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An Unlikely Hero In The Fight Against Scars

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

"Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing" – Author Linda Hogan, "Woman Who Watches Over The World".

There are fewer and fewer problems that modern medicine can't solve. From disease to trauma, hospitals and clinics are armed with an arsenal of technology, skills, and discoveries to face the problem head-on. However, even when a procedure or treatment is successful, scars can often remain behind-a glaring reminder of the close calls and accidents. But a new treatment is on the horizon, one that shows promise in eliminating most scars once and for all. And believe it or not, this isn't a technology developed in a lab, but an amazing piece of nature found beneath the sea.

Scars are formed using the same protein as the rest of your skin, but when it regrows to cover a wound, it does so in a different pattern. Untouched skin is formed of collagen fibers that form a random weave pattern-like a basket. But when covering a damaged area, the collagen fibers grow in the same direction-usually without hair follicles or sweat glands and generally weaker than surrounding skin.

So how do we prevent skin from growing back with the inferior pattern? The answer may be found in goop secreted by mussels. Yes, you read that correctly. Goop secreted by mussels and mixed with a dab of a skin protein called decorin.

It's not the first time "mussel goop" has found its way into hospitals. Since 2015, hospitals have used the secretions as a bio-glue to seal wounds-particularly due to its ability to maintain adhesion in wet conditions. Now, thanks to a team in South Korea, the mussel glue may be able to both hold wounds together and completely heal the scar, even allowing hair growth and sweat glands to form again.

So far, the combination of decorin and mussel secretion has only been tested on rats, but after positive results, researchers hope the mixture will soon be used on humans.

According to results published in New Scientist, "by day 11, 99 per cent of the wound was closed in the treated rats compared with 78 per cent in the control group. By day 28, treated rats had fully recovered and had virtually no visible scarring. In comparison, control rats had thick, purple scars."

"If this can be replicated in humans, it might be the next big thing for scar therapy," says Allison Cowin at the University of South Australia.

As nurses, you'll help treat patients for any number of medical issues and traumas. You'll have patients facing surgeries, recovering from accidents, or burns, or cesarean births, and every single one of them (whether they ask or not) will be wondering about the scar. Hopefully in the very near future, you'll be able to smile and respond to those worries with "what scar?"

For more information on pursuing a career in the exciting field of nursing, contact Unitek College here for information on our many programs, courses, and opportunities.

Men Who Hesitate To Become Nurses… And Why They Shouldn’t

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 5:25 am

Despite a desperate need for qualified nurses nationwide, one group of eligible workers is still hesitant to put on the nursing scrubs... men. As of the beginning of this year, roughly 9 million American men are looking for work, yet less than 10% of the country's nursing force is male. For one reason or another, there seems to be a widespread hesitation for potential male nurses... a hesitation that the country's health care community can't afford.

"In my mind, nursing is a great profession that needs complete inclusion and diversity because everyone that walks through the door of a hospital is different," says RN Chris Stallard, a family nurse practitioner. "We need all kinds of diversity, experience and insight to continue to provide a high level of care for our patients."

But Stallard also acknowledges the challenges that male nurses can face. "The term ‘male nurse' immediately separates me from the rest of nursing," he says. "Whether it is meant in a positive or negative way, it sets me apart from every other nurse and makes me feel not quite 100 percent nurse."

The emotional and cultural challenges to male nurses can come from all sides. On one side is the perception of nursing as a "pink-collar job", or a job traditionally held by women-which suggests that a male is somehow less masculine if he holds said job. On the other side is a different stereotype, one that holds that men as a whole don't possess the compassion and nurturing characteristics required of a nurse.

One nursing student recalls his nursing school professor telling him this directly. "Initially, I was shocked," says nurse Kurt Edwards, who left his warehouse job to pursue nursing. "I was there to learn how to become a nurse, and she was telling me I didn't have what it takes because I lacked these attributes. So I made up my mind to develop them."

These types of stereotypes are unfortunate-not only because they aren't true, but because they continue to prevent potentially wonderful nurses from entering the field.

"We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market," says Andrew Cherlin, PhD, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins.

A hospital or clinic needs diversity in its workforce, because the patients they treat are also diverse, with diverse needs and diverse preferences. There will be patients, for example, who will feel more comfortable being treated by a male nurse than a female nurse, and vice versa. There will be moments when physical strength may be required (moving patients or moving equipment), another moment for some male nurses to shine.

But most importantly, nursing is an incredible career opportunity, one with a rapidly expanding field of opportunities, and anyone-regardless of gender, age, creed, or race-should be encouraged to pursue it. So if you're a male and interesting in wearing those nursing scrubs, don't let old ways of thinking make you hesitate. Go for it, because we need all the help we can get.

For more information on pursuing a career in nursing, contact Unitek College here for program information.

Rural America Needs More Nurses

Friday, May 12, 2017 at 5:50 am

First off, we wanted to take a moment to say "happy National Nurses week"! For all of you who are currently wearing scrubs or working hard towards that job, thank you for all that you do today and will do tomorrow. And even though the American Nursing Association declared 2017 the "year of the healthy nurse", we're pretty sure they'll look the other way if you want to pick up a free cinnamon bun at a participating Cinnabon this week.

We love that there's an entire week dedicated to our hard-working nurses-nursing isn't an easy job, and with the current shortage of nurses, there's definitely no shortage of work to be done... especially (according to this CNBC article) out in rural America.

"In the last 13 1/2 years, I don't remember such a universal cry for help," says Casey Blumenthal, R.N., vice president of the Montana Hospital Association.

The problem is fairly straightforward: rural areas tend to have a smaller population from which to draw recruits, salaries tend to be lower, and with so many open positions for recruits to choose from nationwide, rural areas just don't come across as exciting. In fact, the shortage has gotten so bad for one South Dakota hospital that they've actually had to close beds. The nursing shortage in rural Georgia is being called the worst one yet.

Adding to the problem are the large number of nurses set to retire from rural hospitals in the coming years-lifetime nurses who worked at their hospitals because they lived near those hospitals.

"It's always been an issue. We always have to be creative, coming up with new ways to entice people, to engage people, to attract people to our organizations," says Cella Janisch-Hartline, R.N., nursing leadership senior manager and coordinator of the residency program at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.

To help bring in new nurses, some rural hospitals are getting creative-offering more leadership positions to RN's or finding them additional roles in the community such as community college instructor or community wellness leaders. Nebraska is even offering bonuses to nurses who make successful referrals for open positions.

States like Georgia are also considering laws that would make it easier for out-of-state nurses to use their current state's nursing certification to work at local hospitals.

But the biggest, brightest, and best solution to the shortage comes from the student bodies of schools like Unitek College, students who have decided to pursue a career in nursing and are actively working to fill one of the many, many open positions. And when you've completed that certification and are surveying the many opportunities available, be sure and keep an eye on those hospitals a little further outside the city limits-they could certainly use the help.

For more information on pursuing a career in nursing, contact Unitek College here.

The End Of Malaria May Be In Sight

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 5:19 am

Dawn Dubsky is a nurse. She's the founder of a successful non-profit. And because of one mosquito bite, she's also a quadruple amputee.

During a trip to Africa, Dawn contracted a rare form of malaria-one that very nearly killed her. Clotting and other complications that rose from the battle against the parasite destroyed tissue in her arms and legs, and while doctors were able to save her life, they weren't able to save her limbs.

But as we mentioned before, Dawn is a nurse, and one thing all nurses know is that when the moment gets hard, you don't give up-you fight harder. After learning to adjust to her new life of prosthetics and mobility limitations, Dawn became a driving force in the fight against malaria.

Her non-profit, America Against Malaria, provides education and preventative materials to counties around the world in an effort to prevent the spread of malaria. You can hear more about her work from Dawn herself in this interview.

Malaria continues to claim lives (over 429,000 in 2015 alone). But this week, scientists announced a breakthrough that should make Dawn, her co-workers, and thousands of healthcare workers across the world very happy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been given official approval to begin using the first-ever malaria vaccine (Mosquirix) in the field. They plan to begin usage in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi in 2018.

"This is great news, actually," said Dr. Photini Sinnis, a deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "This is a vaccine that has the capability to make a real difference."

And so far, the results have been impressive. Recently, the vaccine was tested on 11,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa, and "it decreased mortality by almost 50%"

The vaccine requires four shots delivered through intramuscular injection, and the hope is that it will protect children from Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the malaria parasites.

"The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot program will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa. "Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa."

Thanks to Dawn and all those on the frontlines against malaria, and here's hoping that this week's news means a permanent turning of the tide in that battle.

Interested in becoming a part of the rapidly changing health care field? Unitek College can help. Contact us here for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.

America’s Next Surgeon General Is A Nurse

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 5:27 am

The Surgeon General of the United States helps oversee and protect the nation's health and wellness, and as of last week, that position is now held by a nurse. Traditionally, the position of Surgeon General is given to a medical doctor, but in rare instances (and for just the right person), tradition can be changed.

That's where Sylvia Trent-Adams comes in. Inspired by her great aunt (also a nurse), and now a nurse herself with nearly 25 years of experience, Sylvia has worked closely with public health for the majority of her career.After graduation, she served as a medical nurse in the U.S. Army and as a research nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center. From there, she went on to become a member of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, where she rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Now, that impressive career resume includes the title "Surgeon General."

And Sylvia can't say enough about the role of nurses in today's rapidly changing medical field. She believes that it's an exciting time for nursing, and that "we can be involved in many ways: clinically, with creating policy, at the bedside, and creating innovative strategies...Nurses bring common sense to solving problems, which has not been recognized enough. Nurses spend more time with the patient than any other health care provider."

A 48-year old mother of two, Trent-Adams is no stranger to the amount of hard work and dedication is needed to both complete a nursing degree and succeed in the field. She grew up on a farm in Virginia, where she was often the one who tended to sick family members-a job that helped spark her interest in nursing full-time. At twelve years old, she also volunteered as a candy striper at her local hospital, delivering magazines and mail to patients on Saturday mornings.

She credits her mother for giving her the drive to succeed as a nurse.

There is no way you are going to be an underachiever," Trent-Adams recalled her mother stating. "While I was in middle school, she told me you are going to college."

She's also highly involved in the national fight against HIV / AIDS, a cause particularly close to her heart after witnessing the mistreatment and medical discrimination many AIDS patients faced during the early years of the disease's emergence. Asserting that no human being deserves to be treated in that way, Sylvia has long been an advocate for better health access for AIDS / HIV patients in poorer communities, and even managed the $2.3 billion dollar Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009.

In short, the new Surgeon General is a woman who wears many hats, who has successfully juggled many heavy responsibilities, and who has brought care and compassion with her wherever she goes.

In other words... she's a nurse.

For more information on beginning your own career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for personalized help on choosing a program that's right for you.

Diabetics In Scrubs: Don’t Let The Disease Slow You Down

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 5:17 am

Diabetes is a disease that affects one in every three people, which means it's a given that some of the people who live with diabetes are also nurses. As any diabetic can tell you, managing the disease is a full time job-there are lots of variables to keep track of at all hours of the day-and for nurses, who spend their days tracking other people's health, the added stress can be overwhelming at times. Imagine trying to keep track of your own blood sugar levels and remember how many carbs you ate in the last hour all while hurrying from patient to patient checking their vital signs, administering medicine, and updating charts. At times, it might feel like trying to do complex math while someone shouts random numbers behind you. But if you're a nurse with diabetes, or you're interested in beginning a nursing career but are worried about how your diabetes might get in the way, take heart. You aren't alone, and many nurses have already blazed the trail.

Nurse Berit Bagely, for example, recounts her struggles after learning she was a diabetic. An emergency room nurse, Bagely was floored when she received her diagnosis, and described herself as "overwhelmed, sad, angry, scared, lost." But while she struggled at first-keeping her insulin shots regular during unpredictable night shifts, avoiding the urge to over-test, etc-she not only mastered her condition, she let it motivate her into creating new career goals. She embraced her struggles, and eventually took a job in diabetes education-helping others like her cope with the diagnosis and life changes that follow.

Nurse Debra Johnson also struggled when she was first diagnosed at age 54 with adult-onset diabetes. A 34-year health care veteran, Nurse Johnson knew all too well the potential future ahead of her, and vowed to make a change. Dropping the fast-food and snack-heavy diet that she (like many nurses) relied on between shifts, Johnson was not only able to reverse her adult onset diabetes to a less threatening pre-diabetes, but she dropped 22 pounds in the process.

"It was a wake-up call," she remembers. "I was scared to death. I knew I had to do something immediately to take control of my life or the diabetes was going to take control of me."

Through education, organization, and lifestyle changes, both Johnson and Bagely were able to not only cope with diabetes, they came out stronger in the end. And while life as a nurse can be unpredictable, and there are plenty of distractions on every shift, planning ahead as much as possible can be key for keeping the disease from getting the better of you.

There's also some positive progress being made in the fight against diabetes. A new medication is being tested as we speak, one that may be able to completely reverse type-II diabetes. By inhibiting a single enzyme, the medication restores the body's sensitivity to insulin. Human trials are still a ways away, but the results so far are promising.

Diabetes is an obstacle, but it's far from insurmountable... even for those of us in scrubs. But for those dealing with diabetes already in their personal lives, and who may be having a tough day of it, here are ten of Nurse Bagely's notes to herself during her journey. You may just find one that speaks to you.

  1. Even the best nurses can't carb count.
  2. Getting tubing caught on a door handle hurts.
  3. Don't be defined by your A1C! (your long term blood sugar test results)
  4. Not feeling sorry for myself and continuing to learn how to take care of myself is a MUST.
  5. Occasionally my blood sugar will be higher than the ER patient I'm treating for hyperglycemia.
  6. Sensors still drive me insane.
  7. Occasional "deleting" of my OWN basal rates will and can happen while helping patients over the phone.
  8. When training on a Medtronic Minimed pump, NEVER adjust a temp basal pattern without a double-check.
  9. There are people who check blood sugar more often than me.
  10. Not all dieticians, nurse educators or providers work or think the same.

If you'd like more information on beginning a healthcare career, Unitek College wants to help! Contact us here for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.