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.

Vocational Nurse (VN) training in Concord

Why Concord Students Benefit from the VN Program

The top 8 reasons why Unitek students might benefit from our Vocational Nursing program in Concord, California.

Vocational Nurse (VN) training in Concord

Vocational Nursing has always been a popular choice at Unitek College. Nursing is often seen as a career that is both stable and rewarding. Not only do nurses perform a variety of clinical tasks, but they promote good health habits and champion the wellbeing of their patients. Perhaps most importantly, Vocational Nurses have the ability to change lives.

Students at our Concord Campus are particularly passionate about nursing. To learn the fundamentals of healthcare, they utilize classrooms, labs, and learning resource stations. In the labs, real-world simulations are employed to better prepare students. In fact, our students receive more than 900 hours of practical training in simulations, labs, and healthcare facilities.

Here are the top 8 reasons why we think our Concord students might benefit from a career in nursing:

Various Work Environments

More often than not, nurses have the opportunity to work in a number of healthcare facilities. For example, some nurses work in private homes, some in research facilities, and others in hospitals or private offices. Additionally, nursing can allow for more tailored schedules. For instance, those that are unable to work during the day could pursue night nursing.

Relatively Quick Timeframe

Most Vocational Nursing programs can be completed in under two years. The VN program at Unitek College can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Specialized Areas of Interest

There are numerous specialties in the nursing field. If you have the proper licensing or certification, then you can pursue a specialization that you truly care about. Some nurses specialize in pediatrics, oncology, critical care, family care, and more.

A Generally Exciting Profession

Nursing is often meaningful. It is usually an exciting profession, and at times it can even be chaotic. There probably aren’t that many dull moments in the nursing profession.

Opportunities to Educate and Connect

Nurses not only perform a variety of duties, but they promote and teach patients better health habits. They also have the chance to connect with their patients and the community.

Integral Teamwork and Support

No matter the specialization, nurses typically network and support each other in their careers. Teamwork is also a vital component of healthcare. If you enjoy working in a team atmosphere, Vocational Nursing could be a great career choice for you.

Contributing to the Community

Through their job or volunteer efforts, nurses can contribute greatly to numerous communities. In the future, if you’d like to volunteer, nurses can donate their time to both local communities and foreign countries.

Job Security

There is usually a certain amount of job security in the nursing profession. Nurses will always be needed, as healthcare will always be a necessity. In fact, experts anticipate that a nursing shortage will soon hit the United States.1 As the baby-boomer population ages and demand for healthcare grows, the need for a greater nursing staff will also intensify.

Unitek VN Program - Concord California

A Segment of the Nursing Workforce is Approaching Retirement Age

Additionally, a segment of the nursing workforce is approaching retirement age. According to a recent survey spearheaded by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, approximately 50% of Registered Nurses (RNs) are age 50 or older.2

When not training to become Vocational Nurses, our students have the city of Concord at their fingertips. A populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, Concord is either home to or located near attractions like Mount Diablo, Briones Regional Park, Heather Farm Park, and the annual Concord Jazz Festival. Our campus can be found near Willow Pass Road and State Route 242, right by a slew of convenient stores and restaurants.

If you’re in the Concord area and you’re interested in Vocational Nursing, we encourage you to contact us and learn more about our program.

Take that first step with Unitek College!

Vocational Nurse Training Program - LVN
1 http://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Shortage
2 https://www.ncsbn.org/workforce.htm

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.

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.

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

Frequent Flyer: Nurse Commutes 2,600 Miles To Work

If you’re looking for a state in which to begin your nursing career, or you’re already a nurse and looking for a move, it’s hard to beat California. Frequently ranked as one of the top (if not the top) states in nurse salaries, it should come as no surprise that nurses from all over the country are eyeing jobs in the Golden State… even if they don’t plan to live there. One survey found that of all the out-of-state nurses crossing the border into California for jobs, a whopping 84% still planned on leading active lives in their former state. That’s a lot of commutes.

But one commuter in particular takes the cake when it comes to job dedication. Tom Fowkes is a nurse who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he has no intention of moving… despite the fact that his full-time job is in Oakland, California. That’s a commute of over 2,600 miles… one way!

“I can’t believe I’ve been doing it for 9 years,” Fowkes told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It seems like 4 or 5. It’s changed my life. I spend more time with my son. And when I’m home and I don’t work, we can do things because I have money now.”

So just how beneficial is it for nurses like Fowkes to make the long commute? With the high cost of travel, it may seem like the cost would outweigh the benefits, but that’s not always the case, and certainly wasn’t with Fowkes.

“These are the highest paid nursing jobs on the planet,” he says, referring to his job at Kaiser. “I make more than some doctors do back home.” And for a nurse who was previously working three jobs just to make ends meet, that pay difference has been life-changing. Not only is he working just the one job, but he’s found more time to spend with his family… and was even able to afford to splurge on a new swimming pool.

And nurses like Fowkes are becoming more and more common. In fact, Fowkes estimates that 10% of the workers on his floor commute from other states.

Of course, travel from coast to coast isn’t always the case for commuting nurses. Nurses such as Ann Inman of Las Vegas still fly to work each week, but it’s a much shorter jump.

“It’s very intense for me, especially because I don’t like to fly,” Inman told the LA Times. “But I can make more money here than anyplace else, and I’m kind of getting used to it.”

And money isn’t the only benefit. Job satisfaction ratings among California nurses are on the rise, earning a 4.21 on a scale of 1 to 5, a 10-year high. The study also found that California RN’s were “more ethnically diverse, better educated, better paid and more satisfied with their work than in previous years.”

So if you’re already a nurse and looking to make a move, there’s a lot to be said for California. And if you’re someone who’s hoping to become a nurse, we also have seven campuses here in California to help make that a reality.

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.