Saving For Retirement: Top Tips For Nurses

Saving For Retirement: Top Tips For Nurses

Saving For Retirement: Top Tips For Nurses

Saving For Retirement: Top Tips For Nurses

It may be hard to imagine while you’re still studying to become a nurse, or while working your first 12-hour shift, but there will come a day when you don’t wake up and put on scrubs. However much you enjoy your career as a nurse, all good things eventually do come to an end. And with a few notable exceptions (like Nurse Rigney), retirement eventually arrives for all of us.

But with the hectic schedules and flurry of activity that fills most nurses’ days, planning for said retirement can easily become an afterthought. Nearly 60% of nurses admit to having done no planning whatsoever for retirement, and that could mean some unpleasant surprises down the road… or even having to delay retirement indefinitely.

But preparing for retirement as a nurse doesn’t have to be complicated, and by keeping a few key points in mind and making some sound financial decisions now, you can care for your future just as well as you care for your patients today.

Tip #1: Start As Soon As You Can – The reason is simple… compound interest. More money saved now means a longer period in which it can grow. CNN Money offers a fantastic example of how this works at this link. It may sting a little to set aside money you know you won’t be seeing for several decades, but the difference between saving now and saving later could be in the hundreds of thousands.

Tip #2: Look For Free Money – There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but with many employers there is such a thing as free money for your retirement. Check with your company on their 401k employee match program—many employers will match (up to a certain amount) your retirement contributions if it’s automatically withdrawn from your paycheck. But not all hospitals and medical companies are the same, so if you move from job to job across your career, pay close attention to their retirement program details.

Tip #3: Save Automatically – Judith McNiff (CFP, Wells Fargo) suggests that nurses “set up automatic transfers of money from your checking account into your savings or retirement account. This way, you’re less likely to spend money you want to allocate to savings. Check your savings progress every month and watch your balances grow.” She also suggests setting a savings goal of 5% of your income when you’re first starting out as a nurse, then gradually increasing that amount to 10% as your career progresses.

Tip #4: Start Small – Nurses are natural problem solvers, hard workers, and people who like to see results quickly. But trying to conquer retirement planning too quickly could lead to burnout and frustration. Steven A. Boorstein (RockCrest Financial LLC) recommends nurses who are hesitant about making financial decisions to start small. “Starting something begins to take you down the right path now. Over the course of a year or two, if you tackle the small issues, you find that you’ll start to clear up the mess and can focus on the bigger issues (e.g., student loans, retirement, major purchases, college planning for your children).”

Tip #5: Get Help Sooner, Not Later – Between juggling patients and home life, nurses have their hands full, so learning to navigate the world of finance and investment alone could quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of financial advisors available to help take that burden off your shoulders… and some hospitals and medical companies even offer financial advisement in-house. “But don’t wait until you’re ready to retire to talk to a financial adviser,” warns McNiff. “That’s like saying, ‘My house is on fire — I better go get some homeowner’s insurance!’ Instead, meet with an adviser early in your career to create a long-term plan that will help you meet your retirement savings goals.”

You’re a hard worker, and there’s no reason why your money shouldn’t be working just as hard as you do. So form a few good habits now, and soon saving for retirement could feel as natural as scrubs and hand sanitizers.

For more information on beginning your career in nursing, contact Unitek College today.

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses and Nursing Students

2017 is in the rearview mirror and 2018 stretches out ahead of us, full of promise and possibility. And those wanting to take advantage of those possibilities are quickly compiling their plans on how to do so. You’ve probably seen several lists of New Year’s resolutions (or maybe you’ve written some for yourself), resolutions that may include things like losing weight, eating better, calling your parents more often, etc. But as a nurse or nursing student, your life has a whole other aspect that needs some resolutions of its own… and we’ve put together a few suggestions to help get that list started.

  • Resolve to stay up to date on healthcare – The world of healthcare is changing incredibly fast, as new technologies, procedures, and practices are entering hospitals faster than ever. So resolve to invest time in reading about these breakthroughs so that you’ll be one step ahead when they eventually become part of your work day. (Sites such as The Healthcare Blog are great places to start).
  • Be the nurse you’d want assigned to you – If you were in a hospital bed, what type of nurse would you want taking care of you? Chances are, they’d greet you with a smile, listen attentively, and would have a positive outlook on life—even at the end of a long shift or during a particularly difficult day. Resolve to be that nurse whenever you can.
  • Share your resolutions – This applies to both personal and nursing resolutions. Once you verbalize what you plan to do (sharing your plans with co-workers and supervisors), they can begin to help hold you accountable for reaching those goals. We naturally want to please others and avoid disappointing, and that little boost can go a long way in keeping those nursing resolutions.
  • Find a Resolution Buddy – Everything is easier when you have someone that can relate to exactly what you’re going through. Find another nurse that wants to make the same improvements and make a pact to improve together. Not only will it help you reach your own goals, it could go a long way in strengthening that co-worker / friendship bond.
  • Sleep/Exercise/Eat better – Okay, this one is probably already on your personal list of resolutions, but the benefits directly apply to your work life as well. Resolve to take better care of your body, and you’ll have more energy to take care of your patients.
  • Resolve to rest – Your days off are precious—guard them. Your breaks are few and far between—take full advantage of them. There will always be something to do or a co-worker to help, but unless you’ve taken care of yourself first, you’ll burn out. So this year, resolve to recharge when you can (and not to feel guilty for doing so).
  • Resolve to ask for help – Asking for help is a simple thing to do but so many people struggle to do it. So in 2018, resolve to set pride to the side and ask for help when you need it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or overextended, there’s no shame in asking for a helping hand.
  • Stay ahead of stress – Stress is everywhere, and if you’re a nurse or studying to become a nurse, you more than likely have a higher dose of it than most. But there are many ways to keep ahead of stress (some great suggestions can be found here), and if you start the year by keeping a step ahead of your stress, and if you can keep up that commitment to stay ahead of your stress, 2018 could be a lot more relaxed.

There are dozens more resolutions we could share (you can see a fantastic list of others here), but hopefully these suggestions are a good start to your list. Good luck in the new year, and we can’t wait to see what you will accomplish.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to begin your own career in nursing, Unitek College is here to help! Contact us here for more information about our many nursing and medical assistant programs.

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

Nurse Delivers Baby In Parking Lot… Then Saves His Life Again

As a trauma nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, nurse Steven Welton has seen many things… but what he was asked to do earlier this December still came as a huge surprise. Steven’s mother Chris Biesemeier, who also works at VUMC, was the first to notice a man frantically trying to get help for his wife—who was still outside in the backseat of their car—and quickly let her son know. Steven headed out, unsure of what to expect.

There in the backseat of the car was a crying toddler, an expectant mother, and a newborn baby already in the process of being born. Welton immediately jumped into action.

“It’s kind of fuzzy at this point because adrenaline was pumping,” Welton told Nashville’s Fox 17. “But the baby looked to be about halfway out so I grabbed him, pulled him the rest of the way, and I could see the umbilical cord and everything. No gloves. I’m just out there in it!”

But delivering the baby turned out to be only half the challenge. As the baby fully emerged, Welton quickly noticed that the child was blue, not crying, and wasn’t drawing that crucial first breath. Training kicked in, and Welton began compressions.

“I immediately could tell he was blue and not doing anything,” Welton said. “He wasn’t moving, wasn’t crying. I just said I gotta start compressions and held him in my hand and started doing it, about two minutes of solid compressions.”

Those two minutes of compressions turned out to be exactly the right decision. Baby Elijah finally took his first breath just as his father arrived back at the car.

“I’m thinking ‘oh my goodness’ and he had a smile on his face,” Welton said. “I think because he was happy things were getting better, and in my mind I was like ‘Man, you have no idea what just happened.’”

Mother and son were quickly transported into the hospital and both are doing well, thanks to the quick thinking and immediate action of nurse Steven Welton—yet another in a long line of heroes in scrubs.

And if you are ever put in a situation where you have to help deliver a baby who’s determined to show up earlier than expected, the experts at have a few tips:

  • Call 911, the doctor, or the midwife even if you won’t make it to them on time. They can at least begin making important preparations.
  • Remind Mom to pant and to push gently—push only with the contractions.
  • Support the head as the baby emerges.
  • Don’t pull! Let the baby and her mother’s body do the work.
  • Don’t cut the cord! It’s better for both mother and child if the cord stays attached until reaching the hospital.
  • Wipe the fluid from the baby’s nose to help him breathe.
  • Let Mom hold her newborn – As soon as the baby is born, hand her to her mother for skin-to-skin contact with the head “slightly lower than the body” to help with drainage. If you have clean blankets or towels available, cover the two.

If you would like to begin your own training to become a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College for information on our many courses, schedules, and to find a campus near you.

In Harm’s Way: Nurses Fight Back Against California Wildfires

In Harm’s Way: Nurses Fight Back Against California Wildfires

In Harm’s Way: Nurses Fight Back Against California Wildfires

In Harm’s Way: Nurses Fight Back Against California Wildfires

California is no stranger to wildfires, but this year has been tougher than most. October saw over $9 billion in damage to Northern California as fire raged over 245,000 acres, and this month’s wildfires in Southern California are keeping pace. As of today, over 181,000 acres have been consumed, with over 210,000 residents forced from their homes. A state of emergency was recently declared for the entire state, and the fire is now considered the fifth worst in the state’s history.

And as is the case in nearly all emergencies, nurses are at the center of the chaos—treating existing patients and new fire victims even as flames threaten their own homes and hospitals. Nurses such as Julayne Smithson, a 55-year old ICU nurse in Santa Rosa, who was working the overnight shift when the fires arrived.

Julayne was so busy with her patients that she’d paid little attention to the fire’s location, and was completely caught off guard by how close the flames had gotten. “One of the nurses came up to me and she said, ‘Julayne, I’m sorry, but your house is not going to make it,'” Julayne recounts. She’d only purchased the house in the past weeks, and hadn’t finalized the insurance arrangements yet.

“I was so busy working the last couple of weeks that I didn’t get my insurance, which I never do. I never ever, ever go uninsured,” she says. “I kept saying, ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to do that. Tomorrow, I’m going to do that.'”

With only minutes to spare, Julayne rushed home to save what she could. Faced with a crucial decision, she ultimately decided to save those few things with which she could make the biggest difference: her nursing supplies. She escaped with her scrubs, her nursing documents, and a nightgown. A short time later, she was back at work in the ICU as her neighborhood burned. But the fire wasn’t finished with her yet. Two hours later, the fire suddenly changed direction, and the hospital was ordered to evacuate.

“A lot of nurses and staff were putting patients in their cars and driving them to the hospital,” Julayne told NPR. “And then other people were carrying people on blankets, people who couldn’t walk, and putting them in cars.”

(For more information on the Santa Rosa hospital, check out this video by NBC News.)

But even the hospitals untouched by fires have been impacted. Doctors and nurses across the area have not only taken responsibility for evacuated patients, but have seen a significant number of fire-related injuries and conditions come through their doors as well—particularly asthma and other lung or breathing problems caused by smoke and air pollution. Air purifiers and “closed door” policies are now in place at many hospitals, in an attempt to keep the air inside as pure as possible, and the evolving situation has caused staff shortages in some areas.

One hospital was even forced to rely on generator power after the fires caused blackouts.

“Santa Paula Hospital, which is just miles from the original start point for the Thomas fire, remained opened throughout the evolving disaster, in large part due to the courage and coordination of the hospital staff and efforts of fire rescuers from state, county and local battalions,” said spokesperson Sheila Murphy.

Another hospital, Vista Del Mar Psychiatric, wasn’t so lucky. While the patients and employees were unharmed, the wildfire completely destroyed the building.

It’s a frightening situation for all involved, but as in all difficult times, local doctors and nurses have proven again that they don’t give up without a fight. And if you’d like to help in that fight (and in the recovery), there are many ways to do so. One way is by donating to the local Red Cross (you can find more information here) or by volunteering to help the Red Cross with relief efforts (by clicking here). But be careful… multiple scams have already surfaced seeking to intercept donations before they reach victims. The Ventura sheriff recently addressed the issue, and has a very helpful list of tips for avoiding criminals here.

“Makes me want to be able to go out there and help people,” explains nurse Jody Pinion, a nurse from Charlotte, NC who flew to California with the Red Cross to help at area shelters. “It’s why I do what I do.”

If you’d like more information on beginning your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

Atlanta Nurse Delivers Baby In Target Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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