Category Archives: Kent Blad

Utah Honor Flight: A Special Chance to Give Back

 

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Students posing in Washington DC. Photo courtesy of Landon.

By Corbin Smith

“Everyone has a story, and if you’re willing to hear it, it’ll bring you to your knees.”

 

That is a quote that teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad shared with the 18 students that accompanied him on the Utah Honor Flight last May. He spoke of the 50 veterans that traveled with our nursing students to Washington DC to participate in truly a life-changing experience.

Honor Flight is a non-profit organization founded in 2005. Since then it has grown into a nationwide organization, with chapters operating in 45 states in the US. The Utah chapter was formed in 2010, and starting in 2013 Utah began doing flights regularly. According to their website in 2018, Honor Flight has served 21,189 veterans while serving 222,133 nationwide.

Honor Flight allows war veterans to visit war memorials in Washington DC. During the trip, veterans are taken to various historical and memorial sites. They get a special tour of the Arlington National Cemetery and visit Fort McHenry. The highlight of the trip, though, is the Heroes Banquet, done to spotlight and honor the services and bravery of our veterans.

Today, thanks to the efforts of Blad, BYU and Utah Honor Flight have partnered to allow nursing students to act as “guardians”, or chaperones, to the veterans who participate in this trip. This has become an opportunity students can use for their clinical practicum of the public and global health nursing course in the spring.

This all started in 2014 when Dr. Blad realized that a connection could be made from the course he teaches on caring for the veteran patient and Utah Honor Flight. Blad felt strongly that allowing students to participate in the Honor Flight would be the best learning experience for each of them. “Instead of teaching our students out of a textbook, we have the veterans live and in color, teaching the students about themselves and telling stories from their war experiences and how it affects their lives. That is what really makes a difference,” he explains.

Blad was right. The Honor Flight impacted the lives of every student that attended. Each student was able to hear understand a little bit better the life of the veteran they served, and not one of them left without a touched heart.

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Landon (middle) says the Honor Flight changed her whole attitude on life! Photo courtesy of Landon.

Fifth-semester student, Amanda Landon, was one who was greatly impacted by the Honor Flight. She says, “My experience with the Honor Flight was in a word: incredible. It was amazing for me to see the degree to which they are gracious, humble, and loving. I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to give back in a small way to those who gave so much.”

Meanwhile, the Honor Flight was particularly special for Hannah Hoffman, another 5th semester student here at the college. For Hoffman, it was special because she was able to take her grandfather to the Honor Flight. “The coolest part for me about the Honor Flight was that I developed such a strong relationship with my grandpa. I saw another side of him I had never seen,” she says.

While spending time with her grandpa during the Honor Flight, Hoffman feels like she learned two major lessons that will help her progress as a nurse. First, that nursing is more than just caring about the physical health of your patients. She says, “The reality is that there was a lot to focus on with our veterans. There are spiritual, mental and emotional needs to meet on the trip. The priority was create a feeling of understanding and one of safety, where he could feel safe to share things that maybe he wouldn’t share with someone else, and know that he would be validated and that he would receive empathy and compassion.” That is the epitome of the Healer’s art!

Second, learn the stories of your patients. Not judging your patients is an important aspect of nursing and will affect greatly if they trust you or not. Hoffman explains, “The Honor Flight helped me see how to develop a strong nurse to patient relationship. It is easy to see the stubborn side of veterans, but during the Honor Flight I was able to see who they really are.”

The Honor Flight is an impactful experience each year for all who attend, especially for Blad, the bridge between the BYU College of Nursing and Utah Honor Flight. “I am constantly amazed by these men and women,” Blad says, “They help you gain a new perspective on life every year.”

Want to learn more about the Honor Flight, in only 60 seconds? Check out this video: https://youtu.be/KPHd4Tud-1c

Intermountain Medical Center Hires Three Fresh BYU Graduates

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IMC’s newest hired ER nurses Mikaela Jones (third from the right) and Daniel Smith (far right) with fellow students during a clinical outside ER ambulance entrance. Photo courtesy of Jones.

By Quincey Taylor

For nursing students at BYU, it might be hard to imagine what it would be like to attend another college of nursing. How would it compare to BYU? Would students receive as many chances to gain clinical experience? Would opportunities post-graduation be different?

Recently, a conversation had by teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad truly illustrates how our college compares to other educational institutions in the eyes of employers.

Our Students are Impressive

During the winter semester 2019, Blad was at Intermountain Medical Center with his students to do their Emergency Department clinical. He needed to speak with the nurse manager there, and she had something she wanted to say to him.

The nurse manager and the assistant nurse manager had just barely finished interviewing applicants for three open nursing positions in the hospital. They had 125 applicants and interviewed only a select few. Out of all the applicants, four freshly graduated BYU students applied.

The nurse manager said, “We don’t normally hire new graduates, but your students were so amazing in how they presented themselves, their resumes, and their letters that they wrote for the application. We were so impressed by what they had done already in the program. We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing with these new graduates.”

She even went on to say that one of the applicants received a perfect score on their application, a score the hiring staff rarely, if ever, gave. She remarked, “We don’t know what you’re doing there, but whatever it is, please don’t stop.”

Our Students are In Demand

Even though they were originally only looking for three new hires, they ended up asking for special permission from administration to open more spots in order to offer jobs to all of the BYU applicants. Being the biggest Level One trauma center in Utah, it is rare for IMC to hire recent graduates. However, the hiring staff could not pass up such stellar applicants.

Only three BYU students accepted the offered positions, including BYU alumni Mikaela Jones and Daniel Smith, along with another student from BYU-Idaho. The staff at IMC was eager and excited to add these stellar nurses to their team.

Blad was so moved by their opinion of the college, and says, “They really did appreciate our program and the way that we prepare our students for real life. When I walked out of there I felt so proud to be associated with our program that has such a good reputation.”

Our Students are Prepared

This praise of the program motivated Blad to be the best professor he can be, and he said, “To think that we, as faculty, have even a little part in students’ preparation, it just made me feel so good. We are preparing them not only adequately, but above and beyond what is expected. It was just a proud moment.”

Blad would also like to attribute the college’s success to the wonderful students who are so ready and eager to learn. With the high-quality training given by the college and the efforts of amazing students, the resulting success is definitely a team effort.

Jones is so grateful for the opportunity to work in the ER at IMC since January and says, “My education from BYU gave me the confidence to chase a job that scared me. I didn’t even capstone in the ER, but I had confidence that I had the knowledge I needed to get me started. The IMC ER actually said no to my online application because of lack of experience. I was determined and just showed up at the ER with my resume and a letter of 3 reasons they should hire me for the job.” It was because of her confidence that Jones was hired.

She goes on to say, “The reason I tell this story is because I really do believe BYU instilled in me a sense of confidence that I could be a great nurse if I really worked at it.”

Smith is also grateful for how the college helped him prepare and says, “The College of Nursing taught me to push myself, be a dependable team player, and prepare myself for a lifetime of learning.” He loves his new job and says, “Being a new grad here is like drinking from a firehose… I never thought I would be a psych nurse, a pediatric nurse, a women’s health nurse, or work with law enforcement so much on top of working with critical patients.”

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Smith and fellow nurses in HAZMAT suites, one of the many skills he has learned on the job. Photo courtesy of Smith.

For his Global Health trip when he was in school, he served among the At Risk population in the prison. This was a helpful experience to prepare him for his current job. He says, “I love being able to say I work with some of the sickest and most injured patients in Utah and that I’m making some of their worst days a little better.”

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Smith really loves his new job! Photo courtesy of Smith. 

Blad reassures students in the program that the BYU College of Nursing amply prepares its students and says, “We just want our students to know if they will stick with the program and do the things that they’re supposed to, that they can have confidence that they will come out and be well prepared for whatever opportunities are out there.”

 

Breeze Hollingsworth’s Life Changing Veterans Experience

By Mindy Longhurst

GroupThe Veterans Public and Global Health group. Image courtesy of Breeze Hollingsworth.

Tears filled Breeze Hollingsworth’s eyes as she explained the experiences she had during the veterans section of the public and global health nursing course practicum. The feelings of appreciation and gratitude she gained while learning about the military and veterans changed her life.

This year, those who participated were able to attend the USNS Mercy in San Diego, military sites around the state of Utah and were able to visit Washington D.C. twice. The second time they went to Washington D.C. they were guardians of a veteran for a Utah Honor Flight to honor those who have served our country.

The journey with the clinical was unique for Hollingsworth. The students prioritize out of the 12 public and global health locations where they would like to attend. After this, they are randomly assigned where they will go. Normally people get a place that is in their top three choices. This was not the case for Hollingsworth; the Veterans site was further down her list because she wanted to go international. At first, she was a little saddened that she did not get to go foreign. Hollingsworth explains how she changed her viewpoint, “Once I started and committed to the veterans, I was determined to learn everything I could because I knew that this could help me.”

San Diego

She really had a change of heart while on the army base in San Diego. Hollingsworth explains, “When I went to the base in San Diego I got really excited because it was so cool! It was a world I had never explored. My love for them increased exponentially in that first visit.” While in San Diego, they were able to board the USNS Mercy boat (to learn more about her experiences on the USNS Mercy, read our previous article at https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/all-hands-on-deck-byu-nursing-students-onboard-the-usns-mercy/.)

Sites in Utah

While in Utah, they were able to travel to different military sites and meet veterans and active military personnel. Hollingsworth met Frank Thomas, who did artwork for the military. The military commissions artists to paint and draw pictures of what they see while in war. His beautiful artwork can be seen on his website http://wildgoosecreekstudio.com/index.php.

Washington D.C.

The first time they went to Washington D.C., they were able to visit the National Institute of Health for Nursing, the Veterans Affairs headquarters and were able to see some memorial sites in the D.C. area.

Audrey and BreezeHollingsworth with Audrey Kent. Image courtesy of Hollingsworth.

The second trip to D.C. was the most rewarding because they were able to be a helper and guardian for a veteran. Hollingsworth was able to spend her time with Audrey Kent, a nurse during WWII. While there, they were able to see several sites that were meaningful to Kent including a nurse memorial, a WWII and a Vietnam memorial. Hollingsworth says, “The person that I took, Audrey, was a nurse during WWII. Her son passed away in Vietnam and she had another son with her on the trip who had served in Vietnam. Being able to take her to see her son’s name on the Vietnam memorial was emotional because she had never seen the memorial before. It makes me happy that we have all of these memorials to remember those who have served our country.”

ArlingtonImage of Arlington Cemetery. Image courtesy of Hollingsworth.

While in D.C., they had the humbling and sacred experience visiting the Arlington National Cemetery. Hollingsworth explains, “The cemetery, Arlington, was a spiritual experience. Just to think about that all of these people sacrificed for their freedom and sacrificed for my freedom, made it very real to me.”

The time Hollingsworth had while in the veteran practicum trip changed the way she views the world. Now she looks for those who have or are currently serving to reach out to them and thank them for their service. She hopes to be able to use the information she has received and the experiences she has had to help those who will be in her care after she graduates. Teaching professor, Dr. Kent Blad, was one of the nursing professors that organized the experience. Being a veteran himself, Blad has a love for those who have served this country. According to Blad, there are about 24 million veterans in the United States. This means that nurses are very likely to come across veterans while working. The experiences they have while on the Veterans Public and Global Health clinical will help them throughout their career.

Hollingsworth says, “I think first and foremost, this experience made me love my country more. It also made me love the people that served my country past and present. It made me want to know my patients well enough to know if they have served in the military. This experience made me have a greater desire to seek them out in nursing care and in everyday life.”