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Outbreak of Success at BYU College of Nursing, CDC Called in to Investigate

Usually, a visit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a reason for concern. However, this past week CDC representatives who visited BYU’s College of Nursing were not responding to an epidemic, but were instead meeting with associate professor Dr. Beth Luthy and assistant teaching professor Lacey Eden to discuss their work on vaccine awareness for future CDC educational videos.

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Luthy guides CDC representatives on a tour of the NLC

“We came out here to highlight them as vaccine advocates and show us what they’re doing to prepare future leaders to be vaccine advocates and what they’re doing for risk communication and vaccine hesitant parents,” says Jennifer Hamborsky, a Health Education Specialist at the CDC and one of the principal authors of the CDC’s famous “Pink Book,” a textbook on vaccine-preventable diseases.

The CDC—a federal organization described as the nation’s health protection agency—is well known for responding to disease outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola. However, the CDC’s work includes many other facets of public health, including promoting vaccination use among Americans.

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Students and faculty interact with CDC representatives

That coincides with the efforts of Luthy and Eden, who are heavily involved in educating the public on the importance of vaccinations. Luthy was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Commission for Childhood Vaccines and continues to serve as its interim head.  Eden played a critical role in the passing of Utah House Bill 308, which requires parents who choose to exempt their children from vaccinations to complete an educational module, developed by Eden and her student team, which teaches about the risks associated with not being vaccinated.

The CDC representatives arrived early Wednesday to begin the process of conducting filmed interviews with Luthy, Eden, and a handful of students and other faculty. After touring the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC), however, the representatives decided to do a separate filming about the quality of the NLC for use in a different set of videos while still interviewing Luthy and Eden.

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Dr. Beth Luthy (middle) and Lacey Eden (far right) will be featured in a series of CDC videos on immunization awareness.

“The expected outcomes are that there will be several video resources for health care providers and there will be also video resources that will go into an undergraduate nursing curriculum IRUN (immunization resources for undergraduate nursing),” Hamborsky said.

Most of the day was spent filming the NLC and interviewing Luthy and Eden, including a special focus on both Eden’s module and a children’s book written by Luthy about the importance of vaccinations. The experience was a pleasant one for all parties involved, and all are hopeful that the visit will produce meaningful results in the world of vaccination promotion.

“Beth and Lacey are clearly superstars and the facility is wonderful and state of the art,” Hamborsky said, “It’s just really been great to have the opportunity to be here to be able to highlight the great work that they’re doing so that now we’ll be able to share their work, not that it hasn’t already been, but we’ll be able to share it nationally.”

“It was surreal to be interviewed by the leaders of the immunization world,” Eden says. “I felt a feeling of validation that all of our hard work is making a difference.”

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The CDC representatives were highly impressed with the state-of-the-art NLC



8 Reasons to Attend the 2018 Night of Nursing

By Calvin Petersen

  1. Barbara Perry. Listen to Sister Perry—LDS Hospital nurse, past BYU College of Nursing faculty, recipient of BYU Honored Alumni Award and wife of the late Elder L. Tom Perry—as this year’s Night of Nursing keynote speaker.
  2. Prizes. Enter a Night of Nursing raffle and win BYU College of Nursing swag—t-shirts, lanyards, scarfs and more. Attend the Provo party and enter to win Amazon and Costa Vida gift cards and an Amazon Echo.
  3. BYU mint brownies. Devour free mouth-watering BYU mint brownies at almost every Night of Nursing location.
  4. Gifts. Receive a special gift from the College of Nursing simply for attending a Night of Nursing party.
  5. Networking. Expand your professional network by meeting nursing professionals and other BYU alumni at each location.
  6. Fun. Enjoy reuniting and reminiscing with friends and participate in games to make new ones.
  7. Sigma Theta Tau International. Come early to the Provo Night of Nursing and celebrate the 30 years of Iota Iota, BYU’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.
  8. BYU unity. Join simultaneously with BYU students, alumni and friends in over 40 locations across the United States on March 1 for Night of Nursing.Reasons to Attend

Biceps After Babies: How to Have Four Kids and a 300 lb Dead Lift

By Jonathan Schroeder

Superman can fly. Spiderman has spidey sense. Amber Brueseke (BS ’07) has four kids and can deadlift more than twice her body weight.

Brueseke will tell you that she doesn’t consider herself to be a superhero or “Wonder Woman;” but for more than 32,000 people who follow her on Instagram, she might as well be.

She is the brains (and brawn) behind “Biceps after Babies,” a personal training regimen designed to help moms (and dads) reach their fitness goals while balancing the adventures of family life. On any given week, Brueseke helps around 70 people with anything from nutrition coaching to workout tips, all while embracing her already busy role as a wife and mother. But Brueseke says that, for her, fitness and motherhood have never really dwelt in separate realms.


“When I grew up, my mom was an old-school aerobics instructor,” Brueseke recalls. “I remember going to the gym very young while she would teach classes. You had to be fourteen to go the weight-room at the YMCA where she taught. So when we turned fourteen, my mom took us into the weight-room. She showed us the equipment and the weights and that’s when we started learning how to lift.”

Mom by Day, Nurse by Night

Despite her early introduction to fitness training, Brueseke came to BYU as a biochemistry major. After a semester of heavy chemistry classes, Brueseke decided to change her major to pre-med. She took a previews to medicine class, where she met her husband, Taylor. After several months, Brueseke decided to apply to the College of Nursing.

“I loved the nursing program,” she explains. “It gave me the chance to help people, to work with medicine — and it gave me the flexibility I wanted to be a mom.”

After graduating from the nursing program in 2007, Brueseke began working on a neuro-surgical intermediate care unit while her husband went to med school at Penn State. Brueseke would take care of the kids during the day while her husband studied and he would take over while she worked the evening shift.

21587390_336660093460219_726102578827951595_oHowever, that all changed when the Brueseke family moved to California so her husband could start working on his residency.

“When you go to residency, you don’t get home at 5pm every night” Brueseke adds. “Often my husband would work 80 hour weeks. We couldn’t switch off like we had done before. That was when I decided I needed to do something else. So I switched my focus back to fitness.”

Brueseke had already been attending fitness classes, thanks to a friend who invited her to take classes with her at a local gym. Upon moving to California, Brueseke began teaching Group X and Zumba classes. Within a few years, she also added Body Pump, Body Combat, and CX Works classes to her teaching repertoire.

How a Quest for Killer Abs Lead to a Killer Following

After five years of teaching fitness classes, Brueseke came to a realization; she wanted abs.

“I’d had four kids, I’d been a fitness instructor for five years, but during all this time, I’d never gotten to the point where I’d had visible abs!”


So Brueseke set out on her goal to becoming a six-pack-ab Momma. To help encourage her, she created an Instagram page “biceps.after.babies” to share her progress with her friends.  Brueseke’s posts really resonated with young moms in the fitness community. In less than two years, her page gained more than 32,000 followers.

“People started approaching me saying ‘Hey I’ve seen what you’re doing; can you coach me?’,” Brueseke remembers. “So I started coaching a couple of friends, who then told their friends, and it kind of snowballed from there as people got results.”

But if you’re hoping to discover some magical secret behind Brueseke’s impressive social media success, you might be disappointed.

“I honestly didn’t do anything crazy,” Brueseke shares. “I was myself and I posted the things that I was thinking, feeling, and doing. I think the biggest thing that I hear people say to me is that I’m relatable; like I’m them. I understand what it’s like to be a mom, I understand what’s required of being a mom and trying to balance that with your fitness goals and your family.”20861827_325580674568161_7211867878468796139_oBrueseke says that also tries to go out of her way to post things on her page that go beyond just the weight room.

“I try to share not just fitness stuff but also things about my life and the struggles I have. I really strive to have really quality content; instead of me just posting pictures of my abs, I would rather post something that’s going to help you learn and inspire you to reach your fitness goals.”

Mom, the Body-Builder

Thanks to her Instagram account, Brueseke works with around 70 clients in any given month. However, she says her top priority is still being a mom. She gets up early every day to work out before her kids wake up for school. While the kids are at school, Brueseke answers emails, works with clients, and works on her own fitness goals. After school she then makes time to run her kids to anything from gymnastics meets to soccer practice.


A daily schedule like that is enough to make any mom cringe. But Brueseke says that one of the keys to her success lies in her own backyard. The Bruesekes have a shed behind their house that doubles as a mini-gym; complete with a power rack, bench press, and everything Brueseke needs to train.

“One of the things that we love about having the gym at our house is that our kids get to see us lifting,” Brueseke explains. “They come out to the shed with us and they do pull-ups and chin-ups with us; they know the names of all the lifts. We even started working squats, technique with them; we let them do what mom and dad are doing. It also means that I can come inside and check up on them anytime they’re home when I have to work.”


Weight-training has also become a special bond between Brueseke and her husband. Last November, the two of them entered their first power-lifting competition, as a couple. Every Saturday morning, Brueseke and her husband train together, each helping the other push their fitness to the next level.

How Nursing Helps in the Weight Room

When Brueseke first entered the BYU Nursing program, she never imagined that she would eventually be working as a personal trainer. Luckily for her, Brueseke’s nursing degree (plus her experience working in the hospital), have given her a lot of useful skills that she can now use to help her clients. Not only does Brueseke have a far deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology than the average fitness trainer, but she also knows how to better interact with her clients.

“A big part of being a nurse is that you’re there at the bedside the whole day,” Brueseke explains. “You’re not popping in and out like the doctors are; you’re there with the patient and with their family and you develop a rapport and a relationship. I think those relationship building skills have helped me immensely.”

But Brueseke says that perhaps the most valuable lesson she learned from nursing was how to prioritize her time.


“They’re always on you in nursing school about learning how to prioritize your patients and making sure you’re attending to the most important things first. The techniques I learned in nursing school have helped me prioritize where my time is spent so I can get everything done that I need to.”

So whether she’s running the kids to school, responding to client emails, filming an Instragram video, or in the weight room maxing out on bench press; you can be sure that Amber Brueseke is doing her best to stay on top of things. And although she may deny it, for her family and clients, she’s the best kind of superhero there is; the kind that inspires others to do better.

Do you have an interesting job or career? Let your peers across the country know how you use your nursing degree. Email Your news may be included in a future blog post or an edition of the college magazine.


Incoming Nursing Students Kick-off the New Year at Orientation Dinner

Class is back in session at BYU. For 64 lucky students, that means the days of taking “pre-req classes” are finally over! They are now official BYU College of Nursing students. On Monday, they gathered in the Wilkinson Student Center to reflect on their journey as they enjoyed a special orientation dinner with the Dean.

“I’m super excited to be here,” Melanie Rugg shared. “Being a nurse is my life-long dream, so to me there’s nothing better than being here right now!”

“I feel really uplifted and touched by the importance of this profession,” Katy Harrison added. “I’m excited to finally get started in the nursing program.”


These new students come with a wide range of unique experiences and backgrounds. In total, the new class has representatives from nineteen different states, as well as the countries of Mexico and Bolivia. Of the 64 students, just over 20 percent are entering the program after serving missions for the LDS Church.


“We really are so fortunate to have such great students in the program,” dean Dr. Patricia Ravert said in her address to the new students. After the dean’s remarks, associate dean Dr. Katreena Merrill shared her gratitude and excitement with the new class during a group discussion. She was quickly followed by associate dean Dr. Jane Lassetter, who bore a powerful testimony of the mission of the College of Nursing: “Learning the Healer’s Art.”


“It was very inspiring,” Sydney McBride said of the orientation dinner. “This program is a really hard program to get into. I feel like coming into the program we put a lot of emphasis on getting the highest test scores and quiz scores. This orientation has really brought into focus what the nursing program is really all about — making sure we not only have the knowledge we need, but also the passion and love so we can help our patients.”

An Act of Love

As a part of the 50th anniversary of the BYU College of Nursing, a book was compiled called “The Healer’s Art: 50 stories for 50 years.” It has been 15 years since this book was first published and these stories were shared. We plan to regularly post selections from this book to help each of us remember and cherish the experiences of nursing and learning the Healer’s art. 

An Act of Love

Laura Linton

In my last semester in nursing school, my rotation was in labor and delivery. I was assigned to a hospital that worked with an adoption agency for girls from another state. I went to clinical on Monday and during report, the night nurse told us about one of the girls in labor. At the age of seventeen, Michelle conceived through an assault from her father, who was divorced from her mother.

Michelle did not communicate much with the nurses or her family. The night nurse suggested we care for her one-on-one so she could receive better attention and care. During the day we found out a little bit more about the family. Michelle discovered she was pregnant when she started to feel the baby move (about four months). She tried to find out if she could have an abortion but it was too late. Michelle finally told her mother at eight months. They found out about the adoption agency that sends girls to Utah, because the adoptive parents live throughout Utah. Michelle and her mother decided that was the best thing to do, so they came to Utah for the delivery, even though the mother lost her job.

Throughout the day, the mother would talk with us, yet Michelle would only say a few words. One time I went in to check on her alone, without my nurse or the girl’s mother. I started joking around and tried to see how she was really doing. After a couple of minutes Michelle started to smile and glanced at me for a second. Then a little while later she kind of laughed, made eye contact, and actually had a pleasant facial expression. Throughout the day she grew to be more comfortable with me and told me how she was feeling. She was very scared. She was in a lot of pain, not only physical, but emotional. She said that she did not want to hold the baby after the birth, but did want to see the baby. She did not want to remember this as her first child. She wanted to have a family right; not the way this baby had been conceived. She had a stack of letters from possible parents sitting on her bed table. We all looked through them to see if we could pick out the perfect parents for the baby. She decided on one family if it was a girl and another one if it was a boy.

That afternoon Michelle delivered a very healthy, beautiful baby boy. He was perfect in every way. It was hard to believe what his mother had gone through to have him. We showed her the baby, asked again if she wanted to hold him. “No,” she said, so we took him to the nursery.

The next day I came back for clinical and was assigned to the post partum side. In report, we found out Michelle wanted to have the baby in her room during the night and then decided to keep him. She was sobbing all night and not verbally communicating with the nurses. Everyone was worried because the family did not have a place to live. (They had been staying in shelters for the last month.) Neither Michelle or her mother had a job or any money, and they had no place to go. They would have to reimburse the adoption agency for all the services the agency had already provided and try and find a place to go after leaving the hospital. Also, Michelle was not emotionally prepared for such a huge responsibility, especially knowing how she conceived the child. She asked to talk to a counselor to try and work things out.

Because of the time I spent with Michelle the day before and the rapport we had developed, the other nurses wanted me to care for her. I went in to find out how she was doing. Her mother was excited to see me, but Michelle wouldn’t look at me and didn’t really answer my questions. Her mother said she had never been the type to talk to anyone, and was quiet about her feelings and the issues she was dealing with.

I went back in a little bit later, sat on Michelle’s bed, put my hand on hers, and said, “I heard that you had a rough night. What happened?” The tears started pouring down her face. I held her hand more tightly, waiting a moment, until I said softly, “Do you want to keep your baby?” The tears came harder and she nodded and looked up at me and said, “Yes.” “That must be so hard to carry a baby for nine months, see such a beautiful boy and then give him up,” I replied. She nodded. “So what are you going to do?” I asked. She sat there for a moment, looked up at me again, and said, “I don’t know.”

“You must love him so much.” “Yes,” she said. I then talked with Michelle about what would happen if she kept the baby, where they would go, and what she would do. She knew the baby wouldn’t have a good life, because she didn’t even know where she was going. I shared an experience about a friend, Karen, who gave her baby up for adoption. Karen said it was the hardest thing that she had ever done. She held the baby for a couple hours, but in the end she gave the baby up.  Karen said that she loved the baby so much that she did the best thing for the baby, which was the hardest for her. She gave the baby a wonderful family that promised to take care of her and love her for eternity.

Michelle looked up at me and said, “She did that?” “Yes, she did, and she did it out of love.” I said, “If you give up this baby I know that you are doing it out of how much you love him. I do know it will be the most painful thing you have had to do so far in your life.” As she looked up at me, still with tears streaming down her face, I said, “And it is okay to cry: you need to grieve.” She held my hand tightly and sighed. It was like she needed that permission to hurt.

We talked for a while longer, looked at the adoptive families again, and talked about what the baby needed. Throughout the next couple of hours, I spent as much time as I could with her. The hospital counselor and the adoption agency representative came and spoke to her.

That afternoon Michelle decided she would give the baby up for adoption. I was there as she signed the papers with tears dripping down her cheeks. I know it was difficult to come to that decision, and I know she will grieve. I know she will physically heal from giving birth to her baby, but I also know she will forever carry the memory of her first child. I hope the memory will not always be painful. Even though I didn’t do much for her, she had someone to talk with. I gave her permission to hurt, which gave her a little bit of reassurance and strength. That day I had a taste of the art of healing by using the simple act of caring.


Strong Character and Values Are Just as Important as Knowledge


Whether nursing students are learning about safe patient handling, isolation precautions, or bowel elimination, there is always something that I have learned that applies to building my character as I continue in my career of becoming a nurse. This has taught that no matter what we learn, the true point is to shape our character to provide the best care possible.

The idea of strengthening values and building character also influenced my actions in my clinical experience [last] semester. I had the opportunity to work at a nursing home and dealt with many patients who had a variety of health problems.

One week, I was working with a patient. (I’ll call her Katie.) I was nervous to work with this patient as a new student nurse. Not only did she suffer from hemiplegia and paraplegia, which severely limited her movement, she also could not speak.

She had suffered a stroke a few years back and had lost her ability to talk. Her only speech was three nonsensical syllables that she would say over and over again. She communicated by the tone of her voice saying those syllables and by moving the one arm that she still had control over.

Nothing in nursing school had prepared me for this. How was I supposed to help someone that could not even express to me what she needed? I spent over an hour looking for her glasses that first day. She became upset with me, and I left at the end of the day feeling extremely frustrated.

That weekend I completed my mid-semester evaluation where one of the categories was evaluating my caring ability. I rated myself on how I met my client’s biopsychosocial needs in a caring and compassionate manner. I knew this was something I needed to improve and I remembered back to my N295 Fundamentals class, where the professor would explain that the important lesson was not just the knowledge that we learned but how it contributed to our character and values.

I went to the care center the following week with a renewed resolve on how to care for my patient.

Since this was the second week caring for Katie, I knew more of her daily routine. I was able to get her ready for breakfast, but we arrived 20 minutes early, and preparation for breakfast was underway.

I saw a piano in the room and asked if she had ever played the piano. She nodded that she had, and then motioned to ask me if I knew how to play. I responded in the affirmative and she pointed at me again to go to the piano as if she wanted me to play.

I knew accompaniment was not in the scope of my duties as a student nurse. However I had promised myself to do all that I could to care for her, so I sat down at the piano. The only book on the piano was an LDS hymnal; I knew she was LDS, so I started playing for her.

The amazing thing was that even though she could not speak, the stroke did not affect the area of her brain that dealt with singing. She sang the notes of the melody to every song I played. I have never seen someone happier than Katie at that moment. For a brief time, I even had the whole room singing a hymn with me.

When finished, even though she could not fully express it, I knew she was thankful that I played the piano. I appreciate the opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and do my best to be sensitive to Katie’s needs, even though what I did was not a normal nursing duty.

The next week at the care center I found out that Katie had passed away. I am thankful that I took the advice of my professor and worked attentively to meet Katie’s needs and lift her spirits. I am blessed to know that in her final days, I was able to provide the best care possible.

Winner of the college’s annual essay contest, Claire Hunsaker is a third-semester nursing student from El Dorado Hills, California.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: What Happens When Nursing Meets Rugby


Nursing student Ali Smith goes in for a hard tackle during a BYU Women’s Rugby match against University of California






By Jonathan Schroeder

For four and a half years, Ali Smith lived what some people might call a double life. By day, Smith was a smiling, gentle-mannered nursing student in one of the most demanding academic programs at BYU. Few would have guessed that by nightfall, Smith’s smiling face would be covered in the blood, sweat, and tears of one of BYU’s most aggressive contact sports.

Smith has been a member of the BYU Women’s Rugby team ever since her very first semester at BYU; a journey that transformed her from an inexperienced benchwarmer to veteran starter in a National Title game. Now a capstone student in the nursing program, Smith has had to take a step away from the rugby pitch to focus on her clinicals. However, she says that the lessons she learned from rugby have helped her become a better nurse.

Smith first joined the BYU Women’s Rugby team as a freshman — long before she submitted her application to the nursing program. Although she had never played rugby before, Smith quickly fell in love with the sport.

“Rugby is a very physical game, but it’s also a very mental game. There are days in practice where you can get really beat up and you’ll ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” You just got beat up for two hours and now you have to go home and do homework for the next three hours! But I really wanted to become better and be the best; whether it was perfecting my pass or perfecting my tackling form. And it was totally worth it!”


Ali Smith sprints for a try. A try is the rugby equivalent of a touchdown in football.

Starting in late September and going through the month of May, the BYU Women’s Rugby team practices for 2+ hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is in addition to strength and conditioning sessions (every Tuesday and Thursday) and games on Saturdays. Despite this huge time commitment, Smith says it wasn’t uncommon for her to stay late after practice to work on passing or kicking with her teammates.

“I love the team dynamic of rugby,” Smith shares. “It’s such a neat experience when you’re able to get into a groove with the people you’re playing with; making good passes and making plays happen. You just get the sense that you’re part of something that’s bigger than you.”

After several semesters on the rugby team, Smith decided to expand her horizons even further. She applied, and was accepted, to the BYU College of Nursing. Suddenly Smith’s already busy schedule became much more demanding.


Ali Smith with her Nursing peers at the Intermountain Healthcare Complex

“It never felt like I was ‘done’,” Smith explains. “I was constantly doing something. If I wasn’t studying for a test, I was thinking about a play I could use on the field. If I wasn’t in class or doing homework, I was on a run or on the pitch.”

But having a crazy schedule did have its benefits. Between strength training, midterms, practices, and clinicals, Smith says she developed excellent time management skills.

“When I was in class, I was focused on that class. When I was in rugby, I was focused on playing rugby. I didn’t have extra time in my day to practice rugby or give to my classes, so I needed to make every moment count. Most days I didn’t have 5 hours to study for a test; I only had 2-3 hours before I had to go to practice. But for me, that extra focus was a huge blessing because it helped me get everything done and be more productive. It helped me develop self-discipline; I couldn’t just put off my homework till later because I knew I wouldn’t have that time.”


Once Smith entered the nursing program, she noticed that many of the principles she learned on the rugby pitch could also help her on the hospital floor.

“On the rugby team, I learned to be very encouraging and complimentary towards my teammates; especially when they performed well. They need to know that I’m there for them.”

“Sometimes you are in a game where the player who plays your position on the opposing team is really, really good, and you’re just having an off day,” Smith explains. “But because you have a team, they can help make up for what you’re lacking. I’ve seen that a lot in the hospital. There have been days where things have gotten really crazy and you think “There’s no way I can get to both of these patients at the same time” and just then another nurse will offer to help get meds for your patient. That really makes a huge difference. When you’re on a team, sometimes you can only do so much, but because you have that team dynamic things can still run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”


Ali Smith and her teammates, prior to a BYU Women’s Rugby match

This team dynamic is part of what makes the BYU Women’s Rugby team one of the top programs in the nation. The team has only lost three home games in ten years of collegiate competition. Last May, they won a tough semi-final match to earn a place in the National Championship Title game against the 10-time defending champions.

“I felt a lot of pressure walking onto the pitch of that national championship game,” Smith reflects. “I never thought that I would get there or be that good. But our team performed really well. And even though we didn’t win the match, it was still a whirlwind of an experience. To play in that game and represent BYU in that national title game was such an honor.”


The BYU Women’s Rugby team after the 2016 National Championship match. BYU placed second in the tournament, after suffering a narrow loss to Penn State, 15-5.

Even though Smith may not have another chance to represent BYU on the rugby pitch, she says she’s extremely grateful for the experience and how it’s impacted her future nursing career.

“In a hospital, sometimes people are in critical condition counting under you to perform in really stressful, high-pressure situations. So just like how in rugby you train so we can play in those high-level games; in nursing we learn and gain skills and become good at what we do so that in that moment when someone needs you, you’re ready for it and you’re able to perform under pressure. I think that having experienced that on the rugby pitch, I’m better prepared to handle whatever stressful situation I may encounter as a nurse.”