Category Archives: Public and Global Health Nursing

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.

 

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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.”

 

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

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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.

 

 

 

Student Spotlight: Angela Nickerl

By Mindy Longhurst

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Image of Angela Nickerl with a girl from her Ghana public and global health nursing course practicum. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Being a non-traditional student (a student 30 years of age and older) at BYU can sometimes be challenging. But, College of Nursing fifth semester student, Angela Nickerl loves the experiences she has had as a non-traditional student. Nickerl is older than most BYU students, but loves the opportunity to share the wisdom she has gained throughout her life.

Ever since Nickerl was in high school she knew that she wanted to become a nurse. She says, “Throughout my experience being a mother in healthcare, I noticed that the nurses made a huge difference and impact on their patients.” Nickerl’s journey to becoming a nurse was very spiritual. She loves to learn about the body. Taking care of someone who is sick is a spiritual experience that brings her closer to God.

Nickerl started taking some nursing prerequisite courses while her family was living in California several years ago. When her family decided to move to Utah, she was able to apply to BYU and the nursing program and was accepted into both.

familyAn image of Nickerl’s children. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

At the time that she started at BYU (January 2016) three of her children were going to college. Now, all five of Nickerl’s children are currently going to college. This helps Nickerl to be able to relate more to her children. Nickerl explains, “It is interesting having my children in school with me at the same time. It can be stressful because we are all stressed about midterms and finals at the same time. But, this has helped me to be able to relate to my children so much more!”

Overall, Nickerl has enjoyed her time within the nursing program. She expounds, “I love the nursing program at BYU! Often in the middle of a busy semester it is difficult to find positive things because you’re tired. However, in spite of being tired, one of my favorite parts of the program is that our professors truly embrace our school motto, learning the Healer’s art. We are taught that in every setting, we should care for people the way the Savior would. Reading a nursing textbook and studying for the NCLEX is going to be the same regardless of where you study, but at BYU we are taught our nursing skills from a different perspective. Not only are we encouraged to view our patients differently, but our professors model it by treating us that way. I think they are phenomenal examples of what they teach about the Savior.”

group photoImage of Nickerl with other nursing students. Image courtesy of Nickerl.

Nickerl has some advice for those who are non-traditional students. She says, “Being a non-traditional student, I feel like I value what I am learning more because it really is my choice to be here. Sometimes when you are younger you do it because it is the social norm. As someone older, this is not the right thing I am supposed to be doing with my life. A lot of people are often surprised when they find out that I am a college student. I am grateful for the things that I am learning, because I am choosing to be here.”

Another lesson she has learned is the importance of balancing her schedule. She explains, “If you absolutely know that you are supposed to be doing school and you know that the Lord is supporting you in it, then it all fits. If you are doing what the Lord wants you to do, if you are putting your priorities in order, if you are attending the temple, serving in your church calling, if you are putting your family time first, then Heavenly Father makes it fit. That is something that I have felt over and over again. And I feel like my relationship with the Savior has been strengthened as a result of nursing school.”

In the future, Nickerl hopes to become an oncology nurse.