Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) for Healthcare

What Advances In A.I. Mean For Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) for Healthcare

What Advances In A.I. Mean For Healthcare

The world of artificial intelligence (A.I.) has exploded in recent weeks as scientists, researchers, and programmers make breakthrough after breakthrough in the race to create computers that think for themselves. Whether it’s self-driving cars, Google attempting to rewrite neural networks to better help computers “understand” what they’re “seeing”, or the country of Saudi Arabia granting citizenship to a robot, one thing is clear: artificial intelligence is no longer something out of Star Trek, but something we may start seeing in our daily lives.

But what do all these advances mean for the world of healthcare? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Because AI is able to process images and identify patterns quickly, one of the top healthcare applications is in oncology—spotting and diagnosing various types of cancer. One of the most recent breakthroughs was just made in the detection of colon cancer.

“The most remarkable breakthrough with this system is that artificial intelligence enables real-time optical biopsy of colorectal polyps during colonoscopy, regardless of the endoscopists’ skill,” explains Dr Yuichi Mori, one of the project leads.

The diagnostic program, assisted by AI, is able to check nearly 300 features of polyps found in the colon… all in less than a second. And the results are incredible—of the 306 polyps examined in the test, the AI performed “with a 94 percent sensitivity, 79 percent specificity, and 86 percent accuracy. In identifying abnormal tissue growth, the system demonstrated 79 percent positive and 93 percent negative predictive values.”

In other words, it’s a program that’s very fast, very accurate, and could very well be saving lives soon.

Another team took AI in a similar route, using a Google algorithm originally built to identify pictures of cats and dogs, and turning it into a system to identify melanoma.

And the computers aren’t stopping at just identifying cancer. IBM’s Watson (the supercomputer that won Jeopardy in 2011) is also being used to help prescribe treatments once cancer is spotted. And not only did Watson’s suggestions match doctors’ suggestions 99% of the time, the computer suggested additional options that human doctors had missed in 30% of the tests.

AI is even being used to help spot suicidal tendencies in mental health patients.

That’s a lot of technology developing in just a short amount of time, and the breakthroughs will come faster and faster as AI becomes more and more commonplace. But there’s no reason to fret about the robots taking our health care jobs just yet. These new technologies make it easier for doctors and nurses to spot details and make diagnoses, they help prevent mistakes, and they help keep health care quality uniform from office to office, hospital to hospital. But at the end of the day, it’s still the human touch—your touch—that makes the difference in a patient’s life.

Computers may be expanding health care’s collective brain, but nurses will always be at the heart.

For more information on becoming a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

Battle Against Alzheimer's

Breaking Down Barriers in the Battle Against Alzheimer’s

Battle Against Alzheimer's

Breaking Down Barriers in the Battle Against Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that touches nearly everyone in some way. With over 5.5 million Americans diagnosed, there’s a strong chance that you will come in contact with the disease in some way. And as a nurse, that chance becomes a near certainty.

Watching as someone suffers through Alzheimer’s is incredibly difficult, and can also be difficult to fully grasp. This video (released at the end of 2014) manages to capture some of that confusion and sense of lost time that comes with the disease. Authors Virginia Bell and David Troxel attempt to explain the feeling by asking their readers to imagine that moment from school when the teacher calls on you in front of the class to answer a question, but you don’t have the answer

“How did we feel?” they ask. “We remember the feeling of our collar tightening, voice faltering, palms sweating, and face blushing.” Then they call to our attention that “The person with Alzheimer’s disease is in a giant classroom every day, one in which he or she never has the exact answer.”

It’s a frightening concept, and an even more frightening future. But while there currently isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s, advances are being made in the battle against it. And the advance made this year is one of the biggest yet.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto successfully used focused ultrasound to “safely and non-invasively breach the blood-brain barrier (BBB) temporarily in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in a clinical trial”.

The blood-brain barrier exists in our brains to protect the smallest capillaries from allowing anything alien into our brain’s bloodstream. It’s a very important protective system, but one that also prevents potentially life-saving medicines from entering the brain. For those with diseases like Alzheimer’s, this poses a major challenge, but the Sunnybrook trials may have found a way around it.

“By opening up the BBB using low frequency ultrasound, we’ve taken a small but important step that opens up a whole new vista of possibilities,” says Dr Sandra Black, a co-investigator in the trial. “The hope is there may be a way to eventually open up multiple little windows, in a gentle way, in order to get large molecules like drugs and even stem cells into the brain. But we need to take it one step at a time.”

Now that researchers have successfully bypassed the brain-blood barrier, the next step is to use the technology to administer Alzheimer’s treatments while the BBB windows are open. This will mean a second trial, of course, but researchers are optimistic, calling it “a small but critical step that could lead to a game-changing approach to treating one of the most challenging and least understood brain diseases.”

In the meantime, though, there are many resources available for nurses (and family members and friends) who work closely with Alzheimer’s patients. The Alzheimer’s association, for example, has this wonderful article on how to best communicate with a patient during the varying stages of the disease. Lisa Genova gives an informative and captivating talk on what causes (and how to help prevent) the disease, a video available here. And HelpGuide.org provides a helpful list of caregiver burnout to watch out for—you can’t take care of others, they point out, until you’ve made sure you’ve taken care of yourself.

For more on beginning a career in health care, contact Unitek College today to talk to someone about our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Given the right information, science can often predict to the day when a new baby will arrive. But then there are those babies who couldn’t care less about due dates, and when they decide it’s time… then it’s time.

Such was the case for Tanya St. Preux, an Atlanta woman who had just decided to make a quick stop at a nearby Target store. As she moved through the aisles, she began feeling her contractions increase in frequency and intensity. She discounted the discomfort and pain at first, deciding to finish her shopping trip before getting checked out by her doctor. But as Tanya quickly realized, the contractions weren’t going away, and labor was about to begin.

Tanya’s situation could have quickly become a nightmare were it not for Caris Lockwood, a local labor and delivery nurse who just happened to be shopping with her mom at the same store that day. Lisa Bozeman (Caris’s mother) was the first to spot Tanya, and quickly noticed that the pregnant woman was in pain. Caris was soon called over, and that’s when things kicked into high gear.

“We urged her friend to go ahead and bring the car to the entrance and we were helping her to the car. Her contractions and pain were increasing as we walked with her to the car,” Lisa said. “Just when we got outside the store her water broke.”

With the hospital no longer an option, Caris took over. As they still outside the entrance to Target, she was able to quickly gather everything she needed—towels and sterile gloves. Moments later, she delivered a healthy 7 pound, 10 ounce baby boy.

“Caris was God-sent and amazing. She was sweet and caring and exceeded everyone’s expectations. She went way over far and beyond,” Tanya told Piedmont Healthcare, the hospital where Caris is employed.

And Caris wasn’t the only nurse who got involved. An emergency room nurse and an NICU nurse also happened to be shopping that day, and both quickly offered their assistance and expertise

Her story (posted to the Piedmont Healthcare Facebook page) has quickly gone viral, with over 8,000 likes and nearly 500 shares. Among the many comments were dozens from former patients, all praising Caris for her heroism and recounting the ways she’d helped them as a labor and delivery nurse.

One commenter, Natalie Crawford, writes “Caris is one of the best nurses and people I have ever met! She is a pleasure to work with and truly loves all her patients. If anyone is going to deliver a baby in a parking lot she’s the one to do it!”

Another (Liz Johnson) shares “Caris was one of my AMAZING Labor and delivery nurses and Piedmont and I couldn’t agree more!”

So a big congratulations to Tanya on the birth of a healthy son, and a big thank you to Caris Lockwood (and the two nurses who assisted) for being ready, willing, and able the moment your help was needed. If you’d like information on beginning your own health care training, contact Unitek College today for more details on our many nursing programs and medical assistant programs.

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.

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.

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.