Category Archives: Mentored Learning

Students Present Research at Global Health Conference

By Jessica Tanner

Congratulations to the students and faculty who presented at this  year’s Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) in Chicago, March 8 – 10. Students presented poster presentations on research done in Vietnam with Professor Karen Lundberg and Professor Cheryl Corbett. Davin Brown, a sixth-semester nursing student, shares about his research and conference experience.

What was your research about?

“Our poster presentation was on [what] we did on our study abroad in Vietnam,” says Brown. Working with Black Hmong and Red Dzao tribes in northern Vietnam, they researched and taught about local health concerns.  The biggest concern is trafficking, followed by topics such as first aid, hygiene, and sanitation.

The group prepared beforehand to spend two weeks in Vietnam by doing research and preparing lessons. They then took what they had learned to local leaders. “We met with lots of these leaders of the tribal communities the things that we knew.” They taught ways to prevent human trafficking and sanitation techniques, following the teacher’s method. Brown explains, “The idea was they could disseminate that information to their families and tribes.”

What was your most memorable experience in Vietnam?

“Everything,” Brown laughs. How could he choose just one? “We trekked all throughout these valleys with these guides that we had taught these health techniques to, and we lived in their houses and we cooked with them…It was really cool. It was really pretty there, too.”

What happened at the conference?

At the three-day conference, there were several speakers and presenters. Two hours a day was dedicated to poster presentations. Researchers set up their posters in a large, open room and learned from one another. “Everyone could just walk around and ask questions about your poster [and] the research you had done,” Brown explains.

Was there other research you found interesting?

“A couple things stood out to me,” Brown says. “One of them was the keynote speaker…She talked about how corruption in healthcare has caused us to lose trillions of dollars in healthcare throughout the world…It was kind of a call to researchers to say, hey, let’s start researching and learn to combat this huge elephant in the room.” There was also a presentation on Google glasses—a special pair of lenses that allowed one surgeon in L.A. to connect to a surgeon in Africa. “The L.A. surgeon can see everything the African surgeon can see and hear and is able to walk him through certain techniques.” That is truly forward-thinking technology.

How did other attendees respond to your research?

“We were one of the few groups that was just undergraduate nursing students,” Brown explains. “For the most part, they were all PhDs or MDs. So that was pretty neat to be there; they all thought it was a neat thing that we did.”

At BYU, presenting research is not just for graduate students. The College of Nursing focuses on helping undergraduate students gain experience through research, mentored learning, and studies abroad. It helps them have opportunities like Brown’s—being able to present research and learn first-hand from other medical researchers across the nation. Students enter into the workforce better prepared to serve.

 

Learning Beyond the Classroom: Adventures in Paraguay

paraguay students

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.