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

MEPNs learn how to influence media through Podcasts

Podcast 1

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

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

Podcast 3

Podcast 2

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

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

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

Matthew Parker-class of 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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

MEPNs urge residents to get flu shots

IMG_0102 (1)

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

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


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

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

Jackie Close-2018

(MEPN Director, Dr Jackie Close)

Eight ways to avoid unhealthy competition in nursing school

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

Tips for your Christmas/Holiday Gift List

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


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

Manchester Child Development Center Expands MEPNs Understanding of Pediatric Population

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


Manchester Summer clinical group (from left to right): Brittany Low-Colbert, Meagan O’Mahoney, Caleb Kuo, Maressa Malabanan, Coco Watase, and Tia Corbin.

A day at Manchester Child Development Center is pretty typical for the two to five-year olds who attend at the center. The center opens at 7:30 am every day to 5:45 pm , Monday through Friday on the USD campus. The clientele for Manchester is the children of USD students, alumni, and faculty who are in need of childcare, as well as children from the Linda Vista community.

This clinical site may seem to be an outlier compared to other community clinical sites as it is not a low-income community nor does it provide service to an underserved population. Despite this, the site still offers an opportunity for education and outreach to both the parents and children who attend the center as well as contributes to our understanding of the needs of the pediatric population.


(one of our many education pieces included monster mouths for dental hygiene)

While at our clinical site, our main focus is health promotion and providing education to both the children and their families who attend the center. Our clinical group has provided a significant amount of education to the children on topics like hand-washing, dental hygiene, sun safety, nutrition, and other important topics. We found it helpful to incorporate not only visual and audio learning tools, but tactile learning as well. We create easy to read posters with quick facts about the educational topics allowing the children the opportunity to ask us questions or tell us stories or other information they have learned from other sources.

During the summer, we took on a larger project with incorporating pea plants and pumpkin seed planting into our education. We discussed nutrition of both the plants and our bodies, as well as how we grow and what our bodies need to function. The group really enjoyed this project because we started the pea plants off in individual water bottles along their bike fence so children had the opportunity to watch their plants grow. From there, we moved the pea plants to the community garden where the children still visit weekly to watch their plants grow as well as the other plants they have planted!

(Meagan and Tia helping with planting the pea plants in the community garden, and Coco water the pea plants)

Our clinical group is excited to continue the education and outreach at Manchester and hope to get further involvement with the parents of the Manchester community. When you have a minute, come check out the community garden!


(Maressa, Brittany, and Caleb teaching on sun safety as well as explaining the project of creating and decorating hats!)

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MEPN Open House Answers Questions for Applicants

Open House-2018-1

This Post is written by 2nd year MEPN, and guest writer, Sarah Cole

On September 15, 2018 the school of nursing hosted over 175 prospective students at the Kroc Peace and Justice Theater to hear about the incredible MEPN program that we are so blessed to be a part of. The group was full of questions that varied greatly in content and ranged from application questions to what we deem are the qualities and attributes that make a good nurse. Visitors were curious about what a normal week looks like for the current students’ in the MEPN program, what advice or instruction we could provide them for writing their personal statements, and if the cohort felt supported by fellow classmates and faculty. We not only gave a very enthusiastic “yes” to both questions, but we also gave examples of the different types of support we have received throughout our time in the program.

The open house was full of both excitement and trepidation.  Many were there solely to gather information about the program and what it takes to apply, while others were in the midst of applying and had specific questions about the application process. Back when I attended the Fall Open House in 2016 as a prospective student, I remember sitting in the audience contemplating the very same choices and experiencing the same feelings, as I was in the middle of finishing my application during that time.  My open house experience was so amazing and it truly solidified my choice in selecting USD as my number one option for graduate school. I remember being extremely nervous to submit my application and made my mother and husband proof read my personal statement and short answers about one hundred times before I actually hit submit. I clearly remember the emotions I felt that day and it is my sincere hope that they walked away with the same drive for this profession and the MEPN program as I did when I attended my first open house.

I have been fortunate enough to attend every open house that the School of Nursing has put on since beginning my time in the program and I feel as if these prospective students had the most numerous questions of any open house I have attended. They were not only interested in the program and what it entailed, but they were also very interested in talking to the students about what brought them to the MEPN program. It was great to interact with them and hear their various backgrounds and what they could bring to the cohort and program. As we were learning about the various backgrounds of the attendees, I also had the chance to hear the backgrounds of my fellow cohort members for the very first time or I had the pleasure of hearing their interesting stories once again. It was a great reminder of the varied experiences that make our cohort such a diverse and collaborative group.

One of the people in attendance was an older gentleman who shared his brave story of battling cancer and spoke about the respect and admiration he had for nurses. He conveyed just how impactful the nurses were on his care and how he attributed his ability to sit in the audience that day to the support of the nurses who cared for him. The prospective students were such an amazing audience to sit and listen to his story because many were there getting information about making a possible career change and it could have helped them make their decision. He specifically thanked the students sitting on the student panel for deciding to pursue this career and it was so wonderful for him to reinforce why we went into this fulfilling and rewarding career.

Open House-2018-2

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

A Day at Hacienda Townhomes

This post is written by 2nd year student and guest writer, Marisa Katsman


Throughout the last two semesters we have been able to spend our clinical hours at Hacienda Townhomes, a low-income housing facility in southeast San Diego.  We have worked closely with the residents and manager, Miss Cassandra, to educate, celebrate, and empower the Hacienda community.   These townhomes have 51 units; one being dedicated to the manager and one for a handicapped resident.  The population is approximately 90% Hispanic, 5% African-American and 5% Caucasian.  With about 200 residents (90 adults and 110 children), the community here is diverse, yet inclusive and friendly.  Most of the residents are family members.  Cousins, siblings, and friends play on the old, hot metal playground while the moms generally mingle and sit with Miss Cassandra.  There is a strong sense of community here at Hacienda and as “the nurses” we have tried to build trusting and strong relationships with all the residents.

Most of our day is spent on education.  We have touched healthcare topics ranging from sun safety, water safety, blood pressure, stroke, fire safety, depression, and cancer.  We create engaging posters and fliers that allow clients to get visuals and reminders throughout the week.  We hold educational events and invite all the residents to attend.


One of our favorite events focused on healthy eating and exercise.  With the kids, we made healthy smoothies and healthy Popsicles filled with fruits and vegetables.  After our cooking lesson we did some dancing, stretching, and hoola hooping.  This event stressed the importance of being active and eating healthy to grow a strong heart and healthy bones.

Another resident favorite was ‘Meet a Cop’ day.  On this day, we had Officer Ed come speak with the kids and parents.  After his presentation, he let the kids look in his police car.  This was a great experience because it allowed the residents to speak to a policeman in a non-intimidating way.  He explained the importance of safety, the law, and overall following your dreams.  One of the residences even stated, “I want to be a police officer when I grow up”.


Beyond educational events, we provide weekly blood pressure screenings for the residents and encourage them to keep track of their blood pressure.  Many of residents did not know what the blood pressure numbers meant and how it related to their health and were happy when it was explained to them.  We encourage residents to visit doctors and modify their lifestyles if their BPs were higher than normal.

In order to increase resident participation, we included an “Ask the Nurse” box.  This allows the kids and parents to anonymously ask the nurses any questions.  We found this extremely beneficial on both ends.  It allowed us to get a better idea of what the residents were interested in as well as allowed the residents to ask anything on their minds.  Most of the questions revolved around weight loss and healthy eating habits.  We even had questions from the kids regarding puberty and body changes.  We answered the questions honestly and appropriately and gave the answers in an envelope.  The kids looked forward to their letters from the nurses every week.

Overall our time at Hacienda Townhomes has been impactful not only to the residents but to us as well.  Throughout this next semester we have more education events planned, and even plan on making a trip to the local elementary school where most of the children attend.  By going to this school, we will get a better idea of the education the children are receiving, the support they have at school, the recess facilities, and the food system. Through this experience we have learned about this diverse community and the ways in which we can make a difference in the lives of those living at Hacienda Townhomes.



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

MEPNs win Dan Gross Scholarship

This post is written by 2nd year MEPN Christina Baxter

Christina Baxter-2018

Christina Baxter, MEPN Class of 2019

The Dan L. Gross Scholarship of 2017 was awarded to Karina Ochoa, (MEPN graduating class of 2018 and currently working in the SICU at Sharp Memorial) and me, Christina Baxter, Sharp Memorial Hospital pathology lab technician and 2nd year MEPN student at USD.

The scholarship is named in honor of Dan Gross, RN, DNSc, executive vice president for Sharp Health Care, who started his clinical nursing role at Sharp in 1979 and earned his DNSc at USD. Dan Gross continues to demonstrate exponential leadership driven by compassion for Sharp Healthcare year after year. The scholarship award of $2,500 is designed to help provide economic stability to nursing students interested in similar leadership goals and outcomes.

When I first saw the email advertising the Dan Gross Scholarship, I said to myself, “Might as well take a stab at it.” I have been a Sharp Healthcare employee for three years. I thought I was taking a shot in the dark, but I am living proof, it’s not impossible to win a scholarship! Karina and I couldn’t agree more, there’s no better feeling than receiving the congratulations letter.

The best part of the scholarship was visiting with Dr. Dan Gross and Dr. Laurie Ecoff, current Vice President of the Center of Nursing Excellence at Sharp HealthCare and Clinical Associate Professor at USD who will be teaching our Leadership class this semester. We met over a delicious lunch. I will never forget the time they took out of their busy schedules to meet with both Karina Ochoa and me. Hearing Dan Gross’s personal story as a nurse was tremendously inspiring. Dr. Dan Gross gave me the courage and confidence necessary to get me through nursing school.  I hope to instill the same inspiration to students when applying for scholarships!

Karina Ochoa-Class of 2018

Karina Ochoa, MEPN Class of 2018

Posted in Class of 2018, Class of 2019, Guest Writer, Scholarships, USD Alumni | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment