Category Archives: Mentored Learning

Not Just a Professor, Not Just a Mentor, But a Friend

Shelly Reed

Dr. Shelly Reed exemplifies the Savior’s teaching to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

By Quincey Taylor

Mentoring students is one of the main reasons BYU nursing faculty decide to return to our campus. They look forward to helping students through a time of their lives that they remember and can relate to. Associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed is no different. She thrives by forming meaningful relationships with her students and mentoring them through their time in the program. Sixth semester nursing student Megan Hancock can find many reasons to be grateful for Dr. Reed.

Hancock recently had the opportunity to attend and present at a conference by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. She presented a poster with some research findings to nursing professionals. While Reed had helped her prepare the information, Hancock was left largely to her own devices to answer questions and present. Hancock remarks, “She let me lead it and was really supportive. She was my cheerleader.”

However, this pattern of mentorship between Hancock and Reed started long before the conference. It all started during the Tonga section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course. Reed was spearheading the trip, and Hancock was excitedly waiting to attend. The experience was life-changing for Hancock, and she saw how much Reed cared for her students.

So when the time came for a student to volunteer to attend the conference, Hancock jumped at the opportunity to work with Dr. Reed again. Even though she originally intended to pursue a career in the emergency department, the experience ended up being so influential that Hancock decided to change her trajectory and is interested in studying neonatal nursing after all.

Reed has been a huge help to her students during their time in the program. Hancock says, “BYU students are high achievers, and nursing has a really steep learning curve. Sometimes it’s hard because you think, ‘I don’t know what I am doing.” But Shelly was so understanding. She knows that you’re going through the learning curve. She’s so patient and wants you to enjoy nursing.”

During the conference, Reed put Hancock in connection with nursing professionals that could help her later in her career. “Shelly wants her students to be successful. She is also a master networker. She actually helped me get in touch with other professionals.” Hancock grins, “She basically brags about you.”

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The dogwood flower represents the Savior on the cross. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

However, one of the most meaningful moments to Hancock during the conference trip was a trip through the Atlanta temple with her professor. Once they were in the celestial room, Hancock remarked on the beautiful decorative dogwood flowers painted on the ceiling. They have a special significance of the Savior, as each flower petal is pierced just as the Savior’s hands were. Reed then had the opportunity to share her testimony with her student, an experience with significance that will undoubtedly outweigh many other shared classroom moments.

Hancock can always look forward to finding a friend in Reed, who makes everyone’s day a little brighter. Hancock laughs, “For example, she always brings treats to literally everything she does.”

When asked how mentorship has affected her time at BYU, Hancock replies, “Mentorship is everything, especially when you’re doing something hard that is far out of your comfort zone. You need someone to go to and ask questions.” She exclaims, “Faculty are here to see you succeed! They want to help you. That’s why they’re professors in the first place.”

Mentored Learning: Dr. Janelle Macintosh and Steven Roundy

 

By Lyndee Johns

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.

Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter.

Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

None of these famous mentor/mentee relationships can hold up to the partnership between faculty member Dr. Janelle Macintosh and fifth-semester nursing student Steven Roundy.

Macintosh has been mentoring padawans—I mean, students—ever since she first started teaching at BYU in 2011. “Students are the best part of teaching,” she says. “I love engaging with them and helping them discover more about themselves and do hard things.”

Roundy met Macintosh at an event where professors came to describe their research projects. “And they talked about mentored learning, and I was looking for a professor to research with because I wanted to jump in,” says Roundy. “And I was just looking for someone that I thought would be fun to do research with and whose topic I was interested in, and Janelle was right along the same lines. She was super energetic, and she was researching immunization.”

Working together since January 2019, Macintosh and Roundy have gathered a lot of valuable data about how the nursing program influences student attitudes towards immunization. Macintosh and Roundy’s project is largely survey-based. Nursing students receive a survey about their opinions towards immunization before they begin the nursing program, before the semester about immunizations, and after the semester on immunizations.

The front end of the project also involved a lot of research into previous immunization surveys and compiling questions to use in the project. “[Steven] has spent many hours poring over journal articles and working on learning about how to conduct research and about immunizations,” Macintosh says.

Roundy says that while the research took a lot of time, it was “cool to see what was already out there, and to see the difference between like medical students’ knowledge versus nursing knowledge versus pharmacists’ knowledge.”

Roundy and Macintosh have enjoyed their time working together.

“[Janelle] could write a Mentor Research for Dummies book if there needed to be one,” says Roundy.

“Steven is a great student, and he is anxiously engaged in learning, and, from the beginning, has been interested in learning more about the research process,” says Macintosh.

In April, Roundy and Macintosh will present their research at the Western Institute of Nursing Conference in Portland, Oregon. But they don’t plan to stop there.

“We will use the findings of this study as part of an evaluation of how well students are retaining knowledge regarding immunizations and how to adjust classes/curriculum to enhance student learning,” says Macintosh.

Roundy believes that it is very important for nursing students to be knowledgeable about immunizations. “If our health professionals aren’t knowledgeable and behind immunizations, then it’ll just bleed through to the people . . . and they’ll sense the uncertainty in their healthcare professional.”

Through this experience, a big takeaway for Roundy has been that research isn’t restricted to just the professionals. “[Research] can be fun and it can be something that anyone just curious can do—anybody who has a question and really wants to know the answer.”

Roundy is very grateful for Macintosh’s willingness to train him, and he plans to pay the effort forward in his future career.

“Whatever I do, I want to be able to put aside time to invest in other people trying to learn new things in life and find their place.”

Lets Talk About It!

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By Corbin Smith

One of the world’s greatest tragedies has to be the normalization of mental illness and sexual assault among adults. Terms such as “depression” and “anxiety” have become ordinary to us.  We are no longer completely surprised when we see horrifying cases of rape and assault constantly in the news. The sad truth is that 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual assault during their life. There is so much work to be done to lower these numbers and make the world a happier place. This is why current second-year graduate student Shylettra Davis has dedicated her Master’s project to develop a better practice for screening those who experience mental illness or sexual assault.

Over the past few months, Davis has teamed up with associate teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles and associate professor Dr. Julie Valentine to tackle this project. For their research, they collected data from and studied over 5000 cases of sexual assault. What they learned is that a majority of sexual assault have had a form of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. “Basically,” Davis says, “those who experience mental illness are more vulnerable to be victimized than someone who doesn’t experience a mental illness.”

For that reason, Davis’ project is to improve the quality of nursing care for patients that struggle with mental illness. “I want health care professionals and nurses to ask about any sexual assault history and help the patient understand that they are at risk to be targeted by predators,” Davis explains.

Davis also knows that it is easy for a victim to develop another mental illness if they are assaulted and aren’t able to deal with it and be treated professionally. Victims can easily feel isolated, lost and confused about what happened. “At the end of the day, we want patients to feel empowered,” Davis says.

Inspired by her work, Davis took her research and gave a presentation at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association in New Orleans in October. Dr. Miles accompanied Davis at the conference. While presenting their poster, they received a lot of interest from psych mental health professionals from all across the country.

Davis knows that they are off to a good start in raising awareness to this topic that sometimes isn’t discussed enough. “The biggest thing we need to do is to be aware of what is going on. When we are on high alert, we can watch out for one another and stop possible attacks.” Prevention through learning and understanding is key.

She is not alone in understanding the effects of mental illness and in having personal experience working with and being close to people who have been victims of sexual assault. Her desire to help better the lives of those victims have been her motivation for her project. “Sometimes they just need someone who recognizes what they are feeling,” Davis explains, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk around with that burden. I wish we could prevent everyone from having to suffer through those experiences. That’s what I try to do.” Let us all join in with Davis in making the world a better place!

 

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.