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.

“New” Organ Could Mean Faster Detection of Cancer

“New” Organ Could Mean Faster Detection of Cancer

“New” Organ Could Mean Faster Detection of Cancer

“New” Organ Could Mean Faster Detection of Cancer

Scientists have just discovered something about your body—yes, your body. Just when we thought medical science had a comprehensive grasp of the human body’s organs, a new breakthrough throws a monkey wrench in the system. Not only have we been completely overlooking an organ, we’ve been overlooking an organ that may be one of the biggest in our body.

Yes, even with all our modern medical technology, we’ve been completely unaware of a part of our bodies.

Researchers call the newcomer the “interstitium”—a series of fluid-filled compartments in our connective tissue. More specifically, it’s “an open, fluid-filled space supported by a lattice made of thick collagen bundles,” according to Neil Theise, author of the study. The organ works like bubble wrap, insulating our other organs and providing them with a cushion for shock absorption.

As it turns out, we’ve been looking right at the interstitium this whole time, we just didn’t know it. Imagine blowing bubbles—as long as the bubble is active and floating, you can see it. But the second you touch it, it pops and becomes something else entirely. The interstitium is similar—while it’s active in the body, it can be seen. But the moment the cells are removed and go through the “fixing” process (removing fluids) for a microscope, the compartments collapse and appear to be solid tissue.

In other words, the only way to find the interstitium is to know exactly what you’re looking for… which is hard to do when no one knew it existed.

“Just taking a bite of tissue from this space allows the fluid in the space to drain and the supporting collagen bundles to collapse like the floors of a collapsing building,” explained Theise.

The discovery could mean big changes within the medical community, particularly for those researching and battling cancer. The presence of a “directional flow” between tissue instead of a solid wall means a “potential conduit for movement of injurious agents,” according to the study results. Essentially, the interstitium (an interstate for fluids to travel around the body) could also be the passage cancers use to move and spread. It’s a scary thought, but now that we know it exists, we can begin to study it.

“Once they get in, it’s like they’re on a water slide,” says Theise. “We have a new window on the mechanism of tumor spread.”

And on the odder side of the discovery, the existence of the interstitium may eventually explain a few other medical mysteries—such as the “healing jolt” of acupuncture.

“There’s something new here,” Theise concludes. “No one’s ever seen it before, but it’s been there the whole time.”

All in all, this just goes to show why medicine and healthcare fascinates us so much… we never know just how the human body is going to surprise us next.

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

The Key to Fighting Superbugs Might Be Milk… Platypus Milk

The Key to Fighting Superbugs Might Be Milk… Platypus Milk

The Key to Fighting Superbugs Might Be Milk… Platypus Milk

The Key to Fighting Superbugs Might Be Milk… Platypus Milk

The platypus—the name alone says “bizarre”, not to mention how the animal actually looks. Take an otter, give it a beaver tail, poisonous feet, the ability to lay eggs, and a duck bill, and you’ve got the platypus—an animal so strange that early naturalists thought it might be a hoax. And believe it or not, but this strange creature might just hold the key to defeating antibiotic resistance.

“Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry,” says CSIRO scientist and lead author on the research, Dr. Janet Newman. “The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young. By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterized a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

The secret of the milk appears to be in how it’s given to the animal’s babies. Since the platypus doesn’t have teats, they “sweat” milk onto their stomachs—essentially creating a dish from which the young can lap up dinner. The problem is, this approach exposes the milk to outside contaminants, so it requires an extra ingredient to keep it safe for young mouths.

So if that secret ingredient can protect a baby platypus from bacteria, researchers asked themselves, could it also protect humans? The answer looks very promising.

The milk’s ability to defeat bacteria appears to lie in a unique protein, one researchers have dubbed “Shirley Temple” after it’s unusual ringlet shape. This shape (according to their hypothesis) would most likely function differently than our current antibiotics, allowing it to attack and kill bacteria that other drugs can’t.

There’s still plenty of work to be done—synthesizing, testing, re-testing, animal trials, human trials, etc.—but every advance towards the end of superbugs is something to be excited about.

Antibiotic resistant “superbugs” were declared an international health crisis by the UN in recent years, with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning that the bugs pose “a fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production and development.”

“Let me give just a few, sobering examples,” he continued. “More than 200,000 newborn children are estimated to die each year from infections that do not respond to available antibiotics. An epidemic of multidrug-resistant typhoid is now sweeping across parts of Africa, being spread through water. Resistance to HIV/AIDS drugs is on the rise. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis has been identified in 105 countries. And resistance to antimalarial medicines is an urgent public health concern in the Greater Mekong sub-region.”

In other words, the threat isn’t looming in the future, it’s already here. And the research into platypus milk as well as other antibacterial possibilities is something that all of us in the healthcare industry should be paying very close attention to.

For more information on how you can begin your own career in healthcare, Unitek College is here to help. Contact us today for more information.

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Big changes could be headed to dialysis treatment centers near you, and that means big changes for the nurses who work there.

The field of nephrology tends to be a bright one for many nurses. For starters, the demand for nurses nationwide is high, but in this field, it’s especially high—with a 19% job growth expected through the year 2020. And while the job requires some additional certification and training, the payoff is high.

Many dialysis nurses enjoy “normal” work hours (since patients schedule dialysis during business hours and not overnight), and the nature of the job allows nurses to develop real relationships with their repeat patients—allowing that natural compassion and kindness to really shine.

“I highly encourage nurses who are looking for a job shift to consider dialysis because of the relationship factor,” says Elaine DeVoe, RN . “Patients bring a lot of issues with them, and you deal with the patient on a personal level. You treat the patient physically, mentally and sometimes spiritually.”

Location is also flexible for dialysis nurses. Some may work from hospitals, others from privately owned dialysis centers, while others may provide dialysis services to patients in the patient’s own homes.

But big changes could be ahead for the world of dialysis, and the catalyst is an electronic device about the size of a coffee cup.

This year (2018), an organization called The Kidney Project plans to begin human trials with the first artificial kidney, the Hemofilter, a surgically implanted device that would eliminate the need for a patient to undergo dialysis. This testing stage is a long time coming, as the Kidney Project hoped trials would begin early last year but funding and approval delays held them back.

“When we said clinical trials would begin in 2017, that was our most favorable scenario at the time,” according to the Kidney Project website. “Our projected timeline has always been dependent on obtaining the required funding, and not encountering unanticipated scientific hurdles. We finally raised sufficient money to complete preclinical trials for the Hemofilter just earlier this year. We are now working as fast as we can to complete the preclinical work and have started fundraising specifically for the clinical trials. As such, we have had to adjust our clinical trial timeline accordingly.”

Once approved and successfully tested, however, the Hemofilter could mean enormous changes for patients. The intrusive need for regular dialysis would disappear, as would traditional dialysis side effects (low blood pressure, nausea, cramping, and disorientation).

Patients are understandably excited. One patient, Tamara Clark, writes on the Kidney Project Facebook page “I have been on dialysis for 8 years now. I am so excited about implantable kidneys! This is the greatest advancement ever! I would love to be a test subject. At this point of my life I just can’t wait for them to be on the market. The chance to live dialysis free is enthralling.”

But even after the Hemofilter and other similar technologies hit the market, the need for dialysis nurses will remain. Not all patients will be able to afford the device, many won’t want to risk the surgery, and others may not be healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Others may just prefer the “usual way”. Whatever the reason, the need for hard-working, compassionate dialysis nurses shows no sign of waning any time soon.

“It’s rewarding to know the care you provide is literally life-saving,” says Joanna Rengstorf, RN. “When patients share stories about milestones and celebrations they were able to participate in, it is rewarding to know they are alive for those moments because of the dedication of those in my profession.”

If you’re interested in beginning your career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for more information.

Fighting the Flu - Our 411 On Hand Washing

Fighting the Flu – Our 411 On Hand Washing

Fighting the Flu - Our 411 On Hand Washing

Fighting the Flu: Our 411 On Hand Washing

Last week we shared a viral video posted by nurse Katherine Lockler, who gave her listeners an earful about proper hygiene practices during this particularly terrible flu season (if you missed the video, you can still watch it here). According to the World Health Organization 7–10% of patients will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection whilst under treatment, most of which could be prevented with simple hand hygiene. We all know that washing our hands helps immensely, but some of the particulars may be foggy. How long should you wash? What temperature? What’s better—soap and water or hand sanitizers? So in the spirit of battling the flu season, here’s the science behind the washing of hands.

Wash Long, Wash Often – If you’re washing your hands less than seven times a day, you’re not washing enough, according to the Global Hygiene Council. And just splashing them around in water isn’t doing you any favors. Professor John Oxford, Chairman of the Global Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Queen Mary College, suggests singing Happy Birthday twice while washing your hands to make sure you’re spending an appropriate amount of time on them.

Hotter Isn’t Healthier – It might seem like hotter water would do a better job of killing germs than warm or cold water, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Hot water can kill germs, but this happens at a temperature far too high for our bare skin.

“There is no one best water temperature to wash one’s hands,” says Dr. Samuel Grief of the University of Illinois. “If your hands are really dirty and greasy, use of warm to hot water will do a better job of trapping dirt and grease within the soap, allowing for a more thorough cleaning.”

Go For The Lather, Not The Label – Labels make a lot of promises, but for the most part, the only thing that really matters about your soap is whether it can work up a lather. Even soaps that claim to be antibacterial aren’t necessarily any better than regular soaps. The reason for this is that soap lather essentially works as a vehicle—it traps the dirt and germs stirred up by scrubbing and helps carry them off your hands and down the drain.

Using Hand Sanitizers In A Pinch – There’s no substitute for soap and water, but in a pinch, hand sanitizers can be helpful. They don’t kill all types of germs, they’re less effective if your hands are greasy or dirty, and they need to be at least 60% alcohol, but a good hand sanitizer is still better than nothing. A good scrub with a sanitizer can quickly eliminate a host of microbes, but only if you use enough and only if you allow it to dry (no wiping it off!)

Of course, as nurses you should be more than familiar with hand washing (though not every hospital earns a perfect score on this, so there’s always room for improvement). And new advances in hand hygiene are moving forward every day. One such advance is the SureWash system—a video display that monitors every movement of your hands during hand washing and alerts you to any spots you might have missed. But not all of us have a computer double checking our hygiene, so this flu season, pay extra close attention to those soap and water moments. We’re still battling the flu season, and we need you all on the front lines!

(And just because you might be a hand washing pro doesn’t mean your friends, family, and patients couldn’t learn a thing or two, so be sure and share these tips with them as well.)

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

Nurses’ Actions Go Viral

Nurses’ Actions Go Viral

Nurses’ Actions Go Viral

Nurses’ Actions Go Viral

These days, everything makes it onto the web. Everything. Whatever is happening, there’s a good chance that someone is standing nearby filming it on their phones, and within minutes, it’ll be online. And sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Take for instance the viral video from Ohio, which shows a nurse stopping on his way to work to save the life of a woman who’d stopped breathing after a car crash. 36-year old Keith Ezell was on his way to work when he heard the crash. Knowing every second counted, he quickly grabbed his respiratory mask and began administering CPR.

During the five-minute ordeal, Ezell was thinking “I have to get her back. She was turning blue. She had no pulse and I kept thinking she can’t die on me,” he recounts to KARE 11. And his hard work wasn’t in vain. The paramedics arrived, and Ezell heard the words he’d been praying for.

“They said they got a pulse! And I thought, my job is done. She gets to live,” Ezell says.

And one of the best parts of the video comes at the end, as the victim is taken away in an ambulance, Ezell can be heard saying “I got to go to work”, and leaving for the hospital. For him, the moment hadn’t been about heroics. It was about doing what needed to be done, then going to work to do it some more.

Another nurse to go viral this week is Florida nurse Katherine Lockler, who finally had enough with this year’s flu season. After a 12-hour night shift filled with influenza patients flooding her hospital and ER, Lockler sat in her car and recorded her frustrations with the lack of disease prevention she’d witnessed. Her seven-minute video was soon shared across social media, and Lockler’s plea has now been viewed over nine million times.

During the video, Lockler presents a barrage of information on how the flu is spread, the dangers of contracting it, statistics on the outbreak, and the importance of hygiene during flu season—all with the passion and perspective only a nurse can provide.

“When you come into emergency rooms where there are signs posted saying to wash your hands, and people don’t—or when you ask someone to put on a mask because they’re coughing and they refuse—that gets me a little frustrated!” Lockler tells PEOPLE. “The video was meant to be a public service announcement, but I wanted to do it in a light-hearted way.”

Lockler also makes an important point about relying on an emergency room for non-emergency situations during highly infectious times.

“I want to get the word out not to come into an area of high concentrated infection unless you are absolutely in need of it, such as a true emergency,” she says. “Most things can be done at a pediatrician’s office, or a minute clinic, or so many other facilities, not the emergency room.”

This year’s flu season has been the worst in over a decade.

We know there are countless wonderful things being done by nurses on a daily basis, and we’re always thankful for the chance to see some of them ourselves. So whether your work is seen by nine million people or by nine, keep up the good work out there!

For information on starting your own career as a nurse, Unitek College can get you started! Contact us today for more information. We have 3 types of nursing programs, located in California