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Nurtured to Nurturer: From BYU Student to Bone Marrow Donor to ICU Nurse

Nearing the deadline to apply to the College of Nursing, Jane Pearson’s finger hovered over the keyboard. Worried that she wouldn’t make it into the program, she found herself hesitating to press send. But, then again, she hadn’t made it through Chemistry 258 to just give up now. With renewed confidence, she clicked the submit button on her application. Once accepted, Pearson’s experience in the BYU College of Nursing transformed the trajectory of her life.

A group of nurses from both America and India smile for the camera
Photo by Jane Pearson

Pearson first gained an interest in nursing during high school when she realized that anatomical structures and terms were easier for her to grasp than other subjects. While in her first semester at BYU, she wondered which major would be right for her. Taking advice from her mom, Pearson enrolled in a nursing class and never looked back.

While in the program, Pearson relished learning about the different nursing specialties, but one form stuck out to her more than the rest. Initially wanting to work in labor and delivery, she pivoted to intensive care as she saw the tenacity of these nurses. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, these nurses know everything!’” said Pearson. If an ICU nurse does not keenly remember everything, it could mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Pearson also worked as a teaching assistant under Dr. Renea Beckstrand whose mentorship cemented her desire to work in the ICU and aided in finding her current career.

Pearson feels that her BYU experience prepared her well for the stressful nursing environment in the ICU, where she now works. “My professors emphasized that nursing is the Healer’s art,” said Pearson. “They teach that we are going to have the opportunity to be the Savior's hands for people that are going through hard times in the hospital. That has been very influential for me because my faith is very important to me. [My faith] has been something that's carried me through the hardship of seeing families have to make extremely hard decisions as their family members are dying. It's very taxing emotionally, but it's helped me to have learned nursing through a gospel centered lens. I know that it's okay, even if this family doesn't believe in a life to come, I still very much do.”

A pale woman in a white hospital gown hooked up to medical machinery smiles and gives two thumbs up to the camera
Photo by Jane Pearson

One experience that Pearson will never forget was when she donated bone marrow as part of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. She joined the program in 2021 after attending a Student Nursing Association (SNA) meeting. Program volunteers collected a sample with a swab. In 2023, Pearson was notified that her bone marrow matched a baby in critical need. “I believe it was very divinely set out,” said Pearson.

Completing her bone marrow pre-surgery process during her capstone clinical experience in Provo, Pearson noted that the medical questions she faced mirrored those she asked her patients. “That was very important for me as someone that was going on to be the nurturer rather than the nurtured,” she shared.

The National Bone Marrow registry is important because many struggling with rare genetic disorders or bone-related cancers often can’t find compatible donors within their own family. Donating the bone marrow required an intensive extraction where she donated stem cells straight from the bone, but Pearson would do it again in a heartbeat. Read more about BYU's efforts to invite students to donate bone marrow and save lives here.

A pale woman in blue nursing scrubs holds a stethoscope to the heart of a young Indian girl dressed in a plaid shirt.
Photo by Jane Pearson

Pearson also had the opportunity to participate in the Global & Population Health Nursing Clinical Practicum in India. While there, she was impressed with the resourcefulness of Indian nurses who worked with limited supplies. Working in the trauma emergency room was particularly eye-opening as she saw nurses handle situations that she felt would have been difficult for American doctors. Seeing nurses find innovative solutions that make creative use of their resources inspired Pearson to develop this skill in her career.

On long shifts in intensive care, Pearson remembers the ‘why’ behind her nursing passion. “I've had really happy times at work where I bond with my patients and they're getting better,” said Pearson. “I’ve also had sad times where I've had to help families through the decision process of letting their family members go. That is so hard, but I truly couldn't imagine myself in any other profession because it is rewarding to help people through those transitional times of their lives.” Whether comforting a grieving family or celebrating a patient’s recovery, Pearson truly embraces the qualities of a nurturer.