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Cheryl Albright Offers Works Research Workshops October 2-4

Cheryl Albright, professor at University of Hawaii’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene , will visit Boise State to offer faculty research workshops.

From 1:30-3:00 PM on Monday, October 2 in Norco 431, Albright will present “Deeper than a Biosketch.” She’ll address how to choose the best research team members, how to articulate team contribution in a grant proposal, and how to link team contributions to grant specific aims.

From 11:30-12:30 PM on Wednesday, October 4 in Norco 408A, Albright will discuss tips for writing a compelling description of undergraduate student research involvement in study.

To attend either of Albright’s presentations, please RSVP to Jane Grassley, Albright’s visit is sponsored by Boise State’s School of Nursing.

Albright is a funded NIH researcher and grats reviewer. Albright conducts transdisciplinary research spanning the fields of nursing, pediatric oncology, behavioral medicine, health psychology, internal medicine, nutrition, organ donation / transplantation, exercise science, and epidemiology. She has almost 30 years of research experience focused on innovative strategies to promote modification of behavioral risk factors in adults and adolescents. Before coming to the University of Hawaii, she was a senior research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Prevention Research Center (1984-2003). In 2008, she was elected as a Fellow in the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Download a flyer for Albright’s presentations (PDF).

Nikki Hanson Awarded CASE Scholarship

Nikki Hanson, the new associate director of development for the College of Health Sciences, recently was awarded the 2017-18 Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Virginia Carter Smith Scholarship. The scholarship will provide funding for Hanson to attend a CASE conference, covering the cost of registration. CASE conferences highlight the best practices in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.

Lillian Smith Publishes in Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Lillian SmithLillian Smith, associate professor and department head of the School of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Community and Environmental Health, co-authored a Community Health Status Assessment Special Supplement for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, which will fill gaps in the professional literature around contemporary community health assessment strategies and methods.

The supplement is co-authored by James N. Burdine, a professor of health promotion and community health sciences and director of the Center for Community Health Development at Texas A&M School of Public Health Community Health Status Assessment, as well as representatives from the University of Louisville, University of Texas Medical Branch, West Virginia University, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, and health care leaders from several organizations.

Trader Joe’s: A Valued Partner For BroncoFit

Trader Joe’s has contributed up to $100 of merchandise a month to Boise State University Health Services. MarLee Harris, the campus dietitian, selects food for campus Pop Up Tasting each month.

Pop Up Tastings allow students and employees to taste new, healthy food at convenient locations, including Campus Recreation, the Library, Residence Halls and other locations around campus. Previous Pop Ups include popcorn, infused waters, juice spritzers, fruits and veggies, and oatmeal packets.

“Our goal is to expose people to new, convenient, healthy, delicious food,” said Harris. “Healthy can be affordable and delicious.”

Harris has student interns that help her man the Pop Up Tastings, develop recipes that appeal to students, and more. One popular tasting was sweet potato chips with black bean salsa. Intern Sara MacCallum, a kinesiology student and aspiring dietitian, developed the recipe for the salsa.

“One of the most important lessons I have taken away from working with MarLee is that if you are looking to eat better or healthier, the way to do it is not through dieting, eliminating foods, or eliminating food groups,” said MacCallum. “The minute you begin to avoid foods and take them out of your regular diet you are creating a negative relationship with food which is not good. Instead, make sure you are including all of your food groups. It’s ok to eat desserts, chips, sodas, etc. The key is to have a good relationship with food, “balance your plate,” and eat everything in moderation.”

The Pop Up Tastings gave many people “a glimpse into what healthy eating is and how being nutritious doesn’t mean you have to eliminate food groups and only eat fruits and vegetables,” stated MacCallum. “I think many people are scared away by the term “healthy,” thinking it will taste bad or won’t be “real food.” Our goal was to educate students on basic nutrition needs as well as fun and easy ways to make good food choices and enjoy eating in the process. I feel Trader Joe’s has had a huge impact in helping us accomplish this.”

“I feel the Trader Joe’s partnership has been very beneficial for both parties,” said MacCallum. “I think a lot of students had never been to Trader Joe’s. Our food samples helped people discover the unique and tasty products Trader Joe’s offers.”

“Trader Joe’s has facilitated student opportunities as well as exposure and access to affordable, nutritious food,” added Harris. “We look forward to continuing our partnership during the 2017-2018 year.”

To request a Pop Up Tastings near you, contact Harris at Learn more about the dietitian services offered through Health Services.

Boise State University Hosts the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Conference

Boise State University Colleges of Business and Economics and Health Sciences partner to host the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Conference: The Campaign for Action Pillars to Create a Healthier America.

The RWJF is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated to health and provides as much as half a billion dollars in support of community-based health interventions each year. Since 1972, they have supported research and programs targeting some of America’s most pressing health issues and have been the catalyst for transformative progress in health outcomes.

On June 28, approximately 100 representatives for the RWJF flew to Boise from across the United States to attend a conference focused on the future of nursing and creating a sustainable culture of health in American communities. Idaho was selected as one of three host states as a result of outstanding work submitted by the Idaho Alliance of Leaders in Nursing and the Idaho Nursing Action Coalition. The coalition recently completed a two-year grant from the RWJF for academic progression in nursing to promote registered nurses completion of baccalaureate degrees. Through multiple creative projects including post-licensure RN to BS completion and a pre-licensure dual enrollment of community college nursing students in a BS program, Idaho experienced an increase in the BS nursing workforce from 54 percent to 67 percent. Further increases are expected with the completion of the 2017 nurse re-licensure cycle. With leadership from the Boise State School of Nursing, Idaho is among the most successful in the nation at assisting the nursing workforce to complete baccalaureate education.

“Selecting Boise State for the conference was an honor for us and we seized the opportunity to position our programs for future investment from the RWJF,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences.

The two-day conference featured panels and expert talks coordinated and arranged by Dunnagan and Ken Petersen, dean of the College of Business and Economics. A panel comprised of faculty and students highlighted BroncoFit and the Blue Sky Institute. Perspectives from community partners with representatives from local healthcare providers and payers including Saint Alphonsus Health System, Blue Cross of Idaho, Interfaith Sanctuary, and St. Luke’s Health Partners highlighted our unique and powerful ability to leverage community leaders for positive health outcomes. These efforts served to demonstrate the close working relationships and goal sharing Boise State enjoys with community stakeholders. The College of Business and Economics shared their work on sustainability, which was recently recognized by the United Nations, and also highlighted the growing partnership with Interfaith Sanctuary. In addition to these pertinent speakers and topics, the colleges provided three meals per day, transportation, a guided walk around the Blue Turf and a reception in the Stuekle Sky Center that RWFJ leadership remarked was the best reception they could remember.

“Very few universities have an opportunity to engage with leaders from a foundation of this magnitude and we took full advantage of the chance to show off both our university and our community,” said Dunnagan. Based on the feedback we received, they were more than impressed at the work we are doing and the care we illustrate for each other and our surroundings. The evening reception, in particular, was a high point for the conference. We did not know this before, but one of the primary evaluation criteria that the RWJF executives use to determine if a host site was successful is whether or not the host uses the conference to build and strengthen existing partnerships and relationships within their communities. For them to be greeted at the reception by representatives from the City of Boise, the Saint Alphonsus Health System, St. Luke’s, SelectHealth, Blue Cross of Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare, the Idaho Hospital Association, Preventative Health Screenings, business leaders, and representatives from every level at Boise State; they clearly saw that we took full advantage of the honor of hosting them.”

Boise State Students Influence Health Care Reform in Idaho

Boise State is exceptional at involving students, both undergraduate and graduate, in research. The students’ involvement can impact their learning just as much as classroom instruction, perhaps more. The students also have opportunities to make a difference in their communities through their participation in research.

The benefits are not just for the students. Students also help research projects be more productive, which can impact the world around them. One example is the student research assistants for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP). Boise State has a sub-award under the University of Idaho for the State Level Evaluation of this initiative.

In 2016, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare awarded a three-year, $3.6 million contract to a team of researchers to evaluate SHIP. The team is comprised of researchers from University of Idaho, the Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program and Boise State University’s College of Health Sciences.

SHIP is redesigning Idaho’s health care system to improve Idaho residents’ health by strengthening primary and preventive care through the Patient Centered Medical Home and to evolve from a fee-for-service, volume-based payment system to a value-based payment system that rewards improved health outcomes.

During the 2016-2017 year, four Boise State students held assistantships with SHIP and agreed to participate in an interview: Tara Fouts, a Master of Health Science student with an emphasis in Health Promotion; Adiya Jaffari, a Bachelor of Science in Health Science Studies student with a Psychology minor; Michael Thomas, a Master of Science in Accountancy student; and Molly Volk, a Master of Health Science student with an emphasis in Policy.

During the interview, all expressed that they have a deeper understanding of the health care system than they did before their assistantship.

“I have learned that there is a lot of complexity to the way health care is delivered and tracked,” shared Thomas. “I also learned that in the health care world there are so many different stakeholders with their own different objectives. I found it interesting how complex it was to get all the stakeholders to agree on the right method of implementing changes in the health care industry.”

“This assistantship has introduced me to the impact of policy on health beyond what is discussed in the classroom,” states Volk. “I have had the opportunity to become familiar with the movers and shakers of health care reform in Idaho. Additionally, it was a valuable orientation to the nuances of working in public administration and with a federal grant.”

“My experience with SHIP has enhanced my understanding of crucial topics that are paramount to my ability to effectively maneuver the health care system both as a patient and future physician,” said Jaffari, who aspires to be a primary care physician. “Through my time as a research assistant with SHIP, I have gotten an inside look at the intricacies of health care delivery systems, the challenges of implementing health care reform, the arduous task of integrating care through programs targeting systems change, and the difficulty in altering clinical workflow and care coordination to accommodate a reform model on the part of the patient and provider. Understanding the current and inevitable future of health care in the United States will without a doubt increase my effectiveness as a physician, medical student, and lifetime patient.”

“From day one there was a very steep learning curve for someone not savvy with health care,” admits Thomas. “I feel though that my experience has helped me understand how change happens in the real-world.”

“Incrementalism is a reality that must be recognized when trying to make the world a better place, or in this case, reforming health care delivery in Idaho,” adds Volk. “The people that stay motivated and utilize creative thinking are the folks that can move the needle in health care reform.”

Thomas recommends the SHIP assistantship “to students who are looking for a real-world experience and that won’t shy away from complexity.”

Fouts agrees: “I think students who are interested in health care transformation, or anyone who is interested in the “big picture”, would enjoy this. I would also suggest it to students who enjoy health informatics, accounting, or anyone who is proficient in dealing with data. The SHIP staff tailored the workload to incorporate my Health Promotion emphasis into my experiences, and I think any Health-related student would benefit from this assistantship.”

“I would recommend this assistantship to any students studying health, policy, or public administration,” adds Volk. “This position provides an opportunity to gain a hands-on understanding of health care reform, policy change, and public administration in Idaho. You can’t learn this stuff from a textbook!”

“This assistantship has been a great opportunity to see health care change firsthand and to understand the amount of work and collaboration that needs to go into the process,” said Fouts, who wants to work in a position to improve overall health in the community. “It’s also helping me gain a better insight into all the components of the system. I think it has helped me reach my career goals just by solidifying my love for this field and how challenging and continuously changing it can be.”

The students are passionate about preventive health care and patient-centered health care.
“We all understand that health care is expensive and can be frustrating, but is also extremely important. Patient-centered care is vital because it treats patients as a whole person. It not only looks at a person’s social determinants that impact their overall health, but it also addresses them,” explains Fout. “Before, I would never imagine incorporating referrals to community resources such as the food bank as an element of health care. Now, I can’t imagine why we did not do this from the beginning. There are many life components that do impact a person’s health and being able to turn to trusted health care teams for help or for a connection to affordable resources seems like a great solution. Patient-centered care has many benefits and hopefully, in the long-run, patients will be more engaged in their own health care and become better self-advocates.”

“ I worked mostly with the patient-centered medical home transformation, so I see SHIP through a health care delivery transformation lens,” said Volk. “I envision (or hope for) a future in Idaho where all health care is patient-centered. I think that people should be in control of their own health and health care. They should be allowed to make decisions about what affects them. Patient-centeredness means to put the patient in the center of the care system and give them power and control over their own lives and their own care. I see the SHIP transforming the relationships between patients and providers. Health care professionals will no longer provide care to patients or for patients, but rather in partnership with patients. In theory, this patient centeredness will lead to monetary savings by reducing hospital and emergency department utilization, mitigating health disparities, and improving patient outcomes.”

“I hope the change to the new model will decrease the overutilization of the emergency department for minor issues because patients don’t know who to call or because it is after office hours,” reflects Fouts. “I also have often heard from patients that the same services (lab tests, imaging, etc.) were repeated in two different offices for numerous reasons. These repeated services not only add up financially, but can be frustrating to experience unnecessarily. I see the value of the patient-centered model to improve the quality of care through improved team-based care coordination and increased communication. This model can help relieve the immense workload from one individual and disperse it to an entire care team.”

“Patient centeredness will lead to monetary savings by reducing hospital and emergency department visits, mitigating health disparities, and improving patient outcomes,” said Volk. She laughs. “That is my rehearsed elevator pitch.”

Volk continues: “Most importantly to me personally, the patient-centered model values patients more than the traditional fee-for-service model. Through my research I have come to understand four key concepts of patient-centered care: respect and dignity, information sharing, participation, and collaboration. I believe that providers should listen to and honor patient perspectives and choices, communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients in ways that are encouraging and useful, encourage and support patients in participating in care and decision-making, and collaborate with patients in all aspects of quality improvement.”

“Health care transformation is a difficult process,” admits Fouts. “The people involved in SHIP have done a tremendous job at implementing and forming a plan for Idaho, but SHIP is only a four-year grant. SHIP has paved the way for Boise State students, future health care professionals and public health professionals to be integral to continuing their efforts to improve health care in Idaho.”

“I have worked with SHIP for about nine months and I’m learning new things every day,” adds Volk. “If you want to learn more about the background of SHIP, you can find lots of information on our website. I also encourage those that are interested to look into the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services State Innovation Models Initiative. There are some pretty amazing things happening all over the country and states have had the opportunity to tailor initiatives to their own unique needs and goals. It’s awesome stuff!”

First Cohort of MSW Online Students Graduate as Fall Semester Begins

Randy Magen in regalia at podiumAs students moved into the dorms, participated in convocation, and the freshman class began their Boise State journey with the “B” on the Blue, the first cohort of Online Master of Social Work students celebrated the end of their Boise State journey with a hooding ceremony on Friday, August 18.

The Online Master of Social Work program began in January 2016. The summer graduates were in the Advanced Standing program, which means they already held an undergraduate degree in social work and could advance through the master’s program at a quicker pace. Since last fall, the students have been taking a series of seven-week courses. The seventeen graduates represent eight states, California, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, New York, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A string quartet from the Boise State Department of Music played as guests entered the Jordan Ballroom in the Student Union Building and found their seats. “Pomp and Circumstance” was heard as the School of Social Work faculty processed into the room, followed by the nine graduates who traveled to Boise for the ceremony. Other graduates watched the ceremony from their homes across the country in a live stream of the event.

The deans and associate deans of the College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College, as well as the dean of Extended Studies, attended the event.

Randy Magen, director of the School of Social Work, opened the ceremony. The deans of the College of Health Sciences and the Graduate College spoke of the dramatic difference social workers make in individuals’ lives and in the communities around them.

“The world desperately needs social workers,” said Tim Dunnagan, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “The United States’ rates of mental health ailments are astronomical and the demand for competent mental health professionals has never been higher. You have developed an important lens to look at individuals, groups and the environment in order to help people navigate and cope with the intersections of all three.”

“We know social workers make a difference,” said Tammi Vacha-Haase, dean of the Graduate College. “People love social workers. They trust you. They know you care. People rely on you, particularly around their big transitions in life.”

Nicole Lang, assistant director of field education for the School of Social Work, commended the field instructors in 11 states who “answered the call. They built relationships and trust in Boise State, a social work program unknown to them. We are so grateful for the field instructors as they play a vital part in the education of students.”

One area of social work that is in desperate need of well-trained social workers is the area of child welfare. Alyssa Reynolds, coordinator for the School of Social Work’s Scholar Program, introduced the first online Child Welfare Scholar, Jasmine Magaña, from Caldwell, Idaho. The Idaho Child Welfare Scholar Program provides a stipend funded by the Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to promising undergraduate and graduate social work students who are committed to practicing social work in the field of child welfare.

The ceremony concluded with the faculty hooding the nine graduates that were present. Jennifer Obenshain, Online Master of Social Work Coordinator, then read the names of the other eight graduates. A few were able to attend virtually by web camera and were able to wave at the guests in the Jordan ballroom.

For more information about the School of Social Work, visit

Standardized Patients Grow Student Confidence

How do healthcare providers become proficient in the physical tasks they must conduct with patients?

Practice. On manikins, on peers.

How do they improve their skills to ask patients questions, empathize with patients, and educate patients about their health?

Practice with standardized patients.

“Standardized patients (SPs) are an intermediate step for nursing and medical students; they’re real flesh and blood, rather than high-tech humans, but they don’t actually suffer from the ailments they portray,” stated an article in the spring 2017 issue of “Virginia Nursing Legacy.” “But make no mistake: there is nothing pretend about interacting with an SP, who might add a phalanx of props (wheelchairs, moulage, and hospital gowns) to the litany of groans, moans, and exhortations as they convey their predicaments.”

Shelby Gibbons acts as a standardized patient while Nursing student Justin Eaton takes her blood pressure

Shelby Gibbons portrays a standardized patient while Nursing student Justin Eaton takes her blood pressure

SPs aren’t necessarily actors. Students of all majors and off campus “regular” people are hired by the Boise State University College of Health Sciences Simulation Center to be SPs in simulations. A high number of Boise State SPs are retired; several are former health care providers.

“One of the main reasons why I wanted to be a standardized patient was because I want to attend physician assistant school when I graduate from Boise State and I feel like working with the nursing students gives me a glimpse into my future,” said Shelby Gibbons. “I know that someday I will be in their shoes, so it makes it exciting for me. I feel like I can also relate with the nursing students on a lot of things because we all want to go into the field of health and we both have to work very hard in school to get there.”

The College of Health Sciences Simulation Center started using SPs in 2010. The SP program started with theatre student internships and grew to incorporate Service-Learning students in social work, psychology and other fields that found the SP experience valuable. The program now hires temporary classified non-benefitted off campus people, in addition to interested Boise State students, to expose health sciences students to a greater age range of SPs.

The Standardized Patient program offers an orientation and ongoing trainings for employees. These include face to face rehearsals, simulation scenario videos, and an annual training that covers acting and feedback techniques. All SPs receive an annual evaluation.

Manikins are used in scenarios that require invasive procedures or symptoms that can’t be mimicked with an SP. Also SPs are much more cost effective than a high fidelity manikin.

The students love working with SPs; they prefer SPs over a manikin. The Simulation Center uses task trainers – prosthetics that attach to the SP’s body – so students can insert IVs or hear customizable lung and heart sounds safely on an SP. SPs help students develop communication, interpersonal and prioritization skills.

“I role play scenarios and simulate certain health related conditions/behaviors as directed, in a controlled lab setting, said Joan Hardy, a Boise State SP. “My assignment is to help provide a consistent, positive learning experience for the student while maintaining a professional manner. I am given opportunity to rehearse as needed with support from staff. I believe every simulation has the potential to further the students experience in the field of nursing and promote self-awareness and expertise.”

SPs are given prep materials so that they can portray a patient accurately. Prep materials include the patient’s history, the condition and situation, what props the Simulation Center will use to make the SP look like the patient they are portraying. Props may include task trainers, wigs, makeup, hospital gowns and more.

The SPs may rehearse with the faculty, particularly in behavioral health scenarios. They may also practice with other SPs, where another SP pretends to be the student. This allows the faculty to observe and coach the SP in their portrayal of the patient.

Make up may include moulage, a combination of prosthetics and makeup to create the illusion of a wound, condition or symptom. The goal is to make the simulation scenarios as realistic as possible.

SPs offer great benefit to the students’ future of interacting with patients.

“It’s different for students to practice on a human,” said Becky Bunderson, director of operations for the Simulation Center. “It’s often the first time students lay hands on a live person. They feel better about practicing first on an SP, before going off campus to their clinicals.”

“Participating in simulation has boosted my confidence tremendously,” said nursing student Jen Luchini. “Before nursing school I had zero health care experience, which left me feeling daunted and racing to catch up to fellow students who have so much more experience in the field. I am so thankful I can practice and repeat skills in the simulation lab before beginning clinicals; it’s the closest learning opportunity to real life.”

“I have learned to better process my emotional response in different situations,” adds nursing alumnus Justin Eaton (‘17). “This field is surrounded by overwhelming and uncomfortable experiences. The ability to dissect a scenario, piece it back together, and then plug it into the big picture is crucial in providing an optimal patient experience.”

“I like being a standardized patient because I know that I am helping out the nursing students and the faculty,” said Gibbons. “As a college student, I am usually on the “other side,” meaning that I am used to being the one that is being taught. When I work as a standardized patient, I get to give feedback to students on things they could improve on and, in a way, help teach them, which is cool to do. It makes me feel happy that I am positively contributing to another student’s education.”

“Participating in simulations helped me work through some of the bumps and blunders that every new and uncoordinated student has to go through,” states Eaton. “Developing proper habits early on make staying up to date attainable and a better nurse in the long run.“

“I really appreciate the opportunity to practice skills in a safe and risk-free environment,” reflects Luchini. “Learning is guided by knowledgeable facilitators and the debriefing portion of simulation lab is invaluable. I can review and reflect on my performance and receive honest feedback from peers and instructors. It is truly authentic learning.”

Athletic Training Program Transitions to a Master’s Program

By Samantha Maxey

Athletic trainer stretches athleteBoise State University trustees have approved a Master of Athletic Training program and a Pre-Athletic Training emphasis in the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program. The Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training is in the process of being phased out.

Prospective master’s students can begin applying to the program in the winter of 2018. The first cohort will begin summer 2018, which is a one year overlap with the last undergraduate cohort.

The new Master of Athletic Training program is a 50 credit hour, 24 consecutive month program. There are four separate anatomical region specific diagnosis and intervention courses, four research or evidence based courses, with a research project culmination, and additional immersive clinical experiences.

Boise State undergraduate students will have the option of applying to an accelerated program, where they will complete their bachelor’s degree in three years and their master’s degree in two years.

This transition to the graduate level allows the university and the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Kinesiology to continue growing the rich history of the athletic training program and profession.

For more information, visit

Assistant Professor Cynthia Curl Quoted in Two News Articles

By Samantha Maxey

Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor for the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Community and Environmental Health, has been quoted in both Civil Eats and Bloomberg News.

Civil Eats is a news source that inspires critical thinking about the American food system. Curl was quoted in “Can Organic Food Prevent a Public Health Crisis?.” The article focuses on the negative effects of pesticides used on conventional produce and the benefits of eating organic produce. Curl was quoted in a portion of the article that discusses the findings of a European study on some of these negative effects.

Bloomberg News is an international news agency that focuses on a broad range of topics. “How Organic Produce Can Make America Less Healthy” focuses on the pros and cons of a list of conventional produce that contains “the least amount of pesticides” and are “safest” to eat. The article states that, while it’s intentions are good, the article may have the huge downside of discouraging the public from eating any fruits and vegetables. Curl was quoted many times on her knowledge of certain dangerous pesticides. She also said that the list does a good job of warning consumers about the dangers of large amounts of pesticides, but it could discourage the public from buying other fruits and vegetables. At the end of the article, she urges everyone to continue to buy and eat fruits and vegetables of any kind, even if organic produce is unaffordable for individuals.