Everybody has a story: Orem nurse and mother-of-5 finds joy in mentoring young nursing students

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Stacie Hunsaker has been a registered nurse for close to 30 years and has taught in the BYU College of Nursing since 2013. (Photo by UVMag)

I grew up in the little town of Preston, Idaho. After high school and getting my nursing license, I moved to the “big city” of Provo with a few friends to start my first job as a nurse. I was only 19 years old! I fell in love with nursing. I also fell in love with my husband, Brent, who I met on a blind date. We hit it off immediately. He is a general contractor, and we made our first home in Orem.

We have five kids: Erin (24), Parker (21), Nicole (20), Adam (17), and Matthew (10). I kept working as a nurse as I raised my kids. Learning how to balance my family and work was one of the hardest things I have ever done. When my kids were young, I was exhausted a lot of the time. I worked nights and took care of my kids during the day. As my kids got older, the exhaustion got better, but then things got tricky when I had to get them to different extracurricular activities. At one point, I had five kids going to five different schools. It was crazy.

But my love of nursing never faltered. After working for several years, I wanted to give myself a challenge so I started working as an emergency room nurse. I feel like because of my emergency room experience, I can help my friends and neighbors in situations outside of the hospital in my daily life.

I went back to school to get my master’s degree. One of the things I studied was compassion fatigue in nursing. Many nurses end up working too much and they get burned out. They simply get too tired to care. I’ve seen many nurses pick up shifts for friends or try to work more to afford something new and it wears them down. It doesn’t serve anyone in the end. In my studies and research, I learned that one of the best ways to combat this is self care through exercise, time off or even a gratitude journal.

I also teach in the BYU College of Nursing and I am always preaching the benefits of self care to my young students. My oldest daughter is actually a nursing student at BYU and I got to teach her a while back, which was fun.

While I teach at BYU full time, I still work at Utah Valley Hospital regularly. It helps me keep my practical skills fresh.

When I am not working, my family and I love the outdoors. We like to camp and we often stay right here in Utah because there are so many beautiful places nearby. If it is just me and my husband, we often go out for Thai food (we love Bangkok Thai) and watch a movie at home. At the end of the work week, we are always wanting to just hang out at home and spend time with our family.

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Kate Lehnhof Nash first joined Bennett Communications as a summer intern in 2009. Now, as an associate editor, she writes for magazines including Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Bride and Prosper. Kate lives in Springville with her husband Steve and enjoys running, reading, sushi and her french bulldog, Chief.

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