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Chief Academic Officer Says San Francisco Needs 14,000 Nurses By 2020

Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

From candy striper to naval nurse to chief academic officer, Christy Torkildson’s passion has always been nursing. Hailing from Brooklyn and Miami, Torkildson worked as a candy striper at the local Children’s Hospital and knew that she had found her calling. She currently serves as chief academic officer for Unitek College and NCP College of Nursing, overseeing all academic programs and administering Unitek’s CCNE-accredited (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) RN to B.S.N. nursing program to over 1000 students at five campus locations.

Christy Torkildson

Unitek College CAO, Christy Torkildson

What is your background and education?

“I have a B.S. and M.S. in Nursing, with an emphasis on administration and education, and will soon be defending my Ph.D. in Family Nursing and Health Policy at UCSF. I’ve worked Neuro ICU, Oncology, Neonatal ICU, OB, Pediatrics as well as working as clinical specialist, nursing informatics and house supervisor. I began as a Navy nurse and was the first program director for George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, the first pediatric end-of-life and transitional care facility for children and their families in the country. I started teaching as a part-time clinical adjunct professor in 1990 and have been teaching ever since.”

What is your outlook on the health care industry in San Francisco for jobs?

“The country is facing a nursing shortage – the workforce is expected to grow by over half a million by 2022. The San Francisco Bay Area – impacted by an aging population, the Affordable Care Act as well as having a concentration of world-class medical institutions –will need over 14,000 nurses by 2020. Is the investment worth it? RNs in San Francisco make $91,000+ a year compared to the national average of $65,000. There’s also the need for qualified nursing instructors where graduate degrees are required.”

What career advice can you offer to students interested in a career in health care?

“The health care field is full of opportunities from direct patient interaction to supportive services. I decided what kind of nursing I wanted to do by volunteering as a candy striper. Attend career fairs and college open house events where you can talk to individuals working in the diverse fields of health care and nursing and speak directly to health care professionals about their experiences and education.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

Source: Yahoo.com


A Fresh Look at Florence Nightingale

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Finding new respect for iconic nurse

Her name is synonymous with nursing, yet many in the profession today are unfamiliar with the legacy of Florence Nightingale. An article on nytimes.com by physician Victoria Sweet reminds us of Nightingale’s groundbreaking achievements and the lasting impact she has had on the healthcare profession.

When Sweet studied at medical school, she recalls how she dismissed Nightingale as an unsuitable female role model. Later, when she was practicing at an old-fashioned hospital in San Francisco, she heard the comfortable open wards called “Nightingale wards,” and became curious.

Thus began a period of discovery that gave the author a deep appreciation for the woman dubbed the “Lady with the Lamp” for her tireless nightly rounds giving care to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War.

“So much of what she fought for we take for granted today — our beautiful hospitals, the honored nursing profession, data-driven research,” notes Sweet.

Nightingale came from a privileged background yet had no interest in the life expected of a young woman in her social position. She turned down every suitor and, in defiance of her parents’ objections, took every opportunity to train as a nurse, which she felt was her true calling. After many years of working and learning the profession, she eventually took charge of a hospital in London.

When the Crimean War broke out, the British Secretary of War asked her to gather a team of nurses and go to the base hospital in Constantinople, where ill and injured British soldiers languished in filthy conditions — more dying from infection than from their wounds.

Nightingale’s work in improving the conditions at the hospital were credited with reducing the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds. She also introduced the concept of an “invalid’s kitchen” that prepared food for patients with special dietary requirements, and added a laundry, a classroom, and a library.

When she returned from Crimea, Nightingale wrote an 830-page report that sparked a revolution in healthcare. She also changed the public perception of nursing: once frowned upon by the upper classes, nursing became viewed as an honorable profession.

Sweet surmises that Nightingale would have approved the Affordable Care Act, though not the power it gives economists and lawyers over the roles of doctors and nurses.

“I imagine she would have seen the health care law as a work in progress, and what we have still to learn from her, even so long after her death, is her willingness to fight and her determination to get it right,” writes Sweet. “She didn’t accept being told in her own life, and she wouldn’t have wanted us to accept it in ours.


Unitek College Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit www.unitekcollege.edu.

California Nurses Honored for Excellence

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm

2014 GEM regional award winners announced

Nurse.com’s annual Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) awards recognize exceptional nurses in six different categories. Writing in nurse.com on July 14, Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, introduced this year’s regional winners.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Linda W. Ritter, RN, CPON: Clinical nurse IV, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, Calif.

Ritter knew from personal experience how difficult palliative care was, and how unprepared most nurses felt to provide it. So she spearheaded a range of projects and programs in order to help staff provide compassionate care for patients nearing the end of life, including creating retreat rooms, planning conferences, revising policies, and honoring more than 100 individuals with Starfish Awards.

Advancing and Leading the Profession

Bernice L. Coleman, RN, PhD, ACNP-BC, FAHA, FAAN: Nurse scientist, nurse practitioner, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Coleman was praised for her unique ability to integrate science research questions with clinical practice and community education. She is credited with influencing both heart transplantation and pharmacogenetics through her pioneering work in pharmacogenetics and genetically tailored medication prescriptions.

Education and Mentorship

Sandra Pieschel, RN-CDE, MPA, BSW: Diabetes educator, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif.

Pieschel is called a “beacon of hope” in the world of inpatient diabetes management. She was honored for her work in helping staff understand the multiple needs of patients with diabetes, developing processes and tools and educational programs that have ultimately improved patient care and outcomes.

Home, Community, and Ambulatory Care

Donna J. Beckman, RN, BSN: Credentialed School Nurse, Coordinator of health services, special education, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton, Calif.

Beckman provides care and case management to more than 350 special education students and their families, and collaborates with a local dentist to conduct oral health screenings for developmentally disabled kindergarten students. But she “is most proud of the nursing care she has given in the quiet moments no one can see — sitting with dying patients, holding their hand and praying over their passing, working with families through difficult times and supporting them and caring for dying patients at home.”

Patient and Staff Management

Teri Armour-Burton, RN, MSN, MBA, CNML, NE-BC: Nurse manager, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif.

“Find your niche in nursing because there are so many different options,” says Armour-Burton. “Once you do that, stay current, pursue the appropriate advanced degrees and never stop learning.” Armour-Burton is proof positive of that approach as she manages an award-winning Progressive Care Unit and pursues a PhD. She has also inspired at least 25% of her nursing staff to pursue advanced degrees as well.

Volunteerism and Service

Linda E. West-Conforti, RN, Registered nurse, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Jay, Calif.

Seven years ago, West-Conforti created Angels In Waiting, a nonprofit organization that gives RNs skilled in neonatal and pediatric intensive care the opportunity to work at home and care for medically fragile foster care infants and children. The program helps to move these young patients from institutional or at-risk settings into private residences and under the care of experienced RNs and LPNs.


Unitek College

Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit www.unitekcollege.edu.

Nurse Fired for Posting Trauma Room Pic

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm

‘NY Med’ star stunned by dismissal

The worlds of nursing, television, and social media collided for nurse Katie Duke last year. Her nursing job did not survive the crash.

Duke was an emergency room nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a featured character on the hospital documentary series NY Med on ABC when she was fired by the hospital for posting a picture to Instagram that the hospital deemed “insensitive,” according to nydailynews.com.

The picture was taken by one of Duke’s colleagues and showed an empty trauma room where a patient had been treated after getting hit by a subway train. Duke took a screenshot of the photo and posted it to her Instagram account along with the caption, “Man Vs 6 Train … The After. #lifesaving #EMS #NYC #ER #Doctors #nymed #trauma #realLife.”

Duke’s firing, which took place last year, was captured by the cameras and broadcast on NY Med’s second season premiere on June 26. Duke says that she made sure the photo did not violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects patients’ privacy, or the hospital’s social media policy before she posted the picture. But that did not prevent her firing.

“It was a complete shock when they told me we’re firing you over this,” Duke, who had worked at the hospital for seven years, told the Daily News. “At the end of the day I would have preferred a strong talking-to.”

True to form, Duke’s firing and subsequent career struggles were dutifully filmed by NY Med, which called her story “very humanizing.”

Duke’s advice for others in the medical community regarding social media: Don’t violate patient privacy, don’t say anything negative about your workplace, and think before you post something that could be deemed offensive.

NY Med is currently the most-watched show in its Thursday night time slot.


Unitek College

Unitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical AssistingPharmacy TechnicianVocational NursingRegistered NursingBachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology.

For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit www.unitekcollege.edu.

Emergency Training Comes to Unitek College

Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm

“Knowledge is power,” asserts Rachel Harling-Smith, a member of the Fremont Community Emergency Response Team.

Rachel works for Royal Ambulance and volunteers with the Fremont CERT team.

Rachel splits her time between working for Royal Ambulance and volunteering with the Fremont CERT team.

Earlier this week, Rachel took the time to speak to Unitek College students about emergency safety skills on behalf of Fremont’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Rachel is a former Unitek College Medical Assisting student, as well as a Unitek Education EMT Boot Camp* graduate. Currently, Rachel splits her time between working for Royal Ambulance and volunteering with the City of Fremont’s CERT program. Despite her hectic schedule, Rachel finds her efforts meaningful, stating, “it’s worth it to know that people are prepared.”

The Fremont Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a group of volunteers dedicated to educating community members before a disaster strikes. They also volunteer to protect the community, often acting as first responders during an emergency.

During her visit, Rachel shared emergency safety tips with Unitek College’s Medical Assisting students. Above all, she emphasized the importance of situational awareness during an emergency. To stay safe, you should always pay attention to what is happening around you. Aim to understand how your actions and the actions of others will impact the situation. A lack of awareness during an emergency can result in grave consequences for you or those around you.

Rachel’s most important safety recommendation—regardless of a person’s level of medical training—is to “stop and think.” She asserts that taking a few seconds to slow down and think through your options can be extremely beneficial. Remember that the consequences of your actions can have a huge impact on your safety and the safety of others.

The CERT safety presentation touched on multiple topics, including disaster preparation ideas for your home, how to control your utilities, tips for fire safety, and how to respond to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction. All of the topics covered in Rachel’s presentation are discussed in more detail during Fremont’s Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) class, designed to empower community members to protect themselves and their families during a disaster.

Unitek College would like to thank Rachel and the Fremont Community Emergency Response Team for taking the time to educate our students about emergency safety. Additionally, we would like to thank Rachel for her participation in Unitek Education’s annual Mas Cal Training events, which help to educate our nursing and EMT students, as well as the community of Fremont, about emergency response protocols.


Unitek CollegeUnitek College offers a variety of healthcare and technology training programs, including Medical Assisting, Pharmacy Technician, Vocational Nursing, Registered Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Information Technology. For more information about our programs and campus locations, please visit www.unitekcollege.edu.

For more information about attending the City of Fremont’s free Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) class, please visit www.fremont.gov/102/PEP.


*EMT Boot Camp Training is the portion of the EMT program which includes intensive on-campus education with daily lectures and hands-on skills.  

6 Sun Safety Tips

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Summer doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, but it’s certainly felt like summer for a while. Don’t start the season with a sunburn—it’s a painful, unnecessary reminder to be more sun-conscious. Make the most of your summer with my 6 tips for staying safe in the sun this season.

UV Ray Ray Strength Chart

1. Wear Sunscreen Every Day

My first tip is the most obvious, but also the most important. Especially during the summer, sunscreen is necessary to prevent sunburns and minimize your chances of developing skin cancer. To best protect yourself against UV rays, you should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. SPF is also important when choosing a sunscreen- it describes how long the sunscreen will effectively protect you from the sun. SPF multiplied by the amount of time you can usually spend in the sun before burning determines the amount of time you are protected from the sun.

If you usually burn after fifteen minutes in the sun but you generously apply SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen, you should be protected from UV rays for a maximum of 450 minutes.

SPF Effectiveness Chart

For best results, sunscreen should be applied BEFORE you go outdoors and reapplied often. The length of protection also depends on your outdoor activities—water will affect a sunscreen’s effectiveness. Refer to your sunscreen’s instructions for more information about how often to reapply.


2. Check the UV Index

Did you know that when the UV Index is very high (8+), your skin can burn after less than ten minutes of sun exposure?

The UV Index can be a very helpful tool for minimizing sun damage. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, along with the National Weather Service, provides a next day forecast of predicted UV ray strength. This information can help you decide how frequently you should be reapplying sunscreen—more often on days with a higher index number—or what sort of protective clothing measures you should take before venturing outside. You may also want to avoid spending long periods of time outside when the UV Index is especially high.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers a free UV Index smartphone and web app that displays a forecast of UV radiation levels. The EPA’s app is a great way to prepare yourself for summer while you’re on the go.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's SunWise UV Index Phone App

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise UV Index Phone App

You can download the free app by searching for “EPA’s SunWise UV Index” in your phone’s app store. You can also visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website to check the UV Index.


3. Stay in the Shade

The sun’s rays are stronger between 10am and 4pm than any other time of day. The strongest rays occur around noon, when the sun is the highest in the sky. Whenever possible, it’s safest to stay in the shade during peak hours. If you are going to be outside between 10am and 4pm, protect yourself with sunscreen and appropriate clothing.


4. Wear the Right Clothing and Accessories 

You remembered to apply sunscreen before going outside, but are you also wearing the right clothing and accessories? A large-brimmed hat can help to protect your scalp, face, and neck from sun damage. Like your skin, your eyes can also be damaged by UV rays. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement—they block most UVA and UVB rays and help to protect your eyes from the sun.

The clothing you wear in the summer can also affect your level of sun protection. Loosely woven, light colored clothing provides less protection than clothing made with a darker, tightly-woven material. A tighter fabric weave will help keep UV rays from reaching your skin. Make sure to supplement regular sunscreen application with protective clothing to best shield your skin from harmful rays this summer.


5. Check for Skin Cancer Regularly 

With all of the sun exposure you’ll be getting this summer, it’s a great time to preform regular skin exams every few months. Look for any changes in size, color, texture, or shape of moles or dark spots. Also look for any new or abnormal moles or growths. Make sure to have any abnormalities checked, as early detection can make all the difference when treating cancer.


6. Lastly, Drink Plenty of Water!

In the summer, it’s essential to stay properly hydrated. Dehydration is uncomfortable and can lead to serious consequences, including headaches, decreased blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, and, in extreme cases, death. When you’re spending time in the sun, you need to drink enough water to replace what you’ve lost from sweating. Generally, you should drink between six and eight glasses of water every day. In the summer, depending on the temperature and your rate of physical activity, you may require more water to stay hydrated.


That’s it for my summer sun safety tips—what do you do in the summer to stay healthy while having fun in the sun? Leave your tips in the comments.