Category Archives: Public and Global Health Nursing

BYU to Columbia: A Dream Come True

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6th semester student Abby Anderson is so excited to continue her nursing journey across the country!  Photo courtesy of Anderson.

By Corbin Smith

Our students here at the BYU College of Nursing are incredible. Each one of them consistently inspire us with their work ethic and dedication to learning the Healer’s art. That commitment is obvious for all of us here on campus, in labs and classes. Off campus and even across the nation, our reputation precedes itself thanks to our wonderful students and alumni. This, along with the relentless devotion to realize her dreams, led to one BYU nursing undergrad to an opportunity that comes to only a select few: acceptance into the prestigious Columbia University’s graduate DNP program.

For 6th semester student Abby Anderson, going to Columbia University has been a dream of hers for years. In fact, she knew almost immediately after choosing to study nursing at BYU that Columbia is where she wanted to go for her graduate studies. She even had an “email Columbia” reminder on her phone for over a year to help her remember to keep pushing toward her dream.

As Anderson’s research progressed she fell even more in love with the program and the University. “Columbia has several Collaboration Centers with the World Health Organization and the School of Nursing provides extensive funding for global health research. Being that pediatric nursing is my greatest passion, I knew Columbia was the perfect fit for me,” she says.

It is clear that the impact that Anderson hopes to have is through serving children all over the world. She believes that Columbia University will help her build upon the nursing foundation she constructed during her time at BYU through clinicals and her public and global health nursing course. “No matter where I end up, Columbia University will provide me networking opportunities to help me make an impact on a global scale,” Anderson says. Columbia is an excellent place to further her education and life goals.

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Photo courtesy of Anderson

Anderson, however, was not the only BYU undergraduate student to be accepted into one of Columbia University’s DNP programs. Fellow 6th semester student Alyssa Hildt was accepted into Columbia’s nurse midwifery program. While humbled by the acceptance into Columbia University, Hildt has yet to decide whether she will attend Columbia or the University of Utah for her graduate nursing studies.

That being said, Anderson is ecstatic to pack her bags and start her journey in New York City. “I love the diversity in New York City and I love the rigor of a Columbia education,” she says. “I am excited to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to explore a new city and to impact lives through the field of nursing!”

We all wish you luck, Abby! Go Cougars!

The Universal Language of Healthcare – Being a Medical Interpreter

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The skills to interpret Spanish in medical settings have become very useful for student Page Turley. Photo courtesy of Turley.

By Quincey Taylor

When sixth semester student Page Turley found herself in Peruvian hospitals with her companions during her mission, little did she know that understanding medical Spanish would soon become her norm.

Turley is one of the few students that has taken the necessary classes to become a Spanish medical interpreter. Even though the skill only requires two additional classes, nursing students that are registered medical interpreters are rare. Turley is hoping to change that. It is by learning about another culture that Turley has truly learned the language of healthcare – love.

When Turley started her Spanish minor, she had no idea that medical interpretation would be part of it. It started when she took a Spanish medical terminology class. She says, “I loved it. It brought back all the anatomy terms I had learned in nursing.” Her professor, Charles Lemon, approached her about taking the follow-up class in order to qualify as a medical interpreter.

Turley was interested, but the class fell on Thursday during her nursing clinicals. There was no way to work it in. However, Professor Lemon saw potential in Turley and wanted to help her in her future profession. “Even though I had clinicals every Thursday, he would meet with me a different day of the week to make up the class I missed,” says Turley. It was through his help and Turley’s determination that she completed the courses.

Turley says, “The College of Nursing emphasizes caring for people holistically. We’re not just treating patients’ physical symptoms, but we are helping them emotionally, mentally and spiritually. One of the aspects of that is providing culturally-sensitive care. Doing a Spanish minor has helped me understand another culture a little better. It will help me be a better nurse.”

During her fourth semester, Turley was able to use her skills during the Spain section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course. Many students in her section had served Spanish-speaking missions, but they had never learned the medical side of the language. This set Turley apart.

Turley also used her skills during her pediatric rotation. A family came to the hospital with a sick little girl and neither of the parents spoke English. The doctor responded by turning to the online interpreting service normally used. However, in that moment the computer crashed and the service wouldn’t work. Turley remembers, “There was no way for the doctor to communicate with this family. They needed help right away. It felt awesome to be able to step up and say, ‘I can do it for you if you need it.’ It was a good back-up plan.”

After this experience, Turley saw the true value in her skill. She says, “Even if patients speak English it’s hard to go to the hospital and completely understand exactly what’s going on. Add another barrier, and it makes the experience more difficult and scary for them. There is so much risk for confusion. Just being informed can take away some of the scary nature, even if the situation itself doesn’t change.”

By completing the classes, students can become nationally recognized as medical interpreters. They are required to take a test to prove their competency and may be additionally tested at their job.

After graduation, Turley hopes to work in oncology, continuing using her skills as often as possible.

Historic: Meeting Three Ghanaian Chiefs

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Traditional Ghanaian chief (center) was happy to meet with BYU nursing students as they asked for his permission to perform health screenings.

By Quincey Taylor

Ghana’s government is a unique mix of modern ideals and tribal tradition. They operate under a parliamentary democracy with a president and a separate judiciary branch. However, the constitution also protects the rights of local tribal chiefs, who demonstrate traditional authority and political influence in a changing world.

There are many different tribes in Ghana, each with their own king or chief. Passed down from father to son, or in some cases mother to daughter, this authority makes the ruler a custodian of the land traditionally owned by the tribe. They retain the culture of the tribe and continue with cultural customs.

When our 2019 Ghana section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course came to Ghana and began their work, they were asked to meet with not one of the chiefs like in past years, but three! This honor was appreciated and felt by all who participated, faculty and students alike.

Assistant teaching professor Dr. Michael Thomas said about the special experience, “We were wanting to do health screenings and we wanted to be as culturally respectful as possible, so we had the opportunity to actually ask the chief and get permission.”

One of the chiefs they met (pictured above) had an interesting story. He lived in the U.S. for years and became a professor. He was living a good life when he heard his grandfather in Ghana had passed away. He was informed that he was next in line to become king. He left behind his job as a professor and returned to Ghana to care for his people. His sacrifice and willingness to serve demonstrates the seriousness of this tradition.

BYU nursing students learned some cultural signs of respect, such as waiting to speak until they were spoken to, giving gifts, and always shaking with the right hand.

The chief responded to the group’s requests with dignity and welcoming words. Our students had the privilege to learn more about another culture and connect with others on the opposite side of the world.

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.