Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm on October 10, was unusual in many ways. The storm surprised everyone by how quickly it intensified—going from a relatively innocuous tropical storm to a raging hurricane in no time at all. It struck later in the season than most powerful hurricanes, struck a portion of the country that rarely receives a direct hit, and the sheer power of the storm was record-breaking.

“Students in tropical-meteorology classes are going to be talking about this storm for 20 years,” says Colin Zarzycki, a tropical-cyclone scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

But something not unusual about the catastrophic event? The response seen by nurses.

The damage of the storm was unprecedented, closing more than five hospitals, 15 assisted living communities, and five nursing homes to completely shut down. Others were left running on generators, while the nurses of one Panama City hospital scrambled to keep the emergency room open despite damage to the building.

Before the wrath of the storm had even reached the coast, nurses from two assisted living facilities were already making tough choices in favor of their elderly patients. Despite their own concerns and the threats to their own homes, one group of Panama City nurses decided to stay with their patients during the evacuations, many unsure whether they would see their homes intact again.

“I don’t know how (my) house is, if it’s still standing, so we’re just braving it, trying to get through,” nurse Linda Cooper said. “It’s very hard, it is, it’s difficult, but I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I think you’re mindset that way, you take care of people and you think when you have time about what happens in your own life.”

Many of their patients suffer from severe dementia and required regular assurance in the new unfamiliar surroundings. And the nurses, despite their own worries, delivered—playing music for the patients, keeping spirits high, and focusing on their mission.

“There are several staff that still have not been able to locate their families, and we know we have staff here that do not have a home to go to, so it’s been very challenging,” Seagrass Village executive director Victoria Folks said. “They have been remarkable and they’ve put their residents first no matter what, and they are our heroes for that.”

Across the country, other nurses are stepping up to assist their brothers and sisters in scrubs as they deal with the destruction.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, for example, Nurse Leslie Silcox is organizing volunteers to send to Florida while collecting and packaging donations for those impacted by the storm—all while continuing to collect aid for those in the Carolinas hit by Hurricane Florence.

Also headed to Florida are the nurse volunteers of the RN Response Network, who are traveling to the panhandle to assist with medical aid.

“Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to hit the Florida panhandle in 100 years, and our RN Response Network volunteer nurses are committed to helping those in its path—including providing relief for our local nurse colleagues, whose homes and families will also be impacted,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN. “As nurses, it’s our duty to help patients in need, and RNRN volunteers always rise to the calling. We want the people of Florida to know that our hearts are with them, and the nurses are on their way.”

And nurses such as Jeannie Cashin of New Hampshire are responding to the call for help. Despite her distance from the catastrophe, Nurse Cashin saw the call for help from the Red Cross and knew she had to be involved. (You can see an interview with Nurse Cashin here).

We may not be able to avoid every storm or tragedy, but the one thing we have been shown again and again is that no matter what comes our way, we have an army in scrubs always standing by to help put things back together.

If you’d like more information on becoming a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today for class schedules, tuition information, and to find a campus near you.

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Last week, we explored the differences between NICU (neonatal intensive care) and PICU (pediatric intensive care)—if you missed it, you can read it here. And despite some of the differences between the two career paths, two things were the same: the connection the nurses had for their patients, and the appreciation that patients’ families had for the nurses.

This month, one Bay Area nurse stumbled onto a perfect example of both.

Nurse Vilma Wong has been an NICU nurse in the Bay Area for over 30 years, and in that time, she’s cared for hundreds of infant patients, but one stood out, an infant she assisted 28 years ago. His name was Brandon, and he was born at only two pounds, six ounces after his mother had to undergo an emergency c-section. For the next 40 days, Vilma and Brandon were very close, as Vilma oversaw Brandon’s treatment as his primary care nurse. Afterward, he left for home at a still-small five pounds, two ounces. But he was healthy, and that’s what mattered.

But in addition to the bond they’d formed, Brandon stood out for another reason. While most (if not all) of Vilma’s patients left the hospital and never returned, Brandon was one who came back… 28 years later.

While doing rounds with her team at the NICU, Vilma couldn’t shake the feeling that she somehow knew the new NICU nurse who had joined them.

“I kept asking where he was from and he told me that he was from San Jose, California, and that, as a matter of fact, he was a premature baby born at our hospital,” Wong told The Mercury News. “I then got very suspicious because I remember being the primary nurse to a baby with the same last name.”

Vilma began asking more and more questions as more details came back to her. She recalled that baby Brandon’s father had been a police officer, one of the few personal details she could recall.

“There was a big silence,” Wong said. “And then he asked if I was Vilma.”

28 years later, both patient and nurse were not only reunited, but each had made such an impact on the other than this past month, almost three decades later, they retained that bond.

Brandon’s father, now retired, even found a photo of Wong holding Brandon—a photo they recreated last month, and one that has now gone viral.

While reunions like these are rare and even surreal, the bond and appreciation shared by nurses and their young patients are forged every day in NICU and PICU wards across the country. So if you’re a nurse in the Bay Area (or nursing student in the Bay Area), enjoy working with children, and want a position guaranteed to have an impact, maybe it’s time to give the NICU/PICU halls a closer look.

For more information on beginning your career as a Bay Area nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

Bay Area nurses and nursing students who enjoy working with younger patients have many hospitals and clinics from which to choose, and just as many programs of care. El Camino Hospital, for example, offers several NICU options (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), Level II NICU care (at its Mountain View campus) and Level III NICUcare (at its Los Gatos location). With so many options available, though, the world of pediatric care can sometimes be confusing to navigate for those unfamiliar and searching for their next career move.

One of the first steps in choosing the right Bay Area pediatrics program is understanding the difference between NICU nursing (neonatal) and PICU nursing (pediatric).

For nurses in the NICU, your responsibilities will revolve specifically around newborn babies. While PICU nurses also work with young babies on occasion, NICU only works with the newborns. Within the NICU, there are four levels of care:

Level One – Nurses in level one will care for healthy, full-term babies. They also “stabilize babies born near term to get them ready to transfer to facilities that provide advanced care.”

Level Two – Bay Area Nurses in level two NICU care for newborns 32 weeks old and who are recovering from complications.

Level Three – Level three patients have a much higher level of complication. These include babies born under 32 weeks and those with critical illnesses (of any gestational age). This is the NICU level where subspecialties, respiratory support, and other advanced treatments are common.

Level Four – A level four NICUis prepared to deliver the most advanced care possible, which often means infant surgery.

“I would certainly recommend NICU nursing to others,” says nurse Bernadette Mich, who herself was an NICU patient when she was first born. “Although it is challenging and tiring at times it is worth it and it is a very rewarding and satisfying job.”

For Nurse Mich, the job is demanding yet satisfying. Through the course of her work, she often becomes attached to her patients, even visiting them outside of her shifts. But one of the most important aspects of her job, she says, involves the parents.

“As nurses we try and comfort and reassure them,” she says. “The biggest part is supporting the parents no matter what the outcome. It is like a roller coaster ride for them up and down good and bad days.”

Bay Area PICU nurses, on the other hand, tend to have a much broader variety of responsibilities and care for patients who range from newborn to 17-years old. One local example of a PICU hospital is UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Their PICU unit includes family-centered, age-appropriate treatment that includes 31 subspecialties, including “neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology, pulmonary, hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant.”

“We are with these patients and their families through the highs and the lows,” says nurse Kristin Hall, a 26-year-old pediatric intensive care unit nurse. “The real reward is having a once-critically-ill child come back for a visit just to say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you.’”

The level of care in the PICU tends to be just as personal, if not more so, than inside the NICU.

“PICU nurses rarely leave the bedside during their 12-hour shift. Many nurses have only one patient, and at the most, two,” explains RN Marcia Summers. “We often get Christmas cards from past patients, and to see them and their parents looking so happy gives the nurses their reason for doing what they do every day.”

If you’re interested in studying to be a nurse or medical assistant in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today for more information on our many available programs and to find a campus near you.

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Nursing school in the Bay Area is exciting, as you learn new skills and explore a new career possibility. Nursing itself is even more exciting, as you begin helping patients and making real differences in peoples’ lives. But the part in between… the job hunting? That’s not always the fun part.

Google has made the job a lot easier (and the staff at Unitek College works hard to do so as well), but there’s still a lot of work to do on your part—namely identifying those potential employers, making sure your resume goes to the right person, and writing cover letter after cover letter. Then, of course, there’s the waiting.

Is it all worth it? Absolutely.

So if you’re a nurse in the Bay Area or nursing student in the Bay Area, and you’re getting ready to start the job hunt, here are three hospitals in the Bay Area where you could start your search.

  1. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, CA

Who They Are: With over 183 beds, UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospital specializes in emergency care and special treatment for young patients in the Bay Area.

Bragging Points: A 50-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, recreational therapy, and multiple outreach clinics throughout Northern California.

How To Apply: All job information can be found here, including information on the training of RN’s who are just starting out.

  1. El Camino Hospital Mountain View, CA

Who They Are: According to their website, for more than half a century, El Camino Hospital “has had a reputation for high caliber physicians, innovative services and powerful commitment to meeting the needs of our community.”

Bragging Points: Home of the South Asian Heart Center, which provides screening, counseling, and education for Bay Area residents of South Asian or Indian descent, citing those populations as ones at a much greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also offer specialized healthcare to Bay Area Chinese community members through their Chinese Health Initiative.

How To Apply: Search available jobs by clicking here.

  1. Saint Mary’s Medical Center San Francisco, CA

Who They Are: The oldest continuously operating hospital in the city, St Mary’s Hospital was originally formed to care for a city suffering through cholera (later typhoid and influenza). Today, the hospital continues to operate on the belief that “all people deserve medical care, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or circumstances.”

Bragging Points: Part of a healthcare group called Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West) with 400 care sites across 22-states, including 39 hospitals. The hospital’s mission is to go beyond medical care alone, offering Chronic, Palliative, and Spiritual care as a part of their holistic care program.

How To Apply : Search and apply for work by clicking here.


Of course, there are over 30 hospitals just in the Bay Area alone, and these three we’ve highlighted just scratch the surface (we’ll be highlighting more Bay Area hospitals in weeks to come). Hopefully, as you learn more about your local hospitals, their rich history, and their unique missions, you’ll come to appreciate the job hunt as something just as exciting as school and career.

For more information on beginning your career as a nurse or medical student in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today.

Why I Became A Nurse

Why I Became A Nurse

Why I Became A Nurse

Why I Became A Nurse

People have all sorts of reasons for choosing to become a nurse. Some choose nursing because of the rising number of opportunities. Others choose nursing for the competitive compensation. Some do it because it’s a family tradition. And many choose nursing simply because they love helping sick people get better (of those, many would probably tell you that they’ve always been a nurse… they just got licensed).

If you’re a nurse or nursing student in the Bay Area, you’ve probably got an interesting reason of your own (and feel free to share it with us). But for those on the fence about donning the scrubs, here are a few reasons to join right from the nurses themselves.

Nurse Anna’s journey to becoming a nurse began at age 14, as she held her father’s hand as he passed away. She was too young to assist with his care then, but that moment led her to her ultimate destination.

“I feel like nursing is my chance to fight for my father,” she writes. “To care for every patient as I would have cared for him if given the chance…if given the time.”

Nurse Daniel Satalino began school as a Biology major, but he quickly discovered that his heart lay else ware.

“The thing I love most about nursing is the wide range of opportunities available for you. Whether you love bedside nursing, research, documentation… there are many specialties that are fit for different personalities,” says Satalino. “The greatest thing about the profession I have chosen is the ability to help people even if the help may seem minor. The patient will always remember who was at the bedside during their hospital stay.”

Others, like Nurse Jesus Adaniel, find that the excitement of the job is what drives them.

“Caring for patients is my calling,” Adaniel (now a commissioned officer in the Army Nurse Corp) tells “I always wanted to work in the critical care and trauma area early on in my career. I love the feeling of excitement and the fast-paced atmosphere.”

And some, like Nurse Pam Colvin, find their calling comes from a deeper, possibly even spiritual place.

“My passion for nursing stems from being influenced by two incredible historical leaders— Clara Barton and Mother Theresa,” Colvin shares. “Neither are traditional nurses by occupation, but both spent their lives serving people in times of hardship, loss, and devastation. Their example has inspired me to love nursing by making a difference in the lives of others. Despite the challenges, it is a calling and a love unending.”

And for Nurse Jessica Speer, being a nurse is simply the job that she finds the most rewarding.

“For every bad day, there is a great one that picks me right back up,” she writes in an article for “In my experience as a nurse, there has always been a patient that was beyond thankful and appreciative of the few extra minutes I spent with them explaining their new blood pressure medication; going over how to administer insulin to a newly diagnosed diabetic; providing a quick nebulizer treatment to the asthmatic in respiratory distress. Those are the moments that make it all worth it.”

There are nearly three million nurses in the United States today, and each one of them has their own unique story, vision, and reason for doing what they do. Which just leaves us with the question… what will your reason be?

For more information on beginning your career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today to learn more about classes, programs, and schedule options in the Bay Area.

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular.

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

Is Your Nursing Shift Keeping You From Regular Exercise? Try Irregular

The definition of “work” has changed a lot in just the last century. Not too long ago, working meant laboring—moving, sweating, lifting, plowing, and a host of other progressive verbs. But over the past several decades, much of our work has shifted indoors and behind desks… and this doesn’t bode well for our health.

“Most of us spend about 75 percent of our day sitting or being sedentary,” warns Dr. Meredith Peddie, “and this behavior has been linked to increased rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and overall mortality.”

Nurses and medical assistants aren’t exempt either. One recent study noted that employees who work shifts (specifically nurses) have a much more difficult time scheduling physical activity.

But none of this is new. We’ve known for a while that anything sedentary is bad for us. Nurses and Nurse Practitioners are constantly on the lookout for hypertension and lower back pain in patients that too much sitting can often cause. But fixing the issue can sometimes feel like an out-of-reach goal.

Look up any article on healthy living and the word that always precedes “exercise” is the word “regular”, and that can be disheartening. As the earlier study mentioned, shift work has an unpredictability that makes regular exercise difficult. And when you look at the prescribed amount of regular exercise (at least two and half hours per week), it’s easy to come to the conclusion “why bother?” After all, if you can’t do the minimum suggested amount, anything less is a waste of time, right?

Wrong. And that’s excellent news.

As researchers continue to study the impact of exercise on the human body, one thing keeps coming up—when it comes to physical activity, something is always better than nothing.

When it comes to prolonged sitting, for example, Dr. Peddie’s research concluded with clear results: even short interruptions to sitting (once every half hour) had distinctly positive impacts on health. And amazingly, neither the intensity level nor the age/weight of those monitored seemed to matter. You simply need to get up and move more often.

“We should all be finding ways to avoid sitting for long periods, and to increase the amount of movement we do throughout the entire day,” Dr. Peddie suggests.

Of course, getting to the gym or the trail has even greater benefits, but can also be difficult to find time to do regularly. Fortunately, even just a single workout has proven positive results for your body.

Mere minutes of exercise can begin to alter your muscles’ DNA, turning on certain genes for strength and metabolism. You’ll also get the mental boost that comes from endorphins and serotonin, both of which are released within one exercise session. Even the way your body metabolizes fats improves with just one good session of sweat—and because of this, just that one workout can improve your resistance to diabetes.

Not only does your body improve with a single exercise session, your mind and spirits do as well. That means improved focus and a decrease in stress, even if you just work out for ten minutes!

Obviously, regular exercise is still the healthiest option, but intermittent exercise certainly has its benefits as well. So the next time you finish your shift, toss your dirty scrubs, and are deciding between your workout clothes or your comfy sweatpants, remember that even a quick workout is better than none at all.

If you are interested in studying to be a nurse or medical assistant in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today for more information on classes, current schedules, and opportunities.