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6 Tips To Help You Ace Nursing School

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 5:57 am

We share stories almost every week of nurses who are making an impact in their fields—such as 97-year old Kay Hodges or NICU nurse Katie Windsor—in hopes of inspiring the next generation of amazing nurses. But between inspiration and impact lies one very important challenge: passing nursing school. There’s a lot of information to process, a lot of tests to pass, and a lot of pressure to consider… after all, what you learn today will play a huge part in saving lives tomorrow. But thousands of nurses make it through their training each year, and we have no doubt that you can be one of them. Here’s a few tips we’ve found to help make that dream a reality.

  • Organize, Organize, Organize – “You don’t have to be perfect to be organized” writes efficiency expert Monika Kristofferson, and she’s absolutely right. Anyone can be organized if they put their mind to it, and establishing order in your notes, routines, calendars, and workspace goes a long way towards establishing order in your head.
  • Get Help From Others – Nursing school is amazing in that you’re surrounded by dozens of other people learning the same things you are. If you’re struggling with something, chances are one of them can help put the concept into terms you can better understand. Put together a study group, but remember—not all students learn in the same way. Pick your group carefully, or you could lose valuable time.
  • Take Breaks – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It also can lower Jack’s test scores. Try and take one scheduled break every hour to keep your focus and energy at peak levels.
  • Don’t Just Memorize; Understand – Succeeding at nursing school isn’t just memorizing the right multiple choice answer on an exam, it’s fully understandingwhy that choice was the right answer. Practice by explaining concepts in your own words instead of just regurgitating definitions. You’ll find things “click” a lot faster.
  • Set Goals – Set a series of goals and milestones for yourself, but keep them realistic. Don’t plan on a four hour marathon study session when a two hour session is your limit. And shoot for gradual progress, not instant perfection, otherwise you set yourself up for disappointment. If you’re a B- student, your next goal should be a B, not an A+. Then, set your goal a little higher the next time.
  • Reward Your Hard Work – We all work better when we have something to work towards. Allow yourself those down times—a night out with friends, a trip to the movies, a Netflix binge session, etc.—just make sure that you earn the break. Set a study goal, and then after you nail it, enjoy your time off guilt-free.

And finally, if you’re at Unitek College, be sure and use the many resources available at your campus, including our faculty. If you’re struggling in an area of your studies, there are plenty of experienced people, study aids, labs, and other tools just waiting for you to use. We want you to succeed just as badly as you want to succeed, so take advantage!

If you’d like to find out more about Unitek College’s nursing programs, contact us here. You can also take a virtual tour of our campuses at this link.

Nursing Spotlight: Kay Hodges and Kelvin Lashley

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others," writes Albert Schweitzer, "it is the only thing." This week, our spotlight shines on two nurses whose examples are unmistakable and whose influence is undeniable. All nurses touch lives in one way or another, but these two took service to a whole other level.

First, meet RN Kathryn "Kay" Hodges of Emerson, New Jersey. She's a hard-working nurse, one who works primarily with senior citizens as the borough of Emerson's public nurse, and one who has developed quite the reputation with her colleagues.

"We've been in meetings together, we've been in classes together, and I can say she's amazing, just amazing," Edith Collazzi, a nursing in-service instructor for the county, tells USA Today. "She knows everybody and makes it a point to speak with everybody. ... She's such a positive force."

Of course, there are thousands of nurses in the country who are both hard-working and loved by their staff, but what makes Kay stand out from the pack is the fact that she's been a hard-working nurse since her graduation in 1941. That's right, Nurse Hodges is still walking the halls in scrubs at the age of 97.

"Crazy, isn't it?" Kay laughs. "I always wanted to be a nurse, and I've always been one!"

In nursing, Kay found a connection to her community, to her patients, and to the personal motivation to keep moving forward day after day, year after year. It takes an incredible love for heath care (and for people) to do what Kay has done, and we can't help but be blown away by her example.

Our second spotlight shines on nurse Kelvin Lashley of Easton, Pennsylvania. Kelvin has a way to go before he reaches the 97-year milestone, but he's already making quite an impact with his co-workers and patients.

To his fellow nurses, Kelvin is a living example of the many ways in which nurses can go above and beyond for their patients. One of the best examples of Kelvin's giving heart occurred earlier in 2016 after one of his patients was discharged. The hospital provides taxi vouchers for patients, but this particular patient needed to be driven to New Jersey, and the taxi company said a voucher wasn't going to be enough.

Without skipping a beat, Kelvin reached into his own pocket and paid the driver, making certain that his patient would be taken directly from the hospital to their own front door in New Jersey. It was an amazing display of selflessness and concern, and one that Kelvin's co-workers say is just one of many.

In recognition of his hard work and dedication, Kelvin was recently named the 2016 Employee of the Year at his 1000+ person hospital in Easton—the highest honor given. And if these last years are any indication, we have a feeling that we'll be seeing a lot more lives touched by the compassion of Nurse Lashley.

So here's to Nurses Lashley and Hodges, just two of the many, many nurses doing incredible things right now, and two people whose examples we'll be doing our best to follow.

If you'd like more information about beginning a career in nursing, you can contact Unitek College here for free information on our programs, schedules, and tuition.

We’re Now Printing Human Skin

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 5:22 am

As innovation in technology and healthcare continue to merge, it's becoming more and more common to witness procedures leaping out of sci fi novels and directly into our modern hospitals and clinics. 3D printing is a perfect example. When the first 3D printer debuted, it was used to print a plastic cup for holding eyewash. Now, researchers are able to print functioning blood vessels, thyroid glands, and a growing number of other organs that could soon be transplanted into humans. Now, scientists have cracked the code on using a 3D printer to replace the largest organ of all: our skin.

A Spanish company called BioDan recently released their most recent breakthrough-3D printed living skin-and the possible applications are amazing. The most obvious use is one that you'll likely see soon in your hospitals or clinics. Take burn victims, for example. Rather than using a skin graft to transplant skin from one part of a patient's body to another to cover the burned area, the 3D printer uses cells from the patient's existing skin to print actual skin to cover the injured area. This, of course, will be on a customized, case-by-case basis, and the technology (once approved) may take a while to reach all hospitals, but this is possibly something you'll encounter on the job at some point in your career.

The 3D printed skin can also serve a research function. One mass-produced version of the printed skin is allergenic, meaning it can be used for industrial and cosmetic testing. Not only does this make tests simpler for research labs, but it also means that fewer animals would be involved. Another potential application (currently being researched by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine) hopes to use the tech to aid wounded soldiers in the field.

"We are printing living skin as a full living human organ," BioDan Group CEO Alfredo Brisac told 3DPrint.com. "With both dermis and epidermis, capable to create its own human collagen. This is a rupturing technology opening a new door to create living organs in the future. Organs derived from livings cells without the need of any genetic manipulation."

You can watch a video on the research and future applications here.

Jon Schull, founder of E-NABLE (a non-profit that provides 3D printed prosthetics to children), sees nothing but hope for the future.

"This is what technology is for," Schull said, referring to the difference 3D prosthetics have made for the children enrolled in his program. "Many of us are attracted to it because it's cool. But what turns out to be cool and incredibly meaningful is using it to enable a new kind of future." Pretty impressive for a technology that we were told probably wouldn't amount to much just a few years ago.

Every day, something new hits the medical field, making it more exciting than ever and making you more effective than ever at combating disease and injury. And we can't wait to see what pops out of the sci fi novels tomorrow.

If you'd like more information on beginning a career in healthcare, find out what Unitek College can do for you by contacting us here.

Improving The Wait

Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 5:16 am

Whether you're studying nursing in one of Unitek College's Nursing Programs or studying to become a Medical Assistant in our Medical Assisting Program, there's one thing every one of your future patients will have in common: the waiting room. And unfortunately, these days the average waiting room isn't doing your patient satisfaction any favors.

A recent study found that the top complaint of patients had nothing to do with the medical staff, but with the conditions of and time spent in the clinic or hospital waiting room.

"The nearly unanimous consensus is that in terms of impact on patient satisfaction, the waiting room trumps the exam room," says study co-author Ron Harman King. "Hardly anyone had a beef with the quality of health care received."

The findings were echoed by a recent Consumer Reports study, which found that while an "overwhelming majority" of patients were "highly satisfied" with their doctor, 24% had a bone to pick with their waiting room experience.

Basically, if you'd like to make your mark at the new job by increasing customer satisfaction, the waiting room is an excellent place to start. And as medical assistants (who interact with patients within the waiting room) or nurses (who often are the first to greet the patient after the waiting room), happier patients go a long way towards making your days a lot less stressful. Naturally, any and all changes to a waiting area will always need to be approved by your clinic or hospital management, but here's a few suggestions they may find hard to resist.

Comfortable Seating is one of the first ways to improve a waiting area—and not necessarily just softer cushions. Allow patients to customize their experience as much as possible by giving plenty of options—some may prefer sitting as isolated as possible. Others may prefer a communal table. And if we've learned anything from movie theaters and airplanes, no one likes to share an armrest.

Give Them Plenty Of Outlets for their phones and tablets, and if your clinic offers free Wi-Fi, make sure the password and connection instructions are clearly displayed. And if possible, make sure there are seating options near your power outlets—no one enjoys sitting on the floor while charging their iPhone.

Keep The Magazines Current. Nothing says "low priority" like a stack of magazines from six years ago. If the headlines are beginning to suggest that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's relationship might be getting rocky, then you're well overdue for an overhaul. A fresh stock of recent reading material sends the message that you not only care about the people waiting, but that you occasionally visit the waiting room yourself.

Healthy Vending is an idea suggested by marketing firm Smith & Jones, and it makes a lot of sense. A doctor's office is supposed to encourage a healthy lifestyle, but if the only options in the vending machine are candy and cola, it can feel like a mixed message. Try and stock your machine with healthy snacks, drinks, and even fruits to send a more consistent message.

Make It Personal. Smith & Jones also suggest finding ways to make the waiting area more personal. Maybe not going as far as posting family photos on the wall, but displaying a healthy number of photos or posters showing your doctors and nurses smiling, treating patients, or volunteering sets a positive, familial tone for the visit right from the start.

Keep It Clean. This is the biggie. Most people are already uneasy about waiting rooms—after all, it's where all the sick people wait, right? A waiting room that's even slightly dirty or disorganized does nothing to allay these fears, and it makes the wait feel even longer. Leafly.com suggests that because the waiting room gives patients their first impression, that impression should be of a professional, organized business... especially when that business holds their health in its hands.

These are only a handful of suggestions, of course, and the real secret is simply maintaining the mindset of "what can I do to make this experience easier for my patients?" They may not want to be there, but if you can make the experience even a little easier on them, you'll be amazed at how quickly they'll respond.

If you'd like more information on enrolling in a Unitek College Nursing or Medical Assisting program, contact us here.

The Future Of Cavities: Less Filling, More Healing

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 5:45 am

Nobody likes having a cavity filled at the dentist. For some, it's getting the shot of Novocain that makes the experience unpleasant. For many, it's the drilling. But deep down, the real issue is simply knowing that part of your tooth has been removed and permanently replaced with something synthetic. For those studying to become Dental Assistants under the Unitek College Dental Assisting program, it's pretty much a guarantee that you'll be dealing with reluctant dental patients at some point or another. But good news for you and them; hope is on the horizon, and synthetic dental fillings could one day become a thing of the past.

The solution, believe it or not, could lie in a treatment for Alzheimer's, according to a recent trial at King's College in London. Scientists discovered that decayed teeth, when treated with a particular Alzheimer's drug, activated their stem cells within the soft pulp of the tooth's center, which led to the teeth literally repairing themselves from within.

"The tooth is not just a lump of mineral, it's got its own physiology. You're replacing a living tissue with an inert cement," explains Professor Paul Sharpe, who led the study. "Fillings work fine, but if the tooth can repair itself, surely [that's] the best way. You're restoring all the vitality of the tooth."

Unfortunately, the breakthrough isn't quite a full escape from the discomfort of having a cavity filled. The new technology isn't like the caramels in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—simply chew some and your cavities are instantly filled. Some drilling will still be required to prepare the site, and that means the shot of Novocain as well. But by allowing the tooth to repair itself instead of adding a filling (which can crack, break, or fall out), it potentially makes those uncomfortable trips to the dental chair a lot less frequent.

"Clinically speaking," adds DMD Winnie Wong, "the best material is always natural tooth structure, so I'm sure this method will be encouraged by most dentists."

And here's a little more good news. Because the Alzheimer's drug has already been tested in clinical trials, a "real opportunity [exists] to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics," says Sharpe.

If you'd like to read more about how the drug works on cavities, you can check out this video here.

Of course, there are some patients for whom no amount of new technology will be enough to ease the anxiety of the dentist's office, so regardless of the breakthroughs and discoveries, you'll want to constantly be looking for ways to help make those visits as stress-free as possible. You can find a few great suggestions here.

Or who knows? Maybe the next breakthrough will eliminate the shots and the drilling. We can always hope!

If you'd like more information on the Unitek College Dental Assisting program, contact us here and we'll be happy to answer any and all questions.

What We Learned From Nursing Student Brandy Smith

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 10:21 am

Completing any college or post-college program is a lot of work, and for nursing students the stakes are even higher, since human lives will eventually depend on how well you learn the material. And like with anything worth having, the path to graduation presents the occasional obstacle. For some people, it's financial stresses, for others, it's figuring out how to balance family and school. But for nursing student Brandy Smith, the obstacle was much, much more sobering.

Right in the middle of her nursing school program, Brandy discovered a large lump during a self examination. Sure enough, the diagnosis came back with the dreaded word: cancer. Cancer had plagued the Smith family for years-with Brandy's mother and aunts all facing their own battles with the disease. But while the diagnosis may have seemed like a perfect excuse for Brandy to slow down and let go of her goals and aspirations, she did the opposite.

"Growing up, watching my mom, she just pushed through everything," Brandy told local news station WKYT. “She was like if it's God's will it's going to happen. So I just kind of took on her mentality."

Instead of quitting, Brandy continued her studies, despite a full chemotherapy treatment and double mastectomy. She also found time to mentor younger women throughout her battle.

"I feel like if I sat at home and dwelled on it, it would be worse so I wanted to surround myself with positive people," said Brandy.

And the really great news? Not only is Brandy still working towards graduation and a career as a nurse, but she's now been declared cancer free. She hopes to be able to use her experience in the fight against cancer in her nursing career, and has set her sights on pediatric oncology.

We've learned a lot from reading Brandy's story-namely that while we might not face her exact challenges, there's very little that can stand between us and our goals if we don't allow it. Everyone will face some type of challenge-some small, some large, and some (like Brandy's) life altering-but with the right attitude, a clear goal, and the right people around us, nothing can stand in our way.

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are," writes playwright George Bernard Shaw. “I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them."

So a big congratulations to Brandy Smith for both of her incredible achievements-you're going to make a wonderful nurse. And to those fighting your own individual battles on your way to building a better career, hang in there and keep moving forward. A lot of people work towards that light at the end of the tunnel, but as a nurse-you become the light at the end of the tunnel.

You've got this!

If you'd like more information on enrolling in one of Unitek College's nursing programs, contact us here for more information.