Tag Archives: Healer’s art

Melissa Heinonen: Applying the Healer’s Art

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By Corbin Smith

“I would learn the Healer’s art.”

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

Physically

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

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

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

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

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

Mentally

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

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

Spiritually

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

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

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

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

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Thank You, College of Nursing!

By Mindy Longhurst

Mindy Longhurst has worked as a Public Relations Assistant in the BYU College of Nursing since May 2018. She just completed her bachelor’s degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Family Studies.

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An image of Mindy Longhurst. Image courtesy of Andrew Holman.

I am alive today because nurses helped to save my life. My twin sister and I were born prematurely at 24 weeks. We both weighed a little over a pound and the doctors did not have good prognoses for our chances of living. We were born at a university medical center and were each assigned a nurse to watch us daily. Throughout the five months that we were in the NICU, our parents would visit us daily and the doctors and nurses became like family. They watched us struggle and eventually triumph, being able to leave the hospital without any major medical complications.

A love for nurses was instilled in me when I was very young. Growing up, my mom would always speak fondly of the nurses who helped us. My mom calls our nurses from the NICU every year on our birthday. She calls them to give them an update on our lives and to thank them for the countless hours that they spent taking care of us.

Since I have a love and appreciation for nurses, the opportunity to be an intern for the College of Nursing was a dream come true! I was thrilled to start to promote the great work that nurses do. I expected that the students, faculty and staff for the College of Nursing were going to be brilliant. I knew that they would have good hearts to want to help others. But, what I did not expect was the welcoming and joyous nature that everyone has in the College of Nursing. The students, faculty and staff are all wonderful people who made me feel a part of everything from the time that I was hired. This has meant so much to me!

I have loved getting to know the faculty and staff members better. It has been amazing to learn about their interests, hobbies and the research that they have conducted with students. I think it is amazing that undergraduate and graduate students are able to have the experiences of working with faculty to make a difference in healthcare.

Getting to know the nursing students has been fun! I love the opportunity to be able to meet new people and have met some of the nicest students on campus in the College of Nursing. I have enjoyed seeing them at conferences, in the hallway and have especially enjoyed getting to know them through the various articles I have written.

As I have seen the students, faculty and staff learn the Healer’s art, I have been able to have my testimony strengthened of the love that the Savior has for each of us. As I have tried to learn medical terms, I am reminded of how amazing God’s creations are. My internship has allowed my relationship with my Savior and my Heavenly Father to be strengthened.

I will always remember my internship experience with fondness. Thank you to all of the nursing alumni, students, staff, faculty and donors who have been so kind to me! Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I have felt while working here. Thank you College of Nursing for the opportunity to work here!

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.

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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.”

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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