Category Archives: Public and Global Health Nursing

Walking Into a “New Life”

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Dustin (far right) loves doing all she can to serve her patients! Photo courtesy of Dustin.

By Corbin Smith

The BYU College of Nursing has an international reach that has no limitations. Faculty and students travel across the world to places such as Taiwan, India and Tonga to serve locals with their knowledge of the Healer’s art. Assistant teaching professor Tracy Dustin is one of those faculty members who does not shy away from going abroad to share her nursing talents. That is why each September she goes to El Salvador with an organization called Operation Walk Utah.

Operation Walk Utah’s motto is “Restoring mobility to those in need… One joint at a time.” As their motto reflects, their ultimate goal is to give El Salvadorians a “new life” through hip and joint replacements. Since their beginning in 2007, Operation Walk Utah has created a strong reputation of providing successful joint replacements. They work out of the Hospital Nacional San Rafael in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, normally staying for a week each year. They complete about 70 replacements each trip.

For Dustin, she volunteers each year as a pre-op nurse. She gives patients medications and helps prepare them for their own life-changing operation. She also works in the recovery room and is able to see the impact of their work. “People line up and wait for hours for their chance for an operation. After the operation, it is humbling to see them leave with a new hope in their life.”

Over the years, while Dustin has seen so many amazing things happen within the organization, she is also quick to recognize that the impact on each individual is much more important. “The daily pain they suffer is so debilitating mentally,” Dustin explains, “They are so strong. They are so amazing.”

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Dustin is constantly amazed by the strength of her patients. Photo courtesy of Dustin.

Joint problems can be painful and decrease mobility to the point where you can’t work. In places like El Salvador, their livelihood depends on work, and Operation Walk Utah gives them that opportunity to go back to work. Dustin shares, “We took care of an elderly man who had both of his knees replaced at the same time. Even as a 74 year old man, he was still working but he was getting to the point where his knees didn’t allow him to work and produce for his family anymore. He was thrilled when we did this operation for him and helped him get back to work.”

However, the gratitude of the patients is what continues to inspire Dustin and Operation Walk Utah to return each year. “Most of our patients are very Christian oriented. They tell the surgeons and the nurses all the time that we are their angels from heaven,” Dustin says with a smile.

Undoubtedly, Dustin and her co-volunteers have incredibly blessed the people of El Salvador through their dedication to help those who suffer physically. They work and sacrifice things from their own personal lives, for the benefit and healing of others. That is the essence of the Healer’s art. They truly are nothing less than what their patients describe them year after year: angels.

 

If you would like to learn more about Operation Walk Utah visit their website: https://www.operationwalkutah.org/

Student Spotlight: Skylar Tangren

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Tangren (far right) with her family. Photo courtesy of Tangren.

By Corbin Smith

One of the goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to help each student find their niche while in school. The college hopes that students will be introduced to an endless numbers of possibilities while in the program. For example, this week, the College of Nursing hosted a special Career Night for all current students, and exposed them to the many different ways that their skills can be applied to serve today!

For 5th semester student Skylar Tangren, though, she was able to find her niche on her own. She found it in an unusual way: a Facebook post! However, her journey to become an LPN nurse started long before that moment she signed into Facebook that day.

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Like it often does, Tangren’s path to becoming a nursing student and then a LPN nurse started in high school. As she approached graduation, she began to put serious thought into what she was going to focus on once she arrived here on campus. “I really liked English, and I still really love that kind of stuff,” she says, “but the opportunity I had to volunteer in the hospital really made me want to be a nurse.”

What is it that happened in the hospital that got Tangren so excited to be a nurse? There were two experiences, in fact, that fueled that fire inside her. First, she had the chance to get some hands-on experience as she shadowed her mom’s cousin, who is a labor and delivery nurse. Tangren recalls, “I walked in and she said, ‘We are doing a C section today!’ I was so nervous. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me! I just loved it!”

Another experience came as she worked at the information desk at the hospital. While fulfilling her responsibilities, she made a special connection with a certain patient. “There was one man who would come in for therapy,” she remembers, “And every time he came in he would give me the biggest smile. It wasn’t until the last day that I realized how serious his condition was. It meant so much to me that he would take time out of his busy and tough day to notice me.”

This second experience transformed into a lesson that turned into the foundation of Tangren’s motivation to work as a nurse. “I think at that moment I realized that I wanted to be that person who walks in and helps make people feel better when they’re so vulnerable during that time in their lives,” she says.

This important lesson Tangren learned many years ago has helped her in her current job. Recently she has begun working as an LPN for Horizon Home Health, a hospice home health organization that sends nurses to patient’s homes to receive care.

This style and environment is beneficial as nurses and patients are able to develop a deeper relationship with one another. “It is really special because you work with someone you see and talk with regularly. You strengthen the relationship with the patient and the family. It is truly just like a unique friendship!” Tangren explains.

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Tangren has been very successful in her work, and she accredits her professors for teaching her how to make a difference through loving service. “They’re all such genuine people! It makes me think about what kind of person I want to be and how I want to contribute to this world,” Tangren says.

When asked what her biggest piece of advice to new students would be, she said is to invest heavily in relationships with your instructors and peers. Never leave an opportunity on the table to get to know them better and understand their story!

Today, as we work our way through midterm season, take the time to find someone new in class or in the NLC and learn a little bit of their story. Like Tangren says, “Have confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid.” You never know what you could learn.

Helping Babies Breathe: BYU Students in Fiji

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BYU nursing students crossed a river in Fiji to teach about the importance of helping babies breathe.

By Quincey Taylor

During the Fiji section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course this summer, associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh had the chance to teach locals how to help babies breathe. In life-threatening situations, these skills are critical considering they don’t have many of the modern medical luxuries we in the United States enjoy. According to the Health Newborn Network, 40 million women [annually] around the world give birth accompanied by their mothers, sisters, or aunties instead of trained health care providers who could intervene if complications arise. More than 2 million women give birth completely alone.

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NeoNatalie simulation manikin helps the students put into play what they’ve learned before the situation arises.

“Helping Babies Breathe” is a low fidelity simulation education that was created by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatricians, and around eight other global partners. It is a very structured education system that is meant for low-resource countries. The purpose is to teach healthcare providers what to do if someone gives birth and how to help that baby if it is having trouble.

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BYU nursing students interact with local Fijians, educating them on this important skill.

A few BYU nursing students, along with Macintosh, took the master training class at the University of Utah. Their goal was to disperse their knowledge to the nursing students and faculty in Fiji.

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Faculty were excited to learn, and eagerly participated in activities.

When Macintosh was asked how the locals reacted to the program, she said, “They loved it. They actually asked us if we would come back. So we are planning on going back this next year, with the hope that then we can just reinforce the teaching and that they can be self-sustaining.”

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This class, given to the hospital staff in Savusavu, was excited to put their skills to the test.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle in Prison

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By Corbin Smith

 

Sometimes, as a society, it is easy for us to forget that prisoners truly are human beings. We often think of inmates as savages, people who deserve to suffer for the crimes they have committed. We think of people like Ted Bundy or Bonnie and Clyde and it fills our hearts and minds with disgust towards these men and women. Not only that, but we are also scared of jails, only thinking about the horrific stories and rumors we hear. We timidly gaze at the walls as we drive by on the freeway, wondering if what the media tells us is true. Never would we choose to go inside!

That’s not how associate teaching professor Dr. Peggy Anderson thinks! For many years, Anderson has worked with, loved and served those who are currently in prison. In fact, in the past Anderson served as the Relief Society President in the Utah state prison, providing both temporal and spiritual support for the prisoners.

Along with her own personal endeavors, Anderson has begun to invite students to participate in a women’s fireside inside the prison as part of their clinical practicum of the public and global health nursing course. However, this experience is much different than the clinical practicums that take you abroad.

On May 19th, Anderson, accompanied by a group of students, went to the Utah State Prison with the goal to serve, bless and teach those inside. The theme of the fireside was “Enjoying a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus of Anderson and the students was to help the inmates understand the importance of not only physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health. Speaking of their purpose in the prison, 5th semester student Kayla Brantley says, “The prison is supposed to be a correctional facility. Correction needs to take place and they need help to make that correction for themselves, which is what we are there for.”

For that reason, students shared small devotionals with the inmates on a variety of topics. Some of the topics shared by the students included self-worth, dealing with stress, strength in Christ and even the Atonement. Brantley and her husband, Adam, also shared their talents in a unique way through a special musical number, singing “I Know My Redeemer Lives” with the ukulele!

While this fireside was beneficial for the inmates, it also was impactful for the students. Talking about his experience with the inmates, 6th semester student James Reinhardt says, “It was cool to be able to feel the Spirit in the prison and even feel the Spirit with them.” Since the fireside, Reinhardt has begun working shifts in the prison and has decided to do his capstone project there too!

It was an unforgettable experience for all who participated in the fireside. The greatest lesson the students were able to learn was that, even though in prison, each of the women attending the fireside are people who have value and worth. “It’s easy to think about what terrible things they could have done to get into prison, but as soon as you meet and see them you remember God loves them and Jesus sacrificed himself so they could be freed,” says Brantley.

 

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

Nursing Students Win the Golden Ticket: Fazer Chocolate Factory

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Everyone was overjoyed! Who doesn’t love a chocolate surprise? Photo courtesy of Miles.

When associate teaching professor Dr. Leslie Miles and adjunct faculty member Curt Newman took their students to the Fazer Chocolate Factory tour during the Finland section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course, little did they know that they would be met with an exciting surprise!

After taking their students to the factory for years, they had become well-known among the tour guides. They were told that this year they would be the 500,000th visitors of the Fazer Factory, and as a reward would be receiving two giant-sized candy bars! They were asked if they would be okay posing for some photos, and they delivered!

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Ready to dig in to their chocolate feast! Photo courtesy of Miles.

Miles was elated and says, “[Curt] was just, like, beside himself. And I will confess I was jumping up and down. It was like winning the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!”

The group also received a considerable discount on the chocolate purchased, and the students were quick to put it to good use.

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Everyone made good use of their chocolate discount! Notice someone in the window? Photo courtesy of Miles.

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.”