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Volunteer Your Way To A Better Nursing Career

Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 5:48 am

If you're looking for a way to try out your new nursing skills, better your career, and help others at the same time, volunteering might be just what you're looking for. In a recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, around 1 in every 4 American citizens volunteers in some way. That's a lot of volunteer work hours, but the need for helpers continues to grow-especially teenage and 20-something volunteers, whose participation continues to fall behind older demographics. And with one in six Americans in poverty, there's always work to be done.

But by volunteering, not only do you help make a desperately needed difference, you also pave the way to making yourself a better nurse and building a better career.

Resume building is one benefit of getting involved. Not only does volunteering give you the opportunity to add experience to a resume, but it also gives you a chance to showcase who you are and what you care about.

Volunteering also allows nurses to develop vital Leadership skills. Keith Carlson (BSN, RN, NC-BC) recently wrote on Nurse.com that "Nurses often like to take charge and get things done, and many organizations will welcome a nurse with open arms. Gaining experience in leadership, delegation, organizational development or supervision is a skill set that is directly applicable to nursing." In other words, the skills you learn in a low pressure setting such as volunteering can later be put to use in the high pressure setting of health care and emergency medicine.

Offering your skills for free also gives you the chance to explore your career options without a long term commitment. A few hours of volunteering may be all it takes for you to discover that you're much more at home in a school nurse setting than a hospital setting, or that a senior care nursing home environment provides just what you're looking for in a job.

And of course, volunteering is also an excellent opportunity for networking-meeting other professionals you wouldn't have met otherwise.

Of course, the primary reason to volunteer isn't to help your career-that's just a bonus. The reason we help locally and abroad is to be a positive influence in our communities. You also have the opportunity to show the world just what a nurse is capable of. Collegexxpress.com writes that "nurses working outside of the typical health care environment and serving their communities have a chance to serve as ambassadors for their profession, both educating and inspiring others as to what it means to be a nurse."

Interested? You can find opportunities near you through services such as One Nurse At A Time. Nursetogether.com also provides a good list of opportunities. Or if you'd like to help out a little further from home, EveryNurse.org provides some good starting points.

There's a lot of work out there-both in and out of hospital settings-but if there's one thing we know about nurses, it's that you're more than capable of getting the job done.

If you'd like information pursuing a career in Nursing, contact us here to learn more about one of our many Unitek College nursing programs.

Nurse Looks Back On 50-Year Legacy

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 5:22 am

Educational opportunities such as the Unitek College fast-track nursing program, IT program, dental assistant program, and others have made it much easier for full-time workers to change careers. And people change careers for many reasons: better financial opportunities, better work/life balances, they'd like more meaning in their jobs, they'd like to learn new skills, etc.

But changing careers wasn't always as common as it is today. Today's work culture allows employees to move from career to career as opportunities present themselves, but two or three generations ago, this type of freedom was unheard of. For example, 40% of Baby Boomers stayed with their employers for over 20 years-that's something you don't see nearly as often today. For some, their loyalty was tied to their pension. But for others, they stayed because they simply loved what they did. And Dolores Howard is a perfect example.

Dolores' story was recently told in Butler County, Ohio's Journal-News newspaper. Ever since age 7, when she witnessed a nurse save her younger sister, Dolores (now age 90) knew she wanted to wear the white frock. And she spent over half her life doing just that.

A government scholarship allowed Dolores to earn her nursing degree at a local hospital-at that time, the United States was facing a severe shortage of nurses due to World War II, and they paid a stipend to anyone willing to train for that career.

Her love for her patients and for her work carried her through over 50 years in the nursing profession. She not only served as a nurse at the local hospital where she studied, but she eventually moved on to work for a private practice, and later, served as the director of nurses at three different area nursing homes.

"I'm a tough old bird," she said.

She also credits her career for introducing her to her husband, Denzil Howard, a U.S. Marine who served overseas during World War II. An industrial accident sent Denzil's brother to the hospital, where he became one of Dolores' patients-and Dolores couldn't help but notice Denzil during his frequent visits. They began dating, married soon after, and are just as in love today as they were then.

"I was in charge as a nurse and I'm still in charge," she said with a smile. "But don't tell him that."

Her training as nurse also helped in the adoption of their two sons-one of whom was in desperate need of medical attention; something Dolores noted and used to expedite the adoption process so that she could nurse the baby back to health.

Dolores Howard is a woman who fell in love with her career as a nurse, and the hard work she put into that career paid her back many times over in life. Of course, not all of us know our final career at age seven like Dolores did. Sometimes we discover it much later, and the moment we do, we shouldn't waste a moment before pursuing it. After all, we need all the time we can get if we're going to keep up with Dolores.

If you'd like information on one of Unitek College's fast-track programs in Nursing, or for information on how Unitek College can work around your current work schedule, contact us here.

Summer Safety from You to Them

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 5:19 am

Temperatures are on the rise this summer, and as they rise, so do the health risks associated with high heat. As a nurse (or as a Unitek College student preparing to become a nurse), you're seen as a trusted confidante, advocate, and source of information, which means that you might just be able to be the “ounce of prevention” that helps a family avoid an emergency trip to the hospital this summer.

Sunburn is one of the most obvious summer villains, and one of the easiest to spot among your future patients. It's also one of the easiest problems to avoid. Since sunburn can lead to other, more serious problems (such as skin cancer), remember to encourage parents and children to use plenty of sunscreen.

If you need some additional information on the best choices for sunscreen, check out this article by Parents.com. And be sure and remind them to check those expiration dates as well.

According to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Herschenfeld, “It is very important to check those expiration dates. Many sunscreen ingredients do not have an incredibly long shelf life, so throw away the old stuff and replace it!”

Heatstroke and Dehydration are two more problems that parents and children face over the summer, and it's important that all your patients understand the risks and symptoms of both. The Mayo Clinic provides an excellent breakdown of both heatstroke and dehydration symptoms. Both are issues that could quickly turn summer activities into a terrifying trip to the emergency room, so make sure all your patients are drinking plenty of water and watching for warning signs.

And along those lines, parents with small children should know that they should never leave a child in a hot car, even for just a few minutes. An average of 38 children a year die as a result of being trapped in a hot car, and information is key to lowering that number.

Drowning is another summer risk, with so many families beating the heat by jumping into pool, lakes, or taking trips to the beach, and most parents know to keep a close eye on their children around water. But conditions known as dry drowning and secondary drowning can throw parents for a curve. These are conditions that can cause serious health problems up to 24 hours after a child has swallowed water. Study the symptoms and causes, and if you think you see signs of secondary drowning in a patient, be sure and let your supervising physician know immediately.

Insect Bites are another preventable summer problem, and with the rise of West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, and others, it's not one that should be ignored. HealthyChildren.org provides a great list of insect repellents and instructions for best use.

Of course, remember to keep all of these precautions in mind for yourself as well this summer. Study hard, play hard, but do whatever you can to make sure you have many, many more summers ahead of you to enjoy.

If you'd like more information on starting your nursing career, you can contact us here.

Boy Thanks Nurse Seven Years Later

Friday, July 1, 2016 at 5:16 am

In any career, you can make decisions that later come back to haunt you. But you can also make decisions that come back to help you, such as in the case of Heather Yates, an Oklahoma City nurse who was just reunited with a patient in an amazing way.

According to a story shared by CBS-affiliate News 9 in Oklahoma City, nurse Heather Yates first met her patient, Quentin, at the Tulsa Children's Hospital when he was only three months old. Since birth, Quentin has battled epileptic seizures due to a respiratory virus and needed constant care in order to survive. Heather provided that care, going above and beyond to make certain that the young boy and his family had everything they needed.

"The nurse helped keep Quentin alive when he was at Children's. She was an incredible nurse and I know she still is an incredible nurse," said Diane Beckett, Quentin's mom.

After the Tulsa Children's Hospital, Quentin moved on to the Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany. He's now seven years old, six years beyond the life expectancy doctor's original estimated.

Heather's story, however, took a darker turn about a year ago, when her 17-year old son Trevor was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

When Quentin and his family learned of the diagnosis, the young boy decided to do something bold as a "thank you" to his dedicated former nurse. For eleven months, the seven-year old grew out his hair until just one week ago, Quentin's seven year anniversary at the Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital. And to mark the occasion, Quentin donated all that hair to "Locks of Love" in honor of the Yates family.

We just wanted to do something to honor Quentin's life and to honor Trevor's too and the fight they both have," said Beckett.

Two things leap out of this story. The first is the incredible care and dedication shown by the two families for each other as they both struggle against formidable diseases. The second is the staying power of one nurse's acts of kindness to a three-month old child. Her passion and care resonated with that child's family for almost a decade, and if this story is any indication, she'll be a person the family never forgets.

So here's to Trevor and Quentin as they fight their battles, and here's to acts of kindness that come back years later in unexpected ways.

If you'd like information on how you can become a nurse and help families like Quentin's, contact us here.

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.