Hanford, CA Makes Top 10 for “Best Cities For Student Loan Repayment”

Hanford, CA Makes Top 10 for “Best Cities For Student Loan Repayment”

Believe it or not, one of the secrets to paying off your student loan quickly might just be sitting in the center of the San Joaquin Valley.

Curious? Then read on.

Studying for a career in nursing takes a lot of work and dedication… and many times, so does paying for that study. While there are those who manage to complete their classes debt-free, many nursing students turn to student loans to help reach their career goal—7 out of 10, in fact.

Paying those student loans can seem daunting, however, especially for someone just getting their new nursing career off the ground, but don’t let that stop you—thousands have gone this route before you,  thousands have paid off those student loans, and there’s no reason to believe you won’t be one of them. You’re a nurse now, after all, and you eat bigger challenges than this for breakfast.

Still, when that first “payment due” note arrives in the mail, it helps to already have a plan in place for how to begin your repayment. And as mentioned at the top of this blog, one of those strategies is choosing the right city in which to begin your job.

This month, the website StudentLoanHero ranked American cities according to which ones are most helpful for recent nurse graduates paying off loans. Criteria included cost of living, demand for nurses, and average salary. And sitting at #8 on the list is a city not far from our own Unitek College campuses… Hanford, California.

While the cost of living in Hanford may be high, the city makes up for it by offering significantly above-average salaries for nurses.

“In fact,” the website adds, “of the 334 small, midsized, and large cities we reviewed, Hanford reported the 13th-highest annual average wage.”

That average? Over $90,000.

But not everyone can move to Hanford, we realize, and nurses are in demand all over the country. So for those who aren’t moving to Kings County, here are a few additional strategies to keep in mind:

  • Look For Loan Forgiveness Opportunities – Loan forgiveness is tricky business. There are a lot of qualifications you need to meet and only specific types of loans are considered. But if you’re a nurse with student loan debt, loan forgiveness is definitely worth a closer look. Programs such as the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program can pay up to 85% of your balance. Check out this list by LendEDU of some other nurse student loan repayment programs.
  • Know Your Loans – You may have just the one, you may have several, but whatever the case, know everything about them. That means payment due dates, loan types, interest rates, the works. Missing a payment due to ignorance is a quick way to a lower credit score.
  • Pay Higher Interest Loans First – These grow the fastest, so if you have the income to make additional payments, pay off the highest interest loan firsts. And if you’re still in school, consider paying off just the interest each month to keep those balances from growing.
  • Take The Deduction – Most student loan interest is tax deductible. You’ll often get a letter around December with the exact amount, so make sure to always open your mail when it comes from your lender.
  • Consolidate – One way to make things simpler (and possibly lower your interest rate) is to consolidate all your student loans into one single loan. Websites such as SoFi.com offer help with this and other refinance options.
  • Pay Extra – Yes, you finally have a paycheck, and yes, it hurts not to finally spend it on yourself, but putting a little extra into your student loan payments can help hack down that principle balance.

Student loans may seem like a lot to keep track of, but it’s very doable, and a small price to pay for the training that will help launch your nursing career.

Questions? Ready to get started on your nursing classes? Contact Unitek College today for more information.

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

8 Ways To Improve Your Bedside Manner

Good bedside manner (the way in which you interact and communicate with your patient) can have a noticeable impact on your patient reviews. But more importantly, good bedside manner can have a noticeable impact on your patients’ health as well.

Our results show that the beneficial effects of a good patient-clinician relationship on health care outcomes are of similar magnitude to many well-established medical treatments,” says psychologist John Kelley. “Many of these medical treatments, while very important, need to balance their benefits against accompanying unwanted side effects. In contrast, there are no negative side effects to a good patient-clinician relationship.”

It’s amazing to think about—that the way a nurse talks to their patient can have a direct impact on their health. It also makes it even more important for nurses to go that extra mile in making sure they establish a good, open relationship with their patients, something that’s sometimes difficult to do when it feels like you’re being pulled twenty directions at once.

The good news is, there are simple but effective ways to boost the power of your bedside manner. Here are eight of our favorites.

  1. Give Them Your Full Focus – You may have a hundred other things happening, but don’t let your patient know that. As long as you’re in their room, let them know that they have your full focus. Nothing builds a connection faster than feeling like you matter to someone. Good eye-contact is a fantastic way of doing this.

 

  1. Listen Carefully – Some people listen to understand, others listen to respond. If you want to make a good impression, be the former, not the latter. Let the patient know you’re hearing them and understanding them. It’s a quick way to let them know you’re on their side.

 

  1. Ask Open-Ended Questions – “Yes” or “No” questions are impersonal, and the one-word answers won’t give you very much insight into your patient. Look for questions that force them to expound—for example, asking them “How does this feel” instead of “Does this hurt” opens the door to a lot more potential information.

 

  1. Forget The Shop Talk – You spend your day among co-workers who can rattle off medical jargon like a second language, but your patient probably isn’t one of those people. Keep your terms simple and easy to understand, otherwise you risk raising their anxiety level when they hear a flurry of terms they aren’t familiar with.

 

  1. Plan Your Exit – Some patients don’t like to talk… others won’t stop talking. This can be an issue when you really need to move on to your next patient but don’t want to appear rude. Find some tried and true exit phrases or ways to get the conversation back on track, then use them to regain control of the moment without making your patient feel brushed off.

 

  1. Knock Knock – The power of humor in medicine can’t be overstated, and humor in bedside manner is especially powerful. Finding the right moment (and the appropriate topic) might take some doing, but if you can get a patient to crack a smile, you’ve won. (The Atlantic did a fantastic article on the subject of humor in medicine if you’d like to read more.)

 

  1. Introduce Yourself – One of the quickest ways to make a connection is to simply tell your patient who you are. And don’t be afraid to introduce yourself multiple times—they’re going to be pretty distracted and may have difficulty remembering the names of all the medical staff they’ve met, so frequent reminders of who you are can take a lot of that stress off their minds.

 

  1. Be Observant – Look for the little things in their body language, in what appears to be missing in their room, in the way they talk to you, etc. Spotting a small favor you can do for them—like bringing water for their “Get Well” flowers—lets them know they aren’t alone.

 

There are many other ways to improve your bedside manner, but it all comes down to simply caring for the people in that bed or on that exam table. If you really care, it can’t help but shine through, and that can’t help but make a difference.

If you’d like more information on beginning a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today.

Stop the Bleed: School Nurse Saves Child After Freak Accident

Stop the Bleed: School Nurse Saves Child After Freak Accident

Stop the Bleed: School Nurse Saves Child After Freak Accident

Stop the Bleed: School Nurse Saves Child After Freak Accident

Accidents happen… just watch any episode of Chopped. We might not be able to prevent them 100% of the time, but we can prepare, and sometimes that preparation is all that stands between life and death. Such was the case for a 4th grader in Georgia this past week, when a tumble on the playground almost became a fatality.

Jennifer Leon Lopez, a student in Forsythe County, Georgia, was playing with her friends during recess when she fell. The fall alone might not have been so bad had another girl immediately landed on top of her. Her arm broke, and in the process, severed her artery.

Enter school nurse Kathy Gregory, who less than 24 hours previously had unpacked the school’s brand-new supply of a vital new tool—Stop the Bleed kits.

“I heard another teacher yelling for help, so that’s when I grabbed the Stop the Bleed Kit and rushed to Jennifer’s side,” she told Fox 5 Atlanta. “I am so thankful we had them. They were still in the box and I just grabbed the one on top and ran.”

The Stop the Bleed kits (which include gloves, tourniquets, and bandages) are designed to help first responders treat traumatic hemorrhaging (particularly after a major emergency such as a school shooting), which is exactly what Nurse Gregory needed at that moment. She applied the tourniquet and stopped the bleeding long enough to get Jennifer to the hospital. Once there, two surgeries successfully saved both her arm and her life.

“We got a note from the trauma doctors and they said the tourniquet made the difference in Lopez keeping her arm and her life,” Gregory said. “Because of that training, because of that kit, we saved a little girl’s life.”

Stop the Bleed kits have been around for years, but recent school shootings (such as the one in Florida) have renewed a call to equip all schools with the kits—to be used by both school nurses and by bystanders.

“When the American College of Surgeons looked back at the Sandy Hook school shooting, they found that some deaths could have been prevented if people on site were trained in basic bleeding control techniques,” explained Dr. Jeff Kerby, a professor of surgery at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham.

In many emergency situations involving a shooter, locations quickly go on lockdown—which may be effective in preventing more violence or the attacker from escaping, but is bad news for victims who need immediate care. Often a timely tourniquet makes all the difference between a serious injury and a fatality, and making sure that those tourniquets are available (with clear instructions and possibly even prior training) is certain to save lives.

Stop the Bleed training is also spreading across the country, with the goal of using doctors and nurses to train police officers and school nurses, who in turn train the teachers themselves.

For one little girl, that training and kit (plus one skilled school nurse) saved her life. And as the training and movement continue to spread, we hope to hear of many more needless deaths prevented.

Interested in beginning your own nurses training? Unitek College can help! Contact us today.

 

Hospitals offering more perks to entice more nurses

Hospitals offering more perks to entice more nurses

Hospitals offering more perks to entice more nurses

Hospitals offering more perks to entice more nurses

Even with a few recent downswings, the U.S. economy is booming… so why aren’t hospitals happy about it?

It all comes down to nurses.

During tougher economic times when a family’s personal finances might be more of a struggle, nurses tend to stay put in their jobs. They keep their shifts, work extra hours, and may even push retirement back a few years. That paycheck, after all, is vital to making ends meet.

But when the economy is stronger and family finances aren’t strained, suddenly the idea of retirement or fewer work hours becomes a lot sweeter and a lot more doable. That means fewer nurses filling shifts on top of an preexisting shortage of nurses nationwide. In other words, the higher that stock market arrow climbs, the harder hospitals start thinking about finding ways to entice you.

Many hospitals are turning to pricey perks and incentives, as CNN Money reports. Some of these include five figure signing bonuses, free housing, and in some rare cases, programs may even pay for your kids to go to college.

“These are some of the grandiose examples we’ve heard from our members,” says Seun Ross, director of nursing practice and work environment at the American Nurses Association. “Who knows what employers will come up with next?”

Other incentives include perks such as bonuses for continued education and specialized training to help career advancement—for example, training nurses for intensive care units or emergency medicine. One hospital in Ohio even offers a Knowledge Bonus for new hires who already possess certain job skills.

Of course, when you’re fresh from graduation and looking for that first nursing job, signing bonuses tend to grab the attention first, and there are plenty of opportunities for signing bonuses available nationwide. But a handful of cash can sometimes distract from a less than perfect working environment.

“We’ve never offered nurses a sign-on bonus,” says Kathy Franz, director of human resources at Washington’s Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. “Sign-on bonuses typically keep nurses in their jobs for two years. Our goal is to attract candidates who want to work here for other reasons.”

Instead, Franz’s hospital offers lifestyle perks, such as flexible scheduling, onsite childcare, tuition reimbursement, and better opportunities for advancement. And the approach is working… the hospital constantly has a “steady stream” of applicants.

“All it takes is for one nurse to tell her friend that where she works is a great place for these reasons and applications will come in,” says Seun Ross.

So remember, as you begin your job search, make sure not to miss out on the perks available. But keep in mind that not all job benefits can be quantified on the front of a check.

Happy hunting!

For information on beginning your career in nursing or as a medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

Kate Middleton, Pope Francis Praise Nurses Worldwide

Kate Middleton, Pope Francis Praise Nurses Worldwide

Kate Middleton, Pope Francis Praise Nurses Worldwide

Kate Middleton, Pope Francis Praise Nurses Worldwide

When she isn’t busy capturing the heart of Britain, having royal children, or effortlessly setting fashion standards with her sister Pippa, the royal family’s Kate Middleton has another cause dear to her heart: promoting the importance of nurses worldwide.

This week, the Duchess of Cambridge visited a UK hospital, where she helped announce the launch of the international “Nursing Now” campaign, a three-year global campaign organized by the International Council of Nurses and the World Health Organization. The campaign aims to raise the status of nurses worldwide, and ensure that they are “properly deployed, valued and included in policy and decision-making”—a goal which, if you are a nurse or studying to become a nurse, should sound pretty darn great.

“This campaign means a lot to me personally. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both volunteer nurses,” Kate said in her speech. “Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring. I have been struck today by the enormous range of responsibilities that nurses have, not only in providing access to healthcare, but also in terms of providing a holistic approach to caring for our physical and mental health.”

Kate has also become an official patron of the campaign. If you’d like to see and hear her speech launching Nursing Now, you can see it here.

Activities took place in countries all around the world, including the US, Switzerland, the UK, Jamaica, and others, all celebrating the contribution of nurses to world health, and looking forward to what nurses could accomplish in the near future. (You can watch the official launch here, but carve out some time… it’s over an hour and a half long, but worth it!) .

In an unrelated but equally valuable moment, another world figure also took the time this week to praise nurses: Pope Francis.

Nurses (whom he calls “experts in humanity”) are “truly irreplaceable,” the pope said. “Like no other, the nurse has a direct and continuous relationship with patients, takes care of them every day, listens to their needs and comes into contact with their very body, that he tends to.”

To add a personal aspect to his words, the pope shared the story of when a nurse (Sister Cornelia Caraglio) saved his life when he was just a 20-year old in Argentina.

“[She was] a good woman, even brave, to the point of arguing with the doctors. Humble, but sure of what she was doing,” the pope recalled. “Thanks to those things [she suggested], I survived.”

In a time when our shortage of nurses seems to be getting worse, public encouragement and recognition of nurses is more important than ever. We can’t wait to see what comes from the Nursing Now movement, and are always thrilled to see the hardworking nurses we know given the spotlight they so richly deserve.

For more information on beginning your own career in nursing, or advancing your current career, Unitek College is always happy to help. Contact us here for more information.

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

There were plenty of noteworthy stories this week in the world of medicine, such as the development of a new drug that could treat peanut allergies, and a study that says red wine may protect your oral health. But one particular story stood out, highlighting the lengths to which many nurses go for the causes near and dear to them.

Nurse Colby George of Massachusetts isn’t a marathon runner. At least, not yet. This year, however, she plans to make the 26.2 mile journey at the annual Boston Marathon—not for the prestige, but for her patients.

In 2013, a six-year old boy named Joseph Middlemiss died unexpectedly from cardiomyopathy—a disease of the heart muscle. “Joey’s infectious laugh, and curly-lashed blue eyes were never happier than the day his baby brother was born. His special heart held a wisdom and empathy far beyond his 6 years”, reads the homepage of the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation Inc. The non-profit foundation was created by Joey’s parents shortly after the young boy’s death, and raises funds to help with research and awareness of childhood heart issues.

Nurse George’s husband, Justin, was a first responder when Joey died, and ran the Boston Marathon last year for the foundation. But this year, Nurse George (herself a recipient of one of the Big Heart Foundation’s “Acts of Kindness”) couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer.

“To run the marathon is just something that I’d like to accomplish because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run a marathon,” George, 39, explains. “But to do it for their foundation — to raise awareness for their foundation — is really the main reason why I want to do it.”

And this year, it turns out, the decision to run is particularly timely. Five years after the death of their oldest son Joey, the Middlemiss family spent time back in the hospital as their four-year old son Jack underwent a heart transplant. Jack, also born with cardiomyopathy, made it through the surgery successfully, but the close call makes Nurse George’s decision to run seem all the more potent.

“Out of something awful, a beautiful friendship has evolved,” Joey’s mother, Kate Middlemiss, said Friday of the family’s bond with Nurse George and her husband. “It’s a connection that we will always have with them.”

According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The majority of diagnosed children are under 12 months followed by children 12 to 18 years old. Pediatric cardiomyopathy is considered a rare disorder, and can be present at birth or have new onset at any age—with or without symptoms.

Colby begins her 26.2 mile run on Monday, April 16th (Patriot’s Day), and she hopes to raise at least $6,000 dollars this year for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can follow her fundraising efforts (or make a donation) at this link.

No one wants to wind up in a hospital bed, but even through those sometimes tragic  circumstances, bonds between nurses and patients so often transcend distance, disease, and all other obstacles. And in cases like Nurse George and the Middlemiss family, sometimes those connections can have a ripple effect that touches more lives than either thought possible.

Best of luck in the race, Colby! We’ll be cheering for you.

For more information on a nursing program in California, or starting your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today for class enrollment information, convenient scheduling, and to find a campus near you.