Never Say Never

By Lyndee Johns

Associate teaching professor Stacie S. Hunsaker has learned never to say never when it comes to her life.

“I need to be careful where I say, ‘I will never do this,’ because I end up doing it,” says Hunsaker. For one, up until her senior year of high school, she had never thought of being a nurse.

“I wanted to either be a schoolteacher or own a dog shelter,” she says.

But her high school counselor saw great potential in Hunsaker and suggested that she apply for the nursing program at Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho).

“So I did. And behold, I got accepted,” says Hunsaker. “I got the letter and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to be a nurse.’”

After starting nursing classes in Idaho, she never looked back. “I knew being able to interact with people, being able to give care, and helping others was just exactly what I wanted to do,” says Hunsaker.

After graduating with an associate’s degree, Hunsaker began work as a nurse for Utah Valley Hospital in 1988 and has worked there in its emergency department since 1994.

She has worked in various areas during her career including medical/surgical, adult and pediatric psych, pediatrics, intermediate care, and home health; however, 26 of her 32 years have been in the emergency department.

Twenty years after finishing her bachelor’s degree, she thought, “I don’t want to start a program where I will have to write a thesis.” Then she completed a master’s degree in nursing education at Utah Valley University and published her thesis (on identifying factors that influence compassion fatigue, burnout, and compassion satisfaction in ED nurses).

“I thought, ‘When I’m done with my master’s degree, I will never go back to school again,” Hunsaker says. She is currently working on her doctorate in organizational management at the University of Utah.

“I’ve learned that I can do things that I think I can’t do,” she says. Hunsaker has been at Brigham Young University since 2013. She is the faculty coordinator of the simulation lab, the course coordinator for skills/simulation in third semester, oversees the Taiwan section of the clinical practicum for the public and global health nursing course and team-teaches the personal wellness class with associate teaching professor Dr. Michael Thomas.

Hunsaker is passionate about simulation, having worked in the simulation lab at Intermountain Healthcare for the past 10 years and as a simulation faculty lead in BYU’s Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertson Nursing Learning Center (NLC) simulation lab for the previous two.

“Simulation is wonderful because it can cross the realm from beginning procedures to advanced tasks,” she says. “I’m very much an interactive and hands-on learner, so I like to teach that way as well.”

Hunsaker is advocating for the accreditation of the college’s NLC—not an easy feat, considering that Intermountain has the only accredited simulation center in Utah. However, Hunsaker is not backing down.

“It’s a multiyear process. We must create and adopt a set of policies and procedures,” she says. “There is a lot of work, but it’s not just to become accredited. I think it’ll help ensure that we are practicing at our highest level.”

Hunsaker is married with five children and two golden retrievers. In between teaching full-time, working hospital shifts, and studying for her doctorate, she enjoys listening to audiobooks and podcasts, baking, and camping with her family.

Overall, Hunsaker wants others to understand the importance of having healthy outlets and not letting work take over their lives. She also wants to remind them of the greatest equalizer—the hospital gown.

“I believe as nurses that we are working in the Savior’s place,” she says. “We’re at different levels of socioeconomic status, but you put all these people in a hospital gown, and we are all the same. And I think that’s how the Savior sees us.”

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