As Americans prepare to observe the sacrifices of veterans this Friday, BYU’s nursing students can share insights into the lives of veterans learned during a course that looks to change the way students view the world and their future careers.
Global health and human diversity is a mandatory class for all seniors looking to graduate in nursing. The class is offered spring term and gives students more personal experience with patients. Some students choose to travel outside the country, but the clinical section, focused on the health care of war veterans in local areas in the U.S. is also a popular choice.
“The course provided many opportunities to learn how to enhance care given to veterans by helping us understand their culture, background and health care challenges,” said Arielle Muffler, a senior in nursing from Colorado Springs, Colo.
Students who enroll in this section have a desire to serve the veterans of this country.
“It gives students the opportunity to look at the veteran population and the military and get a better understanding of who they are and why they do what they do,” said Ron Ulberg, a veteran and one of the professors teaching the course.
As part of the class, students select a veteran to get to know; often this is a family member. Understanding their military experience helps students understand the veteran patients they will treat in the future. They are also required to research a veteran memorial and present that research during a trip to Washington, D.C.
“We hope that students come away with a great appreciation for who the veterans are and why they are important in shaping America,” Ulberg said.
The trip to Washington, D.C. allows students to take what they learn in the classroom, and their research, and get hands-on experience. Students visit more than seven war memorial sites from the World Wars, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, the Vietnam War and finally Arlington National Cemetery.
“We know what truly unique and special people they are,” said Kent Blad, a veteran and professor of the course. “We feel it’s important that we teach our students who they will be caring for.”
Students also work in local veterans affairs hospitals and other Utah Valley hospitals that treat veterans. Several outcomes listed in course materials talks about how students will learn about war-related injuries, post-war illnesses and gain more respect for armed forces personnel.
“By focusing on the individual as well as seeing the big picture of veteran care, we are better prepared to live up to the BYU’s College of Nursing’s motto, ‘I would learn the Healer’s Art,’ said Jeffrey Decker, a senior in nursing, from Phoenix.