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Lack of Teachers Worsens Nurse Shortage

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 5:51 am

We've mentioned the national shortage of nurses quite a few times on this blog, and that national shortage isn't just caused by a lack of qualified nurses... it's also caused by a lack of teachers.

In 2014 alone, U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 70,000 qualified applicants. Note the word "qualified"-these weren't students who didn't have the tuition funds or high enough grades. According to the American Association of College of Nursing, over two-thirds of the colleges surveyed said they turned away qualified students because they simply didn't have a large enough faculty to teach them all.

And the problem is getting worse. According to the Longview News-Journal, the average age of a nursing teacher in America is 56 years old-which means much of the country's nursing faculty are within five to ten years of retirement. Unless something changes, this could mean an even greater shortage of teachers within the next decade.

So what's behind the shortfall? Money, for starters. A professional nurse practitioner can make up to $91,000 a year, according to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. A masters-prepared assistant professor in nursing, on the other hand, makes closer to $74,000 on average-a downgrade of $17,000 a year.

Teacher education is also a problem-the shortage of nursing professors doesn't just affect the number of nursing students a school can take, it also affects the number of future teachers applying for master's and doctoral degree programs.

But while the present situation looks bleak, possible solutions are already being suggested and tried. Some states, such as Wisconsin, now offer student loan forgiveness to nurses who later teach in-state. Other programs offer scholarships to those hoping to become nurse faculty, such as the AACN's Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship. And still others hope to battle the problem by simply educating more and more people on the need for nurse faculty and on life within a nurse faculty career. One example of this effort is the NuFAQs website, a "web-based tool that guides you in exploring the workload, job characteristics, and attitudes toward work-life among full-time nurse faculty in the U.S."

So if you're already a Unitek College nursing student, count yourself lucky! And if you're considering joining the Unitek College family as a nursing student, there's no time like the present to send in that application. Once in, you not only have a spot in our classrooms, but you have access to our well-trained faculty, medical labs, clinical rotations, and more.

And as you plan your career as a nurse, keep in mind the great need for nurse faculty. If you've enjoyed learning from our Unitek College faculty, perhaps one day you'd like to offer the same knowledge, experience, and wisdom to a new crop of eager nursing students.

For information on joining the Unitek College fast-track nursing program, contact us here today.

Nurses Could See New Responsibilities At VA Hospitals

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 5:42 am

If you follow the news, you've probably seen more than a handful of stories relating to the VA (Veterans Affairs) and the problems they've been having. Long wait times, scheduling errors, long commutes for patients, contaminated facilities, the list sadly goes on. But a new proposal is on the table that could have a positive impact on the troubles plaguing the VA-and if you're a Unitek College nursing student, you could very well be part of that solution.

The new proposal hopes to expand the "scope of responsibilities" for nurses at the VA. This means nurses would take over a host of new tasks, such as "ordering and reading diagnostics tests, administering anesthesia, prescribing medication" and managing chronic illnesses and diseases without a doctor's direct oversight.

The proposal is still being debated, of course, and some groups have already made objections, but the fact remains that the VA (already the largest employer of nurses in the country, with over 80,000 on staff) might just be looking for a new group of smart, hard-working professionals to take charge of these new responsibilities. And considering that the VA already handles medical care for over eight million veterans, chances are, those hard-working nurses can't get there fast enough.

Of course, the idea of taking on so many new responsibilities might be a little overwhelming for someone just starting down the path of a nursing career, but the good news is, if you're a Unitek College nursing student (or planning to become one), you're in the perfect position to soak up all the information you need to get the job done right.

So take full advantage of our faculty while you study-remember, they're here to help prepare you for whatever nursing career you have your sights on, so if you want to know more about a particular aspect of the job, ask early and ask often! And if you're studying on campus and practicing in one of our medical labs, be sure and get all you can out of the experience.

"The nurse is temporarily the consciousness of the unconscious," according to Virginia Henderson, (considered the foremost nurse of the 20th century), "the love of life for the suicidal, the leg of the amputee, the eyes of the newly blind, a means of locomotion for the infant, the knowledge and confidence of the young mother, and a voice for those too weak to speak."

We like to think Virginia could easily be talking about those eight million veterans and their medical needs. And with another Veteran's Day recently behind us, our hats are off to any who choose a career serving those who served our country.

For more information on the Unitek College fast-track nursing program, you can contact us here or visit this page for course information.

Cancer Patient’s Wedding Saved By Nurses?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 5:34 am

On this blog, we like to point out the many, many roles that nurses play. Last week, we talked about a handful of those roles-everything from cosmetologist to counselor. This week, a group of nurses in Illinois added a new role to that list: wedding planner.

The wedding dreams of a young, engaged couple (Destini Schafer and Brandon Thomas) were shattered by a diagnosis of stage 4 stomach cancer in Destini-a mother of three. The two had originally planned a wedding in Jamaica, but now, that dream looked to be an impossibility.

But according to a story in the State Journal-Register, one of Destini's nurses (Nurse Ashley Shipley-Lovekamp) wasn't ready to give up yet. She suggested that the couple continue with their wedding as planned, but instead of traveling overseas, they make the wedding happen right there at the Memorial Medical Center.

With only a week with which to work, Ashley and her fellow nurses managed to pull together an entire wedding ceremony-all while tending to the needs of their many patients at Memorial. The nurses "chipped in a variety of ways to make the ceremony happen on such short notice, including altering the dress and getting tuxedos and rings donated."

Even the nursing manager was behind the idea. "You really form an emotional bond with patients on the oncology floor," said Jesse Williams, nurse manager at Memorial. "We felt like we could all pitch in and help out."

While Destini's situation is still dire-the American Cancer Society give stage four stomach cancer only a 4% chance of survival-her spirits are higher than ever since receiving her diagnosis. And soon after the wedding, her doctors found that her strength had improved enough to resume chemotherapy treatment.

The kind work of the nurses gave Destini something invaluable-a priceless memory to focus on during a time when positivity was in short supply. "Today is the best day I've had since my diagnosis," Destiny said. "I can't begin to describe how thankful I am."

Destini's story is one of thousands where lives were forever changed-not by a drug or a surgery or a procedure-but by good people going the extra mile for those around them. In most jobs, we'd call that going above and beyond. But in this profession, we know it's simply called "being a nurse."

If you're interested in pursuing a career in one of the fastest growing career field in the country, we'd love to help you explore your options! Drop by one of our local Unitek College campuses for a visit, or contact us here for information on programs, classes, tuition costs, and more.

Wanted: School Nurses. Lots of School Nurses.

Monday, May 30, 2016 at 5:54 am

This hasn’t always been the case, unfortunately. In fact, less than ten years ago (according to one study), only 45% of public schools employed a full-time nurse. 30% went with a part-time nurse, and 25% had no nurse at all. But according to a new statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this just isn’t going to work anymore. Schools need their nurses, and the AAP is now pushing for a full-time nurse in every school.

The position of school nurse dates all the way back to 1902, when Lina Rogers was assigned to the healthcare of 10,000 New York students. Despite being incredibly outnumbered and working in less than desirable conditions, Nurse Rogers managed to bring down the absentee rate drastically. Soon, more nurses were assigned to the schools, and absenteeism dropped by nearly 90%.

Today, the job of the school nurse has become much more complicated. According to MedScape, the modern school nurse’s responsibilities have expanded to include “surveillance, emergency preparedness, health education, chronic disease management, and behavioral health assessment.” Chronic disease alone has added a challenge for school nurses, as we’re seeing a rise in children with asthma, diabetes, and food allergies. In other words, as the health needs of school age children are increasing, so is the need for qualified, hard-working, and compassionate nursing professionals.

"School nursing is one of the most effective ways to keep children healthy and in school and to prevent chronic absenteeism," Dr. Breena Welch Holmes, a lead author of the policy statement and chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in an AAP news release. She also noted the importance of school nurses working closely with local pediatricians for the most effective student care.

There’s also a financial incentive for schools to add full-time nurses. According to the AAP press release, “for each dollar spent on school nurses, $2.20 was saved in parent loss of work time, teacher time, and procedures performed in school rather than in a more costly health care setting." In other words, the financial value of having a school nurse is more than twice the value of cutting that position—a fact that will be hard to ignore as school administrators consider their budgets.

The need for school nurses, like the need for nurses nationwide, is growing, and presents a new field of opportunity for recent and upcoming Unitek College nursing graduates. Yes, the job may be demanding at times, and taking care of children is a serious responsibility, but that’s why they don’t hire just anybody to fill that role. They’re looking for someone tough, smart, compassionate, and above all, highly trained, and it just so happens that’s exactly the type of nurse we’re trying to shape in our Unitek College nursing programs.

For more information on the Unitek College fast-track nursing programs, you can contact us here.

“Nurse Instinct” Creates Real-Life Heroes

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 6:13 am

If you're currently a student in one of Unitek College's nursing programs, a lot of what you're learning may feel like class work at the moment. Assignments, homework, studying-all working together towards the goal of a good grade and a successfully completed licensing exam. But what you might not realize is how much that class work is forever changing your instincts, because once you're a nurse, you're always a nurse, even when the shift is over.

Take, for example, the story of Abigail Bamber, a 26-year old nurse in Bristol, U.K., who recently saved the life of a stabbing victim while on her way home from shopping. Abigail was currently off-duty and riding in a friend's car, taking some much needed time off in celebration of her 26th birthday, when she spotted a man "stumbling across the road".

While many would have just continued driving, or assumed someone else would handle the problem, Abigail instead had her friend pull over-just as the 41-year old man collapsed. Despite his being "soaked in blood", Abigail instinctively began CPR, successfully helping the man resume breathing and, in the process, saving his life.

(The entire incident was caught on a cell phone video, which you can watch here, but be warned-the content is graphic.)

When asked about the incident later, Abigail said "When things like that happen, you immediately go into nurse mode. I can't speak for everyone, but I think you are a nurse, or you are not. I like to think it just comes a bit naturally in a way. I didn't look at it as I was being a hero. I just saw a man needed my help. If he was on my ward I would do the exact same thing for him."

One example not enough? Take a look at the instincts shown by Deborah Johnson, a nurse in New Orleans who was an eye witness to the 2003 Fat Tuesday shootings. Not only did Deborah witness the shooting (and provide an eyewitness account to police despite fears of retaliation), but her first instinct in the chaos wasn't to run, but to help the wounded.

Years after the incident, Deborah says she's learned to trust those nursing instincts, and encourages others by stressing that "if you have the understanding and ability to help, don't doubt yourself."

Or look at Laurie Fielding, an off-duty nurse who, on her way home, spotted firefighters battling flames as well as several frightened and injured occupants standing alone outside the building. Rather than find a route around the emergency scene, Laurie's instincts sent her directly to the stunned occupants, whom she treated until paramedics could arrive.

There are countless more stories such as these, and the number continues to grow as more and more nurses enter the medical field. And it's no surprise. It takes a special person to choose a career field that requires them to put others before themselves, and when you have that compassion and drive, it's impossible to turn off the "nurse's instinct" entirely.

Whether you're wearing your scrubs or your "civilian clothes", you never know where or when a situation will cause your own instincts to kick in. So study hard, future nurses. We can't wait to see what you can do out there.

For information on joining Unitek College's fast track nursing programs, or to speak to an advisor about curriculum, credit transfers, or tuition, contact us here.

Inspirational Thoughts on Inspirational People

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Between your fast-track programs at Unitek College, your job (or jobs), and possibly a family at home, chances are you fill a lot of roles in a day. And that's excellent practice, because as a nurse, you'll fill even more. Any given day as a nurse, you could also be someone's counselor, cosmetologist, temporary parent, maintenance worker, or many, many other roles that fall under the title "nurse".

It's a hard job, but a rewarding one, and our hats are off to all brave enough to pull it off (and that includes you future Unitek College graduates, as well). As we move through Nurse Appreciation Week (May 6th through May 12th, 2016), we've come across some powerful, inspirational, and thought-provoking reflections on the life of a nurse.

Here are some of our favorites:

"When I think about all the patients and their loved ones that I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don't remember me nor I them. But I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them and they to me, and those threads make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my career in nursing." - Donna Cardillo, RN

"Virtually all of us, at one time or another in our lives, have known the care and the skill that you offer. In hours of need, in moments where people are most vulnerable, most worried, nurses are there, doing difficult and lifesaving work... America's nurses are the beating heart of our medical system." - President Barack Obama

"It would not be possible to praise the nurses too highly." - Author Stephen Ambrose, To America: Personal Reflections of a Historian

"Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation by a surgeon."- Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish diplomat

"The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest, and not inferior to either in her mission...." – William Osler

"Panic plays no part in the training of a nurse." – Sister Elizabeth Kenny

"To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through, is to be a nurse." – Rawsi Williams, RN

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do something that I can do." - Helen Keller

A huge thanks goes out to all of you who put on the scrubs every day, as well as those currently studying hard to begin a career in nursing. Whatever the hours, whatever the demands, we hope you know how much you are appreciated... this week and every week.

If you'd like to join the Unitek College fast-track nursing programs, we'd be happy to help answers any questions you might have. You can contact us here.