Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Nurses Rally After Devastating Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm on October 10, was unusual in many ways. The storm surprised everyone by how quickly it intensified—going from a relatively innocuous tropical storm to a raging hurricane in no time at all. It struck later in the season than most powerful hurricanes, struck a portion of the country that rarely receives a direct hit, and the sheer power of the storm was record-breaking.

“Students in tropical-meteorology classes are going to be talking about this storm for 20 years,” says Colin Zarzycki, a tropical-cyclone scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

But something not unusual about the catastrophic event? The response seen by nurses.

The damage of the storm was unprecedented, closing more than five hospitals, 15 assisted living communities, and five nursing homes to completely shut down. Others were left running on generators, while the nurses of one Panama City hospital scrambled to keep the emergency room open despite damage to the building.

Before the wrath of the storm had even reached the coast, nurses from two assisted living facilities were already making tough choices in favor of their elderly patients. Despite their own concerns and the threats to their own homes, one group of Panama City nurses decided to stay with their patients during the evacuations, many unsure whether they would see their homes intact again.

“I don’t know how (my) house is, if it’s still standing, so we’re just braving it, trying to get through,” nurse Linda Cooper said. “It’s very hard, it is, it’s difficult, but I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I think you’re mindset that way, you take care of people and you think when you have time about what happens in your own life.”

Many of their patients suffer from severe dementia and required regular assurance in the new unfamiliar surroundings. And the nurses, despite their own worries, delivered—playing music for the patients, keeping spirits high, and focusing on their mission.

“There are several staff that still have not been able to locate their families, and we know we have staff here that do not have a home to go to, so it’s been very challenging,” Seagrass Village executive director Victoria Folks said. “They have been remarkable and they’ve put their residents first no matter what, and they are our heroes for that.”

Across the country, other nurses are stepping up to assist their brothers and sisters in scrubs as they deal with the destruction.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, for example, Nurse Leslie Silcox is organizing volunteers to send to Florida while collecting and packaging donations for those impacted by the storm—all while continuing to collect aid for those in the Carolinas hit by Hurricane Florence.

Also headed to Florida are the nurse volunteers of the RN Response Network, who are traveling to the panhandle to assist with medical aid.

“Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to hit the Florida panhandle in 100 years, and our RN Response Network volunteer nurses are committed to helping those in its path—including providing relief for our local nurse colleagues, whose homes and families will also be impacted,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN. “As nurses, it’s our duty to help patients in need, and RNRN volunteers always rise to the calling. We want the people of Florida to know that our hearts are with them, and the nurses are on their way.”

And nurses such as Jeannie Cashin of New Hampshire are responding to the call for help. Despite her distance from the catastrophe, Nurse Cashin saw the call for help from the Red Cross and knew she had to be involved. (You can see an interview with Nurse Cashin here).

We may not be able to avoid every storm or tragedy, but the one thing we have been shown again and again is that no matter what comes our way, we have an army in scrubs always standing by to help put things back together.

If you’d like more information on becoming a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today for class schedules, tuition information, and to find a campus near you.

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Bay Area NICU Nurse Reunites With Patient… 28 Years Later

Last week, we explored the differences between NICU (neonatal intensive care) and PICU (pediatric intensive care)—if you missed it, you can read it here. And despite some of the differences between the two career paths, two things were the same: the connection the nurses had for their patients, and the appreciation that patients’ families had for the nurses.

This month, one Bay Area nurse stumbled onto a perfect example of both.

Nurse Vilma Wong has been an NICU nurse in the Bay Area for over 30 years, and in that time, she’s cared for hundreds of infant patients, but one stood out, an infant she assisted 28 years ago. His name was Brandon, and he was born at only two pounds, six ounces after his mother had to undergo an emergency c-section. For the next 40 days, Vilma and Brandon were very close, as Vilma oversaw Brandon’s treatment as his primary care nurse. Afterward, he left for home at a still-small five pounds, two ounces. But he was healthy, and that’s what mattered.

But in addition to the bond they’d formed, Brandon stood out for another reason. While most (if not all) of Vilma’s patients left the hospital and never returned, Brandon was one who came back… 28 years later.

While doing rounds with her team at the NICU, Vilma couldn’t shake the feeling that she somehow knew the new NICU nurse who had joined them.

“I kept asking where he was from and he told me that he was from San Jose, California, and that, as a matter of fact, he was a premature baby born at our hospital,” Wong told The Mercury News. “I then got very suspicious because I remember being the primary nurse to a baby with the same last name.”

Vilma began asking more and more questions as more details came back to her. She recalled that baby Brandon’s father had been a police officer, one of the few personal details she could recall.

“There was a big silence,” Wong said. “And then he asked if I was Vilma.”

28 years later, both patient and nurse were not only reunited, but each had made such an impact on the other than this past month, almost three decades later, they retained that bond.

Brandon’s father, now retired, even found a photo of Wong holding Brandon—a photo they recreated last month, and one that has now gone viral.

While reunions like these are rare and even surreal, the bond and appreciation shared by nurses and their young patients are forged every day in NICU and PICU wards across the country. So if you’re a nurse in the Bay Area (or nursing student in the Bay Area), enjoy working with children, and want a position guaranteed to have an impact, maybe it’s time to give the NICU/PICU halls a closer look.

For more information on beginning your career as a Bay Area nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

NICU Nursing vs PICU Nursing: What’s The Difference?

Bay Area nurses and nursing students who enjoy working with younger patients have many hospitals and clinics from which to choose, and just as many programs of care. El Camino Hospital, for example, offers several NICU options (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), Level II NICU care (at its Mountain View campus) and Level III NICUcare (at its Los Gatos location). With so many options available, though, the world of pediatric care can sometimes be confusing to navigate for those unfamiliar and searching for their next career move.

One of the first steps in choosing the right Bay Area pediatrics program is understanding the difference between NICU nursing (neonatal) and PICU nursing (pediatric).

For nurses in the NICU, your responsibilities will revolve specifically around newborn babies. While PICU nurses also work with young babies on occasion, NICU only works with the newborns. Within the NICU, there are four levels of care:

Level One – Nurses in level one will care for healthy, full-term babies. They also “stabilize babies born near term to get them ready to transfer to facilities that provide advanced care.”

Level Two – Bay Area Nurses in level two NICU care for newborns 32 weeks old and who are recovering from complications.

Level Three – Level three patients have a much higher level of complication. These include babies born under 32 weeks and those with critical illnesses (of any gestational age). This is the NICU level where subspecialties, respiratory support, and other advanced treatments are common.

Level Four – A level four NICUis prepared to deliver the most advanced care possible, which often means infant surgery.

“I would certainly recommend NICU nursing to others,” says nurse Bernadette Mich, who herself was an NICU patient when she was first born. “Although it is challenging and tiring at times it is worth it and it is a very rewarding and satisfying job.”

For Nurse Mich, the job is demanding yet satisfying. Through the course of her work, she often becomes attached to her patients, even visiting them outside of her shifts. But one of the most important aspects of her job, she says, involves the parents.

“As nurses we try and comfort and reassure them,” she says. “The biggest part is supporting the parents no matter what the outcome. It is like a roller coaster ride for them up and down good and bad days.”

Bay Area PICU nurses, on the other hand, tend to have a much broader variety of responsibilities and care for patients who range from newborn to 17-years old. One local example of a PICU hospital is UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Their PICU unit includes family-centered, age-appropriate treatment that includes 31 subspecialties, including “neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology, pulmonary, hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant.”

“We are with these patients and their families through the highs and the lows,” says nurse Kristin Hall, a 26-year-old pediatric intensive care unit nurse. “The real reward is having a once-critically-ill child come back for a visit just to say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you.’”

The level of care in the PICU tends to be just as personal, if not more so, than inside the NICU.

“PICU nurses rarely leave the bedside during their 12-hour shift. Many nurses have only one patient, and at the most, two,” explains RN Marcia Summers. “We often get Christmas cards from past patients, and to see them and their parents looking so happy gives the nurses their reason for doing what they do every day.”

If you’re interested in studying to be a nurse or medical assistant in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today for more information on our many available programs and to find a campus near you.

Helping Nurses In The Wake Of Hurricane Florence

Helping Nurses In The Wake Of Hurricane Florence

Helping Nurses In The Wake Of Hurricane Florence

Helping Nurses In The Wake Of Hurricane Florence

From the moment Hurricane Florence set its sights on the Carolina coastline, everyone knew the impact would be big. And despite weakening in strength just before landfall, the high winds and even higher waters carved a path of destruction through the state, the scope of which Carolinians are still trying to grasp.

As of Friday, September 21st, the death toll sits at a tragic 41, and “unheard of amounts of water” continue to wreak havoc in cities and neighborhoods.

It’s exactly the type of situation where nurses would be needed most… but unfortunately, the North and South Carolina nurses are among the storm’s victims.

Which is why the North Carolina Foundation For Nursing is putting out the call for help nationwide—to collect donations “to provide support to nurses who have suffered loss or damages from Hurricane Florence. The NCFN – Nurse Recovery Fund seeks tax-deductible donations whose sole purpose is to help nurses get back on their feet sooner; NCNA and NCFN believe that helping nurses return to their normal lives will benefit the entire state.”

The emergency campaign is both generous and perceptive—without nurses on the ground and in the hospitals, recovery efforts in the Carolinas would be seriously handicapped. And the speed at which the campaign was launched is no accident. After Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas in 2017—also leaving many hospitals understaffed—the Texas Nurses Association created a similar campaign to help get their staff back on their feet and into their scrubs. And before Hurricane Florence had even made landfall, the TNA was already sharing what they’d learned with their nursing comrades in the Carolinas.

“It is immensely harder to focus on patient care if you are reeling from your own losses, so we see this as a chance to support our fellow nurses and try to help them get back to normal,” said NCNA President Elaine Scherer, MAEd, BSN, RN. “Caring for each other is a vital part of being a nurse. We saw an opportunity to step up and have a positive impact on a terrible situation. Doing nothing was simply not an option.”

One thing is for sure, the eastern Carolinas aren’t out of the woods yet. Waters continue to rise, and the hurricane is already proving to be one of the costliest natural disasters in recent history. If there were ever a time to have a full staff of nurses ready to help, it’s now.

If you’d like to donate (or if you’d like to share this article to help raise support), donations can be made at this link. And if you know of any nurses who were impacted by the east coast storm, they can apply for assistance here.

There’s also an opportunity for nurses (even nurses here in the Bay Area) to volunteer to help those impacted by the storms. recently posted an article with the many ways in which you or your nursing colleagues can get involved. That article is available here.

A big thanks to everyone doing what they can to help the nurses impacted by the storm.

If you’d like more information on becoming a nurse or medical assistant and would like to visit one of our Bay Area campuses, contact Unitek College today.

More Bay Area Hospitals for Bay Area Nurses

More Bay Area Hospitals for Bay Area Nurses

More Bay Area Hospitals for Bay Area Nurses

More Bay Area Hospitals for Bay Area Nurses

Last week, we highlighted three Bay Area hospitals—or more accurately, three opportunities for Bay Area nurses and nursing students who are deciding where to send their applications. But if none of the three struck you as “the one”, don’t worry! The Bay Area is full of respected and well-known hospitals and clinics who are always looking for hard-working, well-trained nurses.

This week, we’re highlighting three more hospitals in the Bay Area—including where they are, what they’re known for, and (most importantly) where to go to send in your application.


  1. Kindred Hospital, San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Who They Are: Kindred Hospital is a transitional care hospital—meaning they offer the same care as most hospitals, but they cater specifically to patients who have an extended recovery period ahead of them.

Bragging Points: Offering 99 patient beds plus a 10-bed ICU and two negative pressure rooms, Kindred is well-equipped to provide specialized care during those longer recovery periods. This includes programs that focus specifically on those recovering from a recent organ transplant, stroke recovery, post-intensive care syndrome, wound care, and IV antibiotic therapy.

How To Apply: Click here to search available jobs at Kindred Hospital (or their “at home” and hospice care units).


  1. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital – Palo Alto, CA

Who They Are: A branch of Stanford Children’s Health, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital is part of the only health care system in the Bay Area that exclusively focuses on pediatrics and obstetrics. With a total of 60 locations across the Bay Area, Stanford Children’s Health offers everything from treatments for rare and complex conditions to well-child care.

Bragging Points: Not only have they been ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by US News and World Reports, but the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital just recently expanded, adding an additional 521,000 square feet to their hospital building.

How To Apply: Search open jobs and apply by clicking here. You can also test the waters as a volunteer by clicking here.


  1. Eden Medical Center – Castro Valley, CA

Who They Are: A member of the Sutter Health family, Eden Medical Center “is the regional trauma center for Southern Alameda County and features many centers of excellence, including neurosciences, orthopedics, rehabilitation, birthing center, imaging, stroke and cancer care.”

Bragging Points: Eden Medical Center boasts 130 beds (all private rooms), but even more impressive is the Sutter Health not-for-profit mission. Sutter Health is known for reinvesting funds back into their communities, and claim to care for more low-income Northern California patients than any other health system.

How To Apply: You can find a list of open nursing jobs by clicking here.


As we continue to dig into the plethora of health systems and hospitals in the Bay Area, one thing continues to be clear: for a nurse or nursing student in the Bay Area, lack of opportunity should never be a problem.


Ready to get started on your nursing or medical assisting career? Contact Unitek College today for more information on programs, classes, and opportunities.

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Job Hunting Help for Bay Area Nurses

Nursing school in the Bay Area is exciting, as you learn new skills and explore a new career possibility. Nursing itself is even more exciting, as you begin helping patients and making real differences in peoples’ lives. But the part in between… the job hunting? That’s not always the fun part.

Google has made the job a lot easier (and the staff at Unitek College works hard to do so as well), but there’s still a lot of work to do on your part—namely identifying those potential employers, making sure your resume goes to the right person, and writing cover letter after cover letter. Then, of course, there’s the waiting.

Is it all worth it? Absolutely.

So if you’re a nurse in the Bay Area or nursing student in the Bay Area, and you’re getting ready to start the job hunt, here are three hospitals in the Bay Area where you could start your search.

  1. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, CA

Who They Are: With over 183 beds, UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospital specializes in emergency care and special treatment for young patients in the Bay Area.

Bragging Points: A 50-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, recreational therapy, and multiple outreach clinics throughout Northern California.

How To Apply: All job information can be found here, including information on the training of RN’s who are just starting out.

  1. El Camino Hospital Mountain View, CA

Who They Are: According to their website, for more than half a century, El Camino Hospital “has had a reputation for high caliber physicians, innovative services and powerful commitment to meeting the needs of our community.”

Bragging Points: Home of the South Asian Heart Center, which provides screening, counseling, and education for Bay Area residents of South Asian or Indian descent, citing those populations as ones at a much greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also offer specialized healthcare to Bay Area Chinese community members through their Chinese Health Initiative.

How To Apply: Search available jobs by clicking here.

  1. Saint Mary’s Medical Center San Francisco, CA

Who They Are: The oldest continuously operating hospital in the city, St Mary’s Hospital was originally formed to care for a city suffering through cholera (later typhoid and influenza). Today, the hospital continues to operate on the belief that “all people deserve medical care, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or circumstances.”

Bragging Points: Part of a healthcare group called Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West) with 400 care sites across 22-states, including 39 hospitals. The hospital’s mission is to go beyond medical care alone, offering Chronic, Palliative, and Spiritual care as a part of their holistic care program.

How To Apply : Search and apply for work by clicking here.


Of course, there are over 30 hospitals just in the Bay Area alone, and these three we’ve highlighted just scratch the surface (we’ll be highlighting more Bay Area hospitals in weeks to come). Hopefully, as you learn more about your local hospitals, their rich history, and their unique missions, you’ll come to appreciate the job hunt as something just as exciting as school and career.

For more information on beginning your career as a nurse or medical student in the Bay Area, contact Unitek College today.