Monarch placement adds depth to MEPN experience

written by guest writers and 2nd year MEPNs- Dena Bisgaier, Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Jacquelyn Gaynor, Kelly Huerta, Arielle Sima , Mariah Winters, and Samantha Joy Zamora 

During the summer and fall semesters of the second year in the MEPN program, USD nursing students have the opportunity to work with under-served communities around San Diego.  This clinical rotation is centered around learning family and community health nursing.  The Monarch School is a public school serving homeless youth in the Barrio Logan neighborhood here in San Diego.  One of the 2nd year MEPN clinical groups is stationed at The Monarch School once per week from June thru December. Here is a glimpse into what we have been up to:

It has been such a joy to be assigned to Monarch for the past two semesters. Our clinical group has really been able to immerse ourselves in the Monarch community. We have been fortunate enough to participate in the school’s community engagement events such as their open house, flu clinic, and dental clinic.  We also have had the opportunity to implement our own health education lesson plans for kindergarten through third grade. We have been able to deepen our understanding of the homeless community in San Diego through partnering with Serving Seniors and Father Joe’s to serve hot meals to the homeless community. Some of our Monarch students reside at Father Joe’s, a nearby organization that helps prevent homelessness and provides resources for residents to find housing and employment.  

Alongside serving the community, we are also greatly involved in the classrooms at Monarch where we tutor students and create special bonds. By getting to know each student, we learn about their lives and we see how each of their living situations has impacted them. Many students struggle with their academics due to what they are facing outside of the school environment.  However, every student we encounter has the drive and capability to do great things. We, as nursing students, help facilitate learning by building a positive and trusting relationship with the students at Monarch, and encourage them to thrive in their academic endeavors. 

Below are a few images documenting our experience. We hope you enjoy reading about our experience as much as we enjoy our time at Monarch.

2nd Year MEPN Students Dena Bisgaier and Mariah Winters
teaching a health education class to 2nd graders at Monarch.

On this day Dena and Mariah presented their lesson plan to the second grade class. The focus of their lesson plan was on personal hygiene, the amount of sugar content in common drinks, the importance of drinking water and eating healthy. 

Volunteering at Father Joe’s Villages, serving San Diegans experiencing homelessness.
From left:  Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Dena Bisgaier, Arielle Sima, Mariah Winters, Samantha Joy Zamora, Jacquelyn Gaynor and Kelly Huerta.

On this day we served breakfast and prepared lunch for the homeless community at Father’s Joe’s Village. 

Monarch’s “Back to School Night”, providing health education to 
students and their families on topics such as sugar content in drinks, 
vaping and blood pressure.
2nd Year MENP students pictured:  Dena Bisgaier and Arielle Sima.

On this day we set up health education booths on Monarch’s “Back to School Night”, to educate students and their families on topics such as Vaping, Blood Pressure, and Sugar Content. 

Filling grocery bags for Monarch School’s “Back to School Night”, with donated 
items from local businesses.
From Left:  Arielle Sima, Mariah Winters, Samantha Joy Zamora, Kelly Huerta, 
Jacquelyn Gaynor and Dena Bisgaier.

In preparation for “Back to School Night” our clinical group assembled grocery bags of donated food and toiletry items.  The grocery bags were used as an incentive for Monarch students and their families get a flu shot. Overall, the day was a success and we ended up assembling over 100 grocery bags and over 100 flu shots were administered.

From Left:  Kelly Huerta, Augustus Leveque-Eichhorn, Jacquelyn Gaynor, 
Dena Bisgaier, Professor Scott Teerlink, Mariah Winters, Arielle Sima and
Samantha Joy Zamora.

As we continue to teach and grow as leaders in nursing, we are humbled at what the communities that we serve can teach us in return.  This clinical experience reminds us that there are many factors influencing patient health, some factors stemming from the environment and the community in which the patient lives.  We must work to strengthen our understanding of creating healthier communities, and in turn, we can influence environments for better patient outcomes.  

Posted in Class of 2020, community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MEPNs continue work in La Morita, Mexico

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Jessica Erickson

Front Row (left to right): Jessica Erickson, Kara Hamamoto, Kelly Huerta, Jennifer Tran Middle Row: Alex Banales, Garni Terterian, Kacey Osato, Allie Gallant, Genevieve Mina Back Row: Dena Bisgaier, Jessica Rasmussen, Adriana Velasco, Professor Daniel Roderick, Professor Peggy Mata

This past weekend, twelve MEPN students escaped the stress of their summer semester and jumped at the opportunity to teach at an educational health fair in La Morita, Tijuana. As most trips abroad tend to unfold, things did not go according to plan. An important funeral in the community used the intended space for the health fair at the San Eugenio Clinic site. Thankfully, the students displayed patience, adaptability and creativity, and set up the stations in classrooms below. However, because the health fair was now out of sight, a creative spark was needed once again. The most competent Spanish speakers invited members of the community to our health fair from the nearby farmers market and fair grounds. Soon, by word of mouth from around the neighborhood, our health fair blossomed with families.

Alex Banales and Dena Bisgaier checking blood glucose.

Stations ranged from Hand hygiene, Diabetes, Hypertension, Hands only CPR and Nutrition education. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends and more joined in on the fun. Although the students were first intimidated to teach in Spanish, their compassion for healthcare and people shined through. Laughter, smiles and friendly conversation danced around the room. Blood glucose and blood pressure are always the most desirable stations, but hand hygiene, CPR and nutrition attracted just as many bodies with their positive energy and passion to teach. A highlight of the day was making bracelets, drawing pictures and playing cornhole with the kids of family members present.

Peggy Mata, Daniel Roderick, Karla Gonzalez, Jessica Erickson, Kelly Huerta

One of the main goals of these trips is to establish community and build long term cross cultural relationships with our partners in La Morita. On a previous immersion trip, leaders Jessica Erickson and Kelly Huerta cultivated a friendship with Mexican medical student, Karla Gonzalez (featured above), and Karla returned for this most recent health fair. She not only assisted with educational conversation during the fair, but also shared her experience of what it is like to be a medical student in Mexico. Karla touched on the fact that, “we may be from different backgrounds, but we share a common ground of care for others as future healthcare workers, and that connects us as people. There should be no borders that separate us from helping one another.” After the health fair, the students toured San Eugenio Clinic, and were walked through the process of patient intake, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and discharge by the medical professionals working there. This clinic is unique in the treatment of interdisciplinary, collaborative care with medical, pharmaceutical, dental, psychological and spiritual services offered. It was a good reminder of the importance of holistic healing for patients.

Allison Gallant and Genevieve Mina demonstrating infant choking measures

The day ended at a taco stand where the students shared guacamole and reflected on their experiences. Debriefing the highs and lows of the day is important for the students to process their personal experience, and also helps to identify what could be improved for the next trip. We discussed the needs of the La Morita community to be further addressed, and how to continue to demonstrate our desire to serve with and learn from the welcoming community of La Morita, Tijuana. Eyes were opened, hearts were filled, knowledge was shared, friendships were strengthened and churros were eaten.

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Congratulations to MEPN Class or 2019

Dear MEPN grads,

Just a short note to say congratulations on a job well done.  Best of luck to you as you are studying for the NCLEX, participating in job interviews, and starting your new grad positions.  All of us, at USD, look forward to staying in touch with you and following each and every one of your nursing careers.

A few things to keep in mind…

  • Your USD email is yours for life!
  • Join the Hahn School of Nursing group on ‘Linked In’
  • Plan to come back to campus for the MEPN Alumni Panel Discussion, in early February, to share your new grad story with the graduating MEPNs.
  • As soon as you obtain your RN license, you are able to apply for your Public Health Nurse (PHN) certificate (no exam required).

Contact Bianca Vazquez Pantoja at: when you are ready and she will guide you through the process.

  • When you are ready to sit for the CNL exam, please contact the MEPN Office at 619-260-7608. We offer the exam on site at USD and can guide you through the exam application process.
  • Don’t forget MEPN grads make the best lab and clinical faculty. Go out there and get some experience, and then come back to USD to teach in the lab or clinical setting. (Three years’ experience in the acute care setting is required by the BRN so by then you will be ready to ‘pay it forward’ and educate the next generation of nurses.)
  • It might be hard to fathom that someday you might consider a PhD in Nursing. I would personally be thrilled to discuss this educationally opportunity with you.

It is a pleasure and an honor to call you ‘colleague’.

Welcome to the nursing profession.


Dr. Kathy Marsh, Associate Dean, Hahn School of Nursing, USD and the

MEPN Team- Professor Peggy Mata, Dr Lyn Puhek, and Dr Deanna Johnston

Posted in Class of 2019, Hahn School of Nursing, Nursing License, USD Alumni | Tagged , | 1 Comment

GNSA welcomes 2019-2020 newly elected officers

left to right,
Secretary: Harmoni Morales – First Year MEPN Student
Treasurer: Cynthia Ramirez – First Year MEPN Student
President: Sandra Pope, RN – Second Year DNP Student
Vice-President: Allison Bryden, RN – Second Year DNP Student

Congratulations to the newly elected GNSA officers for 2019-2020 school year. Kudos to all of you for taking on leadership roles in the School of Nursing.

Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the year to come.

Posted in GNSA, Hahn School of Nursing | 1 Comment

Did you know, curiosity can be a HIPAA violation?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is shs_190312_jussie_smollett_250x188.jpg

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett
photo by Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock

Dozens of employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, were reportedly fired last week, accused of violating the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) by accessing the electronic health record (EHR) of former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, according to several news reports.

NBC Chicago reported that “at least 50” employees were fired, citing anonymous sources.

Northwestern Medicine told Medscape Medical News that it could not comment on the reports of firings, citing privacy reasons.

Smollett reported to Chicago police in January that attackers assaulted him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs. He was taken to the hospital. Police and prosecutors now allege the report was a hoax meant to generate publicity, and Smollett now faces multiple felony charges.

The Chicago Sun-Times quotedan unnamed Northwestern hospital administrator as saying she was fired after an employee in another department came to her desk and asked if Smollett had been admitted under an alias.

Posted in Hahn School of Nursing, HIPAA, University of San Diego | Leave a comment

MEPN alums return to campus to pay it forward to current students

It was a special treat last week to welcome home 2018 MEPN alums who returned to campus to share tips on interviewing for new grad positions, studying for the NCLEX, and ah-ha moments during the first year as a nurse.

Second year MEPNs had great questions for the recently graduated alums who openly shared their experiences as a new nurse.

Special thanks to MEPN 2018 graduates:

Amena Adams, Diane-Marie Aguilar, Kristi Armstrong, Riley Cable, Evan Gum, Ann Lawani, Jessica Leatherman, Judith Ramirez, Carmel Roshan, Mallorie Schoesler, Jason Vazquez, Jennifer Zaldivar

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South Korean nursing students visit USD

This post is written by 2nd year MEPN, and guest writer, Natalie Marsh

Dr Kim from Chung-Ang University and Dean Jane Georges sign official memo of understanding documenting the relationship between the two universities

Two weeks after returning from our incredible trip to South Korea, MEPN students were excited to welcome our South Korean Buddies from Chung-Ang University, Seoul to the University of San Diego! Our buddies stayed for 11 days and were able to experience both San Diego and (for some) even Disneyland! After being welcomed to USD’s campus by Dean Georges, Dr. Marsh, and the MEPN faculty and students, the buddies spent their days touring many of San Diego’s hospitals and attending lectures about healthcare in the United States.

Dr Dean Georges delivering welcome remarks to South Korean students and faculty

During our immersion in South Korea, we were amazed at the many differences between Korean medicine and our own familiar hospitals. After visiting Sharp Memorial Hospital, UCSD Hillcrest, and Sharp Coronado Hospital, our buddies agreed- there are many differences! During our Farewell Dinner at La Gran Terraza on USD’s campus, one of our wonderful buddies reflected on her biggest takeaway from these tours by commenting on how she appreciated that hospitals in San Diego focus on supporting the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of their nurses. They took note of the drastically higher nurse retention rate in San Diego compared to their hospitals in Korea, where about 40% of nurses move away from the bedside within the first five years of their career. She shined a light on the importance of self-care within nursing and said, “They (Sharp Coronado) love their nurses!” 

Korean buddies touring University of San Diego

Our buddies were also surprised to see the amount of children there are everywhere they went in California. During our visit to Seoul, we learned a lot about the country’s low fertility rate, which is expected to drop below 1.0 births per woman in 2019. This, among many other factors, contributes to Korea’s “aging population”, which is a natural driving force in the structure of Korea’s healthcare system. The buddies were amazed to see so many children and infants here- both in our hospitals and in the “stroller parking” during their trip to Disneyland!

South Korean buddies and faculty after attending class with MEPN students

Second year MEPN, Natalie Mata, reflected, “Welcoming our Korean buddies into our school and our country has been such a gift, especially after they treated us so kindly and with such open arms during our visit to Seoul! It has been a privilege to learn from them, and I am grateful for the dialogue we have now entered into about healthcare efficiencies.” As a program, the MEPNs at USD are looking forward to our continued relationship with the nursing school at Chung Ang University, and are incredibly grateful for our new Korean friendships made along the way.

MEPN students, Vincent, Maille, Caleb and Hannah along with Korean buddies and faculty at Farewell Dinner held at La Gran Terraza
Posted in Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Policy, International Program | Tagged | Leave a comment

Final memories from South Korea

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Lihini Keenawinna

sk-welcome to rehab center

Immersion group with faculty post visit to the OJO Skin Rehabili Center
Clinical Lab and Academy

We started the day visiting the Oh-Jung-Ok Skin Rehabili Center Clinical Lab and Academy. Dr. Oh-Jung-Ok created the OJO method for use in skin rehabilitation, which is used with patients suffering severe burns or scarring. Her method consists of skin rehabilitation massage, aromatherapy, meridian pathway, cosmeceuticals, compression therapy, skin stretching and lymph circulation. The majority of the patients treated by Dr. Oh-Jung-Ok are between the ages of newborn and 3 years who are suffering from scalding injuries. After these patients have received treatment for their burns, they come to this clinic twice or three times a week over a varying period depending on the severity of the burn. They will receive skin rehabilitation massage that is a very gentle massaging of the skin in the direction of lymph circulation. After a number of sessions of skin rehabilitation nursing therapy (SRNT), the patients have a drastic improvement in their range of motion that would otherwise be restricted due to the contractures caused by the scarring, as well as reduction of the appearance and hyperpigmentation of the scars.

The before and after pictures shown to us were very impressive. What resonated for most of us was the fact that they were not just focused on
the outward appearance of the patients but also worked towards trying to
maintain psychological stability, and decrease stress and anxiety related to long-term self-esteem issues.  The main goal of the therapy is to being allow patients the opportunity to return to their lives and
once again become productive members of society.

After this visit, we ventured onward to the Korea University Anam Hospital, a state-of-the-art hospital with 1055 beds. The hospital has a cardiovascular center, digestive system center, cancer center, robotic surgery center, organ transplantation center, breast center, thyroid center, and international healthcare center. The international health center is a one-stop service center that helps patients take care of all their medical and non-medical services including transport, visas, and accommodations while they are in South Korea.


During our visit to the Korea University hospital, we heard from the President of the university, the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), leaders in quality improvement, finance, nursing managers as well as representatives from their international office. From the quality improvement aspect, we heard about the ways in which they have implemented their evidence-based practice protocols specifically in falls prevention as well as their bloodless surgery protocols. We also learned about the structure and various other programs run by the quality improvement department. After spending the previous day at the National Healthcare Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Headquarters and Health Insurance Review and Assessment
(HIRA) agencies, the presentation from the finance department really served as a meaningful review of the structure of the universal healthcare system and how it is utilized within the hospital system. The CNO and her leadership team also took the time to educate us about the operationalization of nursing care delivery, the professional progression ladder, leadership structure, shared governance and dedication to educational excellence.


sk-lecture at hosp



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Tijuana Immersion Trip

This post is written by guest writer, and 1st year MEPN, Kelly Huerta 

Jessica Erickson and Dr Susie Hutchins teaching CPR to a few of the residents who attended the health fair.

A group of us recently had the opportunity to participate in a Mexico immersion trip where we had countless opportunities to connect and share with the La Morita community in Tijuana, Mexico. La Morita, located just 30 minutes south of the border, is a poor but humble community. The people struggle to receive basic healthcare and are often unaware about the consequences of poor health. On this four-day immersion, we had the opportunity to visit sick patients who could not make it to the clinic, triage patients in the clinic with the physician, conduct a community health fair, and learn from patients at the HIV/AIDS clinic, Casa de las Memorias.

Each patient we visited had a different story and a different reason for not being able to travel to the clinic, but each family graciously welcomed our group into their home. Seeing the strength and humility displayed by the patients and their families motivates us to continue educating ourselves as well as others who are less fortunate.

At the clinic we performed focused assessments, interviewed patients, and shadowed Doctora Guzman, the physician at the clinic. Then on Saturday, we held a health fair at the clinic where we educated and screened members of the community for hypertension and diabetes.

We were lucky to visit Casa de las Memorias during a communal celebration where we listened to many testimonies from the residents. We heard heartbreaking stories about their addictions and disease resulting in their search and arrival at Casa de las Memorias. We learned about the HIV stigma that is prevalent in the community and the strong unconditional love and support amongst the residents.

We ended our day with some home cooking, games, and a reflection on how we can better serve the community.

Ciara Silvestri, Mariah Winters, and Dane Jensen receiving a blessing from a patient after we visited the patient in her home.

Ciara Silvestri, Raxita Neupani, Dr Susie Hutchins, Kelly Heurta, Lauren Leverson, Mariah Winters and Dane jensen
Posted in community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, International Program, University of San Diego | Tagged , | 2 Comments

MEPNs receive USD Changemaker Award

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, and Lihini Keenawinna

A one-hour field trip to the Christ Ministry Center (CMC) in Normal Heights began a journey for the students in my community clinical group. Christ Ministry Center is a coalition of individuals, congregations, and organizations who care about refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, migrants in detention and families broken by deportation.

We visited CMC simply to learn about community organizations located near our community site. Three hours after walking in the doors, each one of us in my clinical group left CMC with tears in our eyes and a feeling of great purpose. During that initial visit, we identified substantial needs of the clients we felt we could meet as nursing students. We wrote a letter to MEPN administrators explaining the needs of the clients at Christ Ministry Center and suggesting we work at the site during the fall semester for our community health clinical placement. At the time of our request, we were in the middle of our OB and pediatrics rotations, and convinced that the main needs at CMC were OB, pediatric care, and education.  Our hard work and encouragement from the MEPN leadership team paid off. We began working at CMC in past fall 2018 semester.

On the first day at CMC, in an effort to build trust with residents, we armed ourselves with playdough, hula-hoops, and bubbles. Our hope was if the parents saw us getting on the same level as their kids, they would begin to trust us as well.

After a few weeks at CMC, we decided that it was time to tackle the issue presented to us by Pastor William Jenkins, who runs the site. He had raised concerns over the mental health of residents, many of whom have experienced unthinkable traumas in their past lives. Initially, we thought that this request was beyond our scope as nursing students. However, after much searching, we found a screening tool specifically directed toward the population of asylum seekers and refugees. It is available in almost every language, and easy to administer. Building upon the foundation of trust that we had laid the first few weeks at CMC, we began screening residents.

What we found was alarming. Most residents screened positive for health concerns such as trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression. Ethically, we felt we could not screen the residents unless we provided mental health resources. We decided to reach out to the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT) program at USD, in hopes of a collaboration of some sort. After we met with LMFT, we realized that it was a very natural fit, and their enthusiasm for the cause cemented our desire to move forward.

Currently our clinical group is in the process of creating a Wellness Program that will run every Saturday, beginning February 2019. This program will offer physical and mental health screenings, provide residents with resources to cope with stressors, and provide play therapy to the children.

The USD Changemaker Challenge came at an opportune time. We thought it was a perfect way to fund our endeavor at CMC. During one of our clinical days, we made a two-minute video describing our current and future work at CMC. The MEPN video entry was a finalist out of the 109 video received submissions to the USD Changemaker Challenge.

Ultimately, we won second place in the challenge and voted “Best Original Idea” by the Changemaker judges.  Our MEPN clinical group received $2500 in prize money that will go towards furthering our work at CMC. This was an amazing opportunity offered by USD’s Changemaker Hub.

Our clinical group is thrilled to be a considered a Changemaker finalist. We are excited USD can be an anchor institution to Christ Ministry Center right here in San Diego.

Posted in University of San Diego | 2 Comments