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Learning the Healer’s art as a Mission Nurse

By Mindy Longhurst

flu shotImage of Natalie Schroeder preparing a syringe for the flu shot vaccine. Image courtesy of Schroeder.

First semester nursing student, Natalie Schroeder, had the amazing opportunity of serving as a mission nurse while in the Ciudad Juarez Mexico mission. The experiences that she had as a mission nurse led her to pursue a nursing education from BYU.

Schroeder became interested in the medical field after taking a career aptitude test in her first semester at BYU. While preparing for her LDS mission, she worked as a medical assistant at a cardiologist office.

About halfway through her mission, she was asked to be the mission nurse. This experience changed the trajectory of her life. Her responsibilities included the setup of medical protocol for her mission, answering medical questions, giving health presentations at Zone Conferences, attending specialist appointments with missionaries, making sure all missionaries received their needed prescriptions and updating the medical reports.

presentation at MP homeImage of Schroeder giving a health presentation at the Mission President’s home. Image courtesy of Schroeder.

When Schroeder first received this assignment, she was hesitant that she would be able to do everything that would be required of her. Schroeder was concerned because she had no formal nursing certification or training. Schroeder says, “This was a very humbling opportunity for me. I had been called to do this and I really felt like I was not qualified to do it. But, the Lord really qualified me once I was called. In spite of being so challenging, I found by the end of my mission I just didn’t want to go because it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever experienced.”

Being a mission nurse came with the joy of being able to help others. Schroeder says, “I was filled with so much joy as I was able to see missionaries overcome their sickness and to see them be in good health. It was rewarding to be able to help others.”

missionariesMissionaries from the Ciudad Juarez Mission. Image courtesy of Schroeder.

Ultimately, Schroeder believes that she was divinely inspired to help her fellow missionaries. She says, “There was a lot of medical vocabulary that I had never heard before. Medical Spanish is different from normal Spanish. They don’t teach you medical Spanish in classes or at the MTC! But, when I went to doctor’s appointments with missionaries, I felt very inspired and guided as to what to do and say. There were times where I didn’t know the word but God helped me to be able to understand what the word meant. I was able to use words that I had never used before.”

Her heart was filled with love and compassion for the missionaries she was able to serve. Of this time, she says “It was such a blessing for me to serve in that capacity because I came to really love and see my fellow missionaries how God saw them. I never felt a love for somebody as much as I did while being a mission nurse. You really get to see people through the eyes of the Savior. It was a blessing for me to be able to serve and help others that way, there is no other feeling like it. It is hard for me to even describe.”

Bringing it back to God, Schroeder knows who helped her throughout her journey. She now turns to God in helping her learn the Healer’s art at BYU. She looks forward to working in clinical and learning more about nursing.


Improving Communication in the Trauma Room

Ryan Rasmussen, Assistant Teaching Professor, MS, BSN, AND

The trauma unit in a hospi­tal may be chaotic. With so many providers, nurses, and specialists all taking care of one patient, it can be over­whelming. The breakdown in communication between providers and nurses is one of the leading causes of sentinel events and adverse outcomes.

Contribute--Ryan RasmussenAs part of his PhD degree at the University of Arizona (UA), assistant teaching professor Ryan Rasmussen (MS ’11) is studying communication in emer­gency trauma rooms. His study, which is currently obtaining institutional review board approval from three committees (UA, BYU, and a local Utah hospital), seeks to understand how members of trauma teams communicate while car­ing for trauma patients.

His initial literature review found that 150,000 deaths and 3,000,000 non­fatal injuries in the United States occur annually as a result of trauma, which is the leading cause of death for individu­als under 46 years of age and the num­ber-four cause of death among all age groups. The database search discovered 44 papers, with nine meeting the inclu­sion criteria. From those papers the fol­lowing themes associated with commu­nication emerged: leadership styles, crew resource management (CRM), simula­tion, and debriefings.

Each paper identified communication as an issue in the trauma room. CRM includes elements of the other emergent themes from the state of the science; therefore, CRM will be the focus of future research to increase effective team com­munication within the trauma room.

Rasmussen’s leadership and contri­bution to the nursing industry extend beyond his dissertation research.

For a different project, Rasmussen worked with two peers—assistant teach­ing professors Craig Nuttall (MS ’11) and Scott Summers (MS ’11)—to collaborate with Janie Jensen (BS ’17) and sixth-semester student Ashley Dyer to create a mobile phone app that helps people determine if someone has sustained a concussion. Developing an app that reaches its target audience is a hard task, but with the help of these individuals, the team made it happen.

Rasmussen is the college’s new international studies coordinator of the Clinical Practicum Public and Global Health Nursing course, replacing teach­ing professor Dr. Sheri P. Palmer (AS ’81, BS ’84). He recently returned from his fifth global health session in Taiwan, where he assisted a group of BYU nurs­ing students in learning how other parts of the world administer health care. (See a story about a similar group on page 18 of the fall 2017 college magazine:

He is also the course coordinator for a graduate course in informatics and healthcare technology. His instruction helps students use current and emerging technologies in the care environment to support lifelong learning for self and oth­ers, as well as to optimize patient safety, cost-effectiveness, and health outcomes.

Outside of the university, Rasmussen works for two local hospice organizations as a nurse practitioner. He serves as the research chair for the Utah Emergency Nurses Association, as a committee member for the Nursing Informatics Working Group of the American Medical Informatics Association, and as a mem­ber of the Emergency Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

UNP Ryan Rasmussen (1)-3Last year Rasmussen was recognized with an Excellence in Research award from the Utah Nurse Practitioners Association.

Nuttall says that Rasmussen received the award because he has great ideas, a talent for thinking things through, and the ability to recognize problems. “He wants to fix problems, and so he does not see research as the end; he sees it as a means to fixing problems. He is research­ing so that it benefits someone, and that is what makes him a great associate.”

Rasmussen’s relatives are also con­tributing to the local nursing commu­nity. There are three generations of BYU nursing alumni in his family. Rasmussen’s mother-in-law, Nancy Thygerson Trapnell (BS ’65), has worked as a hospice nurse for more than 30 years. His wife, Laurie Trapnell Rasmussen (BS ’90), works at Central Utah Surgical Center in Provo, and their daughter Lauren R. Young is starting her fifth semester in the nursing program.

College Praised as Social Media Friendly

If there is such a thing as a virtual “thumbs up,” the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University would take it.

nursing-school-badgeRecently the college was recognized as #44 of the 100 Most Social Media Friendly Nursing Schools in the nation. The inaugural listing from ranked programs on the use of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

“We are pleased to be included in the ranking,” says Jeff L. Peery, college PR supervisor. “Our media team regularly posts material about alumni, students, and faculty and it is nice to receive a reward for these efforts.”

The results provided the college insight into areas for improvement or future higher results.

“Perhaps the greatest thing our followers could do is engagement,” says Peery. “Liking, sharing, and reposting content are great ways to connect with the program as well as demonstrate social media prowess.”

A Lifelong Goal of Serving Others

Spotlight--shelly reedBy Mindy Longhurst
Associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly J. Reed (AS ’81, BS ’84) grew up on a farm in southwestern Idaho. Even though she is from a small town, she always had big dreams to become a nurse and help people. This attitude and approach sum up the way she conquers life—with positivity and by using her life to bless others around her.

As a 16-year-old, Reed had an experience that shaped the course of her life. While she was volunteering at a local hospital, one of the doctors invited her to see a baby being born. Reed says, “We got to see the delivery, and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I just knew that I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse after that. I was certain of my career path after seeing the birth.”

Since then, Reed has continued to learn about nursing while helping others along the way (most recently by completing a PhD in nursing education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas). Despite keeping busy with her schedule at BYU (and supporting students with clinical work in a Salt Lake Hospital and a four-week clinical practicum in Tonga), she finds time to complete 12-hour shifts as a family nurse practitioner for OB Emergency Services at the University of Utah Medical Center every other week. She enjoys supporting the mothers of newborns and being there for the miraculous experience of childbirth.

Outside of the college, Reed has served on several humanitarian trips teaching maternal and newborn classes with teams from the LDS Church’s Humanitarian Communications Department. She learned Spanish as an adult and has been able to teach with teams in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Guatemala. “It is difficult to instruct in Spanish because I learned it a little later in life. Plus, medical language is very technical and can be hard to teach in Spanish,” she says. “But I have prayed hard to have the gift of tongues. Although I wouldn’t say I received it, the Lord has helped me throughout the process.”

Her faculty area of study focuses specifically on simulation debriefing research. Reed developed an instrument, or “debriefing experience scale,” and has shared this tool with researchers around the world (see the fall 2015 magazine for the related story).

Besides nursing, she has another passion for helping others: family history and temple work. She began this hobby eight years ago while serving as a young women leader when an activity taught their group how to participate in family history.

“The temple is my favorite thing,” says Reed. “Organizing genealogies is one of the best ways to spend free time; while researching and finding names of relatives, one can feel connected and overjoyed.”

Reed even has a goal of attending 60 LDS temples before she turns 60. Although a few years away from her deadline, she has already visited 58 temples and should finish her goal in 2019. Reed loves being able to serve in the temple for those who have passed on, especially for her ancestors. It is fun for her to realize that she spends most of her “me” time on family history and going to the temple.

She is married and is the proud mother of seven children and grandmother of four.

Throughout a successful career, Reed continues to focus on the amazing experience she had as a youth; that one opportunity has led to her doing marvelous things in the world of nursing.

Departing Faculty: Three beloved individuals recently left the College of Nursing

Edmunds_DebbieNursing Through Nurturing
Debbie Edmunds, MSNEd, RN, CNE

Assistant teaching professor Debbie Edmunds has helped hundreds of students along the pathway to nursing. Now, after eight years of teaching at the College of Nursing, Edmunds is leaving to serve another mission (Philippines) and spend more time with her 18 grandchildren.

Edmunds never planned on becoming a nurse; her childhood dream was to become a teacher. That dream got put on hold after she met Gary Edmunds in a high school production of The Fantasticks. They wedded shortly after graduation in 1974.

She spent the next two decades raising the couple’s seven children while her husband worked in the construction industry. Her experiences raising children sparked an interest in nursing, especially after she delivered a baby who was stillborn.

In 1994, Edmunds returned to school and began working on an associate degree in nursing at Salt Lake Community College. Edmunds went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from BYU and a master’s degree in nursing education from the University of Utah.

After working as a registered nurse, Edmunds got a job as a childbirth educator at Intermountain Healthcare, and her passion for teaching resurfaced. She taught as a clinical instructor at both the University of Utah and Utah Valley University. Then, in 2007, she was approached with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: organizing a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program for Mountainland Applied Technology College.

Edmunds went on to serve as director of her LPN program for four straight years. During that time she learned about teaching at BYU. In 2010 she began at BYU as a clinical instructor, and she became a full-time faculty member in 2012.

In July 2016, Edmunds began a twelve-month leave of absence to serve an LDS mission with her husband in Suva, Fiji. While there, she made dozens of connections with nurses and hospital directors that eventually provided the basic framework for the college’s global health practicum in Fiji.

“It’s been such a blessing to me to know that I’ve been an instrument in the Lord’s hands to help people fulfill their dreams,” Edmunds says of her BYU experience. “Being at this university has been wonderful. It’s a great environment with devoted faculty and amazing students. It’s something that I will dearly miss.”


Ulberg_RonGoodbye to a Veteran Nurse
Ron S. Ulberg, MSNEd, RN, CCRN

To colleagues and students alike, the name Ronald Ulberg is synonymous with passion. During a profession spanning more than two decades, Ulberg combined his two passions—nursing and veterans. In December 2017, Ulberg retired from Brigham Young University.

Ulberg’s nursing career started in 1988 when he became a licensed practical nurse after attending classes at Salt Lake Community College. He went on to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Phoenix.

In 2002, Ulberg began working at BYU as an adjunct clinical instructor, helping students as they applied their skills in a hospital setting. He became an assistant teaching professor in 2005 and an associate teaching professor in 2011. Throughout his teaching career he inspired students with a love of nursing and a desire to help others.

“The students seemed to connect with him and appreciated his approach,” says teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad.

Blad and Ulberg, who served together in the military, directed the veteran clinical practicum for their public and global health nursing course. The class focused on helping students understand the culture and lifestyle of military veterans and included an Honor Flight to Washington, DC.

In Ulberg’s military background, he worked as a nurse in the 144th Evacuation Hospital of the Utah Army National Guard, which deployed to Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Storm. His experiences motivated him to help nursing students gain increased empathy and respect for those who serve their country in the armed forces.

Besides nursing and veteran care, Ulberg is an avid Boy Scout volunteer and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award from the Great Salt Lake Council in 2015. He is the recipient of several other nursing and education awards, including ACLS Instructor of the Year in 2005, “Honoring Those Who Dare to Care” Honors for Nursing in 2007, and the Excellence in Education Award in 2009.

Although Ulberg will spend retirement with family and pursuing his hobbies, his passions for nursing and veterans will be long remembered at the College of Nursing.


Faculty Retirement Debra WingTaking to New Heights
Debra K. Wing, MSNEd, RN, CNE

From extreme sports and nursing to humanitarian work, assistant teaching professor Debra K. Wing is not afraid of trying new things. Now, after teaching at the College of Nursing for 11 years, she will again embrace something new: retirement.

Growing up, Wing watched her two older sisters study nursing and begin their careers. She wanted to become a nurse as well. However, in her freshman year at BYU, she decided to study business instead at Stevens-Henager College. She married Kelly Wing on February 12, 1981.

After graduating with her business degree, Wing spent the next 10 years as a businesswoman. “Yet I always felt something was missing,” she says, “so, with very small children, I went back to nursing school and finished my bachelor’s.” To help pay for her nursing degree, Wing joined the Air Force alongside her husband.

One of the things Wing enjoyed most about her military nursing career was doing clinical oversight for EMEDS training. In this role she instructed hundreds of National Guard and Army Reserve medical personnel on how to provide support in war zones. She also worked with Homeland Security to train national disaster-relief organizations on how to respond to every kind of disaster, from hurricanes to hostage situations.

Throughout her career Wing took on new nursing roles, including beginning as a simulation instructor at BYU in 2007. In 2015, Wing took a short break from teaching to serve as a mission nurse for the LDS Korea Seoul Mission.

Wing’s plans for retirement include working with several organizations to teach medical education in developing countries. “I’ll be leaving the university, but I’m not leaving nursing,” she says. Wing has worked with Healing Hands for Haiti and IVUmed in past humanitarian efforts and intends to resume those efforts. Furthermore, Wing will continue to volunteer regularly at the Provo Food and Care Coalition. She and her husband also want to serve another mission.

Reflecting on her experience as a nurse, she says, “What made my nursing career worthwhile was the opportunity I had to serve people every day. I love that experience of giving of myself. There’s a reward that comes from caring that’s far greater than monetary rewards.”


Ribs, Nurses, and Cowboy Boots: BYU SNA Represents College at National Conference

By Jonathan Schroeder

First-semester nursing student Rachel Hawkins looked out at the sea of nursing students in front of her, and sighed with exhaustion. Within 24 hours, there had been a long red-eye flight across two time zones, a hotel check-in and then a full day of networking, keynote speakers, and complex nursing acronyms. The evening brought a much needed rest; but also a newly awakened perspective.

“I had never really realized before just how many different things you could do with nursing,” Hawkins explains. “There are so many different aspects you can focus on – business, travel; the possibilities are endless!”

Hawkins was one of several students who represented the BYU Student Nursing Association at the 2018 National Student Nursing Association (NSNA) Conference in Nashville, TN.


BYU Nursing Students enjoy a break a between NSNA sessions at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

“It really helped open my view of the level of impact that nurses can have,” fellow first-semester student Izzy Bernal adds. “I realized that my sphere of influence doesn’t have to be just as a bedside nurse, but I can really do a lot of different things.”

For associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston, this kind of reaction has almost become commonplace. Heaston has been the BYU SNA Chapter advisor for more than a decade and has enjoyed helping students prepare for the annual conference since 2007.

“The conference is a bit of a wake-up call for a lot of students,” Heaston explains. “Many students get into the nursing program and then they get so focused on school that they don’t realize just how much there is outside of the classroom. The conference gives them a chance to see just how many opportunities they have for their future career, for leadership and for education — all in this one week-long event.”

More than 3,000 nursing students from across the country participated in this year’s conference. Conference events included TED Talk-style keynote speakers, information sessions about different nursing emphases, SNA officer trainings, and an exhibition hall with recruiters from top hospitals and graduate programs across the country.


BYU Nursing Student Ashley Dyer with two other nursing students from different parts of the country

“It’s almost like an LDS Women’s Conference for nurses,” sixth-semester student Aimee Schouten explains. “It’s a really neat chance to be with other nursing students and professionals from around the US and feel united, as a profession.”

“The goal of SNA [and the NSNA conference] is to help students have the best opportunity to become the best nurses possible,” adds Jessica Small. “It’s really cool to have that shared purpose with other people.”

BYU Nursing: Learning Through Leadership

The NSNA Conference not only helps develop great nurses, but it also helps develop great leaders. As part of the conference, students have the chance to participate in the NSNA House of Delegates. This allows students to put forth resolutions based on current issues and research. These resolutions can vary from establishing healthcare polices to increasing awareness for certain issues.

“This is how policy changes happen in the real world,” Heaston explains. “Nurses come together and raise their voices within their professional organization and discuss issues that they feel need to be addressed.”

This year, Schouten and Small provided one of the highlights of the NSNA Conference when they presented their resolution to raise awareness of sexual assault on college campuses.

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Schouten and Small with their Resolution to Increase Awareness of Sexual Assault Across Campuses to Reduce Victim Blaming and Stigmatization of Rape

Schouten and Small were inspired to present their resolution after discovering that the topic of sexual assault on college campuses had not been addressed in any NSNA resolution over the past five years.

“I was honestly shocked,” Small remembers. “Sexual assault on college campuses is a big problem. Yet all we found in our research were a few resolutions that made reference to sexual assault; there wasn’t anything that actually addressed the problem.”

Inspired by the work of BYU Nursing Assistant Professor Julie Valentine, Schouten and Small drafted a resolution that they hope will increase awareness for the issue of sexual assault in addition to creating an environment that will help nurses provide better care for potential victims.

“The goal of our resolution is to present the prevalence, side effects and barriers that sexual assault victims face in getting the help they need,” Small explains.

Small and Schouten’s resolution contains a number of eye-opening statistics from a variety of sources. They found that not only have one in five women experienced sexual assault while in college, but that less than half of those assaulted actually seek the healthcare they need afterwards.


Schouten and Small on the floor of the NSNA House of Delegates

“The problem is there is such a stigmatization of rape and victim blaming,” Schouten says. “One of the biggest reasons that people don’t report sexual assault is that they feel that reporting it will change how people see them. It makes them feel worthless and debased.”

“As nurses, it’s our job to help these people get the physical and mental healthcare they need; not only in the workplace, but also in our daily lives,” Small adds. “There’s a lot that we can do to help these victims. Whether we’re acting as roommates, as friends, or as future healthcare professionals — we need to take a stand to combat the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.”

The NSNA House of Delegates unanimously accepted Schouten and Small’s resolution, which calls for their research to be published for NSNA students, as well as at the American Nursing Association (ANA). Not only was the resolution unanimously accepted, but many delegates shared testimonials about how sexual assault had impacted the life of a friend or loved one.

“It felt good to see how many people our resolution could impact just in that room,” Small shares. “We could really tell we were doing a good thing.”

And while Small and Schouten were representing BYU on the floor of the House of Delegates, their classmate, Ashley Dyer was campaigning for a spot on the NSNA Board. Dyer successfully campaigned for and was elected to be the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA Nominating and Elections Committee (NEC) for 2018-2019.


Ashley Dyer campaigning for the Chair and Western Representative of the NSNA NEC

“I am very humbled by the outpouring of support from so many nursing students in our nation who, a week ago, had never even heard of me,” Dyer says. “I want to do all I can to help them find the courage and means to easily participate in national leadership opportunities this year.”

Fortunately, Dyer won’t have to travel very far to fulfill her NSNA NEC duties next year. The 2019 NSNA Conference is scheduled for April 3-7, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

“The NSNA conference is a great opportunity for all nursing students; not just SNA board members,” Heaston says. “We hope that all nursing students take advantage of this amazing opportunity to expand their nursing horizons.”


BYU Students Learn the Facts Behind the Opioid Epidemic

At the BYU College of Nursing’s Professionalism Conference on February 26, nursing students had a unique opportunity to get informed on one of the most important health issues in the nation: the opioid crisis.

The conference, titled “The Opioid Epidemic: Heed the Warnings, Watch for the Signs, Know How to Act,” featured Shana Metzger, an acute care nurse practitioner who focuses on addressing the American opioid crisis. Her lecture, hosted in the Wilkinson Student Center’s Varsity Theater, addressed many important points on the opioid epidemic.


Shana Metzger


“Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others,” reads a brief from The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.”

As the use of opioids in medical practice has increased over the past twenty years, so have the levels of addictions, overdoses, and deaths caused by opioids.

The numbers surrounding the opioid crisis in America are astounding. According to the New York Times, drug overdoses of all varieties killed around 64,000 Americans last year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 66% those deaths involved an opioid. To put that in perspective, the National Safety Council puts the number of American traffic fatalities in 2016 at around 40,000.

According to the CDC, over 115 Americans die daily from opioid overdoses, and 40% of all drug overdose deaths in America involve prescription opioids. In fact, the increase in drug-related deaths has contributed to a decline in life expectancy in the United States over the past two years.

Much of the opioid crisis is driven by an increased abuse of prescription drugs, which then drives an increasingly higher number of users to switch to cheaper heroin. As the CDC explains, “Between 2010 and 2016, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths increased by a factor of 5 – more than 15,469 people died in 2016.”

Utah is far from immune—in fact, according to the Utah Department of Health, Utah has the seventh highest drug overdose rate in the United States. The Deseret News has recently been covering how the typical opioid addict is frequently a “normal” man or woman with a family and an established livelihood.

Demographically, the crisis has many facets. The CDC reports that most prescription opioid overdoses happen with Caucasians or Native American aged 25-54. One report by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center points out that Americans in that age range are more likely to die from heroin or other opioid related overdoses. It also explains that while heroin use is increasing across all racial groups, Caucasians have a higher preponderance of heroin overdose deaths.

However, the New York Times also reports that the young are particularly affected, saying that “[despite] the perception of the epidemic as primarily afflicting the rural working class, drug overdoses account for a greater percentage of deaths among the young in large cities and their suburbs, with urban and suburban whites most at risk.”

Topics like these were covered by Metzger in her lecture, which students found informative. The conference topic is particularly relevant since the federal government declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency back in October. Metzger’s own involvement in the issue came after treating a large number of patients with opioid addictions.

The BYU’s students left the conference, which also included a closing session featuring former BYU football player and current host of “Jazz Game Night” Alema Harrington, with more self-confidence and better prepared to handle any manifestations of the opioid crisis they encounter in their own careers.

(Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)


More on the Opioid Epidemic:

Numbers and Statistics:

Causes of the Epidemic:

Opioids in Utah:

On-the-ground look:

New Ways Opioids are Spreading:

Public Reaction: