Drawing Blood With Robots

Drawing Blood With Robots

Drawing Blood With Robots

Drawing Blood With Robots

Blood tests are one of the most common diagnostic procedures in the world. Checking cholesterol levels for a routine physical? Blood test. Checking blood cell count for a suspected infection? Blood test. Diagnose a disease, check organ function, determine blood type—blood test, blood test, blood test.

But for a procedure that’s so common and repetitive, the time cost of drawing and analyzing a blood sample can sometimes be subpar. Many times, doctors are unable to draw the blood samples themselves and must rely on phlebotomists, who then themselves have to rely on labs to analyze the results. The findings are valuable, of course, but the multi-step process can sometimes eat valuable time.

And let’s not forget the many styles and techniques necessary to successfully “stick” a patient without mess, drama, or contaminating the sample. We covered the topic in this recent post.

Enter the Rutgers University Blood Testing Robot.

Robots, by design, exist to take over repetitive tasks. Most commonly, those tasks exist within the manufacturing realm, but more and more, tasks within the world of medicine are falling to the machines (we also explored a few of those machines in this post).

But the Rutgers University Blood Testing Robot takes automation to a new level. Not only does it take over the task of drawing a blood sample, but it analyses the sample as well—saving doctors and nurses valuable time.

“This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology,” says Martin L. Yarmush, the study’s senior author. “Integrating miniaturized robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing.”

The robot itself consists of three parts. The first part (the venipuncture arm) draws the blood sample by scanning the patient’s arm and creating a 3D model of the arm veins. After the needle is inserted, the second part of the machine obtains and protects the blood sample, delivering it to the third part—a built in centrifuge that analyzes the blood.

“In the U.S., for example, blood tests are performed 2 billion times each year and influence 80 percent of medical decisions made in hospital and primary care settings. However, blood draw success rates depend heavily on practitioner skill and patient physiology,” explains Dr Max Balter, one of the lead researchers. “By reducing turnaround times, the device has the capacity to expedite hospital workflow, allowing practitioners to devote more time to treating patients.”

So far, the machine has performed with 100% accuracy—a very impressive performance. And even the size is convenient. The prototype easily fits on a table, resembling the automatic blood pressure machines you see at local pharmacies.

Currently, the machine performs a “three-part white blood cell differential and hemoglobin measurement”, but developers hope to expand the available tests in the near future.

As far as nurses are concerned, however, there’s no fear of a robot replacing them any time soon. But a robot making a nurse’s job easier? That’s looking more and more likely by the day.

For more information on beginning a career in the exciting and rapidly changing world of nursing, contact Unitek College today.

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

Hero Nurse Breaks Down Barriers In Japan

If there’s one thing everyone quickly learns about nurses, it’s that no one or nothing should ever stand between them and helping their patient—even if that nothing is a two-thousand-year-old cultural tradition.

Sumo wrestling is a sport practiced only in Japan, and its historical roots stretch back to the BCE years. While the rules of the game have changed throughout the millennia, at its core, sumo wrestling has remained very true to its origins… even when those origins clash with the more progressive thinking of the present.

Almost as much a ritual as it is a sport, one very strict rule of sumo wrestling throughout its history has been a zero tolerance ban on women in the sumo ring. If a woman does enter the sacred space (called a “dohyo”) the ring is considered “ritually unclean”.

But when the ban on women came between one Japanese nurse and a man suffering from a stroke, she didn’t think twice. She entered the ring, and that bold move is still making waves in Japanese culture.

As Ryoto Tatami, mayor of Maizuru city in northern Kyoto, was delivering a speech before a sumo match, the 67-year old man suddenly collapsed in the ring. It was later determined to be a stroke, but for the female nurse watching from the crowd, the cause nor the setting mattered. She saw a man who needed help, and she charged into the ring to do so.

Her actions shocked the sumo judges, who began demanding over the PA system that she leave the ring immediately, repeating over and over the traditional ban on women in the ring. But the nurse (whose name has not yet been released) continued to work. Soon, other women began rushing into the ring to help, emboldened by the nurse’s example.

Thanks to her actions, Mayor Tatami survived the stroke, and nearly two months later was able to return to work.

“Even though sumo has a long history and traditions, its female ban policy is irrelevant today,” Tatami told a news conference on his first day back at work. “At least in situations requiring first aid, male or female should not matter. Anyone should be allowed to help out.”

The head of the sumo association also apologized for the incident, though the ban on females has not yet been officially lifted.

Still, the brave and selfless act of one nurse continues to make headlines today, two months after the mayor’s stroke, and could very well be a significant influencer in future cultural shifts in Japan.

If you are ever in a situation where you suspect a person may be having a stroke, the Mayo Clinic reminds first responders to assess the situation using the FAST acronym.

  • Face.Does the face droop on one side when the person tries to smile?
  • Arms.Is one arm lower when the person tries to raise both arms?
  • Speech.Can the person repeat a simple sentence? Is speech slurred or hard to understand?
  • Time.During a stroke every minute counts. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

 If you are interested in beginning your own career as a nurse, contact Unitek College today for information on our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation

If you haven’t yet been introduced to the “Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation” challenge, just give it time. The premise of the challenge (sponsored by the American Nurses Association) is simple: by improving the health and lifestyle of all nurses, those nurses can then set a healthy example for all around them. It’s a program designed to establish the nurse as a role model for personal health.

But those running the program have their work cut out for them.

You would think that everyone involved in the medical field would naturally gravitate towards healthy lifestyles. And in some ways, you’d be right. Nurses tend to be very proactive when it comes to things like getting flu shots (91%), using sunscreen (88%), or not smoking (94%). But when it comes to aspects of personal life and health that can be influenced by stress, nurses aren’t always a shining example.

Part of the challenge is the weight that nurses put on taking proper care of their patients. 68% of nurse respondents said that they put their patients’ wellbeing over their own health and safety. Many times, that means taking on longer hours, sleeping less, and settling for a diet that’s more convenient than healthy.

In fact, the study also found that the average body mass index (BMI) of nurses surveyed was over 27, a number firmly in the “overweight” column.

It all goes back to that 68% mentality. Nurses are natural caregivers and very hard workers. They work face to face with patients daily, and their drive and compassion is an incredible and unique combination that has defined the role of nurse for decades. All of which is wonderful, of course… unless it comes at the cost of personal and mental wellbeing.

Enter the goal of the “Healthy Nurses, Healthy Nation” challenge.

“Just think,” the ANA writes on their website, “if all 3.6 million registered nurses increase their personal wellness and support some of their family, community, co-workers, and patients to do the same, what a healthier world we would live in.”

The HNHN challenge (which you can register for here) attempts to focus on two things: improving the physical activity, sleep quality, nutrition, quality of life, and safety of nurses, and providing an online resource for nurses to connect with each other, educate themselves on life improvements, and cultivate “friendly competition”.

“Nurses are on the frontlines of health care, “writes Dr Pamela Cipriano,” and their well-being is critical to the health of the nation… If we support nurses in getting healthy, they will model these habits for their patients, family members, friends, colleagues and communities.”

Each month of the year, HNHN issues specific challenges to participating nurses. The challenges may center around the passive, like encouraging mindfulness or improving sleep. Some focus on safely, such as completing sharps training or pledging to stop distracted driving. And of course, some of the challenges are physical—such as running a 5k. This month’s challenge is simply called “Hydration”.

Whether you’re a nurse, studying to be a nurse, or simply considering starting nurse training, we hope you’ll take a look at the HNHN challenge and give some thought to taking part. You’re our front lines out there, and we need you in the best shape possible—mentally and physically.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse or medical assistant, Unitek College can help get you started. Contact us today for more information.

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Spotlight Continues To Shine On Nurse Heroes

Of all the careers in the United States, few garner as much universal praise and respect as nursing. When people see scrubs, or learn that a new acquaintance works in nursing, there’s a look that says both “I respect what you do” and “I wish I could also do what you do”. And in the past few weeks, that respect and praise has hit new levels, as the spotlight has shone on several amazing stories.

Probably the most popular story of the past few weeks involves nurse Michael Ketterer, who first impressed the country with what he does inside hospital halls, then blew the country away with what he could do outside those halls.

Ketterer, a pediatric nurse in Orange County, showed up on the stage of America’s Got Talent. When he shared his career, they applauded. When he revealed that he’s taken in six foster children, they were astonished at his heart and selflessness. And when he sang, they rose to their feet, culminating in the rare Golden Buzzer from judge Simon Cowell.

You can see the performance here, but we’re warning you… keep the tissues handy.

Across the country in Boston, another group of nurses were also taking a bow—not from a stage, but from the center of Fenway Park. Despite heavy rain and tornado warnings, over 4,000 nurses and fans showed up to the park for Red Sox Nurse Appreciation Night, an attendance that even beat the popular Star Wars night at the park.

At the center of the large crowd of nurses, ten were recognized for outstanding achievements in their field. The nurses ranged from a former Army medic, to a pediatric burn unit nurse, to a nurse who saved a life at his gym.

Retired nurse Kathy Shubitowski even sang the National Anthem. Her daughter posted a video here.

You can read about each of them here.

Other nurses in the spotlight include nurse Lori Wood of Aultman Hospital, who received the Heartsaver Hero Award for saving a man’s life with CPR. Nurse Wood was feeding the ducks in the park with her grandchild when she witnessed a nearby man go into full cardiac arrest. Using Hands-Only CPR, she was able to keep the man alive until help arrived.

Similarly, nurse Amy Somwaru of the Munroe Regional Medical Center also stepped up when a man was found unresponsive in his car—also the victim of a heart attack. Her help, along with a local deputy’s, saved the man’s life—a man who turned out to be the husband of another nurse in a neighboring medical center.

Other notable nurses honored this week include nurse Effie Farnham, who recently retired after fifty years as an emergency room nurse. And then there’s the late Nurse Lini Puthussery, a woman to whom the World Health Organization paid homage this month after she died battling the Nipah virum in northern Kerala (the Nipah virus, transmitted by fruit bats, has a mortality rate of nearly 70%).

Of all these spotlights, one thing is clear: the impact of nurses around the country and around the world is indispensable, and nothing makes us happier than to see that recognized.

Interested in pursuing your own career as a nurse? Contact Unitek College today to find out how!

Patient Reunites With Nurse 38 Years Later

Patient Reunites With Nurse 38 Years Later

Patient Reunites With Nurse 38 Years Later

Patient Reunites With Nurse 38 Years Later

Amazing things happen in the world of medicine every day, like this month’s breakthrough that allows doctors to use AI to recreate human cells for disease study. But the real magic in the industry comes from the connections formed between patient and caregiver. Nurses care for hundreds of patients each year, sometimes as just a passing helper, and sometimes as an embodiment of hope and kindness that patients carry away with them for the rest of their lives.

Many times, those patients and those nurses never see each other again. But in some cases, reunions do happen… even if that reunion is almost forty years later.

For Amanda Scarpinati, that special nurse was a woman she met in 1977 as a three-month old baby. Already suffering from an illness (possibly pneumonia), Amanda was lying on a couch when she rolled over—falling off the furniture and onto the scalding hot surface of a boiling steam vaporizer.

The damage was instant and intense. She was rushed to the hospital, where multiple surgeries and grafts followed. Her struggle didn’t end there, with years of reconstructive surgeries and school bullying still to survive. But in those years, Amanda found strength and comfort in something unusual… a magazine photo from her first appearance at the hospital.

In the photo, a young nurse cradles the heavily bandaged Amanda, who appears remarkably calm in her arms.

“It’s the nurses who are there comforting you, and here I am, this tiny infant, she’s just staring at me and smiling and I wasn’t crying in any of those pictures, so that says a lot,” says Amanda. “Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented. I’d look at those pictures and talk to her, even though I didn’t know who she was. I took comfort looking at this woman who seemed so sincere caring for me.”

Twenty years later, Amanda has recovered beautifully from the scars and surgeries, though her journey and the mystery nurse remained constantly on her mind. Finally, on a whim, Amanda decided to do something about it—posting the photo online and asking for help in tracking down the identity of the woman.

The post exploded—quickly going viral and spreading through the nursing community nationwide. It wasn’t long until another nurse from that same hospital, Angela Leary, recognized a familiar face.

“I said oh my God, that’s Sue Berger,” said Leary. “Connecting the dots was easy and I was happy to do it.”

And once the dots were connected, it didn’t take long for the reunion to finally happen. (You can watch the tearful moment unfold in this video from NBC news).

Nurse Berger, despite the passage of nearly four decades, remembered the moment she held Amanda. She’d held on to the same photos, and had even spoken of the moment with family and friends.

“She [Amanda] was very peaceful,” Nurse Berger said. “Usually when babies come out of surgery, they’re sleeping or crying. She was just so calm and trusting. It was amazing.”

“I don’t know how many nurses would be lucky enough to have something like this happen, to have someone remember you all that time,” she continued. “I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years. This is to me what nursing means. It’s caring. It’s our gift.”

If you’d like to begin your own career in nursing, contact Unitek College to find out how you can start today!

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

6 Signs You Grew Up With A Nurse For A Mom

It’s not uncommon for those raised by a nurse to develop an interest in the health care profession themselves, which means if you’re currently studying to be a nurse (or have already gotten that license), there’s a good chance that your mother or another influential figure in your life also wore scrubs. If you are of those lucky enough to have been raised by a nurse, you know that there were certain things about your childhood that still stand out to this day. So this week, as we head into Mother’s Day weekend, we’re taking a look at six telltale signs that you grew up with a nurse for a mom.

#1 – You Learned To Be Tough. Your mom was quick to help with skinned knees or bloody lips, but you learned early on that milking those bumps and bruises for extra attention didn’t play. She knew what real injuries look liked, and she was always quick to put your minor scrapes into perspective.

#2 – You Could Never Fake A Sickness And Get Away With It. Your mom saw illnesses and diseases of all kinds, all throughout her week. She knew symptoms by heart and could diagnose a malady within seconds. Unfortunately, that meant she could also spot a fake illness a mile away. You may have tried to use a tummy ache or fake fever to get out of a school day, but she never fell for it.

#3 – You Never Thought Of Work Weeks As Monday Through Friday. 8 to 5, Monday through Friday… this type of consistency was unheard of for your mom. As a nurse, her shifts could change constantly, and weekends were always on the table for work. Sometimes she was working the night shift and returning as you sat down to breakfast, other times she was home and waiting for you right after school. Her schedule was unpredictable at times, but you discovered you really didn’t mind.

#4 – You Knew The Medical Terms For Everything. You learned from an early age that asking your mom about her day as you ate dinner meant that you heard all the details. Graphic descriptions of injuries or medical procedures quickly became the norm for your household, and if something weird, gross, or crazy happened, she didn’t hesitate to describe it all in detail. As a result, medical terminology and accurate anatomical terms became a second language around the house.

#5 – Your Friends Knew Whom To Ask For Advice. Your friends, her friends, your relatives, strangers on the bus, anyone who recognized your mom as a nurse eventually had a health question for her. There were no topics off-limits, from describing symptoms to showing her rashes or injuries. She took it all in stride and was happy to offer her expertise. And if she didn’t know the answer, you knew she had a dozen people already in mind to call for help.

#6 – She Could Handle Anything. Your mom wasn’t just tough, she was smart, she was level-headed, and she had the uncanny ability to bring order to chaos. And you grew up with the quiet confidence and security that comes from a parent who you know could save a life if needed, stitch a wound, ease any pain, or cure an ailment with one of the hundred medicines they always seemed to have on hand. She saw crazy every day at work, so there was nothing you or your family could dish out at home that she wasn’t prepared for. Sure, she got tired and cranky like everyone else at times, but you grew up knowing that when the chips were down, she would have everything under control.

These, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg, but we know they’re familiar to any who grew up with a nurse in their homes. Or maybe you are the nurse raising a family, and these are just a few of the ways that your family sees you. Whatever the case, here’s to all the mothers in scrubs. A Happy Mother’s Day to you all, and thank you for being there for all our scraped knees.

For more information on a career as a nurse, contact Unitek College today!