Category Archives: Uncategorized

Airplanes and Game-Shows. Welcome to BYU Denise Cummins!

DeniseBy Corbin Smith

Listen up all you travel-junkies and game show fanatics! New faculty member Denise Cummins (AS ’86) is someone you have to meet!

For the inner adventurer in you, you can go ask Cummins about the more than 10 countries that she has visited in her lifetime! She has gone places like England (where she was born), Belgium, Morocco, the Mediterranean and more! Wherever she goes she loves to kayak and visit historical sites! Go ask her about the tons of experiences she has had all over the world!

For you lovers of games such as Jeopardy and The Price is Right, along with dreamers to one day compete on a program like that, Cummins can be your guide! Years ago, while living in Los Angeles as a newlywed, she competed on three game shows! She played Million Dollar Chance of a Lifetime, Secret Password and The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour and racked up some sweet prizes! For those who want to follow in her footsteps, she is the one to talk too!

Cummins life, however, is more than traveling to exotic places and playing game shows. “It is amazing to make a difference in someone’s life. You truly can make a big impact through being a loving and caring nurse,” she says. Cummins loves being able to serve people and make their lives happier each day!

This semester Cummins is teaching Nursing 320, 351 and 352. She is so excited to work with BYU students and faculty this year!

 

To learn more about Cummins, read her official bio below!

 

When it comes to gaining an education, Denise Cummins (AS ’83) is not hesitant about traveling afar. She came from England after joining the Church to attend BYU, where she earned her first nursing degree. She has lived in California since graduating but has earned additional degrees and credentials from BYU–Idaho, Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky, the University of Sheffield in England and, most recently, from the University of Utah, where she completed a doctoral program in nursing.

The traveling continues! Within weeks of starting her BYU position, she and another nursing professor took a group of nursing students to India, working with a Hindu organization and caring for families affected by leprosy as part of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course.

Cummins’s professional experience is just as unique. After becoming a registered nurse, she cared for women and babies in a variety of settings, including small community hospitals, a large university teaching hospital, a midwife clinic, and even a mobile health van. Later, after becoming a nurse practitioner, she supervised a hospital-based maternal-fetal medicine clinic, serving women with high-risk pregnancies, and coordinated its perinatal research program. Most recently, Cummins was the director of quality and regulatory compliance for a rural hospital district, while concurrently teaching an online nursing research class for BYU–Idaho.

She considers her undergraduate education at BYU to be one of the great privileges of her life. It prepared her not only for a career in nursing but to live a life and raise a family centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a new faculty member, she is excited and honored to help students prepare for these experiences in their own lives. After entering BYU to learn, then going forth to serve, she is pleased to return to teach. Cummins currently instructs the nursing care of women and newborns course and clinical labs, and scholarly inquiry in nursing.

When she is not in the hospital or teaching, you will find her traveling between California and Utah, where much of her family still resides.

Advertisements

Welcoming New Faculty Member Brandon Thatcher

Brandon

Realizing that teaching seminary may not pay the bills but wanting to use spirituality and helping others to make a difference in a career, assistant teaching professor Brandon Thatcher earned a bachelor of art in Spanish from Utah State University as a prerequisite for a fast track nursing program. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in 2009 and a master’s degree in 2013—both in nursing from the University of Utah.

Before becoming a board-certified psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), he worked for five years as the charge nurse for both the child and adolescent inpatient units at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute in Salt Lake City. As a PMHNP, he worked in various settings including a psychiatric crisis center, several substance use disorder treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and at the BYU Student Health Center on an outpatient basis.

Thatcher has also been an adjunct clinical instructor for the BYU College of Nursing since 2014. He recently teamed up with professor emerita Dr. Barbara Heise for a publication on child suicide screening methods.

He currently teaches the stress management course, preview to nursing course, and the psych/mental health nursing class and clinical. During the 2019 spring term, he accompanied another professor and ten nursing students in Ghana, Africa, as part of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course.

Employment at the university lets him include a spiritual side to healthcare when teaching students. He values the religious aspects that can be added to mental health discussion and healing. As a practitioner with the student health center, he saw the Lord’s hand in many things. “When a student required a few or many additional minutes for a session, the subsequent time slots would always cancel, allowing the time we needed. This happened in every instance I needed more time with my patients for three and a half years,” he shares.

He and his wife, Danina, have three children. He enjoys family time most of all, playing guitar, wrestling kids (his own), watercolor painting, and spending time outdoors.

Establishing “Learning the Healer’s Art:” Dr. Mary William’s Retirement

Mary Williams

After 41 years of heartfelt service to the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University, associate professor Dr. Mary Williams (BS ’71) retired July 1, 2019.

As a student in 1967, caring faculty taught Williams the power of her potential, the love of nursing, and how to care for patients in the Savior’s way. After she failed bedmaking, faculty member Chloe D. Tillery (BS ’58) gave her private lessons (Williams can still make the tightest bed and the best square corner). She graduated in 1971 and went to work for LDS Hospital in the plastic/burn unit as a staff nurse, assistant head nurse, and head nurse.

In 1978, she accepted a teaching position at the College of Nursing and began teaching introductory and advanced medical/surgery and ICU courses. Realizing the national trend was for faculty to have advanced degrees, Williams returned to school and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Utah and a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Arizona.

Williams became the associate dean for the graduate program in 1990 and served in that capacity with five different college deans for 27 years (until June 2017). She was the chair of the college’s 40th, 50th, and 60th-anniversary celebrations and was instrumental in establishing “learning the Healer’s art” as the mantra for the program, which was the theme of the 40-year gala. On the university level, among many roles, she was part of the graduate council, the student ratings evaluation taskforce, and the BYU Women’s Conference committee.

Professional and community service have enriched her life as she served as the chair of the Utah Board of Nursing, on the trustee council of the Utah Hospital Association, and, for the past 20 years, as chair of the Mountain View Hospital.

In 2009, Williams was honored with the university’s Wesley P. Lloyd Award for Distinction in Graduate Education. Her influence in student research has kept the students and their theses strong. She has chaired over 44 master’s projects or theses, served as a committee member for an additional 42, and coauthored or written more than 30 publications focusing on timely issues and trends in the nursing industry.

What’s next? Williams, who raised four of her deceased sister’s six children, plans to spend more time with them and her 17 grandchildren. She will find time for church service and take time to travel or visit new places. Mostly she will frequently ponder how blessed she is to have such good friends associated with her time at the university.

Mary Williams Spotlight Video

Watch a faculty spotlight video of Mary Williams.

Professors Were Nurses First: CON Professors Help Woman in Distress

IMG_0642.jpg

Faculty and students were excited to visit the National Institute of Health. Photo courtesy of Hunsaker.

By Quincey Taylor

To some students, their professors are simply that, just professors. What they do not realize is that their professors are people, but more than that they are also nurses with years of experience caring for patients. Rarely do students get to observe their professors in a clinical setting.

This changed, however, for the veteran section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course this summer. When an emergency happened, students observed assistant teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker and teaching professor Dr. Kent Blad jump into action.

In May 2019, 18 students and three faculty members were in Alexandria, Virginia on a study abroad. It was Sunday, and the group was attending the local church building. This ward was used to having visitors, welcoming them with open arms.

As they were getting ready to leave, one of the students rushed to Hunsaker and told her that somebody had fallen. Since Hunsaker’s background is in emergency care, she was the perfect person to help. She was accustomed to either significant injuries or minor injuries.

When Hunsaker, Blad, and the students arrived, they saw that a lady, stepping down the ledge while exiting the church, had fallen and twisted her ankle. She was laying on the steps and there was no way for people to enter or exit the church without stepping over her. There was already a small group of people surrounding her, helping her. They had put a pillow under her head and were trying to protect her from the falling rain.

The woman was extremely emotional and was hyperventilating. Her ankle didn’t look deformed, but she was complaining of severe pain. Hunsaker let everyone know that she was an emergency nurse. She asked someone to go get some ice from the kitchen. She could tell the woman was very anxious.

Hunsaker says, “I decided that the number one priority was to talk to her, get some information and get her distracted a little bit. I started talking to her, but she was still really anxious. So I just held her hand and asked her more questions and we talked a little bit about her.” The woman thought her ankle was broken.

This accident turned into a ministering opportunity for all involved. Hunsaker strives to be an example, “even to other nurses or people of how Christ would treat other people in their times of need. He would treat them in a loving, caring way to show them that they have value.”

Hunsaker continued to ask her questions about her life, her friends, her family. This woman, whose name was Margaret, took care of her husband and children. She was the only active church member in her family.

The students observed their professors in this situation. Margaret was given a blessing right there by a ward member, which was sweet to all who witnessed. Hunsaker hopes that, “just taking an extra minute to let her know that we really did care and wanted to help her and make her feel important and valued would help her relax a little bit.”

Margaret said about the experience in a letter to the dean:

What happened to me was a series of miracles and tender mercies. It was no coincidence that your nursing students and instructors just happened to attend that particular ward at that particular time. When I rolled my ankle and heard the crackle and pop, I went into immediate shock. It was no coincidence that the two instructors were former ER nurses. They came immediately to my aid, held my hand and calmed my breathing. They were on the Lord’s mission that morning. Their tender care is something I’ll always remember.

It ended up being a wonderful missionary opportunity as well. Margaret continues:

It goes much further than that. You see, I had a dear friend who lost her father a few days before and the next day lost her mate just before I came to D.C. She’s not a member of the church. When I told her my plight, she said she now has a purpose… helping me and my husband who has Parkinson’s. I’m sharing bits and pieces of the gospel with her now.  Even my husband who isn’t a member calls this a miracle.

She truly feels that, “The Lord is personally involved in our lives and your staff and students were a part of that.”

Hunsaker is glad for this chance to be an example to her students. She says, “There are a lot of opportunities to teach students, but they often don’t get to see us actually interact with patients. I really appreciated that opportunity, because it lets them know that we’re real. We are nurses, and hopefully that gives them a good example of what they hope to aspire to be in the future.”

It would do students well to follow their professors’ examples and minister in the way the Lord would. Hunsaker finishes, “I like to think of nursing as ministering. It really is an amazing opportunity we have in our chosen career to minister every day. I get paid to minister which is pretty cool, because you can put a little extra effort in rather than just following the steps of your job. I love that because I can show patients, even difficult patients, that I’m trying to understand them and I care for them. I really believe that those interactions can show Christ’s love.”

 

From the Ballroom to the Emergency Room: Nursing Student Helps BYU Dance Team Win International Dance Competition

57258184_652386381849398_1540588448199475200_o

Nicole Udall and her team leave victorious. Photo courtesy of BYU Dance Instagram.

By Quincey Taylor

On June 18, the Brigham Young University dance team returned victorious from the 2019 British Open Championship in Blackpool, England. Teams from various countries, including places like China and the Czech Republic, came to try and claim the title. BYU’s spectacular students, including recent nursing graduate Nicole Udall, brought them to victory. Their Latin dance team took first place overall, and the ballroom dance team took second.

Finding her Dancing Shoes

Coming to dance at BYU had been a dream of Udall’s since she was a little girl. As a child, she had danced different styles, including jazz and lyrical. She had no idea, however, that ballroom would eventually become her passion.

Her brother introduced Udall and her fraternal twin to the world of ballroom. At the time, he was on the BYU ballroom dance team going on tours. He had been doing ballroom since he was 13, and he wanted his younger sisters to start in that same stage of life. Udall and her sister loved to see their brother perform and to see the impact he was making.

She was inspired to try out ballroom for herself, and Udall loved it. She set the goal to one day dance on the BYU ballroom dance team and was successful, along with her twin.

Dance Led Her to Nursing

IMG_0085

Udall’s first IV insertion! Photo courtesy of Udall.

Udall soon found nursing, and immediately knew that it was the career for her. “I wanted to work with people,” she says, “As a dancer, I was so used to that. I wanted to have a deeper relationship with the people I worked with. When I looked for a career with those aspects, I found nursing. It checked those boxes that I had. I also wanted to find a degree that was intellectually challenging. I wanted to find something that would build me as a person and help me develop.”

Balancing Interests

However, balancing these two interests was not always easy. She reflects, “When I first came to the Y, I thought, ‘I’m going to do ballroom, that’s why I wanted to come to BYU.’ Then I found nursing. I was like, ‘This is the thing for me, this is the degree I want to do.’ However, when I was talking to people, they told me there’s no way I could do both. Nursing is a huge commitment. It definitely takes 100% of your effort. But dancing was such a part of me that I didn’t want to give it up.”

Udall did not give up and found a way to be able to do both. She says, “The thing that helped me balance the two was being able to communicate early with people. If you wait until the last minute, and came up to a professor and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be gone this week.’ Then they would say, ‘What? You can’t do that.’ Being able to communicate early and to present solutions to problems was key.”

She has worked on being present for whatever she is doing at the moment, and says, “It’s also helpful to learn to prioritize, giving 100% of my effort to whatever I was doing at the time. If I was doing nursing, I was focused on nursing. If I was dancing, I was focused on dancing.”

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 3.31.57 PM

Va va voom! Photo courtesy of Udall.

After years dancing, Udall attributes many life lessons to ballroom. She says, “You learn how to unify as a team and be able to build relationships with other people. You’re not only working with a whole team, you’re working as partners as well. It’s important to be able to communicate with one another and problem solve, while still being happy and joyful while you work hard towards a goal.”

Another blessing Udall has gained from dance was her husband, who took a ballroom class where they met.

Udall is not the only nursing student to be on the ballroom dance team. She has always been happy to give advice to other nurses helping them to balance their passions. Having others going through the same thing is comforting and empowering.

The Championship

Udall was ecstatic to compete at the British Open Championship this year, as it was her last year as a BYU undergraduate as well as a competing ballroom dancer. While she has competed on both teams, this year she danced ballroom instead of Latin. She comments, “It was a culmination of our whole experience working together. We were all working towards this common goal unifying as a team through the ups and the downs. Seeing the reward of our progress was really cool.”

Team members support one another throughout the experience. Udall explains, “We got to watch each other, and we are each other’s biggest fans. We were so excited.”

Advice for Future Students

When asked what Udall would tell other nursing students struggling to balance multiple interests, Udall says, “I think the best advice I could give is to just go for it! A lot of people will tell you that you can’t do things because they don’t know how you can do them. However, being open to early communication and being a problem solver can make it possible.”

She expounds, “Live your dreams. There were many times that I wanted to give up, but letting go of one passion was like letting go of a part of me. I think it’s important to still go for your dreams and live them, just prioritize and communicate.”

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 10.09.47 PM

Udall (third from the right) and her fellow students pose with associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed. Photo courtesy of Udall.

Plans After Graduation

After graduation and the dance championship, Udall plans on studying for and taking the NCLEX. She looks to find a job in the emergency room in Arizona, where she and her husband are moving. She plans to eventually go to school for a master’s degree to continue her education.

Melissa Heinonen: Applying the Healer’s Art

melissa fam

By Corbin Smith

“I would learn the Healer’s art.”

One of the main goals of the BYU College of Nursing is to teach its students the Healer’s art. That includes caring for each of God’s children not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. The college hopes that each graduate will dedicate their life to that service as they move on to healthcare sites all over the world. Now, more than 10 years later, class of 2007 graduate Melissa Heinonen looks back and is confident that she has been able to do exactly that, serving like the Healer did.

Physically

Since her graduation, Heinonen has healed her patients of all ages across the globe. Upon graduating from BYU, she worked in Primary Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City. There she realized that she was passionate about working with young children and their families.

From there she moved to Austin, Texas where she worked at the Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Central Texas for two years. “I loved working in Texas,” she says, “It was so inspiring to take part in helping a young child receive strength again.” It was here that she saw both the devastating effects of disease and healing power a nurse can bring.

melissa

Heinonen with a mother and daughter during her medical mission trip to Nigeria in 2012.

These experiences inspired Heinonen to go abroad and use her medical talents overseas. Her first experience was in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. A few years later, she traveled to Nigeria where she provided primary care services to a rural community. Once again, her eyes were opened to the positive influence nurses can have on a community.

In 2014, after receiving a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Washington, she and her young family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they currently reside, where she works part-time as a family practitioner in a private practice called Grow Pediatrics. Even though now she spends less time at the hospital she cherishes the time she can spend with her two boys. “I love the flexibility my job brings. I can spend a few days a week doing what I love without having to give up time with those whom I love,” she says.

Mentally

Heinonen also knows that a nurse’s job description goes beyond just physical healing but also mental healing. While working in Texas in the cancer clinic Heinonen saw the suffering felt by the children and their parents. While nursing the patient as best she could, she also provided support for devastated mothers and fathers who were distraught from the situation of their child. In fact, she still maintains relationships with many of those families today.

She also did this on the medical missions that she completed. In Haiti, she saw how the earthquake shook people’s lives. Thousands were injured physically, but thousands more were hurt mentally and emotionally. Her presence as a nurse comforted people as they dealt with the tragedy that changed their lives completely.

Spiritually

Heinonen also attributes her career to her strong testimony in the gospel. “Nursing has strengthened my testimony that each person is a unique and a loved child of God,” she explains, “I know that our Savior loves each of us individually and my work certainly teaches me more about that every day.”

That testimony that she has been able to form has helped her professionally with her patients and, possibly more importantly, with her four year-old and two year-old sons. As she teaches them about God, she often draws upon her experiences as a nurse. She says, “I try to teach my children that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and love as the Savior would. I help them understand the pure love He feels for us and His special ability to heal us.”

Her career in nursing has also helped her be a missionary. Her experience has helped her develop skills in communication and teaching as well as increasing her capacity to serve and be compassionate. She explains, “Now it is easier for me to connect with patients and get to know them and their unique circumstances. That gives me the courage to share the gospel and be an example of the Healer.”

Now, looking back at the life she has lived, Heinonen sees how each experience has been for her benefit. Even with all of her travels and homes across the nation, she knows that wherever she is, she can take the Healer’s art with her. “I love that I was able to learn nursing as the Healer’s art at BYU. It helps me see the Lord’s hand in my life and motivates me to strive to be the best nurse and mother I can be each day.”

Daphne Thomas Elected as ENA President in Utah

Daphne Thomas

Thomas is one of six BYU College of Nursing faculty members serving in Utah’s ENA council in 2019.

By Corbin Smith

This January, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas was elected president of the Utah chapter of the ENA. She is joined by BYU College of Nursing assistant teaching professors Stacie Hunsaker, Ryan Rasmussen, Scott Summers, Dr. Craig Nuttall and associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston in various responsibilities in the chapter. Thomas has already served as president-elect for a year and will serve as chapter president until the end of 2019.

ENA stands for emergency nurses association. It is an international organization with the goal to assure that top quality practices take place in emergency rooms through education. This is done by providing classes and certifications to help continue a nurse’s education and maintain competency. They offer many classes, including trauma and pediatric courses, both taught by Thomas.

When asked why she has decided to take on such an intense commitment Thomas says, “I’ve been an emergency room nurse for about 20 years and I just love making it better.” She continues, “I understand the importance of being an active advocate for these nurses… not only so that they have a better job satisfaction but also that we have better patient outcomes.”

Thomas is also quick to recognize that she needs her whole team to have a successful tenure as ENA president. “There are a lot of different roles and people making sure everything is running smoothly and is organized. There is a lot going on and it takes a whole team to be effective.”

As president of the ENA, Thomas hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on emergency nursing. She shares, “Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives. That is what nursing is really all about. Its very service oriented and we want it to stay that way.”