Category Archives: wellness

Student Spotlight: Jenna Lewis

By Corbin Smith

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Photo courtesy of Lewis

As we all know, nursing takes on many faces. Nursing is special because careers can range from a variety of fields. The BYU College of Nursing values all extracurricular activities and organizations and encourages students to participate in those opportunities so that students can be exposed to a wide collection of these fields. This past summer, 4th semester student Jenna Lewis found herself involved with a relatively unknown organization among students called Camp Kesem.

Camp Kesem is an annual summer camp, driven by college students, to support youth whose parents currently deal with or have dealt with cancer. Camp Kesem had its beginnings in 2001 at Stanford University and has since expanded to over 100 chapters across the US, including one here in Utah Valley! Understanding the financial burdens taken by families whose parents are cancer patients, Camp Kesem and its volunteers fundraise year-round so camp can be free for the families each year.

During camp, the children participate in an array of activities and games, completely led by college students. The student volunteers, including Lewis, are assigned a specific age group of children, whom they assist both physically and emotionally during the week. All is done with the purpose of helping the children forget the hardships going on in their families through the companionship and empathy of the volunteers.

How Kesem Found Her

Lewis’ life-changing journey to Kesem started last year on an ordinary Wednesday night. Her roommate had been attending weekly meetings for a camp that Lewis had never heard of. That day, her roommate invited her to go with her to a meeting. Lewis reluctantly accepted her invitation to go, not ready to commit to camp because she knew how time consuming it would be.

When she arrived, the meeting was nothing like she expected it to be. “When I got there we talked about service and love, played games and sang camp songs and watched a powerful video. That is when I knew this was a special place,” says Lewis. That night, Camp Kesem found its way into her heart.

Camp!

After months of preparation and fundraising, camp finally arrived. The week’s activities included swimming, a water fight with over a thousand water balloons and even a camp-wide paint war!

Nevertheless, Lewis says the best part of camp was getting to know the campers. “They just change you,” says Lewis, “They soften your heart. They teach you about empathy and loving people unconditionally.” Their influence and example changed her perspective on nursing as well as her heart.

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She had one experience that epitomized the change she felt at Camp Kesem. One afternoon of camp a group of 6 and 7 year-old campers were running around, jumping from bench to bench trying to avoid touching the ground. One little boy slipped, fell down and scraped his knee. At the sight of a tear, without hesitation, Lewis jumped up and quickly calmed him down with a small bandage and pep talk. From that moment on, Lewis had created a strong friendship with this young camper, constantly being showered with hugs and smiles the rest of the week. “That experience helped me realize that when you are willing to help people in the way they need to be helped, they’ll open their hearts and you will see what they need.”

This lesson has continued to help Lewis as she continues in school and in her clinical rotations at the Huntsman Cancer Center. Camp Kesem helped her see first-hand the effect cancer has on families. That knowledge has helped her as she tries to serve patients in her clinicals. Her experience with Kesem gives her a perspective few of her peers possess. “Kesem has helped me understand a tiny part of their needs and worries,” says Lewis, “I even talk to some patients about Camp Kesem for their kids and it brings light to their eyes.”

Why Kesem?

Kesem’s ultimate purpose is to bring joy into the lives of the campers, but, in the end, it changes the lives of all those involved. Explaining why Kesem changed her life so dramatically she explains, “At Kesem you learn the value of being vulnerable and allowing others to be vulnerable with you. You learn to care about people other than yourself, and it’s contagious! It is incredible to go into a group of relative strangers and be loved selflessly.”

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Photo courtesy of Lewis

It is a unique opportunity to participate in a camp such as Camp Kesem. For Lewis, not only did it change her life as an individual, but it also transformed the way she thinks of nursing and how it can be applied. Without a doubt, Lewis returned from Kesem inspired and prepared for her next step in school and in life. “Until next summer,” she exclaims!

Dr. Katreena Merrill: Using Edmunds Fellowship to Combat Superbugs

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Untreatable bacteria are on the rise and the cause? Overusing antibiotics. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

By Quincey Taylor

Every year, a member of the BYU College of Nursing faculty is awarded the Mary Ellen Edmunds “Learning the Healer’s art” Fellowship. The awardee receives funding for three years to put towards their research in progressing the Healer’s art. Receiving this fellowship is a great honor, and this year’s honoree is associate dean and associate professor Dr. Katreena Merrill.

Merrill’s current research, which emphasizes quality and improvement in patient safety, revolves around the education of nurses about the appropriate use of antibiotics. In America’s current healthcare system, antibiotics are extremely overused. Everything from a cold, a sore throat, or a virus is usually treated with a dosage of antibiotics.

However, overprescribing this useful tool in treating sickness has resulted in the development of resistant bacteria. These “superbugs” do not respond to the antibiotics that were successfully used in the past. Essentially, there is no treatment strong enough to be effective against them. In fact, reducing superbugs’ resistance to antibiotics is one of the primary focuses of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, each year in the U.S. at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die.

The ultimate goal of Merrill’s research is to improve the knowledge and attitude of student nurses towards “antibiotic stewardship.” This term implies that nurses have a responsibility to control the usage of antibiotics and even withhold them when necessary. This way, nurses can be the first line of defense against superbugs.

Merrill has worked with Intermountain Medical Center to research what nurses know about antibiotics and their role in healthcare. In their research, they identified some gaps in nurses’ knowledge, including students’ knowledge as they prepare to go into a workplace where antibiotic resistance is an issue.

To curb this lack of knowledge, Merrill is using her Edmunds fund to collaborate with students and develop education modules for nursing students. Preparing these nurses for the hospital or clinic setting will assure them how to proceed in certain situations and combat superbugs.

For example, Merrill hopes to implement training to help nurses dig deeper and not rule out less extreme drugs like penicillin when a patient says they are allergic to it. By asking questions like ‘When did you last have penicillin?’ or ‘What happened to you when you took it?’ or ‘Have you tried penicillin since then?,’ nurses can avoid using harsher antibiotics more often.

Merrill has really enjoyed using implementation science to truly see if nurses’ knowledge has been improved in this area and progressing the Healer’s art.

She comments, “For me, quality improvement and patient safety really align itself to the Healer’s art, because the Savior was an exemplar of how you could always be better or do better. When he talked about the widow’s mite, he said that she was doing a great job giving her one little portion. He’s not saying that the other people giving more money were doing bad, but rather it is one example saying that we can do better. Even though I’ve been a nurse for a very long time, I can always do better, right? To me, that’s what the Healer’s art is about in nursing, not only being compassionate but doing the best we can with the evidence that we have and continuing to grow and learn and become.”

 

Thanks, SNA For Another Great Year!

By Jessica Tanner

What do J-Dawgs, College of Nurses’ students, and a dunk-tank all have in common? All were at yesterday’s closing social for the Student Nursing Association. The society is student-run and works to coordinate events and help students become more involved in the community.

At the closing social, students were able to enjoy the crisp but sunny spring weather, eat food, chat, and dunk their favorite teacher or staff member. Assistant Teaching Professor Scott Summers was a particularly popular target as students got him back (in good humor) for a tough semester in his Pharmacology class.

SNA knows how to have fun. Izzy Algeier, SNA’s newly nominated president says that SNA strives to “provide different activities so that they can de-stress and be able to have fun, make relationships, and ultimately to become more unified as a college.”  They also know when to be professional. “Our vision is to help students…have professional opportunities while they’re in the nursing program,” says Algeier.

“It’s been awesome,” says Kami Christiansen, an SNA board member. “I got to go to the National Student Nursing Association conference. That was way fun.” At NSNA, students represented BYU and its values. “I’m grateful for it,” says Christiansen as she looks forward to future involvement.

The evening also included the announcements of the recipients of the SNA Scholarship. Congratulations to Jessica Daynes, Camille Johnson, Megan Western, Christina Hobson, and Katy Harrison. These students showed excellence in participating in several professional and service-oriented SNA events.

Thanks to all SNA members who have made these opportunities and events possible. We look forward to another year!

 

The Anatomy and Chemistry Survival Guide

By Jessica Tanner

Finals are almost here. Fortunately, so is Emerie McQuiston, a second-semester student working as a first-year student mentor. While she focuses on mentoring pre-nursing students, especially as they balance Chemistry 285 and Human Anatomy homework, the strategies she gives are universal. So, whether you need some study tips for finals or are looking to do the prerequisites in the coming semesters, this study guide can help you not only survive but thrive in your classes. It may even help you form lasting friendships.

McQuiston had a lot of insight, but she knew that her methods wouldn’t work for everyone. She reached out to friends and classmates to come up with a study guide for her students. “It [is] beneficial to have people that are similar to them but also a ton of different opinions because everyone learns a little bit differently.” Here is what McQuiston and her peers recommend:

Anatomy and Chemistry Survival Guide

I asked some of my classmates what they thought helped them most in Human Anatomy and Chem 285. These classes can be tough, and I thought that it would be beneficial for some to have multiple opinions on how to succeed. I hope you can find something on this list that helps you. You are going to do great this semester!

Chemistry:

  • (Savage) After class each day, go through your notes and do as much as you can on the problem set. Doing it as you go helps so it’s not as much work at the end, and also gives you the opportunity to ask for help if you need it.
  • Block out at least one TA reviews in your schedule. Treat it like another class and try not to miss.
  • Form a study group and try to meet at least once a week.
  • For study groups, try to find a regular time during the week to hold your meetings. Setting a regular time allows you to be more prepared to contribute and/or come up with questions beforehand.
  • Find study groups that you can also be friends with. That way, studying is fun while being productive, rather than just stress.
  • There is a walk-in tutorial lab in W151 BNSN. They are open most of the day and there are always TAs to help with homework or studying. Some suggested just doing homework in the lab so you can ask questions as they come up.
  • Reach out to your TAs! They are very well qualified to help you. They can bridge the gap between your professor and you.
  • Notice how the material is applying in your life. The more you think about it, the more it will stick.

Anatomy:

  • Teach everyone you can about what you learn: your roommates, your mom, everyone! Repetition is key.
  • Regularly schedule time in the lab. Block out your schedule at some point each week.
  • Find good study groups as soon as possible.
  • Repeat from above but…Find study groups that you can also be friends with. That way, studying is fun while being productive, rather than just stress.
  • Focus your study on the learning objectives for lecture.
  • For the terms, breaking them down and understand all parts makes them easier to remember.
  • Look up pictures online of different body parts you are studying so you can get used to seeing a variety of bodies.
  • Go to open lab and study with different students. Finding out how other people study and remember things can be very beneficial.
  • When it comes to the final, go through the body head to toe, making sure you know everything.
  • Go to at least one weekly review each week.

Of course, don’t feel like you have to do all of things to do well in these classes! Find something that works well for you and stick with it.

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McQuiston enjoys being a student mentor. “I love it! I love helping pre-nursing students especially…I feel like it really does make a difference for them,” she says. “I wish that I had someone close to me that I could ask questions [to] about the program before I got in.” She has decided to pay it forward and help others.

One of the best rewards has been the friendships she has made both from student mentoring and her study groups. “I have even connected some of my students together because they are all pre-nursing,” she explains. “And I have students that have formed friendships through that.” Yes, studying hard is important, but why not make friends at the same time? By following McQuiston’s survival guide, you won’t just pass your classes, you will look back on rewarding experiences and life-long friendships.

Good luck with finals everyone!

 

 

Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Eide

By Jessica Tanner

Elizabeth Eide stood in an emergency room. Doctors and nurses rushed in and out, performing tests. Eide assisted them as the patient’s condition worsened. It would become one of Eide’s most profound experiences in the nursing program. Not just because it was challenging, but also because it solidified her love for nursing.

Eide is a sixth-semester nursing student focusing her studies in the ER and ICU. Surprisingly, she came close to not applying for the program. Her first fascination for medicine came from an anatomy class in high school. When she came to college, she knew she wanted something service-oriented. “I really needed that human interaction component,” she explains. But watching friends and peers struggle through prerequisites of the nursing program intimidated her. She tried for teaching, but it was not long before something called her back to medicine.

That something was Grey’s Anatomy. Although now Eide recognizes the popular television show is unrealistic, watching it re-sparked that interest from high school. She says, “I just remembered how much I loved the body, how much it fascinated me, and how emergency medicine was just exciting.” She was determined to give it a shot. Since becoming a nursing student, Eide has not looked back.

That led her to days like the one at the ER. Eide stayed with the patient as their status deteriorated. “I pretty much watched their entire decline,” Eide remembers. But the nursing program is not just about observation. It is hands-on. Eide was glad to help with critical yet simple tasks such as pouring sterile water onto a tray so the doctor could insert a catheter. The patient was taken to the trauma bay and then to the ICU to receive proper care.

It is essential to be there with a patient, but it is equally important to help those that are there for them. Eide took the time to help the patient’s family member. “It was a very scary situation for them,” Eide recalls. “I had the chance to just sit there with them and explain what was going on and ask what they needed.  And that is such a crucial and sacred part of nursing.”

Nurses spend the most time with the patient and their loved ones. “We meet complete strangers on their worst days ever, their most vulnerable times,” Eide says. “That’s really a sacred privilege because you have the opportunity to teach them, and to comfort them, and to educate them, and to be there for them.”

When not focusing on nursing, Eide balances her life with fun, rest, and enjoying unique college experiences. “I’ve made it a point throughout my nursing career to make sure I take care of myself and remember that nursing is not my whole life,” she says. She enjoys dancing, hiking, and watching movies. She also has a hidden talent: impersonations. Top picks include Brittany Spears, Shakira, Sarah Palin, and Kermit the Frog.

Though she admits it is surreal to be graduating, Eide is looking forward to the next step in her life. “BYU’s nursing program is really good and they prepare you really well…we have over 200 clinical hours in our capstone so we get a lot of hands-on experience,” she explains. It is an intimidating change but Eide believes in God’s help. “I feel like this is my calling so I have no doubt that in the time that I need it, I’ll be blessed.” With that confidence, Eide turns to the next chapter of her life.

Celebrate National Happiness Happens Week

By Mindy Longhurst

balloons-birthday-bright-796606There are so many different ways to celebrate National Happiness Happens Week! Below are some ideas of how you can celebrate.

Serve someone and pass happiness on

Serving others helps both parties to feel happy. The person serving feels good that they are helping someone, while the person being served feels loved and appreciated. Some of the best feelings of happiness come from helping others and when being helped. You can brighten someone’s day and make someone feel happy by serving.

Celebrate your happiness

Recognize moments when you feel happy. As you do this, you will be able to celebrate when you feel happy.

Make your favorite meal for dinner

This brings excitement and happiness into your day.

Encourage others to be happy

You can encourage others around you to do little things each day to be happy. If you need some ideas, read our article about happiness tips https://byunursing.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/increase-happiness/.

Think positively

Thinking positively is great for the body and mind. When you have a positive thought, it just feels good. Celebrate this happy week by rewarding yourself for every positive thought you have.

Exercise

Exercising helps to increase the endorphins (happy hormone) in your body. Exercising will make you feel super good while feeling accomplished. These feelings last and help you throughout your day.

Go to bed early

Celebrate by going to bed early. Getting a good night’s rest will help you to wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed and re-energized. As you do this, your happiness will continue throughout the day.

Increase Happiness

By Mindy Longhurst

bench-color-cute-160731This week is National Happiness Happens Week. Below are some ways to increase happiness.

Breathe

Taking a few minutes to focus on deep breathing helps the body in many different ways. Deep breaths helps the body and mind to relax. This calmness helps you to be able to be less stressed, which helps you to be happier.

Think positively

Not only is positive thinking good for your health, it is also very good for your mental health. Thinking positively can reduce the amount of stress you have and can reduce the likelihood of depression.

Keep a gratitude journal

Writing in a gratitude journal every night helps to end your day thinking positively. A gratitude journal is a good reminder of the blessings that are in your life.

Serve someone

Serving someone usually makes people happy. Getting out and serving others reminds you of the blessings that are in your life.

Smile even when you do not want to

There are health benefits from smiling. Even when you are unhappy and you force yourself to smile there are endorphins that are released that help you to feel happier. So remember to keep smiling.

Be well rested

Getting a good night’s sleep helps you to feel good and be less irritable. Getting a good night’s rest helps your body to feel overall healthier.

Exercise

Exercise is another way for endorphins to be released in your body. Exercise also helps to improve your physical appearance making you feel good.