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 

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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.



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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.

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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.

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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