Save-A-Life Gets New Coordinator

This post is written by MEPN guest writers, Kelsey Marckstadt and Iman LaVine

Kelsey and Iman-2018

I am so stoked to be passing on the role of Save a Life Recruiter and Coordinator to Iman LaVine for the next school year; not only because she is my mentee, but because she is a great fit for the position. Iman is a student who is eager to attend every Save A Life event and is always looking for ways to be involved in our community. She has already reached out to student representatives and faculty about coordinating an Alex’s Lemonade Stand and finding volunteers to work a blood drive on campus.

Iman attended her first Save A Life event this past summer semester right after she graduated from boot camp. When I asked her if she wanted to take over the role as coordinator and recruiter next school year, she immediately said yes! At the next event, I had Iman serve as co-coordinator and showed her the ropes of assigning students roles, ensuring that everyone gets breaks, stepping in at whichever station was short staffed all while running the girl’s ECG room. Iman shows great qualities of a leader by the way she can problem solve and adapt when change occurs. She is one of the first to arrive and the last to leave with a smile always on her face.

Iman will be running her first event solo in January, and I have confidence that everything will run flawlessly!



Kelsey has been such an amazing mentor and friend throughout my time in this program. She is always encouraging and supporting me through my studies, lab preparation, and ideas for my future nursing career.

I was incredibly happy when she offered me the position to take over as the Save a Life Recruiter and Coordinator next year. The fact that she trusted me so early on to co-coordinate one of the events made me feel capable and more eager to participate. Kelsey showed me how she ran everything, and asked for my input and help throughout the day to orient me to the role. About halfway through the day, I started to get the hang of it all, and felt prepared to take over on my own. I felt a little intimidated to be directing the second years, as they have had much more clinical and community experience than I have had. However, it was the first time doing this event for some of them, and their experience of the components involved was comparable to anyone else volunteering for their first time. Additionally, like everyone in the MEPN program, all of the second years were extremely kind, accepting, and encouraging.

I am happy I got to participate in the first event without a leadership role so that I could understand how it all worked and be prepared to run the ECGs myself. That experience has helped me understand what the volunteers do, how they feel, and be able to teach new volunteers. I am excited to take on the full role in January. I feel that Kelsey’s guidance and confidence in me has prepared me perfectly to run this event, and I cannot wait to continue participating in the Save A Life Events with the MEPN family.



Posted in Class of 2019, Class of 2020, community involvement, Guest Writer, Mentor Program, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Notes from a MEPN New Grad

This post is written by guest writer, and USD  2018 alum, Evan Gum, MSN, RN

SICU New Grads (1)

It has been a little over three months into my new grad RN program (and close to Thanksgiving) so I wanted to send you all a message just to say hello, give a little update on how things have been, and to express my thanks to each of you and the MEPN program in general for the road to where I am now! I was just mentoring one of the first year MEPNs, talking her through IV and med pushes for their CCE last week and it just made me reflect on how long ago that already seems!

This past Tuesday I had my first experience having my own patient code in the ICU from a massive saddle pulmonary embolism. I have assisted in a few code’s to this point, but as everyone says, when that first one happens to you everything you feel like you learned and prepared for, seems to go out the window in the panic of the moment!

I can’t honestly say I was thrilled with my performance. In our team debrief and subsequent conversations I have found myself using my USD mindset to journal, and reflect on what could have been improved, plan for the future, and keep moving forward. All in all, the patient turned out well (considering the severity of the embolism), and our care for the patient, prior and post-code, was solid.

Obviously, a lot of reflection came out of this experience in general and with that it felt like a good time to send you all a message to say thanks for the pushes along the way. I wanted to let you know that while I am still generally terrified, I am LOVING the ICU and I can’t begin to explain how great it is having so many MEPNs throughout the Sharp system (3 in our SICU cohort alone!)

I could ramble for a long time about how things are going, but just wanted to say the trials haven’t stopped with nursing school, but it has been exciting to take them on!




Posted in Alumni, Getting your first nursing job, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Uncategorized, USD Alumni | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

MEPNs work with immigrants at Welcoming Center

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Melissa Dempsey


(Daniel Smith and Dr. Jodi O’ Brien working on arts and crafts with a group of CMC kids.)

“Look them in the eyes, ask them to tell you their story,” Pastor William Jenkins told us during our first visit to Christ Ministry Center (CMC).

Located in Normal Heights, San Diego, CMC is the only immigrant welcoming center in all of Southern California. It is a Safe Harbor Site, and part of a network that provides temporary emergency shelter for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers, most of whom are pregnant women or families with young children. Last year alone, over 6,000 human beings, from almost every corner of the world, were welcomed through the doors of CMC. Pastor Jenkins, who works directly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said that “ICE will call me at all hours of the day or night to ask if I’ll take somebody in…no matter what, the answer is always yes.”

USD’s partnership with CMC began soon after our initial meeting with Pastor Jenkins over the summer. Our group was moved by the profound need at CMC, so much so that we advocated to have the site approved for our fall Community Health rotation. Many of the residents at CMC have traveled for weeks (or even months), and arrived in the United States with only the clothes on their back. Initially, we felt the primary need was OB/pediatric care. Our plan of action evolved, however, after our first few weeks at CMC. California State San Marcos Nursing School has run a free clinic at the site for two years, so we’ve worked out a referral system. We realized mental health screenings and a general orientation to the United States were more urgent necessities our group could help fulfill.

The first project we worked on was creating an orientation tool for newcomers, a letter that details where residents can get basic needs (like food and clothing). Since most of the residents don’t speak English, we’ve worked with the Language Department at USD to have the letter translated into other languages (French, Spanish, and Russian so far).

One of the first lines of the tool we created reads “you are safe here”. We felt this was paramount to include. Refugees and asylum seekers have come to the United States because they fear death or persecution in their native countries. There is a common thread of unresolved and unaddressed trauma woven into each resident’s past life, and it is our hope that we can shed some light in the darkness.

Their stories are powerful, poignant, and inspirational. As Lihini Keenawinna, a second year MEPN student, says “I keep coming back to this idea that they went through such immense traumas, but are incredibly resilient in their desire to have a better life. It’s the most fulfilling feeling to be able to help, even in the tiniest of ways.”

A main aspect of our time at CMC has been offering activities for both children and adults, with the goal of providing a sense of community during a lonely time. One of the residents told us that she used to make pupusas at home in El Salvador, so we brought the ingredients and made them with her during one of our clinical days. It was clear that giving her the opportunity to teach us how to cook something from her native country brought her joy and a small piece of home. Graham Wolfe, another second year MEPN student, coaches the USD rugby team. Our group took some of the CMC residents to a game, a very much welcomed outing. While these actions may seem insignificant (and completely unrelated to nursing), we’ve come to find that the care of populations on a holistic level is vital to overall well-being.

As Natalie Marsh, a second year MEPN emphasizes, “Serving the residents at CMC has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the program thus far. It has taught us so much about aspects of nursing school that you can’t learn in a classroom, including cultural sensitivity, how to encounter those going through trauma, person-centered care, and being ready to help—even with unexpected needs.”

It is an honor and a privilege to work with Pastor Jenkins and the residents of CMC. Each clinical day we’re met with smiles, open arms, and an unbelievable spirit of resilience.

Natalie Marsh at Christ Ministry

(Natalie Marsh showing a CMC resident her stethoscope)

Posted in Class of 2019, community involvement, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Care Advocate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

MEPNs attend Sigma Theta Tau’s Odyssey Conference

Sigma Theta Tau conference 2018

(MEPN students, Matthew Parker, Monica Oddo, Crissy Colodin, Saya Nodera)

This post is written by guest writer and  2nd year MEPN, Monica Oddo

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first day of the Sigma Theta Tau International Odyssey Conference with a few of my peers. This research conference was held in Del Mar over the course of two days filled with presentations regarding current and completed research as well as poster exhibits with results that are pending. The opening keynote address was done by Patricia Thompson, EdD, RN and the prior CEO for Sigma Theta Tau. Her address was powerful, discussing the importance global healthcare leadership and planned, intentional collaboration. She spoke of nurses being a voice to lead. I thought how fitting it was to attend this conference during our leadership course work. Many of my classmates and I have found it challenging to think about the leadership role in nursing when we have not even worked as RN’s yet. Dr. Thompson made it clear that nurses must be at every table in every country regardless of degree or work history where decisions about health care are made. This is the effort being made to increase the ability to address global health from multiple viewpoints.

After the opening speaker, there were break-out groups for research and innovative sessions. Listening to the presentations helped me to better understand how research is done in nursing. We were able to see how current established leaders in nursing are attempting to make changes and provide motivation for the up and coming nurses. The best part was that it provided some guidance and ideas for posters and presentations for our Leadership EBP project! There were new grad nurses who presented as well that gave me motivation to perform research and be up front soon! Finally, there was a brief line that Dr. Thompson had said which has been stuck in my head for the past week. She stated, “Instead of being the best leader in the world, think about being the best leader for the world’. I hope this resonates with everyone as much as it does with me. The time to make a change is now, and change is possible with us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MEPN Student Becomes American Citizen

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN student, Binh Mach


Dr Jackie Close and Binh Mach

What Does It Mean To Become an American?

October 23, 2018 was a special day for me, since that was the day that I became a naturalized U.S citizen. I was so delighted when Dr. Close and her husband participated in my American Citizenship Ceremony. They are very supportive to me in becoming a naturalized American Citizen, and I really appreciate their kindness. They are such wonderful people, and I wish that more people were like the two of them. So, what does it mean to become an American? Literally, in my eyes to be an American means that I have privileges, rights, and freedom that many other people around the world do not have. For me, being an American Citizen is a time to look back to see what I have done during the past five years of living in this country while I was preparing to be a successful citizen of the USA.

My reasons for moving to the United States were very simple – to have an opportunity to become a student in a top ranked University and to have the chance to practice as a healthcare professional. With a background as a healthcare provider in Vietnam with 10 years of experience, I had to decide whether I was going to make a concerted effort to move to the US or not? Finally, I made the right decision to immigrate to this country. During the first two years, I enjoyed being a medical scribe at a family doctor clinic, where I learned how to become a preventive healthcare professional. I interacted with a variety of medical professionals and conducted a wide range of simple medical tasks, from collecting vital signs and obtaining medical histories to offering consultation while working with my providers. I appreciated the opportunity to work with outstanding individuals who were not only scientifically rigorous, but also humane in their dealings with colleagues and patients. However, I was struck by two common chronic ciseases – hypertension and diabetes. Most patients in my clinic did not clearly understand either disease. I am also frustrated by the rate of chronic kidney disease, a very preventable disorder that often results in expensive transplants or a lifetime of dialysis, both of which could have been avoided by better preventative care.

While being in the Nursing Program at USD, I appreciate the fact that I have a great opportunity to take part in clinical rotations at the very best hospitals in San Diego. For example, I felt my heart skip a beat when I witnessed a patient sign the consent to undergo an amputation of their legs due to delayed foot ulcers associated with diabetes. I have felt tears in my eyes when I have been involved with my patients and these situations develop, and it pains me to know that we are able to prevent hypertension and diabetes from happening in the first place. I felt also guilty while taking care of the patients with amputations. The more that I communicated with these patients the more I sympathized with them. From now on, they must depend on medical devices to do something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning.  I cannot believe that it is so common to see it occur in this country. After all, we are supposed to have the best preventive healthcare system in the world! While communicating with these patients, I recognized that they all lacked basic knowledge about the importance of preventing and treating diabetic foot ulcers. We still need dedicated healthcare educators in all our communities. We have an even bigger gap in the underserved populations. Currently, I am a part-time cardiovascular sonographer at the Anaheim Medical Group. I am happy to be involved in detecting early stages of peripheral arterial disease associated with diabetes and helping develop a plan of care with local providers in order to prevent leg amputations.

I have become very passionate about the concept that good medicine not only comes from bottles and boxes, but also from the heart and feelings of the caregiver. As a dedicated healthcare professional, we will work to excel not only technically and medically, but also as communicators who take the time to talk to patients about how to quit smoking, lose weight, and exercise. These human touches will be my true measure of career satisfaction. “Prevention is better than cure”.

I might not be like most of my classmates who want to work in well-known hospitals such as Sharp, UCSD, Scripps etc. For me, my prospective workplace will be a clinic that takes care of the underserved populations who lack knowledge about disease prevention or how to deal with complications when they suffer a particular condition. I cannot wait until May of 2019 – my graduation day from MEPN at USD. After May 2019, I’ll be able to transfer to become an Advanced Nurse Specialist as a Family Nurse Practitioner to have more privileges in caring for patients. My passion is to be able to educate patients about preventive medicine. In my opinion, prevention plays such an important role. That is the only way to reduce the number of people suffering from preventable diseases such as non-trauma amputation associated with diabetes as well as chronic kidney disease.

Posted in Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MEPNs Host Health Fair in Tijuana

This post is written by 2nd year MEPN and guest writer, Adilene Esquivias

Cynthia and Samantha

Cynthia and Samantha providing nutrition education.

Last weekend, MEPNs took a trip to Tijuana to host a health fair for the residents of the community center established by Build a Miracle. The center is called Centro Comunitario de El Florido.

USD nursing students provided education on nutrition, glucose monitoring, diabetes, blood pressure, stroke, women’s health, CPR, hand hygiene, and proper body mechanics. Prior to the event, MEPNs held a “packing party” where they compiled goodie bags that included items such as oral and perineal care items.

The residents were immensely grateful for all the information and gift bags they received. Following the health fair, we visited the residents of Albergue las Memorias. We had the opportunity to meet single residents and families affected by HIV. It was a rewarding experience being able to immerse ourselves in a different culture and bridge the gap in health education. Being exposed to different norms and beliefs enabled us to account for barriers residents need to consider prior to their healthcare.

Thank you, Dr. Hutchins, Katie North, and Karen Kriger, for all the time and effort you put into guiding us towards this diverse nursing experience!

Monica teaching CPR

Vincent and Monica educating residents on CPR.

Mckenna, Karen, and Maressa

McKenna, Karen, and Maressa educating on proper body mechanics

group photo

MEPN students visiting a shelter for patients affected by HIV,

Albergue las Memorias.

Left to Right

Top Row: Monica Colavita, Kelly Huerta, Samantha Joy, Jessica Erickson, Daniel Smith, Jasmine Sanchez, Brittany Low-Colbert, Genevieve Mina, McKenna Kurz, Adilene Esquivias, Cynthia Ramirez

Bottom Row: Maressa Malabanan, Vincent Ng, Karen Kriger, Katie North, Hillary Moreno

Posted in Class of 2019, Class of 2020, community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, International Program, Uncategorized, What is a MEPN program? | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

MEPNs learn how to influence media through Podcasts

Podcast 1

On Monday afternoon, second year MEPNs in Dr. Kathy Marsh’s Health Policy class were discussing how nurses can impact the media to influence Health Policy. One of the class assignments is for students to produce a 3- 5 minute podcast on a health related topic. Students took a field trip over to the USD Media Lab to learn how to record and edit their podcasts. Ryan, Scott,  and other staff in the Media Lab demonstrated the use of the equipment. They did a fantastic job teaching the nursing students.

Stay tuned to hear more from MEPN students as they use their influence in media  to affect health policy.

Podcast 3

Podcast 2

Posted in Class of 2019, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Policy, Uncategorized, What is a MEPN program? | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Review of Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) Regional Meeting: Harnessing the Winds of Change

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Matthew Parker

Matthew Parker-class of 2019

Second year MEPN students have the unique opportunity to research and participate with local, professional nursing organizations. A professional nursing organization serves as the arena for a diverse collection of nursing professionals to come together in the interest of influencing policy and advancing the profession. The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) is one such organization with a strong local chapter and rich history of driving healthcare innovation. The work of this organization is in direct alignment with the current MEPN curriculum and course objectives of improving health care delivery, assessing community health problems, and developing as a nurse leader. I was pleased to accept invitation to the ACNL Regional Meeting entitled, “Harnessing the Winds of Change,” as such a gathering provides insight into the power that nurse leaders hold in regard to influencing the future of healthcare.

The meeting began with a brief overview on the strong legacy of the ACNL, followed by their vision and goals for the future. Current goals of the organization include a successful launch of the Executive Leadership Academy, continuation of philanthropic programs, and increasing membership/member involvement. The Executive Leadership Academy of the ACNL will focus on personal development plans for new nurse leaders and provide resources to lead in the hospital and in the community. With a direct connection to philanthropic efforts, the organization will continue to fund scholarship programs, leadership development, and research. All efforts to influence and educate are made possible by growing membership and member involvement in their local chapters.  A member can be an established nurse leader, a Registered Nurse advancing into a leadership role, new graduate, nursing student, or anyone with a direct connection to nurse leaders in the hospital or community. Through a professional organization, a nurse at any level has the opportunity to speak up to influence the delivery of care.

At the Regional Meeting, there was great discussion of specific issues related to community health, specifically the findings of the Community Health Needs Assessment, 2018. I found this to be very intriguing/relevant since many MEPN clinical groups have had great exposure to the behavioral health/homeless issues impacting our city. The issues were laid out on the table and the challenge was presented to all nursing organizations to come together in support of initiatives that would address community health.

The Association of California Nurse Leaders is extremely reputable and has been effective and influential over the last 40 years. Their value is evidenced by increasing membership and successful action taken by local chapters and statewide groups alike. In the last 10 years, the ACNL has produced the Better Educated Nursing Workforce Toolkitthe Quality and Patient Safety Toolkit and published Surviving and Thriving: Your First Job as an RNThese three resources are available to any nurse interested in either building upon years of clinical experience or establishing oneself in the healthcare community. The organization continues to collaborate with many California nursing schools and the BRN to support advanced degree opportunities, scholarships, and the voice of new graduates in regard to workforce issues. In addition, the ACNL has collaborated to defeat Proposition 45 (insurance commissioner authority over health plans) and Prop 46 )increaseMedical Injury Compensation Reform Act- MICRA cap). This effective advocacy, with participation in television ads, has strengthened the voice of the ACNL and established a presence outside of nursing. Through their focus on education, philanthropy, current healthcare legislation, and collaborative partnerships, the Association of California Nurse Leaders will continue to advance nursing practice, innovation, and quality healthcare for decades to come.

The ACNL is a wonderful example of nursing taking care of its own profession. As an aspiring nurse, I am inspired by others taking action and demonstrating a passion for, and a commitment to the work they do. I am grateful to be joining this allied community and I am confident my voice will be heard along with the many others. Through the ACNL, or any other professional nursing organization, one would feel the support and bond within the nursing community to effectively fuel the fire of change.


Posted in Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, nursing conference, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

MEPNs urge residents to get flu shots

IMG_0102 (1)

Flu season has begun and MEPN students are urging residents to get their flu shots. 70,000 to 80,000 people died last year as a result of flu season. Infants, elderly, and people with a compromised immune system are the most vulnerable.

Last week, MEPN students packed up their equipment and headed over to Mesa College to vaccinate over 300 college students. “It’s not only about self-protection, but about protecting the entire community” stated Dr. Susie Hutchins, the faculty overseeing the nursing students on this community service project.


Posted in Class of 2019, community involvement, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Care Advocate, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Director’s Details No One Tells You: Pointers from Dr. Close

Jackie Close-2018

(MEPN Director, Dr Jackie Close)

Eight ways to avoid unhealthy competition in nursing school

  1. Don’t participate in the “whadyaget” game after test results are given.
  2. When you work in a group, make a conscious effort to include less verbal or assertive members and to solicit their feedback.
  3. At clinical rotations, always be on the lookout for peers who might need a hand for tasks such as turning a patient or making a bed for a patient in traction. Also accept assistance graciously when you need it.
  4. Refuse to badmouth other students behind their backs.
  5. If possible, deal with conflict at the source. If you are having problems with a classmate, try to solve it directly with them.
  6. Use humor judiciously to defuse tension, but be conscious of others’ feelings and the fact that stress can make even the hardiest individuals sensitive to good-natured ribbing.
  7. Actively look for traits and behavior to appreciate in your classmates.
    1. (Dunham, K.S.2004. How to survive & maybe even love nursing school: A guide for students by students. FA Davis, Phildelphia.)
  8. Always go into a situation thinking only the best of the others. (Jackieism)

Tips for your Christmas/Holiday Gift List

  • Journals to ask for:
  • RN
  • Nursing 2018 (2019, 2020, etc.)
  • The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology
  • Becoming Nursey
  • Law and Order for Nurses
  • From Frustrated to Fulfilled
  • The Nurse’s Reality Shift: Using History to Transform the Future
  • The Nurses Reality Gap: Overcoming Barriers Between Academic Achievement and Clinical Success
  • How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Nursing School: A Guide for          Students by Students
  • I wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a             Nurse


Posted in Behind the Podium, Hahn School of Nursing, What is a MEPN program? | Tagged , , | 1 Comment