Paging Doctor Kermit

Paging Doctor Kermit: A Frog May Hold Key To Universal Flu Vaccine

Paging Doctor Kermit

A Frog May Hold Key To Universal Flu Vaccine

We’re now halfway through October, and while we still have a few weeks to go until Halloween kicks off the holiday season, we’re already well into flu season. Flu season (October through May in the United States, with peaks in December and February) tends to bring significant spikes of influenza cases nationwide, as kids go back to school, people spend more time indoors, the cold helps preserve viruses, and people get less Vitamin D from the sun.

Currently, the best defense against the influenza virus is inoculation, and health officials recommend everyone get their shots before the end of October—particularly those more vulnerable to the illness, such as children under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical issues. This year, some are predicting an especially nasty flu season.

“But influenza is unpredictable,” says Colorado epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. “It could be an indicator that it is going to be a more severe season. But it could change.”

Unfortunately, the flu vaccine isn’t always effective. While health officials do their best to predict which strain of influenza will impact the country, the result is still an educated guess. In 2014, for example, the flu vaccine protected against the wrong strain, leaving millions vulnerable to the actual virus.

But while flu vaccines are currently the best defense, a potentially better one is currently being researched. And you’ll never guess where scientists found it.

Researchers at Emory University discovered that the non-toxic mucus collected from the backs of a South Indian frog contains an element that causes certain germs to literally explode—while allowing other cells and viruses to pass by.

“We tested it against viruses that came from the 1930s until the current ones, and it kills all of the H1s. It doesn’t touch H3. It’s very, very specific,” explains Emory’s Joshy Jacob, who led the study.

The secret ingredient is an element dubbed urumin, a peptide that targets hemagglutinin (HA), a protein that allows the influenza virus to attach itself to human cells. Without the protein, the virus can’t attach and dies off, and so far, urumin has knocked back every H1NX flu virus it’s gone up against. As for why the germs explode after exposure, researchers are still working on theories—the leading theory being that urumin releases an electrostatic force after binding that destroys the outer shell of the germ.

While urumin doesn’t destroy all types of flu virus, researchers are still optimistic and hope to study urumin in order to develop a universal cure. The tests are currently being done on mice, with ferrets next in line. Then, should those tests go well, humans will be next.

(And if you’re a little grossed out by the idea of taking a medicine distilled from frog mucus, just be thankful you aren’t living in ancient Russia, when people first discovered the medicinal benefits of frogs by dropping them milk jugs helped keep the milk from going bad.)

For this flu season, though, don’t expect any miracle cures. Get that flu shot soon!

If you’re interested in beginning your own career in health care, contact Unitek College today for information on our many available health care programs, classes, and online options.

Nurses Emerge As Heroes

Nurses Emerge As Heroes In Las Vegas Violence

Nurses Emerge As Heroes

Nurses Emerge As Heroes In Las Vegas Violence

The past weekend’s attack in Las Vegas dominated headlines this week, as investigators struggled to piece together a motive for the shooting that claimed 59 lives and injured nearly 500 more. And outside Las Vegas, the nation reeled as it came to grips with the horrors that had unfolded.

But as the chaos slowly faded, stories began emerging—stories of those in the line of fire (many of them nurses) who risked everything for the strangers around them. And in the hospitals and trauma centers around the city, nurses stepped up to save as many lives as they could.

Amber Ratto, a paramedic, recalled driving back onto the concert grounds following the shooting, not yet sure whether the violence had ended, but knowing there were too many victims to stay put. “I turned off the lights in the back of the ambulance to not be targets,” she recounts. She and her crew then worked to triage the victims—treating the wounded, and placing blankets over the dead.

Among those helping was a nurse identified only as Vanessa, who told local news station KTNV why she left safety to return to the danger zone. “We went back because I’m a nurse and I just felt that I had to,” she explained. “I went to three different scenes. The first one was OK. The second one was worse. And by the time I got to the third one, there was just dead bodies…”

But even in the middle of tragedy, Vanessa recognized the extraordinary effort happening around her. “There was so many people, just normal citizens, doctors, cops, paramedics, nurses, just off-duty,” she said. “Everyone was just communicating and working together. It was completely horrible, but it was absolutely amazing to see all of those people come together.”

Nurses weren’t immune to the attack, of course. One 43-year old nurse, Natalie Vanderstay, was hit by gunfire during the attack. However, despite fear and shock, her training kicked in, and she managed to treat her own gunshot wound before being taken to a trauma center by a cab driver.

In the hospitals, shooting victims began arriving any way that they could—by car, taxi, ambulance, or truck—and every nurse available was called in to help. One nurse, Toni Mullan, returned to the hospital immediately following her 12-hour shift to help treat patients alongside her daughter, a trauma nurse at the same hospital.

“The minute I got there, I looked at the situation and said ‘How am I going to utilize my resources?’ ” Ms. Mullan tells the New York Times. By the end of the night, 104 patients had arrived. The situation may have looked chaotic to anyone looking in from the outside, Toni explained, but in actuality, much was being accomplished. At one point, five trauma patients were being “clocked in” simultaneously. And even the patients who did not have life-threatening injuries were treated quickly by doctors.

“I’ve been a nurse for 30 years, and this was by far the worst moment I’ve had, the worst injuries,” she said. “But it was the proudest moment.”

Another first-hand account of what went on in the Las Vegas hospitals can be seen here, along with video of the response.

Ratto, the paramedic, said she was still processing the horror but felt proud. “So many died but we saved so many. I feel lucky. I have the best co-workers in the entire world.”

If you’d like to help victims of the Las Vegas attacks, CNN has listed several resources here. And if you’d like more information about beginning your own nursing training, contact Unitek College today.

 

Better Leader in Nursing

Five Ways To Be A Better Leader In Nursing

Better Leader in Nursing

Five Ways To Be A Better Leader In Nursing

The world needs good leaders, and the world of heath care is no different. When you first put on your scrubs and begin your first years of nursing, you’ll more than likely be surrounded by capable leaders—nurses, doctors, and administrators who either by title or seniority have risen to roles of responsibility and will be vital in helping you navigate those extra-complicated days.

There’s also a good chance that you will be asked to lead in some capacity at some point in your career—a big honor, but also a big responsibility—and there are a few key points you’ll want to keep in mind to keep you and your team on track.

  1. Stick To The Classics – Leadership responsibilities may vary from career to career, but leadership traits tend to stay the same. Forbes has a great list of ten leadership qualities that apply to any and all industries—including healthcare. For example, setting the bar high for yourself in terms of honesty and ethics, learning how to delegate, and projecting confidence and positivity even when the days get tough. Of course, to do those things, you’ll need an extra strong dose of…
  2. Good Communication – You can have all the positivity, experience, knowledge, and management theory in the world, but if you can’t share those things effectively with your team, they won’t do you much good. The better you are at communicating (to patients, to other management, and to co-workers), the better you’ll be at leading. And communicating is more than just sharing your thoughts, by the way. Being a good listener is the essential second half of the skill.

 

  1. Build More Leaders – No leader, no matter how good they are, can do everything on their own. You need a team you can rely on, and that means developing new leaders within it. American Nurse Today suggests that you “Identify your informal and formal leaders and invest in them. Take them to meetings with you; have them provide presentations to the staff and senior-level leaders. Find opportunities to highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Train them to be the next leaders.”

 

  1. Take Care Of Yourself – If you’re in a position of leadership, it’s probably because you’ve shown a passion for what you do, and now that you have more responsibility, you’ll be even more driven to succeed. This is wonderful, but don’t let that drive burn you out. “Remember to take care of yourself by eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising ,” advises Susan Hassmiller (PhD, RN, FAAN). “You need to be strong physically, emotionally, and spiritually to best take care of others and to model wellness for the people you serve.”

 

  1. Never Stop Learning – A good leader is always learning, and knows that he or she can learn from anyone—patient, co-worker, professor, or the nurse on the first shift of her career. “Technology and the profession continues to grow and expand,” writes Jacqueline Cole of the American Associations of Managed Care Nurses. “You are the resource for the lives you touch. To be the most effective and greatest resource for each patient is to keep your knowledge fresh.”

 

Not sure if you’re destined to manage or climb the hospital ladder? Keep these tips in mind anyway.

“Title aside, all nurses are called to leadership,” writes Eileen Williamson for Nurse.com. “The call to leadership moves all of us to a higher plane of responsibility and accountability, with or without a management title; it is inherent in all nursing positions from staff nurse to CEO. We all have similar goals and responsibilities for patient care.”

In a nutshell? If you care about your patients, care about your co-workers, and are willing to set an example by your own actions, then you’ve got what it takes to lead.

For more information on starting a career in health care, contact Unitek College today for information on our many available nursing and medical assistant programs.

When you first put on your scrubs and begin your first years of nursing, you’ll more than likely be surrounded by capable leaders—nurses, doctors, and administrators who either by title or seniority have risen to roles of responsibility and will be vital in helping you navigate those extra-complicated days.

There’s also a good chance that you will be asked to lead in some capacity at some point in your career—a big honor, but also a big responsibility—and there are a few key points you’ll want to keep in mind to keep you and your team on track.

  1. Stick To The Classics – Leadership responsibilities may vary from career to career, but leadership traits tend to stay the same. Forbes has a great list of ten leadership qualities that apply to any and all industries—including healthcare. For example, setting the bar high for yourself in terms of honesty and ethics, learning how to delegate, and projecting confidence and positivity even when the days get tough. Of course, to do those things, you’ll need an extra strong dose of…
  2. Good Communication – You can have all the positivity, experience, knowledge, and management theory in the world, but if you can’t share those things effectively with your team, they won’t do you much good. The better you are at communicating (to patients, to other management, and to co-workers), the better you’ll be at leading. And communicating is more than just sharing your thoughts, by the way. Being a good listener is the essential second half of the skill.

 

  1. Build More Leaders – No leader, no matter how good they are, can do everything on their own. You need a team you can rely on, and that means developing new leaders within it. American Nurse Today suggests that you “Identify your informal and formal leaders and invest in them. Take them to meetings with you; have them provide presentations to the staff and senior-level leaders. Find opportunities to highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Train them to be the next leaders.”

 

  1. Take Care Of Yourself – If you’re in a position of leadership, it’s probably because you’ve shown a passion for what you do, and now that you have more responsibility, you’ll be even more driven to succeed. This is wonderful, but don’t let that drive burn you out. “Remember to take care of yourself by eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising ,” advises Susan Hassmiller (PhD, RN, FAAN). “You need to be strong physically, emotionally, and spiritually to best take care of others and to model wellness for the people you serve.”

 

  1. Never Stop Learning – A good leader is always learning, and knows that he or she can learn from anyone—patient, co-worker, professor, or the nurse on the first shift of her career. “Technology and the profession continues to grow and expand,” writes Jacqueline Cole of the American Associations of Managed Care Nurses. “You are the resource for the lives you touch. To be the most effective and greatest resource for each patient is to keep your knowledge fresh.”

 

Not sure if you’re destined to manage or climb the hospital ladder? Keep these tips in mind anyway.

“Title aside, all nurses are called to leadership,” writes Eileen Williamson for Nurse.com. “The call to leadership moves all of us to a higher plane of responsibility and accountability, with or without a management title; it is inherent in all nursing positions from staff nurse to CEO. We all have similar goals and responsibilities for patient care.”

In a nutshell? If you care about your patients, care about your co-workers, and are willing to set an example by your own actions, then you’ve got what it takes to lead.

For more information on starting a career in health care, contact Unitek College today for information on our many available nursing and medical assistant programs.

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Looming at the end of every nursing student’s program of study is that final hurtle between “student” and “professional nurse”… the NCLEX exam. All your hard work in classes, labs, and projects comes down to one final test, so it’s only natural that many test takers feel a little nervous going in. Fortunately, anyone preparing to take the test in the near future already has something big in their favor—they aren’t the first to take the test. Thousands have taken (and passed) the exam, and many have shared tips from their experience to help those following behind. Here are a few we’ve found to help you excel at that final certification and achieve that goal of becoming a nurse.

  1. Prepare Early – Cramming may have worked in high school, but you don’t want to rely on a last minute study “sprint” when your career is on the line. Instead, treat your studying and your test as more of a marathon—study early, study often, as far in advance as possible. “Even though you’ve done well in nursing school and you’ve had a great education, you must still prepare—and that means practicing,” says Jan Jones-Schenk (DHSc, RN, NE-BC). “Take 100 questions per day for two to three weeks leading up to your exam date.”
  2. Take Your Test ASAP – The longer you wait after graduation, the more chances you have to forget things you’ve learned. Make sure and take the test while the knowledge is still fresh in your mind. “The sooner you take it, with good preparation, the better your odds are for a first-time pass,” advises Jones-Schenk. “Two to three weeks should be enough time to prepare.”
  3. Know What You’re Getting Into – It’s natural to worry about a test like the NCLEX, but the more you know about the exam and exam requirements ahead of time, the more you can concentrate on actually taking the test (and remembering everything you studied). Check out https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm early for a good idea of what’s ahead.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice – The best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to actually experience what’s ahead, and there are plenty of practice tests available to help you do just that. Take advantage of the NCSBN’s practice exams to give yourself a head start on exam day.
  5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep – Resist the urge to stay up cramming the night before the test, and instead focus on getting seven to eight hours of sleep. Not only will the sleep be of greater benefit, but the cramming? Turns out it doesn’t work.
  6. Pick Up A Good Book – You can find a thorough and descriptive list here of books written to help nursing students prepare for the NCLEX.
  7. Look For The Logical Choices – There’s a great strategy guide available here to help you navigate the many multiple choice answers and use logic to narrow down the correct one. One recurring theme in the guide is to pay close attention to the wording of each question. For example, if a question uses absolute words like always, never, none, only, etc, pay extra attention to those answers. Just because an answer might apply to most situations, it doesn’t always mean all.

And while everyone wants to pass on the first try, keep in mind that not everybody does. Plenty of nurses failed their first tests only to pass later on and enjoy successful careers in health care. In California, failing the test simply means you must wait 45 days before trying again, and there’s no limitation to how many times you try. So if the first one doesn’t work out, use that waiting period to study for the second. You’ve worked hard to get this far, and your nursing career is waiting just a few correct answers away.

Good luck!

For more information on studying to become a nurse, contact Unitek College for more information on our multiple nursing and medical assistant progr

Nursing jobs on a cruise ships

Could A Cruise Ship Be Your Next Nursing Job?

Nursing jobs on a cruise ships

Could A Cruise Ship Be Your Next Nursing Job?

Most people (with the exception of sailors and entertainers) don’t think “full-time job” when they hear the words “cruise ship”. Most of us think of a cruise as a getaway, our chance to leave work and worries behind for an all-inclusive, buffet-filled vacation at sea. But running a cruise ship takes a lot of manpower behind the scenes, especially when it comes to heath care.

More and more people are taking cruises every year, with the industry continually setting new records for numbers of passengers. In 2016, attendance jumped to a record 24.2 million people who cruised worldwide, and when the number of people grows, the potential for health issues grows as well.

Time Magazine compiled a list of some of the significant disease outbreaks aboard cruise ships in the past few years—including the norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean that infected over 600, and back to back outbreaks on Princess and Celebrity cruises that sickened over 1500 passengers combined. Passengers can also be injured or infected while exploring ports. And if that’s not enough, the rising and falling seas while onboard (combined with steps, wet surfaces, and alcohol) often lead to slips and falls… especially among elderly passengers.

All that to say… a cruise ship may sound like paradise, but they definitely rely heavily on their ship nurses, and if you’re looking for an opportunity to provide health care while traveling, then a cruise line may be one possible fit.

In most cases, ship nurses report directly to the ship doctor / physician, and work under the supervision of the lead nurse (also a solid career opportunity). In addition to assisting the ship doctor and lead nurse in a broad range of medical care, ship nurses are also usually the first line of defense when an injury or illness is reported—one reason why many cruise lines prefer to hire nurses with emergency room experience.

Interested? Nurse.org offers a few of the pros and cons of the position. In the “positive” column, the website lists the flexibility of short-term contracts, travel, chances to explore international ports, and generally more responsibility than one might find in a traditional nursing position. Under the “negatives” column,  they list the stress of multi-month deployments (especially for those with a family), a competitive job market, and a lower than average pay rate… although they also mention that due to the free room and board the job offers, the salaries tend to even out.

For many nurses, though, such as Nurse Joan Jones, the experience is one they return to again and again. “It can be like a working vacation,” she says. “It is far less stressful than a hospital environment.”

(It might be a good idea to make sure you aren’t prone to sea sickness before you apply, though, or you may spend as much time in the sick bay as the people you’re treating!)

If you’d like more information on exploring a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for more information on our multiple nursing and medical assistant programs.

The Battle Against Cancer May Be Zika

Our New Ally In The Battle Against Cancer May Be Zika

The Battle Against Cancer May Be Zika

The Battle Against Cancer May Be Zika

There’s an old adage that says “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and it looks as if that saying may have found a new application in modern medicine. Just one year ago, the Zika Virus dominated the headlines, spreading anxiety and panic across the country—especially among pregnant mothers. The virus, known for causing severe birth defects such as microcephaly, caused epidemic scares, terminated travel plans, and quickly rose to the top of 2016’s “public enemies” list.

But despite its dangerous reputation, scientists may have found a way to put the Zika Virus to work in our favor. If the virus attacks fetal stem cells in the brain, they hypothesized, perhaps it can be used to attack the stem cells in a brain tumor. It’s a bold theory, but thanks to researchers at Washington University, it’s one that’s now a step closer to being proven fact.

“We take a virus, learn how it works and then we leverage it,” said Dr. Michael Diamond, a professor of molecular microbiology, pathology and immunology. “Let’s take advantage of what it’s good at, use it to eradicate cells we don’t want. Take viruses that would normally do some damage and make them do some good.”

So far, the research labs have focused their efforts on surgically removed glioblastoma stem cells (the most common form of brain cancer, one recently diagnosed in Senator John McCain), and the results have been promising. The virus killed the isolated glioblastoma cells (which are generally resistant to treatment), and when tested on mice, brain tumors shrank considerably.

The researchers are still several steps away from clinical trials on humans, but the future is promising, with the ultimate goal being the removal of tumors and prevention of their return.

“Our study is a first step towards the development of safe and effective strains of Zika virus that could become important tools in neuro-oncology and the treatment of glioblastoma,” Diamond said, according to the news release. “However, public health concerns will need to be addressed through pre-clinical testing and evaluations of the strains’ ability to disseminate or revert to more virulent forms.”

In other words, before scientists consider releasing the treatment to the public, they want to be absolutely certain that they’ve prevented any possibility of the Zika Virus “going rogue”.

One method researchers explored was the use of a mutated version of the virus, one weaker and more sensitive to the human immune system. While this approach also required the use of a chemotherapy drug, it did show positive results, and could be one potential direction for the treatment.

“Once we add a few more changes, I think it’s going to be impossible for the virus to overcome them and cause disease,” says Diamond. He hopes to begin human trials within 18 months.

It’s the medical equivalent of turning lemons into lemonade, and our fingers are crossed for their success.

If you’d like to explore your own career in health care, Unitek College can help. Contact us today for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.