By Kathryn Mulligan
It’s no secret that the College of Nursing adores its alumni. Many of our alumni still carry the same passion and drive for nursing that they entered the program with. Among these phenomenal alumni is Tavia Mathers.
Tavia Mathers graduated from the College of Nursing in 2000 and immediately began working as an RN. She worked in medical and surgical ICU as well as cardiac ICU where her love for cardiology blossomed. While she loved working as an RN, Tavia always knew she wanted to move on to get a graduate degree. She returned to the College of Nursing and graduated with her master’s degree as a nurse practitioner in 2008. “It was the perfect time to focus on me again and my education.”
As a nurse practitioner, Tavia worked in general surgery from 2008 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2020. She’s also worked as a nurse practitioner in bariatric surgery and electrophysiology. She currently works in general cardiology with Intermountain Heart Institute at the American Fork, Utah location.
Between her experience as an RN and her time as a nurse practitioner, Tavia has developed a deep love of the study of the heart. “[Cardiology] is something I’m pretty passionate about,” she explains. “Everything in medicine comes back to the heart and how well the heart is working.” Her interest in cardiology truly started though during her teenage years when her grandmother died at the age of sixty-seven from a massive heart attack. “I knew that I had potentially bad genetics,” Tavia tells as she reflects on her path to cardiology. “I knew I wanted to help others have more healthy lifestyles, get early detection of heart problems and prevent that same fate; because heart disease is still the number one killer.”
Many lessons from her time at BYU have stuck with Tavia as she’s pursued nursing, such as evidence-based learning and the influence of a true mentor, but perhaps the biggest lesson she’s carried with her is the importance of creating connections with patients and advocating for them. “When you treat the patient, you treat the whole family. You treat the whole network. You treat their friend. You treat everybody who is a part of that patient and so you can be an advocate for patients, but you also end up being an advocate for their lifestyle or their social network.”
When Tavia isn’t working, her time is occupied by her husband and their four children, ages four to twelve. “They’re my favorite full time job,” she admits with a laugh. Additionally, Tavia loves everything to do with the outdoors, including fishing, hiking, and kayaking. “I’m a bit of a nature loving hippie. I love to connect with the outdoors and adventure.” Her love of adventure is clearly seen in her passion for traveling and exploring the world around her. While COVID-19 has temporarily put her traveling adventures on hold, she’s hopeful that her next traveling adventure will be to New York with her husband within the next while.
While her interest in cardiology, love of nature, and passion for traveling are defining features of her as an individual, Tavia’s testimony of the Healer’s art is perhaps her clearest feature and strength in her practice. “There are so many times that I have been at the bedside with the patient, or with patients in my clinic where I really felt inspired with strength beyond my own… to do something or to be more compassionate in recognizing a patient’s needs at that time,” she testifies. “And sometimes the Healer’s art doesn’t always have the outcomes we desire, but we can still treat it with delicate love and compassion as we help people navigate their healthcare.”
We absolutely adore Tavia and her work since moving on from the BYU College of Nursing. She is everything the Healer’s art represents and we are beyond grateful for her example.