BYU School of Nursing marks 60 years of change


A lot can happen in 60 years. The School of Nursing is evidence of  just how much can happen during six decades as students, alumni and faculty  celebrated the school’s 60th anniversary Friday.

People gathered across campus to hear speakers and panel discussions and participate in a service project and breakout sessions. Speakers included BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson, Elder Merrill J. Bateman, Dean Beth Cole, and Michael Bleich, former dean of the Oregon Health and Science University’s  School of Nursing.

Amanda Vallet, of Centerville, said she enjoyed the morning lectures. She will graduate with a degree in nursing this month.

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Nursing students Ashley Finch (left) and Ashely Woodside (right) make blankets for a service project in the Wilkinson Center Friday afternoon.
Julie Valentine and Debbie Edmunds, both part of the School of Nursing’s faculty, helped to organize the service project, which was making fleece tie-blankets for rape victims who receive treatment at Salt Lake Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.

Julie Valentine, of Sandy, one of the forensics nurses at the treatment center, said, “When we see a patient, we’re with the patient for four to six hours. We collect DNA, take photos of injuries, pack clothing in a bag for the police and make sure any injuries are taken care of in the emergency room. The examination is very traumatic, so we give them a blanket as a gift to let them know there are people who care.”

She said the blankets often serve as a comfort through the recovery process.  Valentine also said one woman used to make each blanket, but now the center reaches out to the community to get help making the blankets.

For the 60th Anniversary Celebration, a number of graduates returned to campus. Gayla Dye, part of the first graduating class from the School of Nursing, said she made some of her best friends while in the nursing program.

“We’ve had get-togethers over the years which have kept us close,”  she said. Dye, who graduated in 1956, was able to see many of her friends from her time at BYU on Friday.

Janene Bryson, one of Dye’s friends, said education has changed from when they attended BYU.

“There are so many possibilities,” Bryson said. “I’d love to go to school now.” She said more advanced degrees are available and the health technology has gotten a lot more prevalent.

Norma Formica, of Hemet, Calif., would have graduated in 1956, but had to transfer to a different school because of her husband’s job.

“I feel I was really blessed to get into the nursing program when I didn’t have to prove myself,”  she said. According to Formica, classes that are now pre-requisites used to be part of the program, so applying to the program was not necessary.

As part of the celebration, Sharon Marshall, former dean of the School of Nursing, wrote a book about the school’s history. She then signed copies of the book during the breakout sessions.

The book was written using all the archives available, interviews of those living and surveys.

“It was a pleasure to write,” she said. “The history of BYU School of Nursing really started with early LDS nursing. The hardest thing [about writing the book] was finding the missing information. Initially, we thought it would take two summers, but it took four years.”

The Celebration of The School of Nursing finished with alumni class reunions and an alumni banquet.


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