Tag Archives: pediatrics

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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Daphne Thomas Elected as ENA President in Utah

Daphne Thomas

Thomas is one of six BYU College of Nursing faculty members serving in Utah’s ENA council in 2019.

By Corbin Smith

This January, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas was elected president of the Utah chapter of the ENA. She is joined by BYU College of Nursing assistant teaching professors Stacie Hunsaker, Ryan Rasmussen, Scott Summers, Dr. Craig Nuttall and associate teaching professor Sondra Heaston in various responsibilities in the chapter. Thomas has already served as president-elect for a year and will serve as chapter president until the end of 2019.

ENA stands for emergency nurses association. It is an international organization with the goal to assure that top quality practices take place in emergency rooms through education. This is done by providing classes and certifications to help continue a nurse’s education and maintain competency. They offer many classes, including trauma and pediatric courses, both taught by Thomas.

When asked why she has decided to take on such an intense commitment Thomas says, “I’ve been an emergency room nurse for about 20 years and I just love making it better.” She continues, “I understand the importance of being an active advocate for these nurses… not only so that they have a better job satisfaction but also that we have better patient outcomes.”

Thomas is also quick to recognize that she needs her whole team to have a successful tenure as ENA president. “There are a lot of different roles and people making sure everything is running smoothly and is organized. There is a lot going on and it takes a whole team to be effective.”

As president of the ENA, Thomas hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on emergency nursing. She shares, “Nurses can make a difference in people’s lives. That is what nursing is really all about. Its very service oriented and we want it to stay that way.”

Student Spotlight: Kaycen Caldwell

By Jessica Tanner

Kaycen Caldwell never thought he would be a Driver’s Education instructor. A fifth-semester nursing student, Caldwell was introduced to the idea by a roommate who thought he would be good for the job. Caldwell was skeptical, but after trying it for himself he found it to be a decent job. “It’s actually pretty nice,” Caldwell admits. “It’s enjoyable. I like it.” He has now been teaching students to drive for two years.

Caldwell appreciates the job’s flexibility and independence. “[My boss] trusts that I’m there, that I’m teaching what I’m supposed to,” explains Caldwell, “and as long as they pass their tests he’s cool with whatever I do.” Caldwell has found crossovers between nursing and being a Driver’s Ed instructor. For one, working with people. Patients and students alike often require time, attention, and patience. Nurses also spend much of their time teaching and explaining.  “I’m teaching constantly at work, so it helps with that crossover to teaching patients.” Caldwell says.

When he first came to school, Caldwell was not considering nursing. “I wanted to be a doctor because I thought doctors were the ones who had a lot of patient interaction. I figured out that wasn’t the case; it is actually the nurses that do.” After some encouragement from his mother to consider nursing, Caldwell decided to take the prerequisites to see if he liked them. “I liked it a lot,” Caldwell reports. “So I decided to apply for the program. I got in and ever since it’s been something that I know I’m going to like and do well in.”

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Caldwell participates at “Nurseworking” speed luncheon

When Caldwell is not teaching Driver’s Ed or studying nursing, he is playing sports, running for a Lazy Ironman, or hanging out with friends. “Hobbies are kind of endless,” he says. He also taught himself to juggle and crochet and loves reading. “I always have a book I’m reading that’s not related to nursing,” he says.

Approaching his final semester, Caldwell plans his next step by looking back. His most memorable moments have been working in pediatrics and obstetrics and interacting with sick children and their families. Caldwell is grateful that he and his family have been fortunate not to be affected by similar hardships. “I think it was just sitting in those rooms, talking to the families and everything for me to realize that yeah, you’ve got it good.” These experiences has not just given him perspective but also motivation.  “I’m also grateful to be in a position where I can help people who are struggling with those very hard-to-deal-with things in their lives,” says Caldwell. After graduation in December, he hopes to work in the NICU and help those in need.