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2023 Research and Evidence-Based Practice and Professionalism Conference

Conference Background

On Monday, October 23rd, the BYU College of Nursing held its annual Research and Evidence-Based Practice and Professionalism Conference. The conference is designed to give students an opportunity to present research done with faculty, hear tips from graduated nurses, and listen to presentations given by experienced professionals. This year, the conference boasted over 30 unique presentations, featuring everything from Burnout Amongst Nurses in Spain to Federal Service as a Career Opportunity, as well as keynote speaker Natalie May, endnote speaker Shalyn Larsen, and the presentation of the DAISY awards. A total of 329 students attended the conference and a few of them shared their insights with the college.

Keynote Speaker

The college had the pleasure of listening to the conference’s keynote speaker, Dr. Natalie May. Dr. May is an Associate Professor of Research at the University of Virginia School of Nursing with 30 years of experience researching, writing, and teaching. Dr. May’s presentation titled, Cultures of Mattering in Nursing, Why They Matter and How We Build Them focused on the significance of mattering in the medical profession and how it relates to burnout amongst nurses. Her speech gave outstanding insights on how prioritizing the concept of mattering encourages positive feelings of belonging and self-worth amongst nurses and nursing students. Building an environment of mattering paves the way for inventive methods to integrate expressions of appreciation into daily work processes. These initiatives can prevent nursing students from dropping out of courses, and help nurses stay active in the field. Dr. May said, “Meaning is what got us into nursing in the first place and mattering is what makes us stay.”

Of the speech, BYU Nursing student Elizabeth Hyatt says "It was so cool, when you make a connection with someone it just makes you feel like you matter". And graduate student, Emily Santillan said, "She said so many things that you already know, but she just did such a good job of putting words to it". The Professor behind her chimed in, "So she spoke truth". Truly, Dr. May's speech reflected so many of our values including making others feel as though they belong and helping them to realize their divine and individual worth.

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Dr. May is the lead author of Appreciative Inquiry in Healthcare, and as a researcher for the Wisdom in Medicine Project, she co-authored Choosing Wisdom: The Path Through Adversity and the PBS film Choosing Wisdom.  Her current research includes the Mattering in Healthcare study, the Cultures of Mattering in Healthcare Education study, and the Wisdom from Within: Nurse Managers study. Dr. May is also project director for the Wisdom and Wellbeing Peer Support Training grant at University of Virginia, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. She is co-author of Self-Care for New and Student Nurses and Self Care for Nurses: Small Doses for Wellness.

Breakout Session Highlights


This picture depicts a group of BYU Nursing students who presented their research project entitled Lessons Learned Through a Global Health Experience in Paraguay. The presentation went in depth about the struggles they experienced as they attempted to teach the locals about everything from menstrual health and hygiene to CPR. They overcome obstacles such as language barriers, making connections, and respecting local cultures and customs. However, their compassion for the message they had to share and the people of Paraguay aided them in their mission and they were successful in teaching hundreds.


One of the many presentations included in the conference, this group is called Transition to Practice: Tips from Experienced Nurses. Here, a group of nurses who graduated from the BYU College of Nursing in different years and went on to pursue different career paths, come together to give insight to current nursing students. In this panel, they discussed the benefits of working in a hospital, the value of a good preceptor, and the hardships that can be expected as every graduate makes the transition from student to nurse.

Endnote Speaker

As the conference came to a close, Shalyn Larsen gave a brilliant endnote speech. In her speech, Shalyn began by asking her audience who the perfect physician was. She continued by expressing that Christ is the perfect physician. With the crowd already amused by her photo of Jesus as a doctor, she smiled as she declared “ we all know that [real] Physicians are not perfect, and that’s why God created nurses”. This set the tone of her words as she broached crucial topics in the nursing field such as burnout, judging patients, and learning the healer’s art as Christ practiced it. She incorporated her own experiences dealing with tough patients, one such she affectionately named Kevin, and encouraged students to come unto Christ, “if we want to learn the healer’s art, we have to learn who the master healer is.” Her sense of humor, compassion for others, passion for her practice, and testimony of Christ kept the audience engaged and taking notes.

Grad student Jessica Clark said that "It was so empowering", and fellow grad student Emily Santillan chimed in, "We really enjoyed her speech because we're experienced nurses so we could relate to the things she was saying". And undergrad Maria Taylor said "Her speech overall was motivating because nursing school is hard and being a nurse is hard but it was so good to see the impact that nurses can also have". Overall, our students truly enjoyed her speech and took away so many good messages pertaining to nursing.


Shalyn attended Colorado State University where she majored in Human Development and Family studies and minored in Gerontology. She served a mission in Riverside, California and upon her return pursued her dream of becoming a nurse. She attended Creighton University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Later she came to Brigham Young University where she obtained her Masters in Nursing. Now, Shalyn is working as a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner working in the Emergency Department of a Critical Access Hospital in Oregon.
Look out for Shalyn's feature story in the next issue of The Healer’s Art magazine.

DAISY Awards


During the conference, the College of Nursing presented this year’s DAISY Awards to five individuals for their dedication to the spirit of nursing and their demonstration of Christlike compassion. These awardees are as follows:

The Circle of Influence Staff Award: Gina Jackson and Nancy Salanoa
DAISY Extraordinary Faculty Award: Kristen Erekson
DAISY Extraordinary Student Award: Madalynn Taylor and Rachel Carr Olsen

BYU College of Nursing maintains an ongoing collaboration with The DAISY Foundation in acknowledging nursing educators and students who demonstrate exceptional compassion. The DAISY Foundation originated from the Barnes family's desire to commemorate the life of Patrick Barnes, who tragically passed away at just 33 years of age from complications of an autoimmune disease. To honor him, their family established DAISY, an acronym representing "Diseases Attacking the Immune System," as a means to express their gratitude to the nurses who provided care to Patrick and to honor outstanding nurses worldwide.

Each fall semester, the College of Nursing opens nominations for the DAISY Awards. The call for submissions is your opportunity to nominate someone in the college who reflects compassion and exemplifies the Healer’s art.

The College of Nursing celebrates these individuals for their accomplishments and outstanding impact they have made on others. We encourage everyone to join us in congratulating these remarkable women when you see them.

In closing, the College of Nursing is grateful for all of the individuals that made this year’s Research and Evidence-Based Practice and Professionalism Conference possible. We would like to thank all of the speakers, presenters, faculty, staff, and students for their hard work and dedication to this college and learning the healer’s art.