The Danger of Stress in Young Patients

The Danger of Stress in Young Patients

The Danger of Stress in Young Patients

The Danger of Stress in Young Patients

A wide range of patients with a wide range of health problem walk through the doors of your hospital or clinic every day, and of that wide range of health problems, it’s amazing how many may be traced back to stress. High amounts of stress have been found to cause heart issues, digestive issues, breathing problems, headaches, immune system deficiencies, and other health problems. In other words, we know that stress in our adult patients is far from healthy… but how bad is stress for child patients?

“Very bad”, according to the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) in San Francisco. And the long-term effects can range from asthma to heart disease and even to cancer.  Simply put, heavy amounts of stress on a young life can lead to that life being cut short.

“It can tip a child’s developmental trajectory and affect physiology,” explains Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and founder of the CYW. It can trigger chronic inflammation and hormonal changes that can last a lifetime. It can alter the way DNA is read and how cells replicate, and it can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes — even Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. Harris goes on to explain that childhood stressors such as divorce, abuse, or death of a loved one “literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades.”

Stress by itself can actually be a good thing for both children and adults… if it occurs in small doses. Stress can help keep us awake, focused, and activates the “fight-or-flight” response when we encounter a dangerous situation. But in order to accomplish these things, stress activates so many of our bodies’ systems simultaneously (immune, hormonal, respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, and more)—and keeping all those systems perpetually revved up and ready for action eventually starts to wear the body down.

And just imagine what that kind of wear-and-tear does to a body that’s still developing.

But unlike many of the health problems that can be caused by stress, stress itself can be dealt with before it becomes a life-threatening issue… if caught in time. Dr. Harris shares the story of one patient, a 3-year-old girl, who scored a seven on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a very high score for a patient so young. The patient simply wasn’t growing (“itty bitty”, in the words of Dr. Harris). But after identifying stress as a contributing cause and prescribing child-parent stress therapy, her patient was back to a healthy place on the growth curve within six months.

As a nurse, you also have the unique opportunity to help temporarily reduce stress in your young patients. A trip to the clinic, doctor’s office, dentist’s office, or hospital is almost never without an element of fear for most children, but there are a few simple tips you can use to help make the experience a positive one.

  1. Positive Reinforcement – Pay attention to what’s going well and use praise to reinforce that behavior. Are they doing a good job of listening or holding still? Let them know!
  2. Take a Deep Breath – Or more accurately, take several deep breaths. Show your patient some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to help calm their nerves.
  3. Explain Everything – Dr. Greg Psaltis (a pediatric dentist) suggests providing “a running commentary to the child so that nothing comes as a surprise. By telling the patients (in simple, understandable words) what is happening, they can anticipate the next instrument, sensation, or procedure with minimal anxiety.”
  4. Don’t Forget The Parents – Very little upsets a child faster than seeing their parents upset, so be sure to share some of your focus with the adults in the room. Keeping them calm will in turn help keep their children calm.

Of course, these tips and tricks work primarily for the medical or dental visit itself—they aren’t designed to deal with the bigger psychological stressors that may be a factor at home. But it’s always possible that stress-management techniques learned in one place (your workplace) can be applied in others (their home or school). And as always, if you believe stress may be impacting the health of your young patients, address the possibility with your supervisor first.

“This is a public health crisis,” says Dr. Harris. “So guess what? Schools, you need help! Doctors’ offices, you’re part of the solution! If you’re in early childhood, you’re part of the solution. If you’re in juvenile justice, you’re part of the solution. We all need to be part of the solution. If we each take off our little piece, it’s nuts how far we’ll be able to go, together as a society, in terms of solving this problem.”

If you’d like more information on beginning your career as a nurse, medical assistant, or dental assistant, Unitek College can help! Contact us today for more information.

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Tips For Passing Your NCLEX Exam

Looming at the end of every nursing student’s program of study is that final hurtle between “student” and “professional nurse”… the NCLEX exam. All your hard work in classes, labs, and projects comes down to one final test, so it’s only natural that many test takers feel a little nervous going in. Fortunately, anyone preparing to take the test in the near future already has something big in their favor—they aren’t the first to take the test. Thousands have taken (and passed) the exam, and many have shared tips from their experience to help those following behind. Here are a few we’ve found to help you excel at that final certification and achieve that goal of becoming a nurse.

  1. Prepare Early – Cramming may have worked in high school, but you don’t want to rely on a last minute study “sprint” when your career is on the line. Instead, treat your studying and your test as more of a marathon—study early, study often, as far in advance as possible. “Even though you’ve done well in nursing school and you’ve had a great education, you must still prepare—and that means practicing,” says Jan Jones-Schenk (DHSc, RN, NE-BC). “Take 100 questions per day for two to three weeks leading up to your exam date.”
  2. Take Your Test ASAP – The longer you wait after graduation, the more chances you have to forget things you’ve learned. Make sure and take the test while the knowledge is still fresh in your mind. “The sooner you take it, with good preparation, the better your odds are for a first-time pass,” advises Jones-Schenk. “Two to three weeks should be enough time to prepare.”
  3. Know What You’re Getting Into – It’s natural to worry about a test like the NCLEX, but the more you know about the exam and exam requirements ahead of time, the more you can concentrate on actually taking the test (and remembering everything you studied). Check out early for a good idea of what’s ahead.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice – The best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to actually experience what’s ahead, and there are plenty of practice tests available to help you do just that. Take advantage of the NCSBN’s practice exams to give yourself a head start on exam day.
  5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep – Resist the urge to stay up cramming the night before the test, and instead focus on getting seven to eight hours of sleep. Not only will the sleep be of greater benefit, but the cramming? Turns out it doesn’t work.
  6. Pick Up A Good Book – You can find a thorough and descriptive list here of books written to help nursing students prepare for the NCLEX.
  7. Look For The Logical Choices – There’s a great strategy guide available here to help you navigate the many multiple choice answers and use logic to narrow down the correct one. One recurring theme in the guide is to pay close attention to the wording of each question. For example, if a question uses absolute words like always, never, none, only, etc, pay extra attention to those answers. Just because an answer might apply to most situations, it doesn’t always mean all.

And while everyone wants to pass on the first try, keep in mind that not everybody does. Plenty of nurses failed their first tests only to pass later on and enjoy successful careers in health care. In California, failing the test simply means you must wait 45 days before trying again, and there’s no limitation to how many times you try. So if the first one doesn’t work out, use that waiting period to study for the second. You’ve worked hard to get this far, and your nursing career is waiting just a few correct answers away.

Good luck!

For more information on studying to become a nurse, contact Unitek College for more information on our multiple nursing and medical assistant progr

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? 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.

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Emerging Demographic Factors Indicate Increasing Need for LVNs

A variety of factors are now influencing the supply and demand for well-trained nurses in the state of California. This trend is one that is occurring throughout the nation, and the state of California is also by it.

More Nurses Retiring

One of the reasons the demand for nursing is increasing in California is that the supply of trained nurses has not yet met the continually rising demand for nurses throughout the state. Numerous factors have contributed to the increasing need for nurses. For instance, a large percentage of nursing professionals are now reaching retirement age. In fact, findings released from a report from the Nursing Management Aging Workforce Survey in 2006 found that 55% of nurses surveyed had intentions of retiring between the years 2011 and 2020*.

Increasing Elderly Population

While this large number of nurses leaving the field will leave a glut in the industry, the future demand for qualified nurses is expected to continue rising significantly as Baby Boomers reach retirement age and beyond. Per a nursing report released on caregivers, the ratio of prospective caregivers to the individuals who will be more likely to require care, which is the elderly population, is expected to decline by as much as 40% by the year 2030*.

In 2008, the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply found that an additional 30,000 nurses would need to be graduated each year simply to meet the healthcare needs of the country. This number represents an increase of 30% over the current number of nurse graduates each year*.

The increasing demand for nurses cannot be ignored. The need for qualified nurses is present at all levels of the industry, including at the vocational nurse level.  A LVN is a Licensed Vocational Nurse; a designation used in California as well as the state of Texas. LVNs work under the direct supervision of registered nurses (RN) or physicians. Vocational Nursing training provides nursing candidates with the practice and knowledge they need to embark upon a vocational nursing career. This scope of instruction and practice may include amongst other tasks, such things as checking the vital signs of patients, administering medications and treatments, hanging IVs, performing dressing changes and daily living activities.

A vocational nurse may be employed in a hospital or in one of many other types of facilities, such as a skilled nursing facility, home health care agency, physician’s office, correctional facility, school or clinic.

The decision to become a licensed vocational nurse is one that can lead to a rewarding and satisfying career. Many people also decide to support themselves working as a LVN while pursuing advanced healthcare training, such as RN qualification.

Vocational Nursing training course lasts about one year and provides students with the experience and instruction they need to achieve their goal of entering the rewarding and exciting world of licensed vocational nursing.

*According to a report from the Nursing Management Aging Workforce Survey in 2006 55% of nurses surveyed had intentions of retiring between the years 2011 and 2020. [Source:, 02/2012]

*According to the Nursing Institute at the University of Illinois College of Nursing, the ratio of potential caregivers to the people most likely to need care, the elderly population, will decrease by 40% between 2010 and 2030. [Source:, 02/2012]

* In March 2008, The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, an independent group of health care leaders based at the University of Pennsylvania, determined that 30,000 additional nurses should be graduated annually to meet the nation’s healthcare needs, an expansion of 30% over the current number of annual nurse graduates [Source:, 02/2012]


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Unitek College reports great NCLEX passing scores for 2011

Unitek College is delighted to announce that all three of our campuses reported outstanding NCLEX test passing performance for 2011, for our largest program, the Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN). The NCLEX test is the ultimate quality and performance benchmark for a nursing school, and our campuses broke several records.

1. For the second year running, the LVN Fremont campus had the *highest aggregate NCLEX test passing score of any private for-profit school in the bay area, with a passing rate of 92% for 2011. The Fremont campus has won this honor two successive years (2010 and 2011), and it capped a great year with a perfect 100% NCLEX aggregate score in the last quarter of 2011.

2. Our Santa Clara campus had the *highest aggregate NCLEX test passing score of any private for-profit school in the *south bay, with an aggregate first-time passing rate of 75% for 2011, topped off with a delightful 90% pass rate in the final quarter of 2011. Even in 2010, the Santa Clara campus was second only to Fremont, amongst private schools in the bay area.

3. Our Sacramento campus, which hosts the largest LVN program of any school in its metro, reported that it had closed out 2011 with a delightful 88% NCLEX passing ratio for 2011, up from 74% in 2010. The passing ratio for the last quarter of 2011 was a perfect 100% !!

Navraj Bawa, COO, Unitek College commented, “We are thrilled to see that our nursing school is achieving such stratospheric heights. Under the visionary leadership of our Chief Academic Officer, Margarita Valdes, the nursing program has grown to be the largest in both the Bay Area and Sacramento. The growth can be fully attributed to the incredibly high standards of excellence set by our faculty and administrative staff. Kudos to all on this momentous achievement.”

So, here is a big thank you to our hard working student body and our accomplished faculty. THANK YOU. This fantastic achievement is a testament to your diligence and skill.

*Source: The numbers reported above are published by the Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) and sent to vocational schools each quarter. Please access the report from this link NCLEX Pass Rate.

*South Bay is a reference to the area, which includes counties of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga and Sunnyvale.

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Vocational Nursing Programs: An Exciting Career Choice

LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) programs prepare a practical nursing student to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Vocational Nurses (NCLEX-PN). The Board of Nurse Examiners in each state certifies lvn schools that meet the national standards. In order to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse, you must graduate from one of these programs.

To be accepted into an approved program you must:

  • Be a high school graduate or have an equivalent diploma
  • Be 18 years old
  • Be current with vaccinations including Hepatitis
  • Have a TB test
  • Have no drug convictions
  • Have no felony record
  • Be of sound mind

If you believe you might have a background problem, check with the nursing board before you spend the time and money for the educational program. Acceptance into and graduation from an LVN program is no guarantee that the State Nursing Board will allow you to become a nurse.

LVN Program Studies

An LVN school will prepare you for responsibilities related to patient care in hospitals, long term care facilities, home health, assisted living centers, physician’s offices, and community health centers.

  • Your studies will include subject content such as Anatomy and physiology, Disease processes, Ethics as related to Health Care, Physical assessment of adults, elderly, and children, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Pharmacology, Task and Time Management, personal care and patient ADL to name just a few.

You will be required to have classroom instruction and clinical labs for hands on practice. Once you are proficient when practicing your skills in a setting with mannequins and other students, you will move on to a clinical area with real patients as a student nurse. You will be supervised by a licensed staff nurse and your clinical nursing instructor during these clinicals so you’re your skills are honed to handle real patients.

After Graduation

Once you complete the LVN program course of study, you must apply to take the State Board examination. A background check will be performed by the Board of Nurse Examiners, and the following factors will be determined:

  • You must have good morals and a professional conduct.
  • You must be free of drug abuse, alcoholism and mental incompetence.
  • Be truthful. Falsification of facts on your application for a nursing license can get you banned for life from your career choice.

After passing your examination, or “sitting for the boards” as it is sometimes called, you will receive your nursing license. Until you have the license in your hand, you cannot work as a licensed vocational nurse. You may work as a nurse tech, or graduate nurse in some locations.

Entering an LVN school is a great start to a career in healthcare. The field is exciting and ever expanding. Layoffs and cutbacks on nurses have not, and probably never will happen. The job outlook grows every year with increasing wages and excellent benefits with most companies. Many nurses continue their education and climb the corporate healthcare ladder. If you love helping people, are compassionate and yet strong under pressure, then an LVN program may provide the career you’ve been looking for.