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Unitek College Welcomes Veterans Back to School

There were many reasons why Lannel De Los Reyes chose to pursue a nursing career. The most compelling reason was watching her dad suffer through rheumatoid arthritis and gout. She decided to dedicate her life to helping others.

“It just motivated me to become a nurse and take care of people, especially my loved ones,” Reyes said.

Reyes served six years active duty with the Air Force and decided to use her GI Bill to attend Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program in Fremont, CA. Her ultimate goal is to graduate with a Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) and return to the military.

In the same nursing classroom sits another fellow Air Force veteran, Grecia Benitez. One of Benitez’s motivations to enlist into the Air Force directly out of high school was the educational benefits. After completing 5 years of service, Benitez was ready to start on her career path. During an open house tour at Unitek College, she found the start of her nursing career with the Vocational Nursing program.

Benitez’s plan after college is slightly different from Reyes’s.  While Benitez does not shy away from the idea of returning to the military, she is currently focused on completing the Vocational Nursing program and continuing on to become a Registered Nurse through Unitek College’s LVN to RN bridge program. After finishing school, Benitez plans to either pursue a nursing career in a hospital or rejoin the Air Force.

Benitez and Reyes share both a dedication to their country and a desire to achieve higher learning. The Post 9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI bill, amongst other Veterans Assistance (VA) benefits, reward veterans for their service and allow them to pursue higher education.  Although many institutions have yet to accept VA benefits, Unitek College made accepting VA benefits a top priority to make quality education available to America’s returning vets.

The majority of healthcare training programs offered by Unitek College are VA approved. “Unitek College is 100% committed to assisting our dedicated service men and women in making a successful transition into civilian life. Our main priority is to help them obtain the necessary education and training that can be parlayed into a lasting and rewarding career. Serving our veterans is a privilege we don’t take lightly.” Navraj Bawa, COO and Executive Vice President, Unitek College stated in a press release.

“If nursing is what you want to do…I would definitely recommend this school”, Benitez said.

Unitek College anticipates growth in enrollments from veterans who are looking to achieve their goals of higher education. This is particularly true with the recent deep budgetary cuts at public schools. Reyes, in advising other veterans said, “Definitely take advantage of your GI bill. That is part of why I joined the military.”

Are you a VA looking to get into the field of nursing?  Unitek College offers Training in Vocational NursingRegistered Nursing (LVN to RN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelors of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN).  Contact us today at 888-735-4355 to see how you can get started on a very rewarding career as a nurse.

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One Step Closer to Helping Pharmacy Technicians Help Patients

As a patient, I get so frustrated when I go to pick up a prescription on auto-refill only to be called the next day to pick up another medication. Many of these customers are the elderly or infirmed and I can’t imagine how they feel about making the extra trip to the pharmacy. Now pharmacy technician school students and patients alike can rejoice at the strides pharmacies are taking to improve their customer service.

On ModernMedicine.com, Valerie DeBenedette writes that there is a new program created by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) that helps with patient compliance and also can increase pharmacy revenue. This exciting new program helps pharmacists coordinate and synchronize their medications that their patients take on an ongoing basis.

DeBenedette explains that “A pharmacy technician calls the patient once a month to discuss his or her prescriptions, said Janet Kusler, RPh, who owns Kusler’s Pharmacy in Snohomish, Wash. If any refill prescriptions are needed, the pharmacy calls the physician to arrange them… When the patient comes in a few days later, the prescriptions are ready and waiting, and the pharmacist can consult with the patient about them.”

In this voluntary program in which patients can request to be a part of, their current medications may be partially refilled to coordinate with new medications until all are on the same cycle. DeBenedette said that “Having a pharmacy technician make the calls, synchronize the medication refills, and get the prescriptions ready ahead of time produced significant financial benefits and time savings in her pharmacy, said Kusler.”

There is also a benefit to pharmacies as patients are more likely to buy from a store that is implementing this program and are less likely to skip getting a prescription if everything is ready with one pick-up. This also saves a great deal of time for pharmacy technicians as they can process several medications for one patient in one sitting. The PT “manages the process. He will take orders and run labels and get them filled 2 to 3 days ahead of when the patient comes in,’ Kusler said.’ All I do is check the order.’”

There are always new and exciting advancements in the medical profession for both workers and patients alike. This is just another way to ensure patient health and to save precious dollars.

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Drug Shortages Continue to Rise

Every month I seem to hit on an article that deals with difficult drug shortages and a new group of people who are being negatively affected by it. Those in a pharmacy technician school will have interesting challenges ahead as they try to compensate for and aid those patients who need to find alternative medications.

On MLive.com Shandra Martinez writes that Adderal, a popular medication that helps children and adults who battle with attention deficit disorder, is no longer available. “Adderall is one of more than 200 prescription drug shortages this year, according to Food and Drug Association.That already surpasses 2010, when the drug shortage list peaked at 178,” explains Martinez. “In 2005, there were only 61 drugs in short supply.”

74% of the drugs that are in limited supply are for cancer treatment. “Pharmacists, physicians and staffers now sometimes have to meet several times a day to discuss alternative medication plans for patients. Switching medications used for treatments requires changing everything from staff protocols to ordering procedures,” states Martinez.

What scares me is that the medications that are in short supply are not for rare conditions but for common disorders and sicknesses. Additude.mag reports that “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, shows that AD/HD affects up to 7.5 percent of school-aged children. The National Institute of Health, using information from previous studies, had estimated the number of children with AD/HD to be between 3% – 5% of the population.” According to Cancer.org, in January 2008 approximately 11,958,000 people had cancer.

Martinez says that “The drug shortage is an example of what happens when the law of supply-and-demand collides with the urgent needs of health care… Last month, President Barack Obama ordered the FDA to take some steps to reduce drug shortages. Those include pushing drug companies to quickly report shortages so they can be addressed, speeding up reviews of new manufacturing facilities and working with the Justice Department to step up investigation of price gouging in the pharmaceuticals market… While the industry supports the increased federal oversight, some blame the problem on a federal law that gives the FDA and Drug Enforcement Agency the power to limit the amount of ‘controlled substance’ ingredients available for manufacturing.”

Hopefully there will be a viable solution to end this drug shortage problem. Until then, students in a pharmacy technician program will have to help pharmacists and doctors with their creative treatments.

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Should Pharmacy Medications Be More Closely Monitored?

As the number of chronic pain patients increases, it is obvious that the use of pharmacy medications is also on the rise. What worries me is the addictive nature of many of these pharmacy medications, the ease of availability of them and the risk that is greatly downplayed with taking these pills. This is a serious issue that pharmacy technicians may have to face at the pharmacy counter.

According to a report published in USA Today, “The number of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers more than tripled over a decade, the government reported Tuesday — a trend the nation’s top health official called an epidemic, but one that can be stopped… Prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and methadone led to the deaths of almost 15,000 people in 2008, including actor Heath Ledger. That’s more than three times the 4,000 deaths in 1999.

“The report shows nearly 5 percent of Americans ages 12 and older said they’ve abused painkillers in the past year — using them without a prescription or just for the high. In 2008-09 surveys, Oklahomans reported the highest rate of abuse; the lowest was in Nebraska and Iowa… The overdose deaths reflect the spike in the number of narcotic painkillers prescribed every year — enough to give every American a one-month supply, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which issued the report… Prescriptions rose as doctors aimed to better treat pain and as new painkillers hit the market.”

I admit that for a couple of years I was one of the daily Vicodin patients. Fibromyalgia and chronic pain plague my body and although pharmacy medications don’t fully take the pain away, it does take the edge off and make it manageable. I will also admit that my exercise regimen is non-existent and my diet isn’t the healthiest. I think that I, like most people, would rather take relief in a pill than actually do the hard work to improve my condition. Am I proud? No. But truth is truth. (Anyway, I quit taking Vicodin three years ago when I got pregnant with my daughter. If that isn’t a great incentive, I don’t know what is!)

So how can pharmacy technician schools help to alleviate this problem? Quite frankly, it’s up to the doctors who prescribe the pharmacy medications and the patients who need to take responsibility for their own well-being. However, if you see a problem arising or a dangerous drug interaction prescribed, it is your duty to report it. Read more about starting a career as a Pharmacy Technician.

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New Medicinal Gel May Prevent HIV and STDs

Part of the exciting world of going to a pharmacy assistant college is learning about all of the available medications and prescriptions that are being manufactured. Pharmaceuticals are part of an ever changing health industry and new findings are published on a consistent basis.

One of these new advancements was published on Kansan.com in which reporter Claire Mcinerny writes about a new gel that is being formulated to help protect a woman’s vagina against STDs and HIV. “Sarah Kieweg, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Health to continue developing a preventative gel for the virus,” explains Mcinerny.

“’This microbicidal gel needs to protect all the vaginal surfaces. It needs to be spreading where it needs to go and keeping the drug where it needs to be, so the basics of the research involve examining the fluid mechanics of how that gel will spread around’ Kieweg said in an Oct. 7 news release.”

Mcinerny further comments that, “The team of researchers, which also includes Carl Weiner, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at KU Medical Center and Kyle Camarda, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, are developing an instrument that predicts how the gel moves, to make sure the gel is as effective as possible against HIV and other STDs… The goal for the team’s instrument is to perfect the gel’s physical and chemical barrier for women against HIV and other STDs. If completed, the instrument will help create other drugs for women’s sexual health.”

I can’t help but think of the impact that this could have on the many nations who struggle with the immense fatalities of the HIV and AIDS virus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “At the end of 2008, an estimated 1,178,350 persons aged 13 and older were living with HIV infection in the United States. Of those, 20% had undiagnosed HIV infections… CDC estimates that approximately 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV each year in the United States. In 2009 (the most recent year that data are available), there were an estimated 48,100 new HIV infections. Most (61%) of these new infections occurred in gay and bisexual men. Black/African American men and women were also strongly affected and were estimated to have an HIV incidence rate than was 7 times as high as the incidence rate among whites.”

Getting pharmacy technician training is an amazing way to impact the lives of many people. Once drugs and medications are available to those who greatly need them, countless lives can be changed.

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Cancer Patients Affected by Drug Shortages

As someone who is relatively healthy, I don’t really think about certain medications not being available to me if there is a need. I walk down the aisles of Target and see thousands of little boxes holding multi-colored pills ready to cure my every illness. I also just assume that if I get admitted into a hospital, a nurse will deliver via a little white paper cup a pill to ease my pain or to deliver antibiotics. However, I read an article that certain cancer patients are being affected by the lack of availability of specific medications. For pharmacy technician students, these issues are important to consider.

Jeremy Goldmeier writes on reporternews.com that there is a shortage of medications for ovarian cancer patients. “Ovarian cancer, in particular, is one of the five most deadly cancers in women. And more troubling than anything else, Dr. Mark Reedy [gynecological oncologist] says he and his fellow practitioners don’t have the drugs they need to treat patients.

“The drugs Doxil and Taxol are two of the go-to treatments in Reedy’s arsenal. They’re among about 20 drugs used in cancer and chemotherapy treatment that are now in perilously short supply in the United States… The shortage is forcing oncologists like Reedy to make decisions they should never have to make with regards to patient care,” explains Goldmeier.

“‘When patients recur, and they often do, Doxil’s one of the first drugs we go to,’ said Reedy, who has practiced in Abilene for 12 years. ‘We can no longer give patients the same standard of care. … So we have to get creative. The drugs we’re using aren’t the ones we’re supposed to be using.'”

What frightens in me is that drug shortages are becoming more prevalent. In June, the FDA listed 246 medications that were in short supply. Another issue is that there are not generic back-ups or alternative medications available for these conditions. One good thing Goldmeier explains is that “There are currently two bills — one in the U.S. Senate, one in the House of Representatives — that would mandate pharmaceutical companies alerting the FDA ahead of time when drugs run short.”

There are several reasons for these drug shortages such as lack of profitability, consolidation of the drug industry, limited raw materials and manufacturing issues. The government also does not regulate how much or what kinds of medications should be or need to be produced.

As a student getting pharmaceutical technician training, these are some tough issues to face. I think it’s important to help the people you can and do your best to advocate for those in need.

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