Tag Archives: BYU College of Nursing

From Tourette’s to Nursing School

By Calvin Petersen

Jared Lorimier understands first-hand what suffering from a medical disorder is like. He developed the motor and vocal tics of Tourette’s Syndrome when he was eight years old.

“I was really confused about why I had Tourette’s and it caused me a lot of grief and pain,” says Jared, a native of Nederland, Texas. Much of that grief came from elementary classmates, who teased Jared about his disorder.

Jared eventually learned how to control his Tourette’s, which ultimately inspired his decision to become a nurse. “I know there are people out there that are confused about why they have certain diseases and confused about why their health isn’t the best. I just want to be there to comfort people with things like that.” His compassion and ability to overcome difficulty makes Jared a perfect fit for BYU’s nursing program.

Jared Lorimier Profile

While Jared is open to what the future brings, he currently hopes to work in a NICU. He believes that it “would be rewarding work and a really spiritual experience.”

Up for the Challenge

Although Jared always knew he wanted to be in the medical field, he decided to become a nurse only recently. “When I think of nursing, I think of the challenges that the nurses are faced with and I’ve always liked challenges,” says Jared. One of his biggest challenges is his demanding weekly schedule.

Not only is Jared taking rigorous first-semester nursing courses, but he is also on the BYU track team, which takes up nearly 20 hours of his week in practices alone. Furthermore, Jared is a counselor in his YSA ward bishopric. Even with all this, he still manages to find time to watch ‘The 100’ and ‘Stranger Things’ with his wife.

On top of handling a heavy schedule, learning the basics of medical attention will be an added challenge. While such challenges would make some apprehensive, Jared only smiles in anticipation with confidence that he can do it all.

Jared Lorimier 2

A Pair of Nurses

Jared is one of just four males admitted to BYU’s College of Nursing program this semester. “When I first decided that I wanted to apply to nursing school, of course I thought of the stereotype of being a male nurse, but honestly it didn’t deter me. I think it’s important, especially with the growing need of nurses, for males to break that stereotype.”

Moreover, of the four first-semester male students, Jared is the only one who is married. His wife, Madeline, is thrilled at his decision to become a nurse because she’s going to school to become one herself. “We’re both super excited to learn from each other,” says Jared.

Even though Madeline was preparing to become a nurse before Jared, things worked out so that they could start their studies at the same time, with Madeline at Utah Valley University and Jared at BYU. “Now that I’m here, I want to make sure I get everything I can out of this program,” concludes Jared. If he demonstrates the same level of determination and empathy he has so far, there’s no doubt that he will.


The Girl Who Loves Getting Sick

By Calvin Petersen

There’s a reason people say things like, “I’m going to avoid it like the plague!” Most people are worried, even terrified, of becoming sick. Most. Not Erin Ward. A student in her first semester of BYU’s nursing program, Erin actually looks forward to getting sick.

Erin told her classmates that getting strep throat was the best thing that happened over Christmas break at her home in Virginia Beach. “Everyone looked at me like I was really weird,” says Erin. “I love, love getting sick. And this is terrible, but I do, I love getting sick.”

To her, getting sick is the perfect excuse for Erin’s mom to make chicken noodle soup, bring her warm blankets and allow her a day of uninterrupted sleep. “I think it’s a really nice feeling. Everybody wants somebody to take care of them once in a while.” Understanding what it means to receive devoted care is just one reason why Erin feels at home in BYU’s College of Nursing.

Erin West Stethoscope.jpg

A 9th Grade Prophecy

Erin’s 9th grade chemistry teacher was the first to tell her that he thought she’d make a great nurse.  “That’s so sexist! You’re saying that because I’m a girl,” thought Erin, “I’m going to become a chemical engineer.” However, several chemistry classes later, she realized chemistry just wasn’t for her. Erin instead fell in love with volunteering at local hospitals where caring for patients took on a more spiritual aspect.

“I just really wanted to do what the Savior would be doing. And I thought ‘If the Savior could be anywhere, He would be administering unto the sick.’ So I started volunteering at hospitals. I was fourteen and then I kept going all the way through senior year in high school.” She became a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and worked at the hospital every summer, providing basic care to patients.

An Angel in the Cardiac Unit

During one of her volunteer shifts at the hospital, Erin took ice chips to a bed-bound woman in the cardiac unit. She stayed after her ice delivery to give the woman some company. At one point in their conversation, the woman smiled warmly at Erin and said reverently, “I see the light of Christ all around you. You glow like you are an angel.” Erin was moved by her words and was surprised to find out that the woman wasn’t LDS.

“That was an amazing experience,” says Erin. “That was probably the first time I realized that the little things really can make a difference. I just brought her ice chips and talked to her, which made an impression on her, and more importantly, made an impression on me.”

Erin West Portrait

Not only does Erin love getting sick, but she also loves the hospital. “People have terrible memories in the hospital and that makes me so sad because for me everything about the hospital is super positive. I even like the smell,” she says. Nursing is evidently the perfect career for her.

A Committed Nurse in Training

Even though Erin was offered a four-year, full-tuition scholarship and entrance to the honors nursing program as a freshman at the University of Utah, she decided to study nursing at BYU. Beginning the rigorous first semester of the program also meant she had to give up taking band class. “In high school, I was third in the state for French horn,” Erin recalls.

Additionally, she stepped down from her student government position for on-campus housing. And although she won’t have time for an American Sign Language (ASL) class either, Erin hopes to use her six years of experience signing on her upcoming LDS mission. To Erin, becoming a nurse means becoming more like the Savior, and that makes any sacrifice worth it.

“The Savior, ministers to the one and nursing is completely ministering to the one. I mean, taking time to bring water to someone or talking to somebody when you’re really busy, that’s ministering to the one. That’s why nurses do what they do, because of those little interactions. I think those little ‘You are an angel’ moments are what keep us going. I think that’s probably what would make the Savior very happy.”

Be a Voice for Patient Safety

The problem is becoming more and more serious. In 1999 Americans learned from the study, To Error is Human by the Institute of Medicine that 98,000 patients die every year from preventable errors in hospitals. In 2013, a study in the Journal of Patient Safety found an increasing number between 210,000 and 440,000 patients are dying from preventable errors each year in hospitals.

This striking statistic is causing many to acUnited Safetyt. Each year, to help health care organizations increase safety, The National Safety Patient Foundation promotes an annual education and awareness week campaign. Patient Safety Awareness Week educates healthcare staff and patients about the importance of preventing errors within hospitals.

As a nurse it is important to start early, practicing good safety habits to keep patients safe and healthy. Patient safety research shows that most errors occur during change-of-shift report.  As a result, a standardized change-of-shift report was created to reduce nurse to nurse communication errors. The following is done:

    1. Require two nurse signatures
    2. Adhere evaluations

These two simple tasks can prevent many complications and can help patients get the correct care they need. For nurses it is important to increase communication during these pivotal moments of  in between care and shift changing.

As a patient it is also important to talk to your healthcare professional to make sure you understand your own care.  Make sure your nurse or hospital staff explain to you any medication, treatments or procedures. Ask the following :

  1. Name of your medication
  2. Purpose of your medication
  3. Time for your medication to be taken
  4. How to take your medication
  5. Side effects of the medication

If you feel your nurse or hospital staff have not answered these questions ask them to do so.

Together, patients and healthcare professionals can eliminate the problem of unsafe healthcare. As everyone works together with better communication, everyone can prevent errors in hospitals every day, and not just during Patient Safety Awareness Week.

The new way to SNA

The delegate for the BYU College of Nursing has typically been pretty lonely at the annual National Student Nurse’s Association (NSNA) convention, but thanks to some creative thinking by the college SNA board, that’s about to change.

Instead of paying semester dues for SNA, students can now buy a package deal that includes two years membership to SNA, USNA [Utah] and NSNA. As new students buy the package, the college’s NSNA membership and voting power will increase.

“The main reason we made the change was to increase our voice at the national convention,” says Jim Kohl, an associate teaching professor and the SNA faculty advisor. “For however many students are registered with the NSNA, we get a vote at the national convention. It helps us with more votes so we can influence policy change.”

The new wave of students coming in has already increased the College of Nursing’s membership from 10 to around 50. With all the new members, the college will get around two or three delegates at the next conference. As membership grows, more delegates will be able to make the College of Nursing’s voice heard at the NSNA conferences.

“Taking the principles that we stand for as members of the LDS church to the national conference will make a huge impact,” says Chalese Adams, SNA president. “We’ll be able to help people gain a different perspective on nursing when they’re voting on policies. Advocating for the healer’s art at the national level is something no other school besides BYU can do.”

Chalese Adams explains the benefits of SNA and NSNA to College of Nursing students. Students can sign up with SNA members or at SNA events.

Chalese Adams explains the benefits of SNA and NSNA to College of Nursing students. Students can sign up with SNA board members or at SNA events.

In addition to SNA, USNA and NSNA membership, students who buy the $200 package will also get their BLS certification.

“Students would already be paying more than $100 for their BLS certification alone,” Kohl says. “With the package they get that and membership in SNA, USNA and NSNA.”

David Adams, SNA first vice president, recently got into George Washington University’s graduate program, his number one choice. He feels that his SNA and NSNA membership were a major contribution to him getting in.

“Graduate schools eat that stuff up, so do people who are looking to hire recent graduates,” he says. “They love seeing that you’re willing to do something outside of yourself and not just focus 100 percent on school. They want people who can multi-task and they can see that when SNA and NSNA are on your resume.”

The SNA board members hope that through SNA, USNA and NSNA membership, no student will reach their senior year and realize they have nothing that sets them apart from other recent graduates.

“With nursing you could get a job out there pretty easily,” Kohl says. “But if you want THE job, your prime job, having leadership roles in school are going to make you stand out far above other people.”

Students interested in signing up for the package deal can talk to Chalese or any of the other faculty involved with SNA. They will also have the opportunity to sign up at any SNA activity, including this weeks’s SNA Twister activity on Saturday, January 30 at 10am in the WILK west ballroom.

By Nate Brown—BYU College of Nursing public relations assistant

An upgrade in delivery

Not many mothers have given birth 21 times in four months. However, Lucina, BYU College of Nursing’s newest birthing manikin has been laboring since she arrived. From the sound of her voice to the touch of her skin, Lucina delivers the most life-like delivery experience for the College of Nursing students.

The manikin is one of the latest, high-fidelity birth simulation models from CAE Fidelis and will greatly elevate the caliber of education and hands-on practice for students now and in the future of the program.

With 10 pre-configured birthing scenarios, Lucina can give birth in multiple birthing positions, has two abdomens (one for use without a baby), realistic breathing with two separate heart beats—one for her and the baby, as well as flexible limbs and joints.

“I’m really excited about Lucina,” says Laura Thorpe a registered nurse and college lab instructor. “She is more high-tech and much more true-to-life. Her legs are more realistic; they bend at the knees, and they can fit in the stirrups of the bed—even the feel of her skin is more real.”

All fourth-semester nursing students enroll in a simulation lab to practice caring for women and experience child labor and delivery.  Students experience three types of simulations including childbirth, post-partum hemorrhage and pregnancy-induced hypertension and seizures. IMG_4629

Shelly Reed, associate teaching professor along with other nursing professors, are expanding Lucina’s use in the nursing curriculum. Beginning next fall, the college will have a simulation lab at a set time for students to practice with the manikin. The goal is to help students understand their role of being a nurse during a delivery, learn how to care for a post-partum hemorrhage, the leading cause of death worldwide to childbearing women, and care for pregnancy-induced hypertension, the second leading cause of death in childbearing women.

“[The lab] allows them to take the active role of the nurse,” says Reed. “They get the full experience like in a hospital. It helps reinforce what they are learning in class.”

The old manikin, Noelle, had many problems as she didn’t always work. There was trouble placing her legs to the side in the stirrups of the bed, and she couldn’t hemorrhage. The nurses would have to simulate post delivery bleeding by wearing special scrubs with a blood reservoir placed inside to get the bleeding right.

“With Noelle, there were a lot of little problems,” says Thorpe. “Sometimes she worked great and on some occasions, she didn’t.”

Stacie Hunsaker, assistant teaching professor who oversees the labs and lab instructors, shared how much more she was able to experience with Lucina being in the college.

“I have been a nurse for 27 years, but have never worked on a labor and delivery unit,” Hunsaker says. “Until Lucina came, I have never had the opportunity to check for cervical dilation in the progression of labor. I’m excited about [Lucina] and the more in-depth training our students will receive.”

By Brooke Tait—BYU College of Nursing public relations assistant

New nursing students take the cake at orientation night

Excitement fills the room as 62 of the newest nursing students start off the winter semester at the orientation banquet, Wednesday, January 6. The average 32% acceptance rate into the College of Nursing shows the talent of the newly accepted 60 women and 2 men in the program. An average 3.86 GPA, countless hours of service and letters of recommendation set apart these high achieving nursing students into a new life and career.

The event consisted of introducing the faculty, vision, mission and values of the program, and sharing of a broad overview of labs, clinical work, portfolio and capstone projects.  The mission of the program is to help students learn the Healer’s art and develop caring professional nurses.

“The beauty of nursing is it is both a science and an art” says Dr. Kent Blad, associate dean of undergraduate studies for the College of Nursing.

The vision of the nursing program is to help students gain more than just a degree. The faculty expressed their passion and purpose to help students promote health and care for the suffering. Like the ultimate healer, Jesus Christ, inviting the spirit into health and healing is the program’s biggest inspiration.


Angela Nikerl (left) meets fellow nursing students at orientation dinner. Photo credit: Brooke Tait

“I love the feeling here,” says Angela Nikerl from Spokane, Wash. “Being a transfer student, I find myself tearing up every time there is an opening prayer said in class.”

As a mother of five kids, Nikerl says that is one of the reasons she loves being a nurse.

“The most profound thing you will do is invite the spirit into your profession,” says Dr. Mary Williams, associate dean of graduate studies of the College of Nursing. “We are here to help you educate your heart, mind and hands; all those parts of you must be excellent. You have a responsibility to make nursing better.”

Megan Blazzard, a sophomore from Boise, Idaho says, “Tonight I took away how incredible it is that [nursing] is a Healer’s art. Every day we are touching someone’s life and truly being like the Savior in our work.”


Megan Blazzard (third from left) dishes up dinner with her classmates at orientation dinner. Photo credit: Brooke Tait

Inspired by her aunt who is also a nurse, Blazzard decided to study nursing. “I’ve always looked up to her,” she says,“ I want to be that nurse that is always happy and is a friend to the patients—someone they can trust and have confidence in.”

One of the two men in the program, Doug Harvey, a 21-year old from Brighton, Mich. says, “I love science, the human body and helping people, this is something with all those intersected,” he says. “What I am most excited for in the program is to learn, and with every class I take I love it more and more.”

“We are so glad you are here,” Dr. Patricia Ravert, Dean of the College, says in her closing remarks. She spoke of her confidence in the new students. “We expect a lot from you and want you to be successful. Nursing is something you can do so much with if you keep working at it.”

It will be exciting to see where the program will take these students in their future semesters here at BYU and in the nursing profession.

By Brooke Tait—BYU College of Nursing public relations assistant

Rugby players make great nurses

Jennie runs the ball with Jessica close behind. Women’s Cougar Rugby played Washington Central in the final four tournament last year. Photo credit: Jennie Lewis

It’s not exactly typical for a nurse to go out and tackle someone, but three students in the BYU College of Nursing have gotten pretty good at it.

Ali Smith, Jessica Peterson and Jennie Lewis are all on the BYU women’s rugby team and studying to become nurses. These women tear down the stereotype of the brutal, blood-thirsty rugby player. Their voices are soft and gentle, faces smiling and ready to listen to whatever you have to say; everything you’d expect from a nurse.

“There’s kind of a juxtaposition between being a nurse and a rugby player,” says Smith, a third semester student from Washington. “I don’t think a lot of people who know me outside of rugby would picture me playing it. They think it’s too aggressive and mean, but really there’s a finesse about rugby that you wouldn’t guess is there.”

The women on the rugby team know how to play the game. Over the past decade Women’s Cougar Rugby has climbed to the top seat in Utah and has been consistently ranked as one of the best teams in the nation. Last season the team made it all the way to the national championships in Pittsburgh and is currently ranked third nationally. Because it’s a club sport, players have the responsibility of fundraising and scheduling for everything from games to transportation. They don’t seem to mind the extra investment.

“Playing on the team means more to me because I’m not being funded to do it; I’m paying out of my pocket to play,” says Lewis, an Arizona native also in her third semester. “My teammates and coaches make it worthwhile and you want to be as involved as possible. They all become your best friends.”

While juggling a busy sports schedule and nursing classes may not be easy, these athlete nurses have gained valuable perspective they feel will help them empathize with patients. “If a player comes in I know what they’re going through,” Smith says. “I know what it’s like to be on the sidelines and how hard it is to be hurt.”

Ali sprints forward. Players are constantly on the move in Rugby; the game only stops for injuries or penalties. Photo credit: Jennie Lewis

Peterson is a second semester student from Chicago and has had more experience with injuries than any athlete would ever want to. She is currently three months through the nine month recovery process for a torn ACL and has had multiple other sicknesses and injuries that have put her in the hospital.

“Going through the injury process for myself, I can see what makes a good doctor or a good nurse,” she says. “Now that I’m learning about it in the program I can see what I like and what I don’t. It’s given me a different view of how I want to be when I’m a nurse.”

These athletes also get to use their nursing skills on the field. Peterson remembers doing tackling drills with new teammates one practice. One girl went in to tackle, positioned her head wrong and ended up smashing another player’s nose. Broken noses bleed a lot, but the students (along with some student athletic trainers) knew what to do.

“We aren’t sponsored so we don’t really have our own trainers at practices to take care of injured players,” Peterson says. “It was so cool how immediately all of us knew what to do. We got up, grabbed the Medikit, helped her off the field and got her situated. It was neat to see how all of us could work together to make sure she was taken care of.”


The Cougar Women’s Rugby team in April earlier this year. Ali and Jessica are on the back row and Jennie is in the front. Photo credit: Jennie Lewis

While some people might find rugby a vicious sport, these three athletes have learned about themselves and nursing by playing it. “I think what’s amazing about nursing is that it teaches you to emotionally be there for someone,” Lewis says. “I have friends who get hurt a lot and just being by their side and emotionally supporting them is something I’ve learned from the program. In a way it’s what the Savior would do.”

BYU Women’s Cougar Rugby is starting a new season and will have their first game against Air Force in Colorado Springs this Saturday. Their first home game will be October 17 at 11am. Go Cougs!

By Nate Brown—BYU College of Nursing public relations assistant