Lessons Learned from Diabetes camp

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student,Caleb Kuo

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Caleb Kuo drawing up insulin for administration

I had the opportunity to participate as a nursing volunteer at Camp Wana Kura, which is a summer camp dedicated to helping children with type 1 diabetes learn about diabetes management and provide them a safe space to be a kid. I was assigned to work with a group of 9-10 year old campers and was amazed to find how self-sufficient they were. We started the day by checking in with the parents and taking report of their child’s blood glucose level. I was a little nervous working with the children because they knew so much about their own management. It was only after I started joking around with them that they became comfortable with me and let me help with checking blood glucose levels and administering insulin. There was a big emphasis on carb counting and it was a little tricky determining how much insulin to give because the children would say that they were going to eat a certain number of carbs and then decide not to. Dr. Marsh guided me through calculating each individual’s insulin according to their own scale and it surprised me how different everyone’s insulin regimen was. She also led a few education games and we watched the campers put together a skit about safe administration of glucagon.

In reflecting on the day, I realized that despite all the adversity that children with type 1 diabetes face I could see their strength as they refused to let the diabetes prevent them from doing what they loved. I could imagine how difficult it would be for a child with type 1 to go to a friend’s house for a party and have to be careful about what they ate. Eating lunches at school can also present difficulty because you often cannot share food unless you know how many carbs it has. I learned that there are so many variables that influence your blood sugar level including activity level and weather. I can understand why parents would worry because their children are forced to grow up and learn to manage their disease process. However, this experience taught me that outside of all the stressors and challenges there can be so much joy in living in the moment and enjoying our youth. Thank you to all the kids and staff at Camp Wana Kura for showing me what it is like to live a life that is not defined by diabetes. May we never forget our child-like excitement and live not in fear of what could happen in the future but appreciate the blessings we have now.

on the left-Thalia Quezada administering insulin via insulin pen, to a camper. Group photo of MEPNs at camp


Monica Colavita administering an injection to a camper

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Build A Miracle Mexico Spring Break Trip

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student, Melissa Dempsey.

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World’s Collide

During our spring break this past March, I had the opportunity of visiting the town La Morita with a few other MEPN students and Dr. Hutchins. During this particular trip, the San Eugenio clinic was closed. Instead of our usual activities (health fairs, clinic visits, and first aid courses), we volunteered with a non-profit called Build A Miracle, and learned about all of the great work they do in the community.

Katie North, a second year MEPN student, has a pretty special connection with the town of La Morita. When she started at USD, the MEPN mentorship team paired her with second year Brittani Deriemer. Brittani happened to be one of the team leaders of the Mexico trips at the time. As Katie recalled, “we were driving to the clinic in La Morita on the first day, and it just randomly happened to be right by our community center.” This community center is a place that Katie has been visiting her entire life.

Katie’s parents started Build A Miracle in 1999, after graduating from Loyola Marymount University. In the beginning, their dream was to build one home a year. Today, the organization averages 25-30 homes per year, and is currently working on home #310. Each home is funded by donations, and families who receive homes are asked to volunteer 500 hours of service at the community center or other home building sites. This community center has become a beacon for the surrounding community. It offers after-school programs for kids, tutoring, vocational courses, and a place for members of the community to gather. As Katie detailed, “families get involved with the community center because it gives them confidence, builds a stronger community, and changes lives.”

I asked Katie to talk to me about how her work with Build A Miracle has evolved since starting nursing school at USD. “It’s been really cool for me. We’ve always focused on homes and education with Build a Miracle, nobody in my family is in the medical field. It’s been amazing to see the health initiatives brought to the community by USD,” said Katie. “We’ve been able to channel USD’s philosophies into the community center programs, we even started teaching dental hygiene, Zumba, and nutrition recently.”

During our time in La Morita over spring break, we visited multiple Build A Miracle homes. We helped lay concrete at a home site, taught classes at the community center, and most importantly, saw the massive impact that the organization has had on this small community. I think that we all left La Morita in complete awe of our classmate and her family. As Natalie Mata expressed, “to me, Katie’s parents were like little sparks that slowly started a large and strong flame that has grown stronger and brighter with time. It made me realize that everyone has the potential to make this type of a difference in the world. It also showed me how constant compassion, as well as the collective compassion of others can truly change lives.”

Katie mentioned that one of the things that recipients of new homes consistently mention to the Build A Miracle team is a newfound appreciation for rain. One of the women in the community said to Katie, “rain used to be this evil thing. It was scary, and after it rained, the kids would always get sick. I remember standing in my house and looking outside my window the first time that it rained after we moved into our new house and thinking, ‘wow, rain is beautiful.’”


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Spring Break2018-3


Posted in Class of 2018, community involvement, Guest Writer, Hahn School of Nursing, Health Care Advocate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

MEPNs care for veterans at Stand Down

This post is written by MEPN students and guest Writers:  Maile Cabugao, Adilene Esquivias, Karen Kriger, Nneoma Njoku, Hannah Penney, Amarachi Uchenna

Stand Down from Peggy Peattie

What is Stand Down?

 On the weekend of June 29-July 1st, USD nursing students had the opportunity to take part in the yearly national Stand Down event catered to veterans of San Diego, hosted by the Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) . Throughout the weekend, numerous services such as housing, legal aid, medical treatment, massage therapy, and acupuncture were provided at no cost to the veterans who have served our country.  A wide array of volunteers from various locations throughout the nation were present at the event. With the veteran population being underserved, it was rewarding having the opportunity and honor to give back.

What did we do at Stand Down?

 We were given an opportunity to work in the medical tent with different medical professionals. We worked with doctors, registered nurses, dermatologists, podiatrists, laboratory scientists and pharmacists. From initial screening, patients were directed to triage.  At triage, patients were further referred to specific clinicians based on their chief complaints. Veterans received adequate care from all teams of health professionals. They were then accompanied to discharge area. Most of the patients needed vaccinations and  medications refilled. For patients who were not able to receive a specific treatment for more complex conditions, they were given referral for further treatment outside of Stand Down. Throughout the day we made rounds with the medical backpacks, to all tents in case of emergency. We also provided education for oral hygiene and foot care. All in all, we worked alongside these professionals to provide a continuum of care to our veterans. This was an honor.

How we felt/reflection:

Many of us have completed a clinical rotation at the VA Healthcare System or Navy Medical Center. It felt rewarding to be able to serve the veterans again. It is always shocking to see how many veterans there are who are homeless, despite all that they have given to protect our country. Stand Down offered us an opportunity to spend time with and give back to the men and women who have already given so much for us and our country. It was great to be able to talk with the veterans and hear their different stories. Although Stand Down offers a variety of necessary services to this population, we felt that this event can only do so much because it is only three days long. Upon reflecting with our group after the event, we realized that we need to become advocates for our veterans so that they can receive the care that they so desperately deserve all year round.

Special thanks to Dr Lyn Puhek and Professor Laura Gilbert for mentoring us during this phenomenal experience.



with DA Summer Sanders


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Volunteers needed for Save A Life event

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student Kelsey Marckstadt

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The Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation is an organization based in San Diego that is spreading the awareness of sudden cardiac arrest in our youth. Through education and action, the parents of Eric Paredes are influencing families, educators, elected officials and the medical community to recognize the incidence of youth sudden cardiac arrest/death (SCA/D) and the importance of preventative heart screenings. They have a vison of exposing sudden cardiac arrest as an overlooked health risk affecting young people, leading to mandatory cardiac screenings and the required placement of AED’s in schools and youth centers.

Every few months there is a Save A Life event that is organized at a local high school here in San Diego where we screen teens for cardiac abnormalities. It gives nursing students great experience in working with teenagers and children ranging from the ages of twelve to eighteen years and also with young adults up to the age of twenty-five.

Nursing students are primarily assigned to the EKG room where they are in charge of placing leads and performing the 12-lead EKG. Other stations include the questionnaire table where nursing students obtain a history on each person being screened and a hands-only CPR station where volunteers teach teens and family members the importance of acting fast in a medical emergency.

University of San Diego School of Nursing has been bringing student volunteers to participate at these screenings for many years. It has easily become my favorite event to attend in the community. As the 2018-2019 student nurse recruiter from USD, I encourage everyone to participate at the next event to see for yourself how rewarding it is.

Come kick off the beginning of fall semester on August 26th at the next Save A Life screening!!

Interested in volunteering?

Please send me an e-mail at: kmarckstadt@sandiego.edu

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save a life 2018-2

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MEPNs host Health Fair in Tijuana

This post is written by guest writer and MEPN student Adilene Esquivas

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(Grammy winners Adilene Esquivias and Saya Nodera performing a simulated motor vehicle accident encounter.)

On Saturday June 23rd, several USD Nursing Students had the opportunity to visit our neighbors in Tijuana to host a Health Fair at the San Eugenio Clinic. With the guidance of our faculty advisor, Dr. Hutchins, students were able to address health disparities by providing health education on various nursing skills. Stations included information about allergies, wound and fracture care, heat exhaustion, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Many residents in this community were not aware on how to deliver basic first aid. Shedding light and providing them with supplies was a great way of empowering this community in need.

TJ Health Fair June 2018-4

(Left to Right: Karen Kriger, Elizabeth Schoen, Taylor Spera, and Dr. Hutchins educating students on fracture care.)

Participants in attendance ranged from middle school and high school students, and parents of young children. Serving this wide array of individuals gave MEPNs and NP students the opportunity to tailor their education skills in many ways. Stations not only provided written and verbal information, but also enabled participants to hone the skills they learned by practicing them. USD nursing students were also able to demonstrate their award-winning acting skills at the end of the event! Similar to a CCE, participants simulated care for two patients involved in a motor vehicle accident. Although this was a technique to have participants engaged, it was great having a chuckle after an eventful morning!

The teamwork amongst the MEPNs and NP students was evident. With language being the most common barrier in the delivery of care, we coordinated to have at least one Spanish-speaking student present in each skill station. Collaborating with each other to communicate with the San Eugenio participants was a rewarding learning experience for MEPNs.

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(Left to Right: Melissa Dempsey, Elizabeth Oliver, and Jennifer Bui teaching participants how to perform CPR.)

Prior to the event, USD Nursing students organized a “packing party”. This consisted of gathering all the donated supplies from USD MEPN students. Over one hundred dollars were raised! Funds were utilized to purchase sunscreen, bandages, gauzes, hand sanitizers, and other supplies used during first response treatment. Team leaders, Katie and Karen, were immensely grateful for all the donations received! Having them as our coordinators provided everyone with a sense of comfort as we delivered care in a different country!

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MEPN and NP students with the participants at the San Eugenio Clinic after learning first aid.

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

Some barely finish Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

This post is written by MEPN student, Karen Kriger

On Sunday, June 3rd, MEPN students arrived at 6:00 am to check in as a volunteer for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. Several medical tents were set up throughout the course of the race to provide acute first aid for over 26,000 runners!

​The first thoughts that come to mind about a marathon for most spectators are sweat, strength, determination, and runners overcome with joy as they cross the finish line! However, as nursing students and medical volunteers, for us, the thoughts are muscle cramps, altered electrolyte status, altered cognition, hyperthermia, and injuries as runners approach the finish line.

It was a hot day, with the temperature creeping up into the high 70s, causing the core body temperature of some of the runners to reach dangerously high levels. There were a few athletes who were brought into the finish line medical tent unconscious with a core body temperature of 107 or 108 degrees. It was critical and time sensitive for the medical team to decrease their core temperature back to a normal thermic range before organ damage occurred.

MEPN volunteers at the finish line medical tent worked as part of the medical team, consisting of Physicians, Registered Nurses and EMTs, to stabilize these critical patients. MEPNs worked quickly, and under pressure, to obtain a blood pressure and core body temperature, while submerging these patients in an ice bath. I found the team oriented environment and organized chaos of volunteering at the finish line to be a small taste of life as an Emergency Medicine nurse.

Volunteering at Rock n Roll was excellent opportunity for MEPN volunteers to work alongside other medical providers from the San Diego area, and gain hands on experience with triaging and emergency care. Volunteering at community events allows students to gain new experiences and practice skills that cannot be gained in a classroom, and MEPN volunteers are already looking forward to volunteering at the next marathon!

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MEPN students (Left to right): Caleb Kuo, Megan O’Mahoney, Hannah Lim, Hannah Penney, Melissa Holliser and Natalie Mata

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MEPN Students (Left to right): Karen Kriger, Evan Gum (class of 2018), Kelsey Marckstadt, Hilary Willis, Thalia Quezada

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

Congratulations to MEPN Class of 2018

MEPN grad class for BLOG

Dear MEPN grads,

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

A few things to keep in mind…

  • Your USD email is yours for life!
  • Join the Hahn School of Nursing group on ‘Linked In’
  • Plan to come back to campus for the MEPN Alumni Panel Discussion, in early March, to share your new grad story with the graduating MEPNs. Dr Close will be reaching out to each of you.
  • As soon as you obtain your RN license, you are able to apply for your Public Health Nurse (PHN) certificate (no exam required). Contact Amanda Hernandez at: amandaH@sandiego.edu when you are ready and she will guide you through the process.
  • When you are ready to sit for the CNL exam, please contact Amanda Hernandez. We offer the exam on site at USD, and Amanda can guide you through the exam application process.
  • Don’t forget that MEPN grads make the best lab and clinical faculty. Go out there and get some experience, and then come back to USD to teach in the lab or clinical setting. (Three years’ experience in the acute care setting is required by the BRN so by then you will be ready to ‘pay it forward’ and educate the next generation of nurses.)
  • It might be hard to fathom that someday you might consider a PhD in Nursing. I would personally be thrilled to discuss this educational opportunity with you as you think about advancing your professional career.                                              (Please contact me at KathyMarsh@sandiego.edu)

It is a pleasure and an honor to call you ‘colleague’. Welcome to the nursing profession.


Dr. Kathy Marsh, Associate Dean, Hahn School of Nursing, University of San Diego

and the MEPN Team- Dr Jackie Close, Professor Peggy Mata, Dr. Susie Hutchins, Dr Lyn Puhek, and Executive Assistant, Amanda Hernandez.


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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.

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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

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