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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/

Not So Different: BYU Professor Speaks at Tongan Nursing Day Celebration

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Reed, wearing a traditional ta’ovala gifted to her for formal occasions. Photo courtesy of Reed.

By Quincey Taylor

BYU professors take the mantra, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” very seriously in their careers. During this summer’s Tonga section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course, associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed was asked to give a speech as part of this year’s International Nursing Day celebration.

This holiday, which is celebrated extensively on the island, was a wonderful opportunity to show what BYU stands for and why we immerse ourselves into other cultures. An overwhelming lesson all students learned was that they weren’t so different from Tongan nurses, sharing the same mission and desires.

Reed, who was returning to Tonga for the eighth time, was elated to have the chance to speak to a people that had grown to mean so much to her. She thought the best way to show what Tonga has meant to BYU students would be to read their thoughts on the experience.

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BYU nursing students (red) with local Tongan nursing students. They became fast friends. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed started her speech, saying, “At the BYU College of Nursing, we are learning the Healer’s art, or in other words, trying to learn to heal as our Savior, Jesus Christ, would heal… I am going to tell you today some of the things that students have learned in Tonga.”

Robin, who came to Tonga as a student the first year in 2010, said, “My nursing education was greatly enhanced by my experiences in Tonga. I learned that the Healer’s art is not always found in medications or in treatments. Instead, it is found in the sincere caring of one person for another. I loved to watch how the nurses in Tonga cared for their patients with the utmost respect and care. They inspired me to be a better nurse, and perhaps more importantly, a more caring person.”

The next year in 2011, Reed returned with 12 students. Unfortunately, that year most of them contracted gastrointestinal illness, and three of the students had to be hospitalized. They experienced Tongan healthcare by being a patient. Jaclyn, one of the students, said, “Tonga taught me about family, medical family, and love of healing.”

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Honoring the elderly is a big part of Tongan culture. Photo courtesy of Reed.

Reed and her students enjoyed the celebrations for International Nursing Day, and witnessed the reverent respect locals have for nurses. An award and cake were given to an elderly member of their society who had been a nurse in the local hospital for many years.

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Reed and her daughter with local nurse and her daughter. Family ties bring people together! Photo courtesy of Reed.

The college’s time in Tonga is treasured by all who go there. So many invaluable lessons are learned, by both professors and students. Reed, as well as everyone at the College of Nursing, hope to continue this blossoming relationship with Tonga.

Reed concluded her speech by addressing local healthcare professionals: “Just think of the impact that you all have on these students! We thank you for the compassion and caring you have shown us, and the compassion and caring you have taught us, as well as many other things that help us to be better nurses. Malo ‘auptio! Thank you very much.”

Fall 2019 DAISY Award Winners Announced!

The College of Nursing at Brigham Young University continues to partner with the DAISY Foundation to recognize nursing professors and students who show extraordinary compassion. After the death of Patrick Barnes at the age of 33 from complications of an autoimmune disease, the Barnes family decided to do something positive to honor him. They established DAISY—an acronym for diseases attacking the immune system—to thank the nurses who cared for him and to recognize exceptional nurses around the world.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students

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Noel (middle) with Dean Ravert and her husband, Hamilton

The College of Nursing announced that it’s student award, The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Students, went to Allison Bingham Noel.

Alli was nominated by her peer Keeley Austin, who writes: “Any person who meets Alli knows she is a special person. She has an infectious positive attitude and a laugh that makes everyone smile. I attended my global health clinical practicum with Alli in Fiji, and every day I became more impressed with her ability to connect with others. She became a role model for me as she found the ones who were in need and addressed those needs with her talents.

For example, we were assigned to teach a group of third-grade Fijian students about the human body. Many of our activities required the children to jump, run, and dance, and we did not account for any children who might have disabilities. When we started the lessons, I saw Alli sitting at the back of the group with a student in a wheelchair. She was attentive and helped that student participate in ways that were adjusted to meet his needs. I couldn’t believe how quickly she was able to assess the situation and find a solution. She constantly looks outward, so when she is faced with situations like this one, she adapts well. I know I can be the kind of nurse that doesn’t just go through the motions or goes according to plan. I will achieve this by following Alli’s example of compassion and seek out and address individuals’ needs.”

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty

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Hunsaker (second from the left) with Dean Ravert and her family. 

The College of Nursing was also pleased to honor associate teaching professor Stacie Hunsaker with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty.

Stacie received entries from several students, each one showing her level of compassion in nursing.

Hannah Hoffman writes, “I spent time with Stacie during a veteran clinical practicum. One Sunday while in Washington, D.C., an older woman fell leaving the church building and twisted her ankle. Stacie first addressed the immediate medical concern but then took time to listen to the women’s concerns, calm her fears, and ease her anxiety.”

Another nomination says, “I had only been in Stacie’s class for three weeks when I was admitted to the hospital. Stacie took time out of her extremely busy schedule to come and visit me. It meant the world to me. The care, concern, and compassion Stacie has for individuals are exemplary and beyond admirable!”

An additional student shares, “Stacie goes above and beyond to help those around her thrive. She took the time to tell me my strengths and applaud me, helping me to feel confident at a time that I was struggling to feel competent. She shared experiences from when she was a young nurse, and then laugh! The situation helped me realize that we could laugh at mistakes and the things we were stressing.”

Emily Henstrom says, “During third-semester, Stacie would set lunchtime for her clinical group, not because she had to, but because she wanted to spend those moments with us and get to know us. She has shown me so much love since I met her, and I can’t imagine my college experience without her.”

Both Hunsaker and Noel were presented with a unique sculpture as a symbol of their recognition. The small wooden token is called “A Healer’s Touch.” Each piece is hand-carved by members of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.

Each semester, the College of Nursing opens nominations for additional DAISY Faculty and Nursing Student Awards. The call for submissions is your opportunity to nominate someone that reflects compassion and is an example of the Healer’s art.

 

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.

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.

 

5 Reasons (Or More) to Take N320 Online

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By Corbin Smith

In times past it has been said that nursing courses must be taken in-person to make the greatest impact and maximize learning. Many say that online nursing courses limit a student’s ability to connect with patients and receive quality training and practice. Critics even go far enough to say that nursing courses online don’t prepare students for the real world.

In the face of doubters, the BYU College of Nursing has recently begun to challenge that mindset, by creating a unique online and in-person course for students to take. This effort has been spearheaded by associate professor Dr. Janelle Macintosh. Along with Macintosh, assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson and assistant teaching professor Dr. Denise Cummins are teaching the hybrid N320 course this semester.

The N320 hybrid class has been a great success, allowing students to learn in a new and flexible way. Soon, all sections of this class will be a both online and in-person. With that in mind and as registration for the winter semester approaches, Macintosh shares with you her 5 reasons why the N320 has been so successful, and how taking it can be beneficial for you!

 

  1. It’s Required! Well, this is obvious! For those of you who are going into your third-semester, this class is required for you to take. In this course you will receive valuable training on the research process in nursing, learn how to identify clinical problems and how to write and communicate effectively in the profession. You will even be able to knock out a GE in the process (after taking N339, too!)
  2. Flexibility with Clinicals – Clinicals can be very stressful, especially in 3rd semester when you have your first 12-hour shift in the hospital to go along with your other classes. By taking a hybrid class like N320, the time commitment to be in class is much less, allowing for more time for homework and clinicals!
  3. Work ahead! – In N320, the student has a lot of control over when to do assignments. Like any other class there are due dates to meet and assignments to complete, but the online set-up allows students to work ahead and do assignments, normally due 3 or 4 weeks in the future. With this course, you can easily take control over your learning!
  4. 1 on 1 Consultations – There are tons of benefits of being able to work with a teacher or professor one-on-one. Teaching can be more personally tailored to the student while students can feel comfortable and safe expressing confusions without worrying about what other students think. Not only is learning enhanced and content mastered more quickly, you can also build strong relationships with your professor that you wouldn’t normally get in a classroom.
  5. Comfort! – Wouldn’t you love to have class in bed while you’re in your pajamas? Professor Macintosh hopes that this format can give comfort to the already-stressed student. “College can be pretty tough and demanding,” she says, “we hope this individualized approach can help ease the strain of everyday college life.”

Now, the final reason, which may not come from Macintosh, but is true nonetheless.

  1. Take a Class from Some Wonderful Professors! – Professors Cummins, Macintosh and Peterson are all wonderful! All of the professors are student-oriented and want you to succeed. Macintosh says “The reason I teach is because I love the students and being able to engage with them.” This upcoming semester the course will be taught by Macintosh and assistant professor Dr. Marc-Aurel Martial! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to learn from them! You won’t regret it!

 

 

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