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Cougar BSN Nurses check in from Peru

Note from the college: Every year, BSN students from the college have a chance to go to Peru with fellow health professionals to experience nursing in an entirely different environment. The program is open to students in all health care professions and provides an experience in global health care in the Amazon region of Peru. Students apply assessment skills in planning and providing health care to individuals and communities. The program provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors that can influence health care. Field trips include an excursion on the Amazon River and two nights in the jungle, a visit to the Sacred Valley of the Inca and the Machu Picchu ruins nestled on the eastern slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range.

We’ve asked student to send us an update when internet connectivity is available.

Here is an update from Shelby Hansen and Debbie Brinker, co-directer of the BSN program at WSU:

shelby-hansenWe finished our 4th clinic yesterday. It went amazingly smoothly. We were in a less than perfect location. The smells were overwhelming at times but the people were wonderful. They were so proud of their community and were grateful to have us come and help them. Many of them were actively already seeking medical attention at the posta here in the Iquitos area. The majority of our patients over the last week have been children. Today we get little more of a relaxed day. We are going to the zoo with some of the kiddos living under the organizations roof. It will be a much needed break from the busy clinic days. Everyone is tired but in wonderful spirits. Tomorrow we head down the amazon river 3 hours to head into the jungle for a couple of days for another clinic. The adventure continues.

An update from Debbie Brinker:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 1.35.57 PMAll is well here…already have done 4 clinicals, seeing over 100 patients each day. Many children and big families with varied health needs. Lots of learning not only about health needs of families in Peru but about how to collaborate best as team of nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists to meet the needs of patients, families, and communities.

To see more photos of the trip, follow the People of Peru on Facebook. 

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Students offer breast health event

We received this incredibly thoughtful thank you note following a few of our BSN students completing a voluntary mammagram event to benefit underserved women in Spokane. Read on to learn what Heather and Janet did, and then see the note from Heather.

Heather Roberts and Janet Meacham, both seniors who graduated with their BSN from the college in May, organized and hosted a women’s breast health event at Women Children Free Restaurant (WCFR) Spokane’s West Central neighborhood during their final semester this past spring.  Approximately 21 women from the Spokane area benefitted, receiving free mammograms and other breast health services. Twenty-five percent of the women had mammograms for the first time and 30% of them were uninsured.

 “Women don’t realize breast cancer is so detectable,” said Roberts, “and this was something we could do as nursing students to make a difference for women in Spokane.”

Roberts and Meacham reached out to potential community partners to coordinate efforts. Partners included Check Your Boobies, Amerigroup, Providence Health & Services, Cancer Care Northwest, Catholic Charities, the Community Nursing Endowment Fund, and the Women’s & Children’s Free Restaurant. The organizations were quick to support the students’ efforts as the event served Spokane’s high-need transient and low-income working populations. Dinner was served by the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant following the event. IMG_3280

The event was open to all Spokane women, and the only requirement was they needed to have a primary care provider to send the results. Prior to the event, many were connected to CHAS to establish a provider.

With Roberts’ and Maecham’s determination and the communities’ support, they were able to provide:

  • Free transportation to the event
  • Mammograms through the Providence Mobile Mammography Coach
  • Refreshments
  • Educational breast health materials, including a breast cancer detection video
  • Manikins with prosthetic breasts for patients to practice self-examination and learn what an unhealthy breast might feel like
  • Blood pressure and screening by the J1 volunteers, and
  • Dinner

Their clinical instructor, Kawkab Shishani, supported their efforts from the beginning.

“One of the values the college embraces is social justice. Heather and Janet conducted a literature review to identify the needs of socio-economically disadvantaged women at the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant. Utilization of the most up-to-date research showed them the health disparities that exist among women with low socio-economic status. They went above and beyond in translating the evidence generated from the research into a cost-effective outreach activity. This was their idea, and I am so proud that they took the initiative to care for this underserved population,” Shishani said.

IMG_3257“It was a tremendous amount of work in addition to completing coursework. Janet and Heather illustrate the critical importance of community health nurses.”

View event photos. 

And look at this team who made it possible! A note from the students:

I just want to send a thank you to everyone who participated in, and made possible our Women’s Breast Health Event.  We were able to give 21 mammograms free of cost!

Thank you to Kayla and Deborah from Check your Boobies for coming to educate our ladies!

Lauren rom Amerigroup for securing the funds so that we could offer free transportation to/from the mammograms.  Also, for being available to our clients during the event.

Sue McFadden and her J1 clinical group for being available to offer heart health screenings.

Karen for making possible our access to the facility.

Kawkab Shishani for being our clinical instructor and encouraging us in the organization of this event.

Our S2 clinical group for helping us find clients to take advantage of our free mammography.

Providence Mobile Mammography Coach for providing free mammography.  Lana and Steve, you are awesome!

Pastors of Christ our Hope Bible church for letting us use their facilities.

Alli Benjamin for taking the time to write an upcoming article about our event.

The Denny Murphy fund at WSU for providing breast self-exam models and education, posters for the event, and refreshments.

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This is a letter from an Iwate Prefectural University faculty member who visited WSU College of Nursing with students in their nursing program. The Iwate students went to class alongside fellow BSN students, participated in simulations, and experienced a College of Nursing in the US.  One of their goals is to build a strong simulation program, so it was critical for their students and faculty to meet  our practice and simulation lab leadership and experience a busy simulation lab.


Thank you very much for giving us chance to learn about simulation, taking care of us and sending important items which help our program to develop indeed.

IMG_4312I have attached couple of photos.    The student who is standing on your right and wearing brown jacket is Misato.  Another student is Chiori.  When I told them that I was going to see you, they eagerly wanted to meet you to ask some questions and express gratitude more than me!  We were so lucky to catch you at that time!  It is a kind of challenge to knock on a door for them.

Just two years have passed since the last big earthquake.  The wound is healing slowly but even now many people are not still healed, including them.  We have to teach nursing students about caring for their emotions too.  In this tour, they seemed to enjoy visiting various places, meeting many people, joining some classes and experience simulation classes and talking with WSU students etc…  I think IPU students are encouraged to study hard and become a nurse.  You brought  out their eagerness to learn more.  I was also inspired !!! I really appreciate your kindness.
Please say thank you to your faculty for me.


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Pearls of Wisdom: Advice for New BSN students

BSN students at WSUThese are written by current BSN students for the new incoming students. Good luck, J1s!!

One way to survive in this class is to enjoy what you are doing.

Please be active, talking with residents at the nursing home and a well-elder, practicing your skills on them and thinking “why.” Why is this resident taking this medicine, why does this resident have this symptom etc? You get to teach them and you will learn something from them too. They are great teachers.

Please focus on what you need to do in EACH week. Try not to think about how many packets you need to be done at the end of this semester etc. Just do whatever you plan to do or as many things as you can.

And, please remember why you are doing these. You are not simply here to struggle to pass classes, but you are here to be a nurse. (In the first semester, I struggled a lot and forgot why I was here….)

Time will fly. At the end of semester, you will be surprised by many things and skills you learn in this class.


Skills are very important this semester, however, the most important thing you will learn this semester is therapeutic communication. This is the foundation of all nursing practice.

Don’t be afraid to touch your client; a reassuring rub on the back, an affectionate pat on the shoulder, a compassionate hand to hold. You’ll be surprised how therapeutic touch is.

Work as a team with your clinical group. Everybody has something to contribute. Where you are weak a classmate will be strong, teamwork builds competency and strength. Don’t try to outshine each other. It won’t work.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you have made a mistake.

Appreciate your CNA’s and acknowledge how hard they work. They are an essential part of nursing, without them your job would be a lot harder. Appreciation fosters a good work relationship.

Utilize the staff. They are full of knowledge. Ask questions. Most of the staff love teaching students.

Relax, this semester will be a lot of work, however, it also will be very rewarding and you will live through it. Have fun and smile a lot.

Be a professional. Don’t get sucked into office politics. When staff members or fellow students are acting in an unprofessional manner. Choose not to participate. Walk away.

Be a patient advocate, first and foremost. It is your most important priority.

Know your skills. Study your packets. Practice your assessment skills.

Listen to your patients. You are now a nurse. They will tell you everything including detailed descriptions of their bowel movements to their most intimate, private thoughts. Don’t act shocked or surprised and you will obtain their ultimate trust, which is very important in collecting information that can be implemented into the holistic treatment of your patient.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with everything you have to do. Break it down. Tackle it one step at a time. You will get it all done.

Find out where everything is the first day. It saves a lot of time.

Take care of yourself, eat well, and get enough sleep and exercise. This will be the most difficult semester you will face and at the end of it, you will feel that you are well on your way to being a “real nurse”. Good luck!!


If there is one thing that I have realized over this past semester it’s that nothing is as difficult or as impossible as it may seem at first. People will tell you how little sleep they got or how amazingly difficult certain classes are but in reality, you just have to take things one week at a time and you will be fine. I promise you from the bottom of my heart that all of that hard work you put into school will pay off that first time you are able to implement what you have learned to help a real person. As a nurse, you will be there when somebody is born or dies. Something that you say during a “teachable moment” will help change destructive behaviors or encourage a family going through a difficult time. And when you share someone’s joy, grief, fear, hope, or sadness in the way you will as a nurse, you will be forever changed. You will be an intimate witness to the entire range of human emotions and in the process will develop tremendous empathy which will influence everything you do in life. You have picked a truly incredible profession.

Congratulations on beginning your career!

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Thank you to the College of Nursing! An Update from BSN ’12 Adam Scribner


I am am so happy to tell you that I took my NCLEX on December 27th and have been informed that I PASSED!! Every single NCLEX question I answered evoked a memory from nursing school and clinicals. I could hear Naomi yelling “VOIMEL!,” I could hear Dr. Emerson pronouncing, “acetylsalicylic acid,” and I remembered Dr. Van Son’s key points about caring for the geriatric population. I recalled pediatric respiratory info and caring for a patient with a spica cast from Sue and Jennifer, and tons of pharmaceutical and pathological info came flooding back thanks to those amazing (see also: long/thorough) prep sheets I made for Lee Anne’s clinicals. (Wow, there were a TON of pharmaceutical questions!) There were lots of OB questions, and somehow I must have remembered the fundamentals through Cecile’s rapid-fire lectures, peppered with outbursts of names of varous reproductive organs. I recalled acronyms that I barely remembered for unit exams. I remembered specific case studies and lab values and so much more than I thought I’d NEVER retain. I am rambling, so I guess I should get to the point and say, “Thank you,” to all of you at WSU College of Nursing!

I am so very grateful for all of the guidance, support, wisdom, and care each of you offered to me throughout my nursing school career. I have had the most incredible mentors in my clinical rotations. It was always an incredible feeling to have just the right amount of support when I needed it, and the extra push, ever-closer to autonomy, even when I wasn’t always confident that I was ready. In addition to clinicals, I must acknowledge the amazing experiences I had in lecture. There were so many hilarious nursing anecdotes, heart-breaking real life stories, case studies and real-world applications, hands-on activities, and group experiences, all of which contributed to the foundation of knowledge that makes me feel just about ready to call myself a nurse. Last, there were my agency mentors, such as Christina, who gave me the freedom to explore my skills and practice new and creative interventions.

Last, I want to point out that although you, my mentors and instructors, had such a huge amount of wisdom and knowledge to share, the main thing I will ALWAYS keep with me is the human element. I have had college courses in the past in which the instructor was incredibly knowledgeable, kind, etc., but the College of Nursing staff and faculty are unique and truly amazing. I have been blessed to be a part of your family for a couple of years, and I need to tell you how important those interactions with staff and faculty which come between classes and outside of lectures. From the random pat on the back from Sue Perkins, the helpful bits of career advice from Kristen and Debbie and Tina, to elevator talks about pets or hobbies, a few extra Kleenexes from Cecile, and all of those simple acknowledgements of me as a person and not just a student. All of you reinforced everything that it truly means to be a nurse. Thanks so much to all of you, and I will definitely miss my time at WSU College of Nursing. And now, off to polish up my resume!

With grateful sincerity,

Adam Scribner, BSN ’12 (soon-to-be-RN)

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Nursing in Africa Part 4

More from Beth Sheeran, BSN ’12, about her three months volunteering as a nurse in Africa.

October 9, 2012

Just for Laughs and Something from Nothing


This last weekend, I spent time with a Pastor Benedict, his wife Becky and family in a small village. Benedict is both a pastor and elementary school teacher.  With the small income he had from teaching at one school, he started another elementary school. His family supports numerous orphans in their education and as a father of four has taken custody of some of the orphans in the community. This Friday, the same day I arrived at his house, one of the women in the congregation had been chased away from her home due to being sick with HIV. Both the woman and her 4 children had nowhere to stay. Pastor Benedict arranged for them to sleep in the school he supervises.  In the end I decided to intervene and pay to rent a house for the woman and her kids for four months.  I was amazed to find that renting a house costs about 5 dollars PER MONTH. I couldn’t get my favorite cup of coffee at Starbucks for that amount (Venti Caramel Machiatto- in case you are wondering or want to treat me some day).  Pastor Benedict’s story is one that truly illustrates how much God can use the least of us and create something of value from nothing. I was reminded of this as his wife showed me how the family sits down to create beads from scraps of paper which can be turned in to necklaces and bracelets, which in turn are sold to support orphans, teachers, and widows in the community. This last week has been one of ideas and excitement for all of us. Alice (who is director of the clinic I am working at) is eager to investigate the possibility of starting a new clinic in Maasai territory.  As we discussed different options and possibilities it became clear that the Maasai clinic could possibly be self sustainable and bring income to the women in the community through finding a market for some of the traditional Maasai crafts or even building a creamery to make use of the abundant milk produced in the community. The Maasai are known for their amazing beadwork. Because the women are generally uneducated and unemployed, they spend much of their spare time beading intricate designs which I believe could be sold in many places.

An update on Triny
To update you on what is happening with Triny,  although we have not heard the final word from the board of trustees, Facing the World is proceeding to have meetings with the embassy in the UK for her visa and Pastor Bolahs is working to get her passport ready. Meanwhile, her health continues to deteriorate.
Just for laughs
It is expected when working cross culturally and across languages barriers that funny mistakes happen. This last week everybody has been chuckling about a mistake I made while ordering food. There is a particular veggie that I enjoy eating called skumaweeke. The name has not been easy for me to master. One day I was asked what I want to eat
for supper and I replied kumaweeke (leaving out the s). As it turns out leaving out the ‘s’ REALLY changed the meaning of what I ordered.
I asked for a weak virgin.


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Nursing in Africa Part 3

More from Beth Sheeran, BSN ’12, about her three months volunteering as a nurse in Africa.

September 16, 2012

Triny and Sunday: a brief report

I was able to visit Sunday and Brian one last time before I left for Kampala and the visit confirmed one of my fears. I believe Sunday’s illness is a result of full-blown AIDS.  Despite the antibiotic treatment, hospitalization and support that I was able to provide for her. Her health has yet again begun to deteriorate and she is showing new signs of sepsis (meaning that the infection is raging throughout her body). Her family is taking really good care of her and monitoring her health closely.  I had hoped that the treatment would have stabilized her but there comes a point with AIDS that the body is unable to fight infections and antibiotics treatment can’t clear the infection.

I heard from Facing the World yesterday. They are excited about taking Triny to the UK for treatment but have stated that realistically we are looking at 2013 and they can’t say how long the fundraising will take to be able to perform the surgeries needed. I am planning on speaking to the mother about what can be done in the meantime to preserve function and life so that Triny has more time. There is a possibility that the size can be reduced through surgery but the result would be temporary. I am considering assisting Facing the World in fundraising for Triny on my return to the US. I feel the need is urgent and want to do whatever I can to help.

September 23, 2012

Arrival in Kopanga

I have arrived safely in Kenya and started work in the clinic here.  From the bits of Kenya that I have seen so far, I believe that Uganda has lost about 50-70 years of progress due to the subsequent 23 year long war. The poverty level, lack of education and poor economic status of the country really is shocking in comparison to Kenya. I have to apologize about not including photos but the Internet connectivity is very slow here and has prohibited me from sending pictures.

Facing the World is interested in raising funds to bring Triny to the UK (YAY).  The most immediate need is reductive surgery while she waits to go to the UK to make sure her airway stays open while she waits for surgery. I am trying to raise the money as a team effort with her home church.  We have estimated the cost to be around $2,000 dollars including post-op medication and care.

September 30, 2012

An invitation from Maasai



“Will you please come to my village, we are very far from a medical center and would like us to teach us how to stay healthy.” This was the plea of the Massai man who visited my house this week.

The Maasai people are world renown for their vibrant culture, dance, and ability to raise cattle in a semi-desert environment. One of the tribes lives on the boarder of Tanzania and Kenya. I went yesterday to visit the community. The women were very impressed with my beadwork and want to teach me more. The village is located in a quiet and serene environment. While I was there I met a pastor who has a vision for his community. I am planning on returning to the village to conduct some first aid and health maintenance training.

I am working to connect the Maasai pastor with some of the church pastors here in Kopanga who have been able to motivate the community to build a school, orphanage, well, and clinic. The great thing is that all of these were built by the community for the community rather than relying on outside donors. I am hoping that these pastors can be an encouragement and connection to bring development to the Maasai community.  The community faces many disadvantages due to its location including lacking a secondary school. The Massai are only educated through 7th grade and there is no high school for them to attend therefore the cycle of poverty continues. Part3-2

The invitation from the Massai to teach basic health principles gave me the idea of developing a small program and also teaching in the churches here. The idea is still in the development stage, but I am trying to formulate a plan.



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