Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

If you’re looking for a state in which to begin your nursing career, or you’re already a nurse and looking for a move, it’s hard to beat California. Frequently ranked as one of the top (if not the top) states in nurse salaries, it should come as no surprise that nurses from all over the country are eyeing jobs in the Golden State… even if they don’t plan to live there. One survey found that of all the out-of-state nurses crossing the border into California for jobs, a whopping 84% still planned on leading active lives in their former state. That’s a lot of commutes.

But one commuter in particular takes the cake when it comes to job dedication. Tom Fowkes is a nurse who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he has no intention of moving… despite the fact that his full-time job is in Oakland, California. That’s a commute of over 2,600 miles… one way!

“I can’t believe I’ve been doing it for 9 years,” Fowkes told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It seems like 4 or 5. It’s changed my life. I spend more time with my son. And when I’m home and I don’t work, we can do things because I have money now.”

So just how beneficial is it for nurses like Fowkes to make the long commute? With the high cost of travel, it may seem like the cost would outweigh the benefits, but that’s not always the case, and certainly wasn’t with Fowkes.

“These are the highest paid nursing jobs on the planet,” he says, referring to his job at Kaiser. “I make more than some doctors do back home.” And for a nurse who was previously working three jobs just to make ends meet, that pay difference has been life-changing. Not only is he working just the one job, but he’s found more time to spend with his family… and was even able to afford to splurge on a new swimming pool.

And nurses like Fowkes are becoming more and more common. In fact, Fowkes estimates that 10% of the workers on his floor commute from other states.

Of course, travel from coast to coast isn’t always the case for commuting nurses. Nurses such as Ann Inman of Las Vegas still fly to work each week, but it’s a much shorter jump.

“It’s very intense for me, especially because I don’t like to fly,” Inman told the LA Times. “But I can make more money here than anyplace else, and I’m kind of getting used to it.”

And money isn’t the only benefit. Job satisfaction ratings among California nurses are on the rise, earning a 4.21 on a scale of 1 to 5, a 10-year high. The study also found that California RN’s were “more ethnically diverse, better educated, better paid and more satisfied with their work than in previous years.”

So if you’re already a nurse and looking to make a move, there’s a lot to be said for California. And if you’re someone who’s hoping to become a nurse, we also have seven campuses here in California to help make that a reality.

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

2017 is in the rearview mirror and 2018 stretches out ahead of us, full of promise and possibility. And those wanting to take advantage of those possibilities are quickly compiling their plans on how to do so. You’ve probably seen several lists of New Year’s resolutions (or maybe you’ve written some for yourself), resolutions that may include things like losing weight, eating better, calling your parents more often, etc. But as a nurse or nursing student, your life has a whole other aspect that needs some resolutions of its own… and we’ve put together a few suggestions to help get that list started.

  • Resolve to stay up to date on healthcare – The world of healthcare is changing incredibly fast, as new technologies, procedures, and practices are entering hospitals faster than ever. So resolve to invest time in reading about these breakthroughs so that you’ll be one step ahead when they eventually become part of your work day. (Sites such as The Healthcare Blog are great places to start).
  • Be the nurse you’d want assigned to you – If you were in a hospital bed, what type of nurse would you want taking care of you? Chances are, they’d greet you with a smile, listen attentively, and would have a positive outlook on life—even at the end of a long shift or during a particularly difficult day. Resolve to be that nurse whenever you can.
  • Share your resolutions – This applies to both personal and nursing resolutions. Once you verbalize what you plan to do (sharing your plans with co-workers and supervisors), they can begin to help hold you accountable for reaching those goals. We naturally want to please others and avoid disappointing, and that little boost can go a long way in keeping those nursing resolutions.
  • Find a Resolution Buddy – Everything is easier when you have someone that can relate to exactly what you’re going through. Find another nurse that wants to make the same improvements and make a pact to improve together. Not only will it help you reach your own goals, it could go a long way in strengthening that co-worker / friendship bond.
  • Sleep/Exercise/Eat better – Okay, this one is probably already on your personal list of resolutions, but the benefits directly apply to your work life as well. Resolve to take better care of your body, and you’ll have more energy to take care of your patients.
  • Resolve to rest – Your days off are precious—guard them. Your breaks are few and far between—take full advantage of them. There will always be something to do or a co-worker to help, but unless you’ve taken care of yourself first, you’ll burn out. So this year, resolve to recharge when you can (and not to feel guilty for doing so).
  • Resolve to ask for help – Asking for help is a simple thing to do but so many people struggle to do it. So in 2018, resolve to set pride to the side and ask for help when you need it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or overextended, there’s no shame in asking for a helping hand.
  • Stay ahead of stress – Stress is everywhere, and if you’re a nurse or studying to become a nurse, you more than likely have a higher dose of it than most. But there are many ways to keep ahead of stress (some great suggestions can be found here), and if you start the year by keeping a step ahead of your stress, and if you can keep up that commitment to stay ahead of your stress, 2018 could be a lot more relaxed.

There are dozens more resolutions we could share (you can see a fantastic list of others here), but hopefully these suggestions are a good start to your list. Good luck in the new year, and we can’t wait to see what you will accomplish.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to begin your own career in nursing, Unitek College is here to help! Contact us here for more information about our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

As a trauma nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, nurse Steven Welton has seen many things… but what he was asked to do earlier this December still came as a huge surprise. Steven’s mother Chris Biesemeier, who also works at VUMC, was the first to notice a man frantically trying to get help for his wife—who was still outside in the backseat of their car—and quickly let her son know. Steven headed out, unsure of what to expect.

There in the backseat of the car was a crying toddler, an expectant mother, and a newborn baby already in the process of being born. Welton immediately jumped into action.

“It’s kind of fuzzy at this point because adrenaline was pumping,” Welton told Nashville’s Fox 17. “But the baby looked to be about halfway out so I grabbed him, pulled him the rest of the way, and I could see the umbilical cord and everything. No gloves. I’m just out there in it!”

But delivering the baby turned out to be only half the challenge. As the baby fully emerged, Welton quickly noticed that the child was blue, not crying, and wasn’t drawing that crucial first breath. Training kicked in, and Welton began compressions.

“I immediately could tell he was blue and not doing anything,” Welton said. “He wasn’t moving, wasn’t crying. I just said I gotta start compressions and held him in my hand and started doing it, about two minutes of solid compressions.”

Those two minutes of compressions turned out to be exactly the right decision. Baby Elijah finally took his first breath just as his father arrived back at the car.

“I’m thinking ‘oh my goodness’ and he had a smile on his face,” Welton said. “I think because he was happy things were getting better, and in my mind I was like ‘Man, you have no idea what just happened.’”

Mother and son were quickly transported into the hospital and both are doing well, thanks to the quick thinking and immediate action of nurse Steven Welton—yet another in a long line of heroes in scrubs.

And if you are ever put in a situation where you have to help deliver a baby who’s determined to show up earlier than expected, the experts at VeryWell.com have a few tips:

  • Call 911, the doctor, or the midwife even if you won’t make it to them on time. They can at least begin making important preparations.
  • Remind Mom to pant and to push gently—push only with the contractions.
  • Support the head as the baby emerges.
  • Don’t pull! Let the baby and her mother’s body do the work.
  • Don’t cut the cord! It’s better for both mother and child if the cord stays attached until reaching the hospital.
  • Wipe the fluid from the baby’s nose to help him breathe.
  • Let Mom hold her newborn – As soon as the baby is born, hand her to her mother for skin-to-skin contact with the head “slightly lower than the body” to help with drainage. If you have clean blankets or towels available, cover the two.

If you would like to begin your own training to become a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College for information on our many courses, schedules, and to find a campus near you.

Gaining Ground in the Fight Against HIV

Gaining Ground in the Fight Against HIV

Gaining Ground in the Fight Against HIV

Gaining Ground in the Fight Against HIV

The battle against HIV has been a long and hard one, as researchers struggle to gain ground against the virus that currently infects over 1.1 million Americans… and over 36 million worldwide. There was a brief moment of celebration in 2011, when doctors in Mississippi announced they’d cured a baby born with HIV, but that moment was short-lived… in 2013, tests found that the child’s HIV had returned.

“It felt like a punch to the gut,” Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatric HIV specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center told CNN. “It was extremely disappointing from both the scientific standpoint … but mainly for the sake of the child who is back on medicine and expected to stay on medicine for a very long time.”

The most promising field in HIV treatment, it seems, still lies in preventing people from becoming infected in the first place. The CDC reports that annual HIV diagnoses were slightly down last year, something they attribute to targeted HIV prevention efforts. Even with a decline, however, there are nearly 40,000 new cases a year. But that could quickly be changing.

The National Institute of Health (along with partners Johnson & Johnson and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations) announced in November the launch of a massive HIV vaccination test. Focused in South Africa (where the virus has spread particularly quickly), the vaccine is being administered to nearly 2,600 HIV-negative women. As women and young girls tend to be the most impacted by the virus in that region, researchers hope that this sampling will produce the most dramatically positive effects.

This testing comes on the heels of another vaccine (HVTN 702), launched last year at this time in South Africa, that has shown promise of slowing the virus. And a third drug (cabotegravir, an experimental drug that requires doses every two months) is being tested on HIV-positive patients in the same region. Results aren’t expected until 2022, but if all goes as planned, these tests could change the landscape of HIV treatment forever, and that is certainly worth the wait.

“No one tool is going to be enough to do the job, because every tool doesn’t work the same for every person or every country,” says Kristin Lanphear of Trillium Health. “Both of these developments take some variability out of the equation – they rely less on continued action (taking a daily medication or using condoms consistently, for example) and allow for one-time or episodic commitment to a health behavior.”

Another medical breakthrough, the “block-and-lock” treatment that has shown promise in lab tests, is also being eyed as a possible medical weapon in the near future.

Of course, with such a stigma surrounding HIV, plenty of false information and myths have begun circulating regarding the new treatments and vaccines. The HIV Vaccine Trials Network has a great FAQ page to address some of the most prevalent. You can check it out here.

Here’s hoping that very soon we’ll be able to hear the phrase “I used to have HIV” from our patients.

For more information on beginning your own career in health care, visit Unitek College for information on our available nursing, online nursing, and medical assistant programs.

Exercise Alone Won't Shed Holiday Pounds

Exercise Alone Won’t Shed Holiday Pounds… But Don’t Give It Up

Exercise Alone Won't Shed Holiday Pounds

Exercise Alone Won’t Shed Holiday Pounds

Thanksgiving may be over, but the effects of all that food are just settling in. Whether you were one of the lucky ones able to take off work to feast with family, or you took advantage of leftovers after that holiday hospital shift, if you’re like many Americans this week, your bathroom scale may be reading slightly higher than usual. You’re also probably anxious to see that number go back down before you have to buy that larger sets of scrubs. But if you think that just a few extra trips to the gym this week will do the trick, you may be disappointed.

A new study done by Bangor University in the United Kingdom claims that exercise alone rarely leads to weight loss. Of the 34 women who took part in the study, and regardless of whether the test subjects were lean, overweight, or obese, none of those involved lost weight… even after 12 circuit training exercise classes across four weeks.

In fact, for women who are overweight or obese, exercise actually lead to an increase in appetite hormones, the study claims.

“Our body system is so well regulated, that it always finds a way to compensate for a loss in energy after exercise,” says Dr. Hans-Peter Kubis, a co-author of the study. “Whether they are aware of it or not, someone undertaking more physical activity or exercise may experience increased appetite as a result, and this makes it difficult for people to achieve their goals.”

But if you think this means we should start skipping those trips to the gym, think again. Dr. Kubis stresses that while exercise alone may not directly lead to weight loss, it’s still an important part of a weight loss program… along with many other benefits.

“To be effective, exercise training for weight loss needs to be integrated into a lifestyle approach to weight loss, including exercise combined with diet.”

In other words, keep that appointment at the gym, on the running trail, or in that spin class… just make sure you combine it with healthy changes to diet as well. And that may just mean looking the other way when a co-worker brings leftover pie to the nurses’ station.

Of course, a solid (and doctor approved) exercise program can have a lot more benefits than just contributing towards weight loss, benefits such as:

·       Improving your memory – A study found that exercise right after learning can boost your memory (particularly helpful to keep in mind if you’re currently studying to become a nurse).

·       Disease prevention – Exercise has been found to prevent a variety of age-related diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes.

·       Stronger emotional health – Endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are all released during exercise, meaning a happier you.

·       Fewer PMS symptoms – One study found that 80% of subjects had less pain, bloating, and irritation during PMS if they exercised regularly.

·       Social outlets – Exercise classes or running groups are great ways to meet new people. This not only makes the exercise easier, but it also helps prevent the negative health effects caused by loneliness.

In the words of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff (MD), “Exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to shortchange the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise and, simultaneously, misinform them about the realities of long-term weight management.”  

So even though that extra jog this week might not completely counter that third helping of Aunt Frieda’s pecan pie last Thursday, keep that appointment with your jogging shoes anyway. And if you really want to help that bathroom scale number, get ready to pass on the eggnog  and fudge as the Christmas goodies start making their rounds.

For more information on beginning your own career in health care, contact Unitek College today for information on our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Why Thanksgiving Is So Busy In Your Hospital

Why Thanksgiving Is So Busy In Your Hospital

Why Thanksgiving Is So Busy In Your Hospital

Why Thanksgiving Is So Busy In Your Hospital

Life always seems busier around the holidays, and life inside a hospital is no exception. Thanksgiving in particular can often be one of the busiest times of the year for those in the medical profession, and with good reason.

Cooking injuries are one of the top culprits, of course. Minor burns and cuts from food preparation are to be expected during the rush to create the perfect Thanksgiving feast, but the rise in popularity of fried turkey adds a whole new level of danger to the holiday.

“If a turkey fryer is used the way it’s supposed to be used by people who are not impaired by alcohol or drugs, I think they’re fine,” said Dr. Thomas Esposito, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Injuries from turkey fryers are rare, but when they happen to you or a family member, that doesn’t matter – they are very devastating.”

The high volume of holiday traffic also contributes to more visits to the ER. More cars on the road mean more chances of an accident, especially with daylight ending much earlier. Alcohol consumption and drunk driving also rises—the day before Thanksgiving has even earned the title (and hashtag) of Blackout Wednesday among younger drinkers.

But one of the most dangerous culprits at Thanksgiving is also the one that looks the most harmless, the most inviting, and will be in the majority of American homes on Thursday: the Thanksgiving meal itself… or rather, the amount of sodium packed into it.

Dr. Div Verma, a cardiologist at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, has come to expect a 25 to 30 percent increase in patients around the Thanksgiving holiday, according to NBC affiliate KPNX.

“The most common problems are usually shortness of breath, heart failure, palpitations,” Dr. Verma said. “Some people even faint from arrhythmias. If you have valvular heart disease, you’ll come in with heart failure and stuff like that.”

“Salt is the biggest culprit,” she adds. “Nobody really estimates the amount of salt they’re consuming because it is hidden. The food tastes so good, they don’t think about the salt content of the food.”

When we ingest large amounts of sodium (which is hidden literally everywhere in your holiday food, as detailed here), you throw off the internal fluid balance in your body, making it more difficult for your kidneys to remove the excess fluid in your blood stream. This strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys causes a spike in overall blood pressure, and for patients already dealing with heart issues or hypertension, this could spell a serious problem.

Of course, there’s no way to entirely prevent these holiday accidents from occurring. So the best you can do as a nurse to help educate your own friends and families to keep them safe this year, and mentally prepare to help those who will undoubtedly make a holiday mistake or two this week.

No one wants to be in a hospital on the holidays—least of all your patients—and this Thanksgiving, we’re especially thankful for all of the doctors and nurses putting on scrubs instead of aprons, and keeping an eye on the rest of us this week.

If you’d like information on beginning your own career in nursing, contact Unitek College here for more information about our many available programs.