Category Archives: Inspiring

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Adventures in Paraguay

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Matthews

By Jessica Tanner

As a nursing student, you fill hundreds of hours with your studies, your classes, and your clinical hours in hospitals. One day you wander by a flyer for a study abroad or see an email from one of your professors asking for student researchers. Do you keep walking? Do you disregard the email? Or do you consider the possibility of experiential learning outside the classroom? Though it may seem like there is not enough time nor resources, it may not be as impossible as you think. Two nursing students share how they got involved in a life-changing research trip to Paraguay.

These students joined Dr. Sheri Palmer, who was the recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, in Paraguay to address the issue of teenage pregnancy.  On this ten-day research trip, they had two objectives: the first was interview local teachers, principals and community leaders about Paraguayan teenage life.  The second was to teach Days for Girls classes, teaching young women and girls about maturation and teenage pregnancy. For fifth-semester student Rachel Matthews, one of the best parts was “seeing the girls understand something they didn’t before, see them get empowered about their bodies and … themselves.” She also enjoyed the one-on-one interviews. “I’d missed that Paraguayan soul,” she says.

Matthews had served her mission in Paraguay. Coincidentally, so had Dr. Palmer. Having recently returned from her mission, Matthews was in search of something that would take her nursing skills outside the classroom. Her opportunity came in the form of Dr. Palmer at an ORCA conference. Matthews was about to leave when she spotted her teacher next to a Global Health sign. “I thought if there is anyone I can talk to, it’s probably her,” Matthews remembers. “I went over to her, and I sat down and started explaining some of the public health issues I’d seen in Paraguay. It turns out she’d also served her mission in Paraguay, so we bonded really quickly over that. As luck would have it, she’d also applied for a Fulbright [Scholar Award] to teach at a university in Paraguay.”

A sixth-semester student, Julia Lee, also coincidentally connected with Dr. Palmer. After returning from a mission in Argentina, Lee attended a Spanish class that Dr. Palmer was auditing. Lee had taken a gerontology class from Dr. Palmer, and started talking with her. The more she talked with her, the more she learned about the upcoming research trip to Paraguay. And the more she learned, the more interested she became.

These stories share a commonality: both Lee and Matthews got involved by talking to their professor. Professors are there to help students learn, in and out of the classroom. “That first step is just getting out of your comfort zone and asking professors if there is something you can do,” says Matthews.   Teachers and students have ideas; it is usually together they can make those ideas a reality. For Lee, too, the key to gaining these experiences comes from connections and questioning. She relates, “I happened to be in the class with Sheri Palmer. I could have just not talked to her about it, but I was interested, so I asked. And she talked about it, and it was interesting, so I asked.” Matthews adds that professors are constantly reaching out through emails. It does not take a lot to get involved – it simply starts with asking questions.

Though study and knowledge are important, real-world experience is also required. “There’s more to what you learn than what’s just in the textbook,” says Lee. That includes empathy, people skills, and problem-solving.  She continues, “I highly suggest going on a study abroad because it really heightens your learning experience. It makes your learning more holistic.” Another student on the research trip, Megan Hancock, adds, “Travelling is fun on its own, but when you travel with a purpose to learn and serve, you really can’t travel any other way again.”  For Matthews, the reason she enjoyed the research trip was the same as her reason for going into nursing. “I just like helping people in that greatest moment of need,” she says. “Really being there on the front line at the bedside.”

It is with that attitude that these students got involved, and none regrets the experience. Their story can be your story.

 

 

 

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All the Good We Will Do

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Student Mikaela Heyland. Photo courtesy of Winter 2018-19 President’s Report.

Nurses in training at BYU work in the nursing lab with manikins that display symptoms like real patients or even talk.

Mikaela Heyland, a soon-to-be-graduate of the College of Nursing, says, “Now that I’ve worked in real hospitals, I realize that sometimes patients are emotional, angry, or just need to talk. I am better prepared because of the lab.”

She adds, “At BYU I’m gaining education for my career; I’m also receiving a spiritual education. I have grown because of classmates, professors, roommates, wards, and devotionals.”

Because this is her final semester, Heyland participated in the August graduation ceremony. Sitting there with 60 of her classmates, the significance of her BYU experience dawned on her. “We are all going out into the world to make a difference,” she says. “I thought about all the good we will do.”

Heyland is grateful to have received a scholarship. As an international student (she is from Canada), her work options are limited, so funding her studies at BYU has been challenging. “Someone’s donation lightened my burden,” she says. She continues working at a local hospital while finishing her coursework.

**republished from the Winter 2018-19 President’s Report 

Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Eide

By Jessica Tanner

Elizabeth Eide stood in an emergency room. Doctors and nurses rushed in and out, performing tests. Eide assisted them as the patient’s condition worsened. It would become one of Eide’s most profound experiences in the nursing program. Not just because it was challenging, but also because it solidified her love for nursing.

Eide is a sixth-semester nursing student focusing her studies in the ER and ICU. Surprisingly, she came close to not applying for the program. Her first fascination for medicine came from an anatomy class in high school. When she came to college, she knew she wanted something service-oriented. “I really needed that human interaction component,” she explains. But watching friends and peers struggle through prerequisites of the nursing program intimidated her. She tried for teaching, but it was not long before something called her back to medicine.

That something was Grey’s Anatomy. Although now Eide recognizes the popular television show is unrealistic, watching it re-sparked that interest from high school. She says, “I just remembered how much I loved the body, how much it fascinated me, and how emergency medicine was just exciting.” She was determined to give it a shot. Since becoming a nursing student, Eide has not looked back.

That led her to days like the one at the ER. Eide stayed with the patient as their status deteriorated. “I pretty much watched their entire decline,” Eide remembers. But the nursing program is not just about observation. It is hands-on. Eide was glad to help with critical yet simple tasks such as pouring sterile water onto a tray so the doctor could insert a catheter. The patient was taken to the trauma bay and then to the ICU to receive proper care.

It is essential to be there with a patient, but it is equally important to help those that are there for them. Eide took the time to help the patient’s family member. “It was a very scary situation for them,” Eide recalls. “I had the chance to just sit there with them and explain what was going on and ask what they needed.  And that is such a crucial and sacred part of nursing.”

Nurses spend the most time with the patient and their loved ones. “We meet complete strangers on their worst days ever, their most vulnerable times,” Eide says. “That’s really a sacred privilege because you have the opportunity to teach them, and to comfort them, and to educate them, and to be there for them.”

When not focusing on nursing, Eide balances her life with fun, rest, and enjoying unique college experiences. “I’ve made it a point throughout my nursing career to make sure I take care of myself and remember that nursing is not my whole life,” she says. She enjoys dancing, hiking, and watching movies. She also has a hidden talent: impersonations. Top picks include Brittany Spears, Shakira, Sarah Palin, and Kermit the Frog.

Though she admits it is surreal to be graduating, Eide is looking forward to the next step in her life. “BYU’s nursing program is really good and they prepare you really well…we have over 200 clinical hours in our capstone so we get a lot of hands-on experience,” she explains. It is an intimidating change but Eide believes in God’s help. “I feel like this is my calling so I have no doubt that in the time that I need it, I’ll be blessed.” With that confidence, Eide turns to the next chapter of her life.

From Victim of Car Theft to Victor of Life

By Jessica Tanner

Finals week as a nursing student is already tough, but for Keeley Austin – a fifth-semester student in the nursing program – coming home to find her Subaru Outback missing was a new level of stress.  Austin not only had final exams, but also worked doing hospice visits that required her to drive to her patients. She and her husband searched other possible parking spots for the car, hoping they had just parked it somewhere else. But Austin felt sure of where she had last parked it, always being careful when it comes to the car. “I check for my car to make sure it’s there every day,” she explains.

After having no luck with the search, they contacted the local police who registered the missing car. Meanwhile, Austin and her husband kept up the search. They even spotted a similar car being sold on KSL. Austin was eager to check it out. However, that vehicle turned out not to be theirs.

Though Austin posted about the event to warn others in the Provo area, the outreach that she received from friends and peers was reassuring. “Everyone was super supportive,” she says. “Everyone reached out, saying if you need rides we’re here for you, which was awesome.” Thanks to the help, they were able to get through the next few car-less days.

It was actually on a grocery run with a friend giving her a ride that Austin spotted her car at last. “My heart was just so happy and scared,” she remembers. From the clicking noises and heat emitting from the car, she could tell the driver had just left it. That made Austin feel violated. Peeking inside, she could see their things were missing. But any loss was overcome by the relief that they had finally found it. They contacted the police and watched the car until the police arrived.

“It’s a bummer that it happened to me, but it worked out in the end,” Austin reflects, relating how she grew from the experience. She learned that car-theft in the area is frequent because most college cars are older and easier to break into. She also learned how to prevent future theft, such as with the steering wheel lock they now own. Most are not aware of these useful gadgets. When Austin bought one, the employee at AutoZone said it was the first he had sold. “It’s a good reassurance,” says Austin. “Maybe someone can break into my car and steal my stuff, but they can’t take my car!”

The experience gave Austin a fresh perspective, moving forward with a confidence in her ability to get through challenges. Not only did they have their car stolen, but their house also flooded soon after. As she faces another stressful semester, and an upcoming study abroad to Fiji, she says, “Now I feel like nothing can affect me. What are material possessions anyway? God gives it to us; it was His in the first place, He can have it back.”

Above all, the outreach they received was priceless. “I just felt love,” Austin remembers. “It made it easier to cope.” When stressed about an appointment with a patient or getting groceries, she could remember, “I don’t have a car, but I have all these friends that are willing to help out. We can get through this situation just fine.”

Serving Beyond the Y

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Merrill (left) and Moore (right). Photo courtesy of Moore.

By Quincey Taylor

Cookies and milk, movies and popcorn, picnics and watermelon. Some things just go together. The same goes for Heather Merrill and Atalie Moore, BYU nursing alumni and best friends. These two have big plans and big hearts. In March, they will be volunteering in Greece to help with the treatment of a growing refugee population. They will volunteer for DocMobile, a company who gives care to those in need from the back of a van.

Moore and Merrill both graduated from the BYU nursing program in December of 2017. They have enjoyed gaining experience in the medical field since graduation. However, they wanted to find a way to do more. While in school, they had gone on a study abroad to Ecuador and had a chance to serve people there. Both fell in love with the chance to assist international populations in a sustainable way.

The desire to serve refugees in particular was inspired by Merrill’s interest in the Syrian refugee crisis. This war is different than any other we have seen in history, Merrill states, because “they are specifically targeting civilian areas in Syria, like hospitals and schools.” The devastation of the Syrian population has been widespread and drawn out, driving them to neighboring countries for survival

The war in the Middle East has been a seemingly never-ending struggle. Merrill worries that these news stories have become commonplace to Americans. She says, “Every day in Syria people are still getting bombed and it’s created a huge crisis.” Merrill and Moore have a goal of raising awareness to this issue as well as motivating other volunteers to find ways to serve.

They realize that it’s not feasible for everyone who wants to help to go abroad, but luckily there are many opportunities for people to volunteer locally. Merrill says, “Usually the best impact you can make is close by. I love going abroad and helping people but I also hesitate because you have to be aware of the impact you’re going to make.” Moore adds, “In the end, not everyone can go on trips like we’re going on. That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

To find a way to start, they recommend using resources like the Just Serve app, which includes different opportunities to help refugees in areas as close as Salt Lake City.

Moore had their plan confirmed in her mind after an experience while working at the Utah Valley Hospital. A patient of hers was a refugee from the Congo, and they were communicating by typing into an iPad and translating. She says about the experience, “I got talking to her at the beginning of the day, and I asked her about her family and how long have she had been here. She just said, ‘Well, my sister and I were able to escape but the rest of my family was killed.’ I can’t even imagine. That’s her reality. We have no concept of that. We have no idea. That’s just her life. She just has to keep moving forward and find a way to continue on and I think that moment just solidified my desire to help with the refugee crisis. We need to be doing something. There’s such a need.”

Merrill feels that, as a healthcare professional, “You need to be aware of not only the refugee crisis but all of the different crises or hard situations for people around the world. You need to stay aware of current events so that you can raise awareness and help.”

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!

Fulbright Scholar Award: Dr. Sheri Palmer

By Mindy Longhurst

20181022_114839_HDRAn image of teaching professor Dr. Sheri Palmer with people from the National University of Asuncion. Image courtesy of Palmer.

Teaching professor Dr. Sheri Palmer has had an incredible year spending time in Paraguay for two significant nursing projects including a Fulbright Scholar Award.

Studying teenage pregnancy in Paraguay

This past August, Palmer with two other faculty members and five nursing students went to Paraguay on a research project to learn more about teenage pregnancy in Paraguay.

Palmer first came to love the people of Paraguay while serving a welfare mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly after receiving her RN license thirty years ago. Since her time in Paraguay as a missionary, she has had a strong desire to go back and serve the people that she loves. While pondering this, Palmer came in contact with a nursing student named Rachel Trujillo who also served a mission for the Church in Paraguay. As they discussed their love for the people, Trujillo remembered the high teenage pregnancy rate in Paraguay and wanted to do something to help. She discussed this with Palmer and they decided to get a research team together to learn more about the teenage pregnancy rate in Paraguay.

(Watch a video about Trujillo and Palmer deciding on what to research in Paraguay https://youtu.be/BKjP1zyPqY0)

To study the teenage pregnancy, the students and professors went to Paraguay to interview local leaders and teachers about what might be contributing to the high rate of teenage pregnancy. Of these interviews, nursing student Julia Lee says, “We asked what is the frequency of teenage pregnancy here, what risk factors contribute to a teenager getting pregnant, what is happening now to prevent or reduce teenage pregnancy, and what suggestions does this person have to reduce teenage pregnancy.”

(Watch a video about the interview process https://youtu.be/nCzNfEdv7rY)

While they were in the schools in Cerrito, they would teach the girls from ages 8+ about maturation and sex education. They also provided each of the girls with a Days for Girls kit. This kit included underwear with built in washable pads so that the girls would be able to be clean during their menstrual cycle. Third semester nursing student Cortney Welch says, “I think teaching Days for Girls was really beneficial to those we were able to reach out to.” Trujillo expounds, “I think it will make a big difference, especially since our guides are now going around with Sheri, teaching the curriculum to other people. It has been cool because we have left other people in place to continue the legacy.”

(Watch a video about the Days for Girls program https://youtu.be/KA46WPHvqK8)

The 10 day research experience for the nursing students and faculty members was a great experience! Megan Hancock says, “I loved it! The entire time I was there I felt blessed to be there. It was nice knowing that what we are doing would lead to interventions that actually work because we were researching what is and what is not working.”

Fulbright Scholar Award

For six weeks from mid-October to the beginning of December Palmer was able to stay in Paraguay to help teach the nurses, teachers and students about nursing with her Fulbright Scholar Award. The Fulbright Scholar Award allows Palmer to be a visiting scholar to the national university in Paraguay (National University of Asuncion). Palmer was able to teach nursing classes to faculty members and students of the college in five different cities. She was able to teach at the Paraguayan Nursing Association, at private hospitals, public hospitals and at the Ministry of Health.

20181022_154935An image of Palmer with other medical professionals in Paraguay. Image courtesy of Palmer.

This is the first round of a two year experience in Paraguay for the Fulbright Scholar Award. The second round will be next March and April and the third round will be sometime in 2020. Going back and helping the Paraguayan people over the course of two years will help Palmer to make the biggest difference possible.

The love that Palmer has for the people of Paraguay is so evident, she lights up when she speaks about the people she has met while there. When Palmer would introduce herself and start her classes in Paraguay she would always try to explain the love that she and others have for the Paraguayan people. She explains, “Almost every time I was able to tell them about my mission, I would tell them that they were important. Just being able to express my love for them. It was neat to let them know that people think about you and care for you. We want the best for you.”

Palmer wants all of the nurses in Paraguay to feel empowered and to know that they are affecting so many lives. She says, “Empowering nurses is so important. One of the reasons I was there was to help empower the nurses, help their value of nursing to be greater in the country, to be looked upon as a worthy profession.” When she left the different cities she was teaching in, she did not realize the impact that she would have on others, just like the nurses in Paraguay do not always understand the impact they have on others.

Palmer is currently preparing for her next phase of the Fulbright Scholar Award. Palmer is eagerly looking forward to her next return to Paraguay!

To read more about Palmer’s experiences with her Fulbright Scholar Award read her blog https://palmerfulbrightinparaguay.wordpress.com/.