same thing: had they?

Miles discussed how oftentimes it is hard to be grateful in stressful situations. These situations test us and push us to the limit, which makes finding things to be grateful for even more important. Calmness can come, she assured us.

Then she weaved in her earlier story—the reason that she had been calm on that tram in Finland, she said, was because “I knew that I would be guided to what I had to do.” That trust in God had allowed her to protect the students and get home safely.

With that, we were assigned to make lists of things for which we were grateful. The lists were not to be just the typical answers like life and the Gospel, but more specific ideas. Some that came to me included not having to use Roman numerals and the fact that I have shoelaces (and shoes, on top of that). As we discussed our simple responses, we realized just how much good we have in our lives.

The best part, Miles said, was that if we made it a habit to do this kind of exercise, we would be not only be more relaxed, but we would have more to talk about with Heavenly Father at the end of the day.

This class may not have had as much interactive activities like the last few times, but it did manage to open my mind more on the topic of gratitude. I could not help but think of President Hinckley, who said, “Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” How true indeed.

On I Love Lucy, Sleep, and Well-being

Note: To offer more insight into the lives of nursing students, we are sending Steven, a writer for the College of Nursing, to the weekly Nursing Stress Management Course. Steven is a Middle East Studies/Arabic major.

“Do you have to do the assignment?”

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles’ question hit us like a ton of bricks covered in bowling balls flung by a catapult. Not do an assignment on time? What was this heresy?

This was Nursing Stress Management, round two.

I was definitely in need of some de-stressing after a week of essays and tests. Based on the looks on the faces of the other students, I was not the only one.

We started by pairing off and talking about what we had done that week to relieve our anxiety, and then we practiced taking our pulse. That’s when we dove into the world of relaxation techniques.


Students discuss their week and how they handled the stress of being a nursing student.

Miles showed a clip from “I Love Lucy” (I realize that some in the audience may not be familiar with this classic program, in which case I recommend Googling it, along with Dwight Eisenhower and the first color televisions). In it, Lucy struggles to keep up with a conveyer belt continuously carrying chocolate for her to wrap.

The students laughed, no doubt finding comparison between Lucy’s frantic maneuvering and their own balancing act (the most recent nursing conference was called “Struggle to Juggle”). That was exactly the point Miles was getting at, and she transitioned into a discussion on how to prioritize tasks at hand.

We used a mental exercise to imagine sifting through our various tasks and choosing which were most important. Following that, we used jumbo crayons (a very nice touch) to recreate a normal day schedule. As we did so, people commented on how difficult it was to schedule even basic tasks like sleeping a minimum of eight hours.

“Why won’t eight [hours] happen?” she inquired. We all wondered why, mentioning the various assignments that we had to accomplish.

That’s about the point that Miles dropped the bombshell question mentioned at the start of this story. Cognitive dissonance abounded as we struggled to wrap our heads around the idea of putting our emotional and physical well-being above homework.

“It’s more about you than the assignment,” she said. In her mind as a professor, she said, a student emailing her to say that they would turn in an assignment late instead of rushing it was worthy of praise.

What she said made sense. If we let our bodies and minds deteriorate below a load of impending social, physical, and academic demands, it defeats the point of living. We are meant to progress, and in order to do that we must learn how to prioritize and accomplish tasks in a way that leaves us sane at the end.

To conclude the class, Miles told us to get comfortable and close our eyes as she played incredibly relaxing sounds and music. Life could not get much better than this, I thought, slouched over in my chair. Then I remembered that finger painting week is coming up. Best work assignment ever.

Students Learn the Balancing Act at the “Struggle to Juggle” Conference

Yesterday, the BYU College of Nursing hosted its annual Professionalism Conference.  Students listened to speakers, attended breakout sessions on topics related to overcoming the rigors of nursing life, and met prospective employers.

“The thing that I like most about this is that I think it helps you be aware of the things that will be coming,” says capstone student Ashea Hanna, who is slated to graduate in April.

Others also gained a lot from the theme of the conference, which was “Struggle to Juggle.” Breakout topics ranged from healthy eating to handling compassion fatigue, while others treated financial independence and nursing ethics.

“It helped me learn how to balance a couple of things like sleep and self-care, but then also broaden my perspective a little,” fourth-semester student Micai Nethercott says.


Capstone student McCall Van Leeuwen particularly enjoyed the breakout session held by a non-nursing professional, since it offered the chance to feel appreciated as a student nurse and become aware of her possible positive impact on others.

Meanwhile, back in the Garden Court over fifteen booths were set up with representatives from various hospitals and agencies proffering information to students about future job opportunities.

One such station was for Wyoming State Hospital, which is roughly 100 miles away. There a decorative poster highlighted the offered $29 per hour wage for new nursing graduates.

“We need nurses and [BYU’s program is] a great nursing program,” expressed one representative of the hospital when asked why they had come so far. This sentiment was common among vendors, many of whom had various open positions they hoped students could fill.

Jesse, a representative of Intermountain Healthcare’s Dixie Regional Medical Center, had several students express interest in working in St. George.

“We’ve had quite a few, and most of them are very excited,” he said. He and his colleagues liked that the conference brought students close to them and offered students different opportunities to seek employment with various groups at assorted places.

In the end, the conference managed to help students understand how to take care of themselves and their careers during future years, all while enjoying a free lunch.

“Overall, it’s just really good helping me understand the balance I need in my future career,” capstone student Bethany Borup says.



Enhancement in Education, Part Six: Standing Room Only

This story is part of an ongoing series about the BYU College of Nursing’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center and the College’s constant efforts to update it.


Nursing student Sydney Wilson practices injecting a manikin in the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center.

On November 11, any visitor to the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center’s walk-in lab would not have had much elbow room. That day 52 students were crammed inside, each trying to practice key nursing skills and techniques with what little space they had.

While this may sound chaotic, it is actually indicative of the immense success that the walk-in lab has experienced over the past two years, as well as curriculum changes that are increasing the lab’s attendance.

Since so much of nursing education is focused on repetition, it follows that students will want to take extra time to practice skills they learn in class. The walk-in lab is designed to offer students an open environment to do exactly that.

“Most other colleges don’t have a walk-in lab, so it’s unique in that we have it at all,” Colleen Tingey, NLC supervisor, says. “Most places don’t have [a walk-in lab], and if they do, they’re ones that have been newly built but got the idea from us.”

Other nursing schools often charge students to use college facilities for practice; at the NLC, students have free reign to hone in their skills without an additional cost. This allows them to build self-confidence and learn nursing techniques without shouldering a financial burden.

“The walk-in lab is open for them to come in and practice,” Kristen Whipple, NLC assistant supervisor, says. “They can’t just walk [in the other rooms] and practice.”

Recently, however, the lab has served another purpose. Some professors have begun to require students to complete skills pass offs via video, which means that they have to film themselves completing the tests in the walk-in lab.

“The biggest thing that happened is the med/surg students were assigned to videotape themselves doing their pass offs instead of coming in for a test,” Whipple says. Whipple also notes that many of these students have driven personalities, thus leading to them taping themselves upwards of two or three times to make sure they get it just right.

With entire classes filming themselves multiple times adding on to the already large amount of students present, the walk-in lab suddenly rivals the Creamery as a gathering spot.

“A lot more things are getting assigned in here, more teachers are considering doing the video pass offs, which will impact us a lot,” Whipple says. Tingey also notes that students now are spending longer amounts of time in the lab as they practice the pass offs.

However, Whipple says that they will adapt to the changes, and that the benefits that students get from both individually practicing in the lab and from receiving help from the TA’s continue to be tremendous.

“The ability to practice is huge, and the ability to practice with someone who has experience is even better,” she says.