Nursing research is changemaking that saves lives

Amena Adams, Brittani De Reimer, and Susie Hutchins

Left to right: Brittani De Riemer, Amena Adams, Dr Susie Hutchins

The 11th Annual Graduate Nursing Research Day was a huge success. Room 106, in the School of Nursing, was jam-packed yesterday with 66 posters from PhD, DNP, and even a few MEPN students.  Poster topics were PhD dissertations, DNP evidenced-based projects,  CNS and ENL Capstone Projects, and data results from MEPN international mission work.

Big shout out to 2nd year MEPNs, Amena Adams and Brittani De Riemer for their poster entitled: Undiagnosed Hypertension in Adult Residents of Tijuana. Now the two of you have caught the research bug, we hope to see you in the PhD program in a few years!

Kudos to Dr Susie Hutchins  for serving as the faculty mentor on frequent trips to Tijuana.

Posted in Class of 2018, Faculty, Nursing Research | Tagged | Leave a comment

MEPNs host professional nursing organizations

This post is written by guest writers, and 1st year MEPNs, Kelsey Marckstadt and Melissa Hollister.

professional oganiz-April 2018

Students stocking up on swag and information pamphlets while conversing with current members of local organizations.

On Tuesday April 24th, the MEPN mentorship team arranged for a panel of professional nursing organizations to speak to current first year MEPN students. We had local representatives from AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses), ENA (Emergency Nurses Association), AHNA (American Holistic Nurses Association), ONS (Oncology Nurses Society), and NANN (National Association of Neonatal Nurses) come speak to a group of about 40 students who are eager to become more active in nursing fields we are passionate about. Discussion revolved around different ways students can start getting involved with these nursing organizations, including attending local meetings, professional conferences, and volunteer events within our community. It was nice to learn that while these are all national organizations, local chapters allow members to connect on a more personal level, with events such as monthly dinners that host guest speakers and continuing education events!

Some of the benefits offered to students when signing up for one of these organizations are discounted (or sometimes free!) student membership, monthly journals, scholarship opportunities, great networking opportunities, and potentially even shadowing experiences.

The evening started off with students collecting swag and pamphlets from each organization, continued with presentations from each organization, and concluded with a Q & A session, group photos, and individual conversations that spurred further enthusiasm to become members. Representatives from each organization expressed how important it is to become involved in something we are passionate about now, in order to help ourselves later on down the road. Not to worry if you are unsure which organization to join right now, all of the monthly meetings are free and are always open for students to attend!

Our takeaway from the event would be to go to a few different meetings to really get a feel for your best fit. One of the second year MEPN mentorship students hosting the event, Evan Gum, shared with us that these meetings helped him narrow down his decisions and find his passion for the AACN. Along the way he learned a ton about the field and found several mentors to reach out to as he begins his career. You can also volunteer for an upcoming event put on by one of the organizations to see if you enjoy working with the people you meet.

Each presenter had an individualized path that led them to where they are now and it was comforting to hear how many avenues one can travel down while heading towards the end goal of their dream job. It was reassuring when they told us how many different routes there are to get the job you want. It has been a struggle to know exactly which area of nursing we want to go in to once we graduate, but having these opportunities to attend meetings and volunteer alongside current nurses has helped narrow it down. Overall, the panel was a success and we look forward to other events like this for future MEPN students.

professional organiz-group-April 2018

MEPN students and board members of professional nursing organizations pose for an end of the evening photo.

Posted in Class of 2018, Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Mentor Program | Tagged | 1 Comment

Reflections on the First Semester in Nursing School

This post is written by guest writer, Melissa Dempsey, 1st year MEPN

VA group- Fall 2017

Students from the VA clinical group: Jennifer Bui, Ellie Oliver, Graham Wolfe, Adilene Esquivias, Natalie Mata, Karen Kriger, Daniel Ednalino

For most of us, the fall Med-Surg 1 rotation included an endless amount of firsts. First time on a Medical Surgical unit, first time caring for a patient, first time caring for a really sick patient, first time performing complicated skills like IV starts—the list goes on and on. Even simple things, like opening up the biohazard trash can, seemed extremely difficult during the first day on the unit (I really hope I’m not alone on that one).

Clinical rotations, in the beginning of the semester were a blur of ceil blue, preceded by anticipatory sleepless nights. As Katie Haines, a first year MEPN student said, “I will never forget the first day of clinical when I was paired with the scariest nurse on the floor! I had to fight back tears all morning while he was yelling at me to move faster. By the end of the day, he told me I did a good job and it was the best feeling ever! Initiation by fire.” By the time winter break rolled around, we seemed to be gaining confidence and finding our groove.

Perhaps the most critical part of the whole experience was forming a bond with the six other students who were placed in the same clinical rotation. The hospital environment is stressful and a bit scary for a new nursing student. I know there’s no way we would have survived without the hallway hello’s, pre-clinical day coffee talks, and general camaraderie that was felt within each of the groups. I’m not sure that words can describe the gratitude I feel for my first semester clinical group.

It’s impossible to measure how much we learned in Med-Surg 1, but the looks that friends and family members give us when we try to explain how our day went are a pretty good indicator. When you are surrounded by nurses and nursing students all day, you forget that the general population doesn’t speak in medical abbreviations. I think our former selves would be alarmed by how nonchalantly we now ask friends and family, “when was your last bowel movement?”

We’re almost halfway done with Med-Surg 2, and we’re passing medications and achieving clinical milestones each clinical day. The shifts are long, our theory classes are challenging, but we’re starting to see the light and getting the hang of how things (classes, faculty, patients, and hospitals) work. It won’t be long before May 2019 when we are walking across the stage to receive our diploma. I for one, know I will be well prepared.

Kaiser group- Fall 2017Students from the Kaiser clinical group: Jacob Tisher, Katie Haines, Monica Colavita, Professor Katrina Burch, Matthew Parker, Sonora Zarp, Mckenna Kurz

Scripps Green group- Fall 2017

A selfie from the students from the Scripps Green clinical group: Kayla Murphy, Hannah Penney, Lana Rae Hansen, Melissa Dempsey, Amarachi Uchenna, Meagan O’Mahoney, Nicole Conner, Professor Nicole Nekoui

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USD nursing students across all programs inducted into Sigma Theta Tau

Jane Georges at Sigma induction-April2018

Dr Jane Georges giving Opening Remarks

Founders Chapel looked absolutely beautiful on Saturday morning, April 7th as the Zeta Mu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau inducted over 95 USD students into the national nursing honor society.

Sigma membership is by invitation to baccalaureate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate excellence in scholarship (GPA of 3.5 or greater) and to nurse leaders exhibiting exceptional achievements in nursing.

USD Dean, Dr. Jane Georges, gave the opening remarks and discussed the history of  Sigma Theta Tau. Dr Georges suggested how the Sigma organization can assist current students as they move through their nursing career.

USD had 66 nursing students inducted into this honor society.

From its inception, Sigma has recognized the value of scholarship and excellence in nursing practice. In 1936, Sigma became the first US organization to fund nursing research.

Today, Sigma supports these values through its numerous professional development products and services that focus on the core areas of education, leadership, career development, evidence-based nursing, research, and scholarship. These products and services advance the learning and professional development of members and all nurses who strive to improve the health of the world’s people.

Many thanks to Sigma Theta Tau faculty adviser, Dr Lyn Puhek for her work in getting all of the USD students ready for induction.

Sigma-Kris Lampbert at induction-2018

Dr. Kris Lambert addressing the audience with her Chapter President’ s Address

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Behind the Podium: Getting to know Dr. Lynda Puhek

This post is written by guest writer, Melissa Dempsey, 1st year MEPN

Lyn PuhekDr. Lyn Puhek

Nurse, secretary, or teacher. Those were the three options that Dr. Lynda Puhek was presented with when she went in to meet with her high school guidance counselor to plan for her future career. How did she end up in nursing? “Well, I got a D in typing. It really narrowed my options down!” When asked to describe her nursing career, Dr. Puhek replied, “it has been a very long road.”

After her father passed away when she was 16 years old, Dr. Puhek went to CNA school with her mom. “It was a way to help her, she was a stay-at-home mom with no skills” she said. She lead a double life during her teen years, but not the same rebellious double life as some of her peers. She was a normal high school student by day, and a CNA student by night. By the age of 18, she had completed both her LVN and her CNA degrees. She went on to attend Los Angeles Valley College, where she completed her 2-year RN degree. After graduating the program in 1979, she promptly got her first job in a telemetry unit at UCLA. She wasn’t even 21 years old.

While at UCLA, she met her husband, who was working there as a respiratory therapist. They married and moved down to San Diego in 1981, where she got a job at Sharp. She stayed there for 21 years, and just so happened to work in the ICU with our very own Dr. Kathy Marsh! “At the time, Sharp did an RN-BSN program that was affiliated with USD,” she said. When she graduated from USD in 1987, she said “it gave me the drive to move forward.” She went back to California State Dominguez Hills in 1994 and got her MSN-FNP. She didn’t stop there, in 2010 she graduated from Case Western Reserve’s DNP program. Her focus was Educational Leadership, and she did cardiac research and nursing at Scripps Mercy while finishing her degree.

Once she completed her DNP program, she and her husband moved to Hawaii for 2 ½ years. While there, she was the chair of the nursing department at Hawaii Pacific University. She’s also been a part of the faculty at Nova Southeastern University and National University.

Did I mention that throughout this whole journey she also had two children? Her story is incredibly inspiring. There is nobody better suited to teach USD MEPN students the ins and outs of medical surgical nursing and pharmacology.

I asked Dr. Puhek to describe a patient experience that has stayed with her throughout the years. She shared a powerful story from her days in the ICU at Sharp.

“I had been caring for a patient who had been in the ICU for about nine months. I would say he was probably in his late 50’s, early 60’s, and he was a failure to get off of the ventilator. His whole room was decorated with photos of his family, so I felt like I really got to know him. His name was Dave. I would always say “Hi Dave, It’s Lyn. It’s such and such day, the sun’s out. I’m going to be your nurse tonight. Hope you had a good day.” I would just talk to him, I wouldn’t talk over him. I would talk to him like he was actually here.

One of the main drawbacks to working in the ICU is that people do get better, and they transfer out and you never know what happened to them. I was working one day, about six months later, and a gentleman came walking in. He was looking around the unit and introducing himself to people, “Hi, I’m Dave”.  We’re used to caring for people when they’re horizontal, in a hospital gown, with tubes everywhere. They look so different when they’re vertical with clothes on. So, this guy came walking by and said “Hi, I’m Dave.” I said, “Hi, I’m Lyn,” and he said “Oh Lyn! I’m Dave! You took care of me!” I just started sobbing, because it never happens. That’s nursing. He sought me out to say thank you. He said “you would not shut up! You told me about the day and what we were doing every shift! I heard every word.” I always think of a patient as being somebody’s loved one. I think it’s important to do that. How would you want your loved one to be treated and cared for?”

Lyn Puhek-at graduation

Dr Puhek at her ADN graduation in 1979


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MEPNs give back to veterans at USO dinner

This post is written by guest writer, Maressa Malabanan, 1st year MEPN

group photo

Tuesday night, March 13th, MEPNs gave back to at least 250+ service members and their families.  Along with nursing students from other local nursing programs, MEPNs worked together for this Sigma Theta Tau hosted event.  We all had the opportunity to give the military service members and their families an evening break from making a meal, doing the dishes, and entertaining the kids.  We arrived at 4 pm to set up the dining hall, help with pre-dinner activities such as face painting the kids, prepared drinks and set up the Panda Express food line. With dinner starting at 6 pm, we all had our USO aprons and food-serving gloves on and our entrees ready to serve the masses.  

It was a fun event where we got to socialize with our peers, other nursing students, faculty, and the military community while also giving back to those who serve!  As they thanked us for our acts, I only felt more thankful for them and their sacrifices.  It was an awesome event that allowed us MEPNs to get together to give back to the community!

Special thanks to Dr Lyn Puhek and Dr Susie Hutchins for overseeing this event.

face painting 2

Posted in Class of 2018, Class of 2019, Class of 2020, community involvement, Guest Writer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

MEPNs Return to Campus for Alumni Panel

This post is written by guest writer, Jean HartleyIMG_6141 (1)

This past Wednesday, MEPN alumni from both 2016 and 2017 cohorts were invited to campus to speak to current second-year students about their ah-ha moments in their first year as a nurse

The alumni panel consisted of thirteen MEPN graduates who currently work in a variety of health systems and units, ranging from surgical intensive care to the pediatric emergency department. The forum was an opportunity for current students to gain insight into the world of nursing beyond the MEPN program. Topics ranged from NCLEX study tips and advice about creating a stand-out portfolio to handling difficult circumstances as a new grad and maintaining healthy and professional work relationships.

As a current second-year student with graduation, NCLEX, and job applications on the horizon, I found this forum to be a time of reassurance and reflection. We were able to speak candidly with the group about our hopes for the future, current concerns, and lessons learned both in and after the MEPN program. Many students in our class have started to feel the weight of balancing a heavy course load with fully committing to the job search, and this forum allowed us to catch our breath and remember the meaning behind the work we get to do. I think we all left feeling like our weights were a little bit lighter and our spirits a little bit higher. We look forward to joining the alumni family in just a few short months as we too get to add MSN behind our names.

In the meantime, we will rest in the knowledge that we are a part of something incredibly special by being part of the MEPN family.

A special thank you to the MEPN graduates who were willing to share their experiences and insight during this great event – it is so appreciated by current MEPN students.



Posted in Alumni, Class of 2018, Getting your first nursing job, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Nursing License | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Rooftop Report

Ricky Padilla and Evan Gum

Nursing is full of endless opportunities from providing safe and efficacious care on the ground as well as in the air.  Professor Padilla and 2nd year MEPN Evan Gum take a photo-op after receiving a critically ill stroke patient who was transferred from an outside facility to UCSD Hillcrest.

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MEPNs Ready for New Grad Interviews

IMG_6129 (1)

In addition to juggling a busy last semester, second year MEPN students recently participated in Mock Interviews. All students arrived to the lab dressed in business attire. One-by-one students were interviewed by a panel of faculty posing as nurse managers from local hospitals. While the student was being interviewed, fellow classmates were watching the interview on a monitor in another room and provided constructive feedback when the interviewing student returned to the classroom.

When asked to comment about the interview process, Judith Ramirez stated,” I was a little nervous having my classmates watch me get interviewed, but I am thankful for the process. I think I will be a lot less nervous when I have my real new grad interview.”



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Leadership Team selects “MEPN Class of 2020”

MEPN team Feb 2018

(MEPN Team –  Dr. Susie Hutchins, Dr. Jackie Close, Prof. Peggy Mata, Amanda Hernandez, and Dr. Lyn Puhek)


The MEPN Team had a busy week finalizing the admission decisions for the incoming MEPN class.

Personal interviews took place last week, on campus, where 150 qualified applicants came to campus to meet current students and participate in a 1:1 interview with faculty. Many thanks to current students and faculty who participated in the interview process.

At USD, we use a holistic review of all applications. This means that after candidates meet the admission requirements, we widen the lens through which we view applicants, recognizing and valuing different dimensions that shape each individual. Careful consideration is given to experiences, attributes, and academic merit. It’s not just a numbers game.

From what I have seen and heard, the MEPN Class of 2020 will be a wonderful addition to the Hahn School of Nursing. Keep an eye out for our new group of students, who will be on campus, beginning in August.


Posted in Class of 2020, Faculty, Hahn School of Nursing | Tagged , | 1 Comment