Service to country is as much a part of the DNA of the Washington State University College of Nursing as service to patients.
The college faculty, for example, includes a former commander, four lieutenant colonels, two captains, and a major. Nurse scientists in the College of Nursing lead research that’s informing and sometimes changing military policy. Air National Guard personnel train in the college’s Simulation Lab. And the student body includes members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps and other military training programs. » More …
A decade of organizing sports physical clinics for Vancouver-area students made Melody Rasmor a “Real Hero” to Clark County leaders.
Rasmor is a family nurse practitioner and clinical assistant professor at the Washington State University College of Nursing Vancouver. She was recognized with the award at a recent ceremony hosted by the Learn Here Project, which showcases the education system in Southwest Washington. It’s part of an economic development initiative – Land Here, Live Here, Learn Here – created by a nonprofit business leaders group.
The clinics Rasmor founded are held annually, typically in the spring. They bring together graduate and undergraduate nursing students and preceptors to provide sports physicals to about 100 students in the Evergreen School District, she said.
Rasmor launched the initiative when she was teaching a graduate nursing course in physical assessment. Students “needed to practice on real live bodies,” she said.
School district officials were receptive because providing convenient and inexpensive sports physicals was another way to keep students in sports and keep them in school. The clinic asks a $20 donation for a physical, but no student is turned away if they can’t pay, Rasmor said. The money raised goes to the Renee Hoeksel Nursing Leadership Scholarship, so “it’s a win-win for the students, the University, and the Evergreen School District,” Rasmor said.
She said she’s been approached by a medical clinic in Vancouver to help out in the future, which will make the effort more sustainable. “That’s kind of cool,” Rasmor said.
Miranda Hennes precepts a WSU College of Nursing student just about every semester.
Hennes, a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner at Excelsior Youth Center in Spokane, said she remembers how challenging it was to get the required number of clinical hours when she was studying for her Master of Nursing degree from the WSU College of Nursing.
“I know what it’s like to be a student, and I enjoy teaching,” Hennes said. She graduated with her MN in 2014, and worked as a graduate teaching assistant and an adjunct instructor for the College of Nursing. She also received her RN-BSN degree from WSU.
Excelsior Youth Center offers residential care and education and outpatient services to young people with a variety of psychiatric and behavioral conditions. Hennes said she sees clients ages 5 and up for mental health medication management.
She loves the work, she said. “It fits my philosophy of providing care to people – helping them help themselves. If you can get to the root of some of their problems, which can be chronic misuse of substances or poor self-care, then you can fix many more problems than just these outside issues.”
The most challenging aspect of precepting a nursing student is time, Hennes said – making sure both her client and the nursing student get what they need in each encounter. But, she said, “I’m more than happy to do it.”
Julie Postma, associate professor at the WSU College of Nursing, will be honored with the Public Health Leadership Award by the Washington State Public Health Association at the organization’s annual meeting this month.
The award conferred by the statewide organization recognizes a person who’s demonstrated sustained leadership in public health advocacy, research, education, or equity and social justice.
Postma teaches population health courses in the WSU College of Nursing graduate program and serves as clinical faculty in the Puget Sound region for the college’s undergraduate program. Her research and expertise focus on environmental health, especially asthma.
“The impact of Dr. Postma’s work to reduce the burden of asthma through asthma management is truly impressive,” wrote Janet Primomo of the University of Washington Tacoma, one of two people who nominated Postma for the award.
Patricia Butterfield, associate dean of research at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, wrote of Postma, “She effectively works alongside parents who are new to this country and may not speak English, public health professionals, clinicians and asthma researchers.”
Among Postma’s many activities, she led a successful three-year community engagement project to increase parent participation in the Puget Sound Asthma Coalition. She convened both a parent advisory group and a research advisory network, and has served as chair of the asthma coalition’s research and evaluation subcommittee since 2014.
Wrote Primomo, “She has demonstrated expertise in a range of public health issues, worked with many collaboratives and partnerships throughout the state, and applied her outstanding research and advocacy skills to address health inequalities and improve health.”
Small rural hospitals face pediatric emergencies less frequently than their urban counterparts. That creates a host of challenges, from staff not being familiar with pain-control protocols, to not having appropriately sized supplies and equipment, to seemingly little things, like not having toys on hand to distract young patients.
That’s why the WSU College of Nursing teamed with Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in a pilot project to improve pediatric care at Coulee Medical Center in Grand Coulee, Washington.
Cory Risse, a nursing instructor at the WSU College of Nursing, was paired with Dianne Molsberry, pediatric outreach coordinator at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, to work with nurses at the 25-bed, Level IV trauma hospital.
They began by reviewing data and surveying the medical staff to gauge their comfort level in caring for pediatric patients, then pinpointed needs, Risse said. Working in collaboration with nursing leaders and administrators at the hospital, Risse and Molsberry decided to offer an education day for nurses, plus information on best practices for pediatrics policies and procedures.
“We taught them respiratory, pain management, and general approaches to working with kids,” Risse said. Nurses were tested before and after the training, and their scores improved, she said.
To help sustain the changes, two nurses were designated “peds champions.” They came to Spokane to shadow pediatric nurses at Sacred Heart Children’s, and will be in charge of continuing education efforts at Coulee Medical Center.
Charlotte Wilson, nurse educator at the hospital, said the project helped increase staff comfort levels in working with pediatric patients. “It was a good program,” she said.
Now the WSU College of Nursing and Providence will take the lessons learned in the pilot project and try to expand the program, said Wendy Buenzli, clinical associate professor at the College of Nursing. The Collaborative Pediatric Outreach Program could be offered throughout the Northwest, she said, with rural hospitals and clinics choosing from a menu of options. That might include consulting on needed equipment, training, a quality improvement project, or help finding resources.
Buenzli noted that WSU is a land-grant university, with a mission rooted in public service and outreach. The pediatric program “is a great opportunity to partner with Providence in serving rural areas,” she said.
The call went out to the day room at the Union Gospel Mission men’s shelter in Spokane on Wednesday morning: “Hey, we need somebody who can butcher up some animals.”
WSU College of Nursing student Mike Mosier was in the day room checking on shelter residents as part of his clinical rotation at Union Gospel Mission. None of the about 30 men in the day room raised their hands, Mosier said. “I’ve been hunting my whole life, so I said, ‘If you really need someone, I can do it for you.’”
That’s how the senior nursing student ended up butchering a deer – and part of a moose – on Wednesday.
The game was road-kill, donated to the mission by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, said Lynn Yount, spokeswoman for UGM. The mission is a regular recipient of such donations, but the person who regularly butchers game for UGM wasn’t available that day.
Mosier said he’s butchered both deer and moose before. “I’ve been hunting since I was 7,” the Spokane Valley native explained. “I got the deer zipped up for them, then started on the moose. I got the two front shoulders done on the moose,” then had to leave for another clinical site, he said.
Was he surprised to be doing that as part of his nursing education?
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Mosier said, and one that complemented his nursing studies because he took the opportunity to give his clinical partner and a handful of others at the shelter a tutorial. “I showed anatomically where the muscles are on an animal, which is obviously different than a person. It was neat.”
Mosier graduates from nursing school in December, as does his wife Kelsey Mosier. The two received bachelor’s degrees from Eastern Washington University, then several years later returned to school to study nursing at Washington State University. “We both decided we want to do something to help people,” Mike Mosier said.
Said Yount, at Union Gospel Mission, “Mike was in the right place at the right time, as far as we’re concerned.”
For information on Union Gospel Mission, visit the nonprofit’s website, at https://www.uniongospelmission.org/
The heart of a nurse isn’t bound by the hours of a work shift.
Julie and Barbara both know that.
Julie Postma is a former ICU nurse who’s now an associate professor in the WSU College of Nursing, teaching in Puyallup, Washington. Barbara worked as a nurse for decades in California and North Carolina, but at 90, she’s in an assisted living facility in Seattle.
The two connected through ElderFriends, a program in Seattle and King County that matches isolated older adults with volunteers who provide companionship. Postma visits Barbara twice a month and takes the older nurse on drives to explore the Puget Sound region, or just to people-watch.
The two share a love of national parks, travel, and dogs. “Sometimes we’ll go to a dog park – Barbara really misses a little dog she had,” Postma said. “She just lights up.”
After spending about two years together, Postma said she couldn’t imagine a more perfect match than Barbara.
So she worried about her friend when she was making plans to be out of the country for six weeks earlier this year. “I thought, that’s such a long time to be gone,” Postma said. “That’s when I had the idea of taking Barbara on a fun metaphorical road trip.” Using photos and interesting facts, Postma created an armchair trip through the Pacific Northwest. She asked a friend to mail the travelogues to Barbara each week.
Postma said she signed up for ElderFriends because she missed the meaningful interactions she used to have with patients. “That’s a big part of nursing,” she said. “It was a big part of my enjoyment of the profession.”
Seeing Barbara brings that back, Postma said.
“This is connecting with another person in the way I used to connect with seniors in the hospital,” she said. “My favorite part of this experience is when I drop her off and she turns around and gives me a big smile.”
For more information on ElderFriends, a program offered by Full Life Care, visit their website at www.fulllifecare.org/we-can-help/by-service/elderfriends/
Kathryn Brault loves her job, and that’s why she’s a preceptor for the WSU College of Nursing and other schools.
As a preceptor, she’s one of the many experienced practitioners who volunteer their time to instruct and supervise nursing students during clinical training. Brault is a Family Nurse Practitioner who runs a specialty clinic in the Tri-Cities for diabetes patients, and also precepts students at Grace Clinic, which provides free health care to people in need.
Why does she do it?
“Medicine in general is something we learn best by doing,” said Brault, who earned her RN-BSN and MN degrees from the WSU College of Nursing. She believes mentoring students helps her continue to hone her clinical skills, because “when you have to explain and teach something, you become more aware.”
Also, it’s important for practitioners to give back to the profession. “That’s what makes medicine good, that we all collaborate,” she said.
Nursing students appreciate the time Brault spends with them. Said one student, “Kathy has a great way of explaining information so it makes sense.”
Brault said her work as a volunteer preceptor is satisfying. “I love what I do, and I want other people to see how rewarding it can be.”
Visit our Preceptor Portal for information on being a WSU College of Nursing preceptor.
Sue Neal wants student nurses to see how much community is involved in community health.
That’s why the Executive Director of Battle Ground Healthcare, a nonprofit, faith-based clinic near Vancouver, Washington, often takes nurses she’s precepting to meetings of committees and stakeholders.
“I like students to go to meetings so they get a feel for all of the different things going on in terms of providing care and services for populations,” said Neal, who’s been a WSU College of Nursing preceptor for four years. “I want them to get a big picture of what’s happening in the community, because that’s where nursing is really going.”
Neal mostly precepts RN-BSN students at Washington State University, though she has worked with a student getting her Master of Nursing degree. She serves as a preceptor one or two times a year.
The secret to a good preceptor experience is the match, she said. “It’s really taking a look at what the student’s background is, what their interests are, and letting them know about the experience you have available for them.”
She added, “I always find out what their objectives and expectations are, and work with them to help them meet their objectives. Giving them time and investing in the student is essential.”
While nursing preceptors are volunteers, Neal said that for her, it’s time well-spent.
“I love being a preceptor, and I’ve gotten great students. I just continually think wow, what great nurses are coming out of WSU.”
Rather than being handed the role of “ingenue” or “nosy neighbor,” people who are hired by the WSU College of Nursing might be asked to play “chest pain” or “depression,” or “degenerative joint disease.” They’re called standardized patients, or SPs, and they help teach nurses and other health-science students skills in communication and clinical treatment.
The WSU College of Nursing has had a standardized patient program as part of its Simulation Lab for three years, said Kevin Stevens, Director of the Center for Clinical Performance and Simulation.
“Most schools will use standardized patients for things they can’t do with a mannequin,” Stevens said, referring to the high-tech mannequins used in the Simulation Lab. For instance, unlike a mannequin, a standardized patient might pace the room, jump out of bed or interact aggressively – all scenarios that nursing students could face in their careers.
Standardized patients also give students feedback.
“Sometimes students don’t use good eye contact, or they’re looking down at a paper the whole time,” said Stacey Munoz, a standardized patient at the WSU College of Nursing and before that, in Arizona. “Sometimes they’ll tell a joke that doesn’t translate well.”
That’s the exception, however, said Mike Munoz, Stacey’s husband and a fellow standardized patient in Spokane. “I would say 99.9 percent of the time the good outweighs the bad. These students are being trained very well.”
The WSU College of Nursing launched its standardized patient program using actors hired through a Spokane talent agency. The pool of SPs has expanded to include non-actors like Mike and Stacey Munoz – people who have some interest in health sciences and want to help train the next generation of care providers. Mike Munoz had 35 years of experience with emergency medical services as a firefighter in Arizona, while Stacey Munoz worked at a health-sciences university there.