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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



Nursing Rules from Around the World

Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:35 am

          Nurses all around the world have one thing in common: a passion for helping others. But it’s amazing how this profession and some of its guidelines vary so much from country to country. I found an interesting article on that I found amusing and hope you do, too.
          Marijke Durning writes about 10 nursing rules that you’ve probably never heard of. These are my top five:
1. Nurses can’t be obese in Japan – “In 2008, the Japanese government decreed that its citizens had to slim down to reduce the chances of developing lifestyle-related diseases, such as metabolic syndrome—or metabo, as they call it there.”
2. In Canada, it’s illegal to put caffeine in clear sodas – So if you’re working a double, night shift or overtime, forget downing that Mountain Dew.
3. Overtime doesn’t always equal extra pay – “In states like California, it’s the law for overtime work to be paid at overtime pay (time and a half). This is for all employees who work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Of course, this is adapted in the healthcare setting, where nurses often work 12-hour shifts.”
4. The government buys your uniforms in the United Kingdom – “In mid-2010, the country’s estimated 36,000 nurses and midwives began wearing standardized colors, according to their level of nursing. In response to complaints from patients and others being unable to tell who was who, a color code was established.” On one hand, it would be great not having to buy scrubs. On the other hand, being told what to wear is a little like being a student in private school.
5. Learn you manners – “If you’re working over the weekend at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex, England, you could—without reprimand—ignore a doctor’s order for blood tests if he (or she) doesn’t write ‘please’ on the requisition…. A spokesperson said this was implemented in order to ease pressure on other healthcare personnel by making the doctor think twice about writing the order.”
         If you’d like to join the medical field and you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Clara or Sacramento, consider Unitek College. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to know to be successful in this important sector (and you’ll also learn the rules that you NEED to know!)

For more information, please go to:

Most Interesting Nursing Jobs

Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm

          Nursing is an exciting profession. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be so many TV programs which take place in a hospital, right? From Doogie Howser, M.D. to Scrubs, the medical profession has provided fodder for entertainment for decades.
          Okay, so you can’t always trust what you see on the flat screen… but nursing is an interesting profession when you think about the cases that walk through the hospital or clinic doors and the life or death situations that are presented on a daily (if not hourly) basis. According to, here are the top ten “coolest” jobs in nursing:
1. Holistic Nursing – This area involves massage and alternative treatments. The “excitement” intro to this article didn’t appeal to you? Well, this is the opposite. Relaxation and meditation soothe the body and mind.
2. Nursing Informatics – Are you a techie? Hospitals are always looking for ways to run smoothly and more efficiently. Should all charting be done on an iPad?
3. Forensic Nursing – CSI fans, this is for you. This is a mix of medical knowledge applied to law enforcement.
4. Outcomes Management – describes this area as “Measuring quality – length of stay, quality of care, and utilization – can get you a job working for a health insurance company or hospital system.”
5. Fitness Nursing – Rehab, surgical recovery or at a health spa, there are several places to apply your skills.
6. Entrepreneur and Consultant (Self Employed) – “CPR training, adult day care, staffing agencies, educational companies, and more. Being a nurse entrepreneur is a broad field that is constantly changing and growing,” explains. The only limitation is what you can imagine.
7. Medical Esthetics Nurse – Everyone wants to look younger and better. Botox, chemical peels and collagen are just the tip of the iceberg as countless people are searching for the fountain of youth.
8. Faith-Based Nursing – These nurses pray with their patients tending to their bodies as well as their souls.
9. Insurance Nursing – “Is answering the ask-a-nurse advice line your strength? Or perhaps you’re into writing wellness newsletters, running education programs for insurers, or monitoring outcomes data.” If so, than Scrubs Magazine thinks this job just might be for you!
10. Assisted Living and Long Term Care – As hospitals move patients out of their beds in a shorter amount of time, these patients are being moved to care facilities.
          If you’re thinking about becoming a health care worker, now is the time to join this exciting field which offers a ton of different experiences. You may want to look into a school like Unitek College if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can get a quality education in a minimal amount of time.
For more information, please visit:

Wages Increase in 2011 for Health Care Professionals

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm

What?!? In an economy of layoffs and budget cuts, health care professionals are getting a pay increase??? Yep, you read it right.

According to an article in, there are several charts detailing the projected wages for  healthcare professionals in the upcoming 2011 year.

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants all provide basic patient care, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, and moving patients between rooms. Employment for each is expected to grow 19% over the next eight years, a faster-than-average rate compared to the national average. The number of jobs are expected to grow by 2% in 2011 to total 1,552,600, with an annual median wage growth increase to $24,641.”

This is interesting to note since the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in November 2010, unemployment increased by 9.8 percent. In the countless reports posted on employment, health care is continually stated as being one of the few career paths on the rise. “According to the U.S. Institutes of Labor, the main reason for the growth is because the U.S. population that is moving into elderly homes is growing to record levels and is in greater need of physical and long-term care. In addition, the bad economy is forcing hospitals to discharge patients sooner than normal to less urgent patient care facilities where orderlies can take care of them.” explains the article in As Baby Boomers settle into their retirement years, the need for medical care is increasing proportionately.

LVNs are also in high demand. “Employment for this type of nursing has grown faster than the national average. The best job opportunities are in nursing care facilities and home healthcare services, with the overall number of jobs growing to nearly 1 million by the end of next year (2011). Just like other nursing jobs, the biggest demand for licensed practical and vocational nurses stems from the growth of the elderly population and the shift of after-surgery patient care from hospitals to nursing care facilities.”

If you’re thinking about becoming a health care worker, now is the time! You may want to look into a school like Unitek College if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can get a quality education in a minimal amount of time.

For more information on figures cited in this post, please visit the note on 2011 wages



How to Handle Stress

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Any job comes with it’s fair share of trials and stress, but nursing seems to be a career choice that has more than average. When you’re treating a patient, the stakes are immensely high and many times it’s not just the physical needs that you are addressing but the stress of the heart and mind , too.

In The Journal of Advanced Nursing, Dr. Andrew McVicar addresses the difficulties that nurses face on a day to day basis. “Workload, leadership/management style, professional conflict and emotional cost of caring have been the main sources of distress for nurses for many years, but there is disagreement as to the magnitude of their impact. Lack of reward
and shiftworking may also now be displacing some of the other issues…” Although many fields have the same first three causes of stress as nurses face, the emotional factor takes a huge toll, not to mention the added skills that nurses must possess such as, “a high level of skill, teamworking in a variety of situations, provision of 24-hour delivery of care, and input of what is often referred to as ‘emotional labour.’”

I think that facing life and death situations is immeasurably stressful for nurses who are just starting out. Many nursing students have told me the stories of the first time they experienced the passing of a patient. Guilt, regret, and grief are just a few of the emotions that fill their minds beyond the time when they clock out of their shift; stress is not something relegated to the workplace.

So how can you cope with the pressures of nursing? According to Emil Vernarec in his article “How to Cope With Job Stress,” one should “either alter our external environment or alter our response to stress. Three personal factors in particular affect that response: how we interpret the stresses we face, our degree of social support, and our general state of health. The more we take control of those factors, the better able we’ll be to focus on resolving the sources of stress instead of feeling powerless against them.” He also mentions that seeking out role models and asking how they deal with stress could be helpful. Peer support is vital too in relieving stress and so is taking care of yourself through eating right, participating in a hobby or getting that much needed massage.

With budget cuts, staffing shortages and health care changes, the nursing profession is not going to get any easier. Knowing how to cope with stress and preventing burnout is vital!

For more information, please go to:

Nursing Industry Desperate to Find New Hires

Monday, January 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Please, please accept a high-paying job with us. In fact, just swing by for an interview and we’ll give you a chance to win cash and prizes.

Sounds too good to be true, especially in an economy riddled with job cuts in nearly every industry. But applicants for nursing jobs are still so scarce that recruiters have been forced to get increasingly inventive.

One Michigan company literally rolled out a red carpet at a recent hiring event. Residential Home Health, which provides in-home nursing for seniors on Medicare, lavished registered nurses and other health care workers with free champagne and a trivia contest hosted by game-show veteran Chuck Woolery. Prizes included a one-year lease for a 2009 SUV, hotel stays and dinners.

“We’re committed to finding ways to creatively engage with passive job seekers,” said David Curtis, president of the Madison Heights-based company.

Recruiters like Curtis may have little choice. The long-standing U.S. nurse shortage has led to chronic understaffing that can threaten patient care and nurses’ job satisfaction, and the problem is expected to worsen.

The shortage has been operating since World War II on an eight- to 10-year cycle, industry experts say. Each time the number of nurses reaches a critical low, the government adds funding and hospitals upgrade working conditions. But as the deficit eases, those retention efforts fade and eventually the old conditions return, often driving nurses into other professions.

“We recently had a hiring event where, for experienced nurses to interview — just to interview — we gave them $50 gas cards,” said Tom Zinda, the director of recruitment at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in the Milwaukee-area city of Glendale. “We really try to get as creative as we can. It’s a tough position to fill.”

Recruiters across the country have tried similar techniques, offering chair massages, lavish catering and contests for flat-screen TVs, GPS devices and shopping sprees worth as much as $1,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts about 233,000 additional jobs will open for registered nurses each year through 2016, on top of about 2.5 million existing positions. But only about 200,000 candidates passed the Registered Nurse licensing exam last year, and thousands of nurses leave the profession each year.

Several factors are in play: a lack of qualified instructors to staff training programs, lack of funding for training programs, difficult working conditions and the need for expertise in many key nursing positions.

Cheryl Peterson, the director of nursing practice and policy for the American Nurses Association in Silver Spring, Md., said employers must raise salaries and improve working conditions.

“The wages haven’t kept up with the level of responsibility and accountability nurses have,” said Peterson, whose organization represents nurses’ interests. Chronic understaffing means nurses are overworked, she said, and as burned-out nurses leave the situation spirals for the colleagues they leave behind.

Some hospital departments where experience is vital, such as the emergency room or intensive-care unit, simply cannot hire newly minted nurses. So managers in those areas have even fewer staffing choices.

Nurses qualified to teach aspiring nurses are scarce chiefly because they can make at least 20 percent more working at a hospital, experts said.

“It can be hard to turn down that extra money,” said Robert Rosseter, the associate executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in Washington, D.C.

Many recruiters have looked for employees overseas, and about one-fourth of the nurses who earned their licenses in 2007 were educated internationally, most in the Philippines and India.

Some health organizations go out of their way to recruit as many nurses as possible even when they’re overstaffed.

Residential Home Health, the home-nursing company in Michigan, is always looking to hire, Curtis said. Even with 375 clinical professionals on staff, his recruiters are eager to sign up as many as 50 more nurses and therapists, hence the Chuck Woolery event.

Zinda, the Milwaukee-area recruiter, said creative recruiting helps to introduce nurses to his hospital. Besides offering interviewees $50 gas cards, he has provided $100 gift cards to the local mall, and created a Facebook page to target younger nurses.

Attracting good candidates is about offering good working conditions, he said, but creative recruiting goes a long way in generating a buzz.

“Bottom line, you need to get people excited about what you’re offering,” he said. “If you don’t, they can easily go elsewhere.”

Article Written by: Dinesh Ramde