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
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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.

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Update from South Korea

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MPEN, Graham Wolfe

MEPN student Danny Smith in front of kettles which produce some of the
alternative Korean medicines

We had an opportunity to visit Dongukk University Ilsan Hospital which offered a unique collaboration of traditional Korean medicine and western medicine. At Ilsan Hospital we saw familiar treatments such as acupuncture and cupping and some practices that were less familiar including Sasang constitutional medicine and Chuna manual manipulation.

Sasang constitutional medicine categorizes patients into four types based on biopsychosocial traits. Korean medical doctors use the Sasang type to provide recommendations as each type has strengths and weakness physiologically. Chuna manual manipulation is a technique similar to chiropractic medicine but includes a broader range of manual manipulation like massage.

Korean Medicine resident explaining the Korean medicine pharmacy production to
Professor Alex Wong

Dr. Sang-yeon Min, a Korean medicine physician specializing in pediatrics, explained Korean medicine is used primarily for prevention. Dr. Min also informed us western medicine physicians and Korean medicine physicians will often collaborate in the same consultation session to provide the most comprehensive care for a patient. This collaborative effort is so incredibly valuable and is something that can be lacking in the western medical system. As nurses and especially as clinical nurse leaders it is our responsibility to coordinate our patient’s care. It can be difficult to stimulate collaborative efforts between specialties and disciplines. Experiencing a hospital system designed to facilitate integration between two different forms of medicine was inspiring.

I believe we all walked away impressed with the complete and conscientious medical services offered by Dongukk University Ilsan Hospital

From left to right Ellie Oliver, Graham Wolfe, Professor Alex Wong, Professor Allison Marsh, Nicole Wakayama, Jerrick Prudencio, Vincent Ng, Danny Smith, Caleb Kuo
Posted in Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Policy, International Program | Tagged | 1 Comment

Nurses rated #1 most trusted profession for another year!

In Gallup’s annual poll ranking the most honest and ethical professions, nursing retained the top spot as the most highly rated profession for the 17th straight year. In 2018, 84 percent of Americans surveyed described nurses’ ethics and honesty as “very high” or “high.” Nurses have topped the honesty and ethics ranking every year since they were added to the list in 1999, except for 2001, when firefighters ranked number one in response to their work during and after the 9/11 attacks.

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Greetings from South Korea

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Megan Lavalle

Group leaving from San Francisco to South Korea

We have been excitedly awaiting our trip to South Korea and it is finally here! The trip we are about to embark upon is a first for USD School of Nursing. The School of Nursing is able to bring 35 second year MEPN students to South Korea to learn about culture and healthcare delivery while on the trip. This will also be the first time MEPN students from USD participate in a trip that is really at the graduate level examining the influences of culture on healthcare delivery. This group of MEPN students and faculty are a part of a very important ‘first’ for the School of Nursing since a group of this size has never been representing USD internationally. 

My colleagues and I are coming on to this trip to South Korea with an open mind. We hope to take what we learn from lectures on alternative medicine and tours of the different South Korean hospitals and apply them to our personal practice back in the US. The South Korean healthcare system is very efficient and systematic. We hope to learn the ins and outs of South Korean healthcare delivery and how the culture impacts its operation. We look forward to the discussions we are about to dive into regarding the South Korean healthcare system and how it compares to  healthcare in the US. We are very excited for this upcoming adventure to South Korea.

Top left: Elle Oliver, Top right: Terry Wu, Bottom left: Favour Pankito, Bottom right: Kristin Nicholson. 

On the bus from the airport to Galaxy Hotel. 
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MEPN alum selected as “Nurse of the Year”

MEPN alum, Eric Pitt, MSN, RN (Class of 2015) was selected as the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Nurse of the Year for 2018. Since graduating from the MEPN Program at USD, Eric has been busy working in the Emergency Department at Sharp Grossmont Hospital , one of the busiest EDs in San Diego county.

Eric has also taken on the role of faculty, and has returned to USD to teach MEPNs in the lab. We are so lucky to have Eric back at USD.

Congratulations Eric. Way to represent USD!

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Happy Holidays from the Philanthropic Committee!

This post is written by guest writer, and 2nd year MEPN, Saya Nodera

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Philanthropic Committee’s Candy Gram Exchange. Together we were able to raise over $200 to buy toys for the refugee kids at the Christ Ministry Center, one of our clinical sites for community health! The Philanthropic Committee is chaired by our Vice President, Sandra Pope, and consists of a dynamic team of MEPNS and DNP students! Together we are working to increase community outreach opportunities through the Graduate Nursing Student Association.

Joy Gao and I went crazy at Walmart with the money that was raised, and we were able to buy toys for over 40 kids of different ages. All of the toys were wrapped and delivered on Christmas Eve at the Christ Ministry Center. We couldn’t have done it without all of your support!

No matter your beliefs or where you come from, we are grateful that we can come together to serve our purpose and make an impact on the bigger picture! Nursing allows us to be connected through the heart of all that we do together.  

Let us continue to “do good” together.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

~ The Philanthropic Committee 

Posted in community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Twas the Night Before Surgery

This Poem is written by guest writers and 1st year MEPN students, Kelly Huerta, Tiana Iwamiya, Brittany Jefferson, Dane Jensen, Janine Johnstone, Iman LaVine

Twas the night before surgery, when all on the floor,
Not an alarm bell was ringing, not even a door;
The consent forms were witnessed and signed with care,
In hopes that malpractice never be there.
The nurses all stay within their scope of practice,
Culturally aware and promoting health access,
Preventing disease, injury, and using evidence based practice.
I’d just documented care, education, and status,
When in a patient’s room, there beeped an occlusion
I ran to the scene to protect the infusion.
Every day as a nurse, I practice compassion,
Empathy and trust to prevent contraction
Of disease, illness, and infection
I do it all, with conscientious inspection.
When, what to my poor patient should appear
But pain, oh dear pain, what relief is near?
With prescriptions for IV morphine, his pain is 9 out of 10
I’ll give him a dose and some help to find zen.
We discuss tolerance, acceptable pain, and constipation
Together we decide to try more ambulation.
Now mind! Now body! Now well-being and Spirit!
On holistic care! On guided imagery! On Massage & Aromatherapy!
To lowered pain! to better patient outcomes!
Now document! Document! Document all!
As I write a focused assessment, diagnosis, and intervention,
My patient care plan grows from best intentions.
So I coordinate the interprofessional team,
With knowledge to guide us, we won’t run out of steam.
And then, to be sure, this plan’s above reproof
I must insure, the documentation’s legally bulletproof.
As I check the labs and diagnostic imaging,
Here are new orders, from the physician visiting.
Our patient care plan has been efficient, effective, and safe,
Fortunately, his NPO status won’t leave him a waif.
With all of his dietary restrictions aside,
He’ll always appreciate the attentive care at bedside.
His needs were addressed and comfort provided
Even when his own thoughts were often divided.
His medical record is completely confidential
His plan of care is purely evidential.
HIPAA–ensures his rights, preferences and disclosures,
It protects him from accidental exposures.
He’s visited by a chaplain, family and friends
Whose involvement all cause happy trends,
Support systems are unique and essential
They help achieve the best outcome potential.
Now this patient is doing so well that it seems
He can go home to his bed and sweet dreams.
He spoke not a word, but instead gleamed with joy
Thinking to himself, no more surgery, oh boy.
My patient is thrilled! Ready to go home and start his vacation!
I tell him, “Not so fast, we still have your medication reconciliation”
Once we’ve achieved complete discharge verification
He’s free to go, no more need for clarification
I call out, as he scurries away with delight,
Happy Discharge to All, and stay healthy alright?!?


Posted in Class of 2020, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

MEPNs provide health teaching for preschoolers

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Meagan O’Mahoney

teaching first aid

(Melissa Hollister, Caleb Kuo, & Nancy Chau teaching about first aid)

While the semester comes to a close, there is never a shortage of fun at USD Manchester’s Family Child Development Center (MFCDC). After spending about six months at the site for our community health requirement, our clinical group had the pleasure of getting to know not only the children, but also the staff and parents. We took the opportunity to utilize the nurse educator role at our site through weekly educational lessons and activities with the children, including sessions on dental hygiene, fire safety, sun safety, body mechanics, and many others. While fall semester progressed, we wanted to plan a fun activity for the children that would have an impact both at Manchester and for future visits the children may take to their pediatrician offices. We planned to take the children to the Dickinson Nursing Simulation Center, inside of the USD Beyster Institute for Nursing Research for a clinical day. As a group, we planned four different stations for the children with a toddler oriented lesson in mind. We taught about basic first aid, the body systems, hand-washing, and did vital signs. We had a total of 47 children visit between two days, making a very fun experience for them all!

teaching My Plate

(Kristen Nicholson and Tia Corbin teaching on ‘My Plate’)

For many young children, a hospital or doctors office can be an extremely terrifying place to visit, mainly because of the fear of what could happen or escalation of an already existing fear of shots. We wanted to plan this trip to the lab for two reasons: to show the children where their “nurses” go to school and that the doctor’s office isn’t a scary place, it can be a fun! We took the time to talk about what kind of room we were in, what usually happens here, and that they can meet nurses just like us wherever they go. At the basic first aid station, we taught what to do if you get a scratch, how to apply pressure if you are bleeding, treating swelling, and allergic reactions. The children really enjoyed being able to “treat” their stuffed animals that had cuts/scratches. Our group also educated on fire safety to reiterate the importance of staying away from fires if you are near one.

At the vitals station we took the opportunity to get all the children’s height and weight measured, as well as their pulse, oxygen saturation, and temperature. These are all things that happen regularly at a doctors office, so it gives them a sense of normalcy for the opportunity to have something that can be scary done by someone they know. The education portion included our past education on body mechanics and nutrition, which we had received feedback from multiple parents about educating more on. They learned about how eating the right foods makes them big and strong, but also that staying active will keep their muscles and bones strong and healthy.

taking a weight


(Matthew Parker taking a weight of a MFCDC child)

At the body systems station, although the content had the potential to be very daunting, the children really enjoyed it. They learned about their organs, and fun facts about them such as that their skin is the largest organ. Tying into the vital signs station, we talked about the importance in exercising to keep our muscles strong and our bones healthy. We gave the children the opportunity to listen to their own heart and lung sounds, as well as a simulated baby’s heart and lung sounds. This was very exciting for the children because most of them haven’t had that opportunity before.

Simulated baby heart

(Hanna Penney assisting with listening to the simulated baby heart!)

One of the most important stations that we had at the simulation lab was hand-washing. Many children do not grasp the importance of hand-washing. We have taught on this topic once before, but we received feedback from the MFCDC staff and parents that this lesson should be reinforced. Children have a tendency to go to the bathroom then just run water over their hands, ignoring the soap and sometimes even the paper towel. The station was focused on making sure the children use soap and water when washing their hands, as well as scrubbing their hands for at least 15 seconds. To make this a fun station, we used the black light “germ” paint to have the children scrub off then used a black light to show them the germs that were left behind. We taught the children to sing the happy birthday song while washing their hands to ensure that they were washing their hands for a full 15 seconds.

washing hands

Mackenzie Wischmeyer helping at the hand washing station

Overall, the children of Manchester enjoyed their simulation lab visit. They learned a great deal and were able to teach back some of the things they had learned. The simulation lab is a great experience for children to have because it gives them the opportunity to explore a doctor’s office without the fear of a real visit! The kids expressed how they did not find the doctors office scary and realized they had nurses like their “nurses” when they go visit. We are grateful for the experience Manchester FCDC has brought us and look forward to what the future holds for these kids!


(Sarah Cole showing the “germs” that were left over after hand washing under the blacklight)

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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