BYU nursing alum Bevan Briggs is so grateful for his time at the college. It has completely changed his perspective on nursing! Photo courtesy of Briggs.
By Quincey Taylor
As the interim academic director for Washington State University College of Nursing at WSU Tri-Cities in Spokane, Bevan Briggs (BS ’95) reflects often on his own nursing education. He works hard to make students’ experience great, remembering his time at BYU in the nursing program to guide him. He remembers being with a cohort of incredibly intelligent, caring people that all had similar beliefs and a passion for caring for others. Here is his story and what life looks like for one BYU nursing alum:
What did you first do after graduating from BYU?
After I graduated from BYU, I worked as a RN in Idaho Falls, Idaho. While I was there, I attended Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho and earned my MS degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
Being a Nurse Practitioner has been my passion for the past 20 years. After graduating from Idaho State University, we made our way to Richland, Washington (one of the Tri-Cities, Richland, Kennewick, Pasco). I worked as a nurse practitioner in the emergency department and in urgent care clinics.
I have always valued having nurses work at the top of their abilities, so to be able to do that I earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from the University of Alabama. My DNP project dealt with informatics and the project allowed me to make a lot of connections and gain skills in working with electronic health records and clinical documentation. For the past several years I worked clinically in an urgent care clinic and also did informatics work for the health system.
In working in Tri-Cities over the past two decades, I have had the opportunity to be the preceptor for many nurse practitioner students from WSU Tri-Cities. Working as a preceptor put me in touch with faculty and leaders at the College of Nursing and gave me the opportunity to work as an adjunct faculty member to do clinical evaluation of nurse practitioner students.
Eventually, I was approached by the academic director and invited to apply for a clinical assistant professor position with WSU CON. I worked part time as a faculty member for a couple of years and then took a year off of teaching.
After taking some time off, I was asked to consider returning to WSU Tri-Cities as the academic director. Over time, my passion has evolved. I love taking care of patients, but I also love helping students learn how to take care of patients. Being able to figure out how to help students see what is going on with a patient and how they can help the patient is exciting. I love helping health care providers navigate electronic health records easily and utilize the power of the electronic health record to improve their care of patients. It is particularly rewarding when I can help providers do this quickly so that they can spend more time with their family.
I also maintain a per diem clinical practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner and Clinician Informaticist.
How has being a BYU grad influenced your career? Has it ever come up with coworkers?
Being a BYU grad has definitely influenced my career. The vision of BYU CON is that “Guided by the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we exemplify the Healer’s art.” Having that gospel focus in my practice has helped me have more patience and empathy with patients. As nurses and nurse practitioners, we take care of people who are sometimes hateful and abusive. We care for patients who have complicated problems like opiate abuse and other difficult issues. We take care of people who don’t smell very good and who sometimes don’t want to hear what we have to say. It is really easy to get burned out if we don’t have the right perspective. However, by practicing the Healer’s art – guided by the gospel of Jesus Christ – we can see our patients through His eyes and our hands become His hands.
I love talking to co-workers about BYU CON. Nurses are always comparing experiences from nursing school. All of us have dealt with the nurses who weren’t helpful at all and we have all had those mentors who really helped us. As for me, I had a lot of those really cool mentors at BYU.
Was there a professor that was particularly influential to you during your time here?
Russ Wilshaw was our critical care instructor. He was an old ICU nurse and he worked in the ED in addition to teaching. He was a crusty sort that knew so much about trauma, disease and taking care of people. He was by no means warm and fuzzy and he had high expectations that inspired me to do the best that I could.
He taught me to value the experience that comes from working at the bedside. My very best teachers were the ones that still worked as nurses. In academia, it is easy to get blinded by high academic ideals and forget that what needs to be done is often simple and uncomplicated. I try to remember that in my teaching and leadership role.
What piece of advice do you have for current BYU nursing students?
Learn to write well! I often complained that every class I took required a research paper. I found that those papers prepared me so much for future success as a nurse! So many people say “Well, I am not going to ever go back for more school so I don’t need to write.” As a nurse, and even more as a nurse practitioner, the evidence of what you have done as a clinician is what you write down. If you don’t write well, then your work product does not reflect positively on you. If you don’t write well, the next person to take care of that patient may not understand what you did and what the patient needs.
Briggs is an inspiration for students, showing that the path after graduation can be different for everyone. His daughter, Sydney Briggs, is finishing her first semester at the BYU College of Nursing and will graduate in 2022. Briggs laughs, “The WSU mascot is the cougars. I like to tell people that I am working as a red coug to pay for my blue cougar.”