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!

7 Unhealthy Habits All Nurses Should Avoid

7 Unhealthy Habits All Nurses Should Avoid

7 Unhealthy Habits All Nurses Should Avoid

7 Unhealthy Habits All Nurses Should Avoid

Nurses help people get healthy (thank you, Captain Obvious). But for a career field dedicated to health, a lot of medical professionals struggle with some unhealthy habits… and patients are taking note.

“Whether we believe patients should or should not view nurses as role models for a healthy lifestyle, the simple truth is that many patients do expect nurses to guide by example,” said Tamara Walker, RN, a pediatric nurse in Edmond, Okla., and host of Ask MomRN, a family and parenting internet radio show.

“Patients are more likely to listen to and follow the instructions of a nurse who is modeling the health habits and behaviors they need to develop themselves,” Walker continued. “They are also more likely to tune out the nurse who takes a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach.

So what are some of these unhealthy habits, and how should nurses avoid them? Here are seven of the biggest trouble makers.

#1 – Eating Anything and Everything. We get it, a shift at the hospital or clinic can be hectic, and sometimes fitting in a meal is little more than an afterthought. This often means scarfing down a quick bite from the vending machine or relying on fast food, and this has led to an astounding 54% of nurses being overweight (according to this 2008 study).

Solution: Go for the brown bag. Bringing your own lunch or dinner can help you plan ahead and avoid temptation.

#2 – Smoking. Doctors and nurses see the negative results of smoking in their patients almost every day, so you’d think the folks in scrubs would be the last to light up… but not so. The good news is that the number of nurses who smoke has steadily been dropping (down to just 7% overall in 2011, though a whopping 25% of LPN’s still smoke).

Solution: Patches, gum, exercise, accountability partners… whatever helps kick the habit, go for it.

#3 – Ignoring the Back. Lower back pain causes more disability worldwide than 300 other conditions, and nurses aren’t exempt. The stress of working on your feet for long shifts can cause a lot of wear and tear on the spine and back muscles, and moving heavier patients can easily lead to injury.

Solution: Invest in good shoes for the daily grind, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when moving a patient whose weight might be out of your comfort zone. And if you start to feel pain, don’t ignore it.

#4 – Not Washing Your Hands. Shortcuts help get everything done during a chaotic day, but some shortcuts just aren’t worth taking. Not washing your hands is one of them. Not only could you get yourself sick, you could spread germs to other patients.

Solution: No quick solution here, folks. Make it a habit to wash up, despite the extra minutes spent.

#5 – Speeding To Work. Your shift starts in five minutes and you’re ten minutes away. What do you do? If your answer is anything other than “be five minutes late”, you’re probably guilty of the speeding habit. Even when your motives are pure—rushing to the aid of a patient in an emergency—speeding puts you and others on the road at risk. Speeding can also lead to you getting to work even later, as one doctor learned when he was pulled over going nearly double the speed limit on the way to surgery.  

Solution: You may not be able to plan for emergencies, but in all other cases, avoid “time optimism”—the belief that you can get more done in a short amount of time than you actually can. Give yourself plenty of time, even if it means leaving one or two items unchecked on your to-do list.

#6 – Driving Yourself To Exhaustion. A recent survey found that when asked about work shifts, over 25% of nurses said they worked 12+ hour shifts regularly. Some (single parents in particular) were putting in 50 to 60-hour weeks as the norm. Nurses may be superheroes, but even superheroes need to take a break once in a while. Ignore the need for sleep and nurses face fatigue, health risks, and a greater chance of making mistakes.

Solution: Nurses can’t always avoid long shifts, but do your best to avoid long shifts on consecutive days. And workaholics, beware of that need to take every shift or overtime hour offered… take breaks, get sleep, stay healthy.

#7 – Unwinding With One Too Many. It’s been a long day, you want to unwind, so you pour yourself a glass of wine or a shot of bourbon and kick back. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing with a drink at the end of the day, but make that more than a few drinks and you’re asking for trouble. The American Nurses Association claims that 1 in 10 nurses struggle with addiction issues,  and leaning heavily on any substance to cope with work stress is a recipe for trouble. Failure to break that habit could lead to losing career, health, and even your life.

Solution: Everything (legal) in moderation, friends. And brush up on the definitions of “heavy drinking” and the risks associated by clicking here.

Remember, the healthier you are and the better your habits, the better you’ll be able to take care of your patients, your family, and the countless others who will depend on you in days to come.

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

Burning the Midnight Oil Could Literally Be Killing You

Burning the Midnight Oil Could Literally Be Killing You

Burning the Midnight Oil Could Literally Be Killing You

Burning the Midnight Oil Could Literally Be Killing You

For some of us, getting up at the crack of dawn is easy… it’s in our nature. We like an earlier bedtime and getting an early start on the next day. But for others, time spent sleeping is time that could be spent doing hundreds of other things—socializing, studying, catching up on the latest Netflix series, or just enjoying nightlife. Of the two chronotypes, though, one is at increased risk of health problems… and it’s not the morning people.

Sure, it may feel like you’re just being a hard worker by staying up until 4am studying for that next phlebotomy exam, but new research suggests that making those late nights a habit could do some serious damage to your body.

The study followed 430,000 individuals, tracking their sleeping patterns against their overall health, and the results were stunning. Not only did the night owls have a higher risk of developing diabetes, psychological disorders, gastrointestinal issues, and neurological disorders, but overall, those burning the midnight oil are ten percent more likely to die early than those who are early to bed, early to rise.

(It’s probably also worth mentioning that the late-night cramming sessions don’t actually do you any favors.)

“What we think might be happening is, there’s a problem for the night owl who’s trying to live in the morning lark world,” says Kristen Knutson, who lead the study. “This mismatch between their internal clock and their external world could lead to problems for their health over the long run, especially if their schedule is irregular.”

The issue, researchers believe, comes down to our biological clocks—the mechanism that regulates our body over a 24-hour period. Our “clocks” are programmed to respond to light—sleep when it’s dark, rise when it’s light—and when we knock that clock out of sync (sleeping during the day, for example), our bodies suffer consequences.

“It could be psychological stress, eating at the wrong time for their body, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough, being awake at night by yourself, maybe drug or alcohol use,” explains Knutson. “There [is] a whole variety of unhealthy behaviors related to being up late in the dark by yourself.”

The problem is, not all of us can be morning people. Science suggests that our genetics determine whether we’re morning larks or night owls. And for many nurses, night shifts determine whether we’re awake or asleep during normal rhythms. Fortunately, there’s hope.

Even if work or genetics keeps someone up past a “normal” bedtime, Knutson suggests that these people can still benefit from a regular bedtime and plenty of sleep, plus a deliberate focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle—getting plenty of exercise, eating right, and not abusing alcohol or drugs.

Researchers also stressed the need to find a job that fits your natural rhythm. If you’re a natural night owl, then the hospital night shift could be a great fit for you—provided you’re still able to get enough sleep during the day.

But where possible, Knutson continues, night owls should begin making the gradual transition to better sleeping habits.

“I want to emphasize the gradual aspect. You can’t suddenly tonight just go to bed three hours earlier. It’s not going to work,” Knutson said. “You also need to really avoid light at night, including your smartphone and your tablets,” she added. “That not only makes it hard to fall asleep; it’s also a signal to your clock to start being later again.”

For nurses, getting enough sleep can be a particularly difficult challenge. Nurses face long work shifts, odd hours, and just because it’s 2am doesn’t mean people stop having medical emergencies. And for those working night shifts, it can be very tempting to give up sleep during the day in favor of spending more time with family, doing chores, getting out of the house, or even doing extra work on the side.

The important thing is to make sure that you’re not just taking care of your patients and family—you’re also taking care of yourself. Don’t sacrifice sleep, and keep to as regular a rhythm as you can. That regular shuteye doesn’t just go a long way towards a healthier life, we now know it can mean a longer life as well.

Interested in beginning your own career in nursing? Contact Unitek College today for more information on our nursing, medical assistant, or dental assistant programs.