Category Archives: Inspiring

Student Spotlight: Lexy Rowberry

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Rowberry loves spending time with her family. Photo courtesy of Rowberry.

By Corbin Smith

Well, students. Here we are again. Another school year has kicked off with new opportunities to grow and serve. There will be late-night study sessions and last-minute cramming for tests, but you will also learn so many new things, as well as meeting new friends along the way. One of those new friends that you may meet as you walk the halls of the Kimball Tower this year is a 5th-semester student named Lexy Rowberry.

As a young girl, Rowberry never imagined that she would be studying nursing here at BYU. Her family is full of teachers so Rowberry, planning to follow in the footsteps of her family, had always imagined herself studying something like English or education. It was when her mom suggested nursing while she was applying for college that Rowberry first considered the idea of pursuing nursing at BYU.

Her road to becoming a nurse started long before that day, though.

When Rowberry was young, her father got a job in Australia which moved the entire family to a small town in the middle of Australia. “It was terrifying. I never did anything,” Rowberry says, laughing, of her experience. Being in a new place around new people was tough and forced Rowberry to see the world in a new way. “Living with different people got me outside myself. I saw that there was another way to live life!” she says. This realization was the start of Rowberry’s desire to serve and make life better for all people, no matter how. “I saw others and thought, I’d really like to do something in my life to help be a source for good,” she explains.

As she was growing up, Rowberry had another impactful experience that shifted her outlook on life. Not very many of us have to deal with the stress and uncertainty that comes with having someone with cancer in your family. Even those who do, usually aren’t faced with that at a young age. Nonetheless, that is exactly what Rowberry had to deal with as a young girl.

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Photo courtesy of Rowberry.

While in Australia, just as Rowberry’s dad was called as bishop of their ward, her mom was diagnosed with cancer. What would you do? How would you react? Many young people might close themselves off and blame others for the scary things that are happening. Rowberry did the exact opposite. “It was then when I really turned to my Heavenly Father. It changed me to really trust him and say, ‘Life is serious. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. It’s going to be okay’,” she says.

It was then when Rowberry started to become the smiley, upbeat and happy person that she is today. Her testimony of God and positive outlook on life has given her the ability to overcome the trials that have come into her life at every point in her life. “Being happy just makes everything so much better,” she explains, “Life is better when you’re happy.” Now, when you see Rowberry in the hall, you’re bound to see a smile that goes from ear to ear!

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Photo courtesy of Rowberry.

This positive attitude that Rowberry has developed has helped her be successful in each semester of the nursing program. Whether you are just starting your first semester or are reaching the end of your BYU career, here are three pieces of advice from Rowberry to have a great and rewarding semester this year:

  1. “Put your foot in a lot of places” – Try new things this semester! Join a new club, pick up a new hobby or read a new (non-textbook) book! Studying is grueling so try to forget about school every once in a while so you can relax!
  2. Enjoy learning – You are learning the Healer’s art! Enjoy the process of learning and making mistakes. Don’t worry too much at being perfect at everything at the start and do your best to slow things down and enjoy the process!
  3. Focus on why you’re there – Everyone has their own answer to the question “Why nursing?”. Make sure you remember your “why”! When school gets stressful it is hard to remember why, so write your “why” down where you will always see it and each time you sit in class or at your desk to study, keep that “why” in mind!

 

As Rowberry starts her senior year she is excited to continue learning and applying what she has learned in past semesters and in the clinical practicum for her Public and Global health nursing course last summer. Make sure, when you see her in the halls this year, to give her a smile and a high-five!

 

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Julie Valentine Meets Julie Valentine

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A link. A name. A cause to fight for: eradicating child abuse. Photo courtesy of Valentine.

By Quincey Taylor

Assistant professor Dr. Julie Valentine champions causes that defend the defenseless. She is a forensic nurse that has been a leader in advocating for Utah sex assault victims for years. You’d think that nothing could surprise her after all these years of experience, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

What Are the Odds?

A shocking surprise, and a strange coincidence, presented itself to Valentine in 2011. Because of her extensive public research in her field, Valentine had Google alerts set up surrounding her name in case her research was referenced by an organization without her permission or knowledge. One day, Google alerted her to a news story surrounding the opening of ‘The Julie Valentine Center.’

It was a center in South Carolina devoted to ending domestic violence and child abuse. At first, Valentine was shocked and confused by the name of the center. Not only was it her name, one that is not common by any means, but they were also involved in the same cause.

The Same Name? How?

After more research, Dr. Valentine understood the connection. ‘Julie Valentine’ was the name given to an abandoned baby that had been found in a field in Greenville, South Carolina in 1990. She was found dead in a cardboard Sears box for a vacuum cleaner, wrapped in newspapers and a floral bedsheet.

The child was named ‘Julie,’ after one of the wives of the detectives that found her, and ‘Valentine’ because she was found the day before Valentine’s Day. No one knew who her parents could be, and after detectives searched records for mothers that had given birth recently, they couldn’t find anyone.

The case soon went cold, and the child became a symbol to the small community of eradicating domestic violence and child abuse. The community came together and paid for her funeral, coffin, and all other expenses. They made a headstone with the name ‘Julie Valentine’ that is still there today.

Years later in 2011, the Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center changed its name to the Julie Valentine Center (JVC) in honor of that helpless little baby that came to mean so much more to the community. They embody her story in the inspirational logo that adorns their facility: an open heart.

Uniting Efforts

One day, Shannon Hansen, JVC’s chair, received a call from a reporter asking for an interview with Julie Valentine. Hansen was confused and explained that Julie Valentine was an infant that had been killed. The reporter was also confused, and told her that, no, Julie Valentine was a professor that studies sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse at Brigham Young University. That was the first clue of the connection that would bring these two people and organizations together.

Hansen and Dr. Valentine started exchanging emails and made a connection. They were amazed to discover their similarities, not only the name but also their passions and beliefs. This fostered a warm friendship that has continued throughout the years.

Hansen invited Valentine to come out to present last year, this time on sexual assault kits, an annual tradition they hoped to continue. The conference was covered by local news stations. Hansen and Valentine hoped that the media attention would help in passing some legislative changes on the topic.

Valentine was inspired to enter this field of work because of a very similar story. She says, “It was many years ago when I was working in a pediatric ICU. I got a patient from a helicopter, a two month old little girl. She had been abused, and ended up dying. When I was taking care of this little girl, I thought, ‘I need to do something in my life to try to prevent this from happening.’ As you know, nursing careers can take you down lots of different paths. But I always felt a strong affinity towards working to try to reduce violence. All of that really started with that little girl that I cared for that was murdered.”

She elaborates about the JVC, “It’s not only our names that we share. Many of the reasons that I went into the work that I do was because of another little infant that was killed by her parents.”

Justice for Julie Valentine

Two weeks before Valentine arrived to present at the conference this year, baby Julie Valentine’s parents were identified through a genealogy DNA database. They linked her to the biological father, who had no idea she had been born, and subsequently to the biological mother. She was soon arrested for the first degree murder of this little girl. This story was quickly linked to the story of another child, a little boy, who had been abandoned in a field in 1989 in a different town, one year before Julie. This mother of both children, Brook Graham, is currently serving her life sentence in jail for the murder of these two children.

Detectives were glad to finally bring justice to these children, as well as support the cause of the JVC as well as assistant professor Dr. Julie Valentine.

Julie Lives On

Valentine reflects, “It was really humbling and somewhat eerie to have a shared name with this baby girl that was murdered. But now, [those at the center and I] have this connection together. We’re very good friends and we stay in close contact.”

Valentine had the privilege to present there this April following Graham’s arrest. She is proud to fight for the cause of that little baby girl, with the hope that her story will never repeat itself. Her name lives on in our very own professor, a champion for the voiceless.

Daphne Thomas Elected as ENA President in Utah

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Thomas is one of six BYU College of Nursing faculty members serving in Utah’s ENA council in 2019.

By Corbin Smith

This January, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas was elected president of the Utah chapter of the ENA. She is joined by BYU College of Nursing assistant teaching professors Stacie Hunsaker, Ryan Rasmussen, Scott Summers, Dr. Craig Nuttall and associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston in various responsibilities in the chapter. Thomas has already served as president-elect for a year and will serve as chapter president until the end of 2019.

ENA stands for emergency nurses association. It is an international organization with the goal to assure that top quality practices take place in emergency rooms through education. This is done by providing classes and certifications to help continue a nurse’s education and maintain competency. They offer many classes, including trauma and pediatric courses, both taught by Thomas.

When asked why she has decided to take on such an intense commitment Thomas says, “I’ve been an emergency room nurse for about 20 years and I just love making it better.” She continues, “I understand the importance of being an active advocate for these nurses… not only so that they have a better job satisfaction but also that we have better patient outcomes.”

Thomas is also quick to recognize that she needs her whole team to have a successful tenure as ENA president. “There are a lot of different roles and people making sure everything is running smoothly and is organized. There is a lot going on and it takes a whole team to be effective.”

As president of the ENA, Thomas hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on emergency nursing. She shares, “Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives. That is what nursing is really all about. Its very service oriented and we want it to stay that way.”

Stroke Awareness Month: An Unlikely Hero

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Zak Gowans is happy that his dad, Ben, successfully survived a stroke. 

By Corbin Smith

There are very few things that can happen in a person’s life that can flip it completely upside down. Receiving a cancer diagnosis or the death of a loved one are just two examples. There is one, though, that many do not realize affects so many people each day.

Due to this fact, each May the world celebrates Stroke Awareness Month, reminding us the importance of being able to recognize and react to a stroke.

In 2016, strokes were the second leading cause of death in the world, amounting to almost 6 million deaths worldwide. Next month, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke; most unaware they are even at risk!

Since it is close to impossible to know when a stroke will strike, the National Stroke Association has created an easy-to-remember acronym called F.A.S.T to help identify the symptoms of a stroke. By knowing and quickly following F.A.S.T when you suspect someone is having a stroke, you could literally save someone’s life.

An Unlikely Hero

March 23, 2019 started as a normal day for Ben and Zak Gowans. Zak, the videographer for the College of Nursing’s media team, was spending some time doing homework in his room. His dad, Ben, having spent the day at his parents’ home, had just sat down on his bed to watch Avengers: Infinity War.

After a few minutes, wanting a break from homework, Zak came into the room and sat down on the bed to watch the movie with his dad. “The way we were laying, we couldn’t see each other. Then he sat up and looked at me. I saw his pupils were huge and he looked really confused. All I could ask was, ‘Are you okay?’” says Zak.

From Ben’s perspective he says, “I remember sitting there and thinking ‘I’ve seen this movie before but it doesn’t make sense what’s happening.’ I looked at my hands, and they were like someone else’s hands. They were moving oddly, not responding quite right, so I sat up a little and looked over at Zak.”

Zak jumped up, turned the movie off and ran over to the other side of the bed. “He couldn’t speak. I knew it was something with his brain, because he was acting very strange,” says Zak. “As I called 911,” Zak laughs, “My dad even started shaking his head no.” “It was because it was going to be expensive,” jokes Ben.

Within the next ten minutes, the paramedics arrived and Ben’s wife got back home from the grocery store to a great surprise. From the moment they arrived to when he made it to the hospital, he was bombarded with questions. “Every question they asked I knew the answer too, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. I knew what to say but I couldn’t communicate it,” says Ben.

Stroke of Luck

The next few hours were filled with uncertainty and medical tests. He was given a CT scan to see what type of stroke he was having and where the blood clot was in his brain. He was offered a potentially dangerous clot-busting medicine to begin dissolving the clots.

After that, the emotional trial began. “I remember the first night. I was in a dark room and I couldn’t fall asleep. I remember laying there thinking that I wish I had just died. This was going to be a terrible life, and I didn’t want to do that. I just wished I had bled out,” says Ben.

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Ben was comforted by his family on his way to recovery.

He had a long line of people rooting for him, though, not letting him give up. His wife, Julie, stayed with him all night in the ICU and told him, “I’m not done with you, you can’t leave yet.” The next morning a steady stream of family members and neighbors from the community came in and helped strengthen him.

Ben amazed doctors and physical therapists by how quickly he regained his movement. On the other hand, they were puzzled with how a healthy 45-year-old man had suffered a stroke. Through some tests, they found an 8-millimeter hole in his heart, where a tiny clot had gotten through and shot straight up to his brain, causing the stroke.

After an operation to close the small hole, Ben is living a fairly normal and healthy life. He now laughs about the experience saying, “We joke about it all the time, it’s just good times. I don’t want to be sensitive about it, that’s just my personality.” Even in the face of hardship, Ben lives his life with a smile on his face.

Ben is very thankful to the nurses he had at Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Utah. “They lifted my spirits quite a bit and they were also very attentive,” he says. He is especially thankful, though, for the swift reaction of Zak. “I’m very fortunate that Zak was able to recognize the symptoms,” he says. Who knows if he would be here today without Zak’s actions?

Although Zak is not a nursing or medical student, he was able to save a life by simply knowing stroke symptoms and how to react. A stroke can hit in any moment, and it is important that we also know what to do, in case we need to become a hero in an instant.

 

Follow the link below to learn more about the risks as well as how to recognize and react to a stroke.

https://www.stroke.org/

Pageants, Prison and Pediatrics; A Spotlight on Nursing Alumna Catherine Whittaker

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Whittaker serving in a retirement home after winning Ms. Utah Senior. Photos courtesy of Whittaker.

By Corbin Smith

Jesus Christ once taught, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Christ went on to illustrate this concept by sharing a story we all know and love: The Good Samaritan. While on a trip to Jerico, a Jewish man was robbed, beaten and abandoned by a group of thieves. While a priest and a Levite passed by this dying man without offering any help, a Samaritan, someone who had likely struggled due to social discriminations, stopped and helped nurse the injured man back to help. That example of service and compassion is exactly how BYU nursing alumna Catherine Whittaker (AS ’74) has lived her life since she was a young woman.

Catherine Whittaker was born and raised in Provo, Utah. Ever since her first breath, Whittaker has recognized the positive impact nurses have had on her life. When Whittaker was born sick and pre-mature, it was her mother, who was a professionally trained nurse, along with many other nurses that saved her when the doctors said it was unlikely she would survive. Later on in life, when her father left when she was 17 years old, she was charged with caring for her six younger siblings alongside her mother. These experiences as a teenager inspired Whittaker to come to BYU and study to be a nurse in 1972.

Since her days at the Y, she has been a registered nurse for 45 years in various medical specialties and settings, from labor and delivery to maternal fetal medicine. Incredibly, she has personally helped bring over 3,000 babies into the world. With all of her experience in the field of nursing, she says that she has learned two major lessons that have guided her life.

First, that service is based off of love. While working in labor and delivery, Whittaker had a personal experience with a close friend. As her friend got closer to the due date of her third child, various complications arose due to the Rh factor in her blood. Hours later, a beautiful 8 ½ pound stillborn baby was born. Whittaker was able to be with her friend in those heart-wrenching moments to comfort and lift her dear friend. Even though it is hard, Whittaker recognizes the impact of a caring nurse in the face of tragedy. “I love being able to have intimate experiences with each patient and their families, it really helps you love each person you serve” says Whittaker.

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Whittaker (far right), along with three fellow Ms. Senior America contestants. 

Second, when asked how nursing has set her up for lifelong service she says, “It gave me confidence in myself and allowed me to come out of my shell.” Whittaker is a woman of many talents and titles. In 2018, Whittaker was named Ms. Utah Senior America and was the 3rd runner-up at the Senior Nationals pageant. Together with that honor, she was presented the 2019 Mother of Achievement award, recognizing the impact she has made outside of her family.

Whittaker also spends a lot of time in prison! She is part of “Real Transitions” that helps women transition from prison to society, as well as she serves with her husband in a branch presidency in the Utah State prison. “Whether you are preparing a prescription for a patient or serving people in your community” says Whittaker, “you must be confident in yourself at all times.”

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Whittaker visits with a US Navy veteran.

Florence Nightingale once said, “I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” In a great piece of advice given from Whittaker to current nursing students she says, “Be creative. Do what you love. Serve how you love.” It doesn’t matter if she is on stage, in the hospital or with her husband John and dog Bojo at home, she truly is a hero to all.

Graduate Michael Scott’s Convocation Speech: By Small and Simple Things

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Nursing graduate Michael Scott and his wife, Amy Taylor Scott

Excerpt from Scott’s convocation speech, given on April 25, 2019.

There is one experience that I would like to share in detail from my global health practicum about a patient that we’ll call Terry. I invite you to look for the small, simple things and their impact on the people involved.

Just so you have an image, [Terry] is African American, lean, and his bicep was about the size of my head.  At the time we cared for him, Terry was serving a sentence at the Utah State Prison.  “During our shift, [Terry] was admitted to the psych unit for suicide watch because he had just been assaulted and would not speak to anyone.  While in the cell, he fell to the ground and clenched his chest.  He was pulled out of the cell and placed in the infirmary.  The nurse asked us to place a 12-lead EKG.  Over and over, the guards, nurse, and PA asked Terry what had happened.  He just kept pointing to his heart and then his jaw.

They seemed frustrated and the EKG came back normal although his blood pressure and pulse were elevated.  It seemed like he was having a panic attack.  The PA later speculated as much.  Everyone cleared the room besides one guard. James and I stayed behind with [Terry].

It was quiet for a minute and then James placed a hand on [Terry]’s shoulder and said something along the lines of “we’re here with you, you’re not alone.”   [Terry]’s eyes welled up and tears poured down his cheeks.  He told us how this past month, he had lost everyone he loved.  His dad had died of cancer, his brother in-law had committed suicide and his Aunt and nephew had died in a car accident.

Terry had committed a serious crime and spent the last 15 years in prison but as we listened to Terry, I remembered the words “in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…”

For me, Terry was an example of “the least of these my brethren.”  As a nurse, I have rarely felt so privileged with an opportunity to serve the Lord as I have inside the prison.  It is a place where an understanding of divine identity and the reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is tested and expanded.

My experience with [Terry] impacted me.  It reminded me that the Gospel should be at the center of every care plan.  Moving forward from this experience, I hope to serve not only the patients who seem to be most deserving but also those who seem least deserving.

Staying when others leave or placing a hand on another’s shoulder are small simple acts, but they had a significant effect on Terry and on the two young nursing students by his side.

As nursing students, we have regular opportunities to make small and simple decisions that make a great difference in the lives of those around us. To mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. To succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. We can advocate for the right each person has to govern their own health care and to accept or reject lifesaving interventions.  We can give our love, time, energy, and hope to others.

Out of the many small and simple things we can do, loving others seems to me to be the most valuable.

And I believe the small and simple decision to love our patients is what changes nursing from a collection of tasks into practicing the Healer’s art.

Lauren Leininger’s Advice as She Leaves BYU

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Graduate Lauren Leininger looks forward to a bright future. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

By Quincey Taylor

Walking into your last clinical for your senior capstone is an experience all nursing students will eventually have. While sometimes daunting, leaving behind your preceptor to independently care for patients acts as a springboard from which nurses can launch themselves into their new careers. Lauren Jones Leininger, fresh graduate from the BYU College of Nursing, shares her thoughts and advice as she reminisces past experiences and looks towards the future.

Leininger is extremely grateful for the impactful experiences she has had in the BYU nursing program. She truly feels that the individuals she met here have left a lasting impression on her in every aspect of her life.

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Leininger and fellow nursing students on their Global Health trip to Ecuador. Photo courtesy of Leininger.

Here is some of her advice to nursing students that will follow:

  1. Become a licensed practical nurse your fourth semester

Leininger took the NCLEX-PN her fourth semester and became a certified LPN. She works at Horizon Home Health and Hospice, which hires many BYU student nurses every year. With this organization, she does home visits for children. While it is a great option for students to make money while in school, Leininger sees the value it gave her in building personal confidence as a healthcare professional.

She says, “While being an LPN isn’t what I want to do for my nursing career, it’s just been really great to have an experience where I’m the primary caregiver for a patient. I’ve grown a lot by being in charge and making decisions.”

It might seem nerve-racking to not have a preceptor helping you, but it is beneficial in the end. Leininger adds, “My biggest takeaway is I’m capable, I can do this. I’ve gained so much confidence.”

  1. Trust in your preceptor assignment

Leininger’s experience with her capstone preceptor in the Utah Valley Hospital ER was greatly impactful. She says, “The faculty at BYU work a lot to match us up with the right preceptor. I believe there’s inspiration involved with that, because I know that the preceptor I had matched me and was the perfect kind of mentor I needed.”

“At my last clinical shift, my preceptor and I just kind of talked about what my biggest takeaways were, and he left me with the challenge,” she says. He challenged her “to never give report of a patient to another nurse in a way that would taint their perspective of that patient.”

She has taken this challenge to heart and says, “We should be our patient’s advocate and stand up for them. It’s easy to make judgments and think of them a certain way, but this can impede the care you give.”

“Once you tell your own opinion of that patient to another nurse, you’re ruining that next nurse’s experience. My preceptor’s challenge to me was to always give my patients the benefit of the doubt and never, never label them. Because, no matter what, they are a person, a human being, and a child of God. Whatever they’re going through, they deserve respect. They deserve to be given dignity.”

  1. Be as involved in clinicals as you can be

Leininger believes that clinicals are a unique opportunity to learn and put into practice the things you learn in class. She says, “Make the most of every clinical shift you have and learn as much as you can. Be as involved as you can, even if it means measuring your patient’s urine output or something like that. That will show the nurse you’re working with that you want to be there and you’re willing to learn. Then they’re going to be a better mentor and a teacher to you.”

It’s also an important time to make mistakes and learn from fellow nurses, because once you graduate every decision has larger consequences.

  1. Listen to the faculty’s advice

BYU faculty are unlike any other faculty on the planet. They are able to teach not only the temporal but also the spiritual. Leininger is so grateful for the chance to be taught by such amazing faculty.

She says, “Obviously, I’ve never attended another nursing school. So I don’t know exactly how BYU is different from other schools. But I do know for certain that we have the spiritual aspect integrated into our curriculum that isn’t present in other universities. That was my favorite part about the nursing program: how our professors could incorporate the gospel into everything we learned. A huge part of being a nurse is being able to have the spirit with you to help you discern your patient’s needs and to empathize with them.”

That’s what learning the Healer’s art truly is.

In the future, Leininger is preparing to take the NCLEX-RN and find a job as a registered nurse. She feels well-prepared and recognizes the need to continue her education. She says, “A nursing career is a career of lifelong learning. You’re never going to stop learning; things are always changing.”