By Eliza Joy
This past academic year, the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University arranged for several nursing students to complete their clinical rotations in rural locations. These locations provided unique learning for them as they got to experience smaller hospitals, work with various staff, and spend time on multiple units within those facilities—encounters not usually available in more urban settings.
Ashton Cloud and Elizabeth Pynes are two students who completed their capstone in a rural clinic in the fall semester of 2021. While Ashton worked in Fillmore and Elizabeth in Vernal, they had very similar experiences. One of the main deciding factors for working in a rural clinic was the chance to work with friends. Elizabeth said, “One day, I was talking to my friend, and we realized we could do the clinical together.” Ashton commented, “The rural clinical allows two students to be together. I had a best friend who we both wanted to do it together.”
When students think about doing their capstone hours away from the valley, the cost of travel, food, and housing may seem daunting. But the college funds these experiences for its capstone students. Elizabeth explained, “They pay for the hotel, and then they reimburse us for food and gas.”
Some of the reasons nursing students choose to work in local hospitals are the ability to pick which unit they work in and the likelihood of getting a job offer after graduation. However, for Ashton, missing out on these things wasn’t a concern. “Fillmore is great because it’s a small hospital and so you get a lot of experience. But also the experience that you get is in so many different areas,” she explained. Because she and her husband were planning to move out of Provo after graduation, a job offer right away wasn’t a priority. “I wasn’t really looking for a job opportunity,” she recalled.
Both students had a lot to share about the benefits of the program. “You get to see a different side of medicine and a different patient population,” Elizabeth described. “I would tell anyone to do it because I had such a positive experience. The staff was all welcoming and we could tell they wanted us to be there. I’ve heard sometimes that’s not the case in the valley.” She added, “They helped push me to exceed and succeed.”
About what she has learned of the Healer’s art during the semester, Ashton testified, “In rural placements, you get a lot of opportunities to see things that other people don’t. If somebody is coming into the hospital, most likely, the nurses already know that person. It was very interesting for me to see the care provided to some of these people, regardless of what the nurses knew of their circumstances. And I feel like that’s exactly how the Savior wants us to be. He knows us all perfectly yet will take care of us in every way we need.” She continued, “For me, a huge part of the Healer’s art is caring for people regardless of their circumstances. The Healer’s art is giving people the care that the Savior would want them to have.”