Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Changes Ahead for Dialysis and Dialysis Nurses

Big changes could be headed to dialysis treatment centers near you, and that means big changes for the nurses who work there.

The field of nephrology tends to be a bright one for many nurses. For starters, the demand for nurses nationwide is high, but in this field, it’s especially high—with a 19% job growth expected through the year 2020. And while the job requires some additional certification and training, the payoff is high.

Many dialysis nurses enjoy “normal” work hours (since patients schedule dialysis during business hours and not overnight), and the nature of the job allows nurses to develop real relationships with their repeat patients—allowing that natural compassion and kindness to really shine.

“I highly encourage nurses who are looking for a job shift to consider dialysis because of the relationship factor,” says Elaine DeVoe, RN . “Patients bring a lot of issues with them, and you deal with the patient on a personal level. You treat the patient physically, mentally and sometimes spiritually.”

Location is also flexible for dialysis nurses. Some may work from hospitals, others from privately owned dialysis centers, while others may provide dialysis services to patients in the patient’s own homes.

But big changes could be ahead for the world of dialysis, and the catalyst is an electronic device about the size of a coffee cup.

This year (2018), an organization called The Kidney Project plans to begin human trials with the first artificial kidney, the Hemofilter, a surgically implanted device that would eliminate the need for a patient to undergo dialysis. This testing stage is a long time coming, as the Kidney Project hoped trials would begin early last year but funding and approval delays held them back.

“When we said clinical trials would begin in 2017, that was our most favorable scenario at the time,” according to the Kidney Project website. “Our projected timeline has always been dependent on obtaining the required funding, and not encountering unanticipated scientific hurdles. We finally raised sufficient money to complete preclinical trials for the Hemofilter just earlier this year. We are now working as fast as we can to complete the preclinical work and have started fundraising specifically for the clinical trials. As such, we have had to adjust our clinical trial timeline accordingly.”

Once approved and successfully tested, however, the Hemofilter could mean enormous changes for patients. The intrusive need for regular dialysis would disappear, as would traditional dialysis side effects (low blood pressure, nausea, cramping, and disorientation).

Patients are understandably excited. One patient, Tamara Clark, writes on the Kidney Project Facebook page “I have been on dialysis for 8 years now. I am so excited about implantable kidneys! This is the greatest advancement ever! I would love to be a test subject. At this point of my life I just can’t wait for them to be on the market. The chance to live dialysis free is enthralling.”

But even after the Hemofilter and other similar technologies hit the market, the need for dialysis nurses will remain. Not all patients will be able to afford the device, many won’t want to risk the surgery, and others may not be healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Others may just prefer the “usual way”. Whatever the reason, the need for hard-working, compassionate dialysis nurses shows no sign of waning any time soon.

“It’s rewarding to know the care you provide is literally life-saving,” says Joanna Rengstorf, RN. “When patients share stories about milestones and celebrations they were able to participate in, it is rewarding to know they are alive for those moments because of the dedication of those in my profession.”

If you’re interested in beginning your career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for more information.

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.

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

Nurse Runs Marathon for Children’s Heart Health

There were plenty of noteworthy stories this week in the world of medicine, such as the development of a new drug that could treat peanut allergies, and a study that says red wine may protect your oral health. But one particular story stood out, highlighting the lengths to which many nurses go for the causes near and dear to them.

Nurse Colby George of Massachusetts isn’t a marathon runner. At least, not yet. This year, however, she plans to make the 26.2 mile journey at the annual Boston Marathon—not for the prestige, but for her patients.

In 2013, a six-year old boy named Joseph Middlemiss died unexpectedly from cardiomyopathy—a disease of the heart muscle. “Joey’s infectious laugh, and curly-lashed blue eyes were never happier than the day his baby brother was born. His special heart held a wisdom and empathy far beyond his 6 years”, reads the homepage of the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation Inc. The non-profit foundation was created by Joey’s parents shortly after the young boy’s death, and raises funds to help with research and awareness of childhood heart issues.

Nurse George’s husband, Justin, was a first responder when Joey died, and ran the Boston Marathon last year for the foundation. But this year, Nurse George (herself a recipient of one of the Big Heart Foundation’s “Acts of Kindness”) couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer.

“To run the marathon is just something that I’d like to accomplish because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run a marathon,” George, 39, explains. “But to do it for their foundation — to raise awareness for their foundation — is really the main reason why I want to do it.”

And this year, it turns out, the decision to run is particularly timely. Five years after the death of their oldest son Joey, the Middlemiss family spent time back in the hospital as their four-year old son Jack underwent a heart transplant. Jack, also born with cardiomyopathy, made it through the surgery successfully, but the close call makes Nurse George’s decision to run seem all the more potent.

“Out of something awful, a beautiful friendship has evolved,” Joey’s mother, Kate Middlemiss, said Friday of the family’s bond with Nurse George and her husband. “It’s a connection that we will always have with them.”

According to the Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, one in every 100,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 18 is diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The majority of diagnosed children are under 12 months followed by children 12 to 18 years old. Pediatric cardiomyopathy is considered a rare disorder, and can be present at birth or have new onset at any age—with or without symptoms.

Colby begins her 26.2 mile run on Monday, April 16th (Patriot’s Day), and she hopes to raise at least $6,000 dollars this year for the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. You can follow her fundraising efforts (or make a donation) at this link.

No one wants to wind up in a hospital bed, but even through those sometimes tragic  circumstances, bonds between nurses and patients so often transcend distance, disease, and all other obstacles. And in cases like Nurse George and the Middlemiss family, sometimes those connections can have a ripple effect that touches more lives than either thought possible.

Best of luck in the race, Colby! We’ll be cheering for you.

For more information on a nursing program in California, or starting your own career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today for class enrollment information, convenient scheduling, and to find a campus near you.

Nurse with great bedside manner talks to patient

Caring for the Mind: Life as a Psychiatric Nurse

Nurse with great bedside manner talks to patient

Not all nurses put on their scrubs and go to work to suture wounds, change IV’s, and treat physical illnesses. Nurses working in the psychiatric realm of medical care can often have very different experiences from their counterparts in the emergency room, and they are just as valuable. Right now, 1 in 5 Americans deals with a mental illness in a given year (1 in 25 deals with a serious mental illness), and suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Mental health is a nationwide problem, one that demands a skilled, caring, and dedicated medical workforce to combat… and that’s where psychiatric nurses come in.

“While RN’s can specialize in anything, I opted for psychiatric nursing because I’m a ‘people-person’,” shares RN Jess C. of Colorado Springs. “I love the fact that psychiatry is not a cut and dried field – nothing is black and white when dealing with the human mind. The best part of my job is when I get to make a positive impact on a person and help them get their life back on track.”

As someone working with mental health patients, a day for a nurse like Jess tends to focus on two things: monitoring and safety. Psychiatrists can only do so much at one time, so they rely on their nurses to be their eyes and ears-which can mean assessing mental health needs, tracking progress on mental health regimens, and even providing counseling from time to time as patients work through their self-care activities. Nurses also play a big part in managing the “therapeutic environment” and making certain that everyone-patient or medical personnel-is safe.

“While I was in nursing school I fell in love with psychiatric nursing,” writes RN Dan J. of Baltimore. “It is extremely challenging trying to meet the needs of psychiatric patients, and I like teaching the patients and their families about their illnesses and medications. They depend on me to calm their fears and I like knowing that I help put them at ease. It’s very satisfying to know that I made a real difference in a patient’s life.”

While some states only require their psychiatric nurses to be RN’s (NCLEX-RN certified), some states require some additional certifications and training, but in a field that’s expected to grow 19% by the year 2022, that extra effort can add up to a lot of job security.

(For a more detailed look into a day in the life of a nurse working in the mental health field, RN Stephanie Dauphin describes exactly that in this video.)

While the current number of mental health issues in the country can feel overwhelming, the challenge isn’t insurmountable. New technology (such as Woebot) and new treatments are entering the field almost daily, but what will really turn the tide are the people who work one-on-one with these patients every day of the week. So if psychiatric nursing sounds like a good fit for you, don’t hesitate. There’s a long line of people out there just waiting to appreciate your help.

For more information on becoming a nurse or furthering your nursing education, Unitek College can help. Contact us here for more information on our upcoming classes and programs.

Nurse Delivers Baby On Flight To Dallas

If there’s one thing that’s true across all pregnancies, it’s that when the baby decides that he or she is ready to arrive, there’s very little that can convince them to wait… even if their mother happens to be on an airplane at the time. Such was the case of a mother from Phoenix, who began labor during a flight to Dallas just a week ago.

The situation could have ended in many ways-many of them tragic-but thankfully for the mother and new baby, a nurse was on-board, and she didn’t hesitate to get involved.

Nurse Rhondula Green of Carrolton quickly answered the call for help after the mother went into labor mid-flight, and not a moment too soon.

“He just popped out – literally. So we just kind of like caught him,” described Green. “I was kind of nervous initially, but when I saw the baby come in the nerves were gone!”

The moment (witnessed by the mother’s two older children, seated beside her for the entire birth) was captured on video by another passenger, Shelley Starks, and can be seen here.

“It’s amazing they were able to accomplish that on the plane without being prepared at all,” said Starks. “She [the mother] had on a black shirt that had two baby hand prints on it with a red heart that said let me out of here.”

The flight diverted to New Orleans, where the new mother and her newborn were able to recover, and Nurse Green continued on to Dallas where she’s undoubtedly gone on to help others. But if you ever find yourself in a situation similar to Nurse Green’s, the website has a few things to remember.

  1. Call 911 – Or in a situation like the one above, see if you can establish contact with medical help on the ground. Of course, sometimes this won’t be available, which is where your medical training comes into play.
  2. Stay Calm – Both you and the soon-to-be mother need to breathe. Anxiety and panic won’t do either of you any favors.
  3. Ask for Blankets – If blankets aren’t available, get towels, sheets, clean shirts, anything you can use to wipe the blood off a new baby or wrap around both mother and child to keep them warm after the delivery.
  4. Push! – Let the mother lie down, and let her body tell you when it’s time to push. When it does, guide the head, check for the cord, and just let the baby come.
  5. Leave the Cord Alone – In the movies, they always cut the cord, but this is a bad idea after an emergency birth. Leave the cord alone until doctors can clamp and cut with sterilized equipment.
  6. Remember Your ABC’s – Dr. Marjorie Greenfield (author of The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book) stresses the importance of checking the ABC’s-airway, breathing, and circulation. Feel for breath near the baby’s nose, and check for a pulse by putting a hand on his or her chest. Not getting anything? Don’t panic. Try “rubbing the baby’s back or flicking their feet… These will often get a newborn crying,” says Dr. Greenfield.

Of course, the best thing for both mother and child is to get them to a hospital in time, but in some cases (such as Nurse Green’s infamous flight to Dallas), sometimes the baby refuses to wait. So pay close attention in your classes, future nurses, and keep your training sharp, because you never know when you might be the next person who gets tapped on the shoulder and asked “excuse me, but are you a nurse?”

If you’d like more information on beginning a career as a nurse or medical assistant, Unitek College can help you start your career on the right foot. Contact us here for more information.

The Medical Science Behind Those Magic Glasses

If you’re on any form of social media, chances are you’ve seen one of the heartwarming videos capturing the moment when a colorblind friend or family member puts on a pair of magic glasses and can suddenly see the world in color. If you haven’t seen one of these videos, grab some tissues (they’re tearjerkers) and take your pick: two colorblind brothers overwhelmed by a full color world, a colorblind grandfather given the gift of full sight, a 10-year old boy who gets the birthday gift of a lifetime, and many more like them.

The individual stories and reactions are amazing, and we could easily spend all day focusing on just those, but there’s another medical aspect to the stories that deserves some attention as well-why and how these “magic glasses” work.

The creation of the color-correcting glasses was actually a happy accident. In 2005, Don McPherson (a glassware specialist) was working on protective sunglasses for laser surgeons-glasses that would both protect the surgeon from the brilliance of the laser while still allowing them to tell the difference between blood and tissue. To accomplish this, he used a rare earth iron in the glass, an element that absorbed the light, boosted the color saturation of the wearer, and had one unintended side effect.

While playing ultimate Frisbee one afternoon, a friend (Michael Angell) asked to borrow the custom pair of sunglasses McPherson was wearing. But the moment Michael (who is colorblind) put on the glasses, he was shocked and pleasantly surprised to suddenly be seeing a world of color. It was then that McPherson realized the potential of what he’d created.

The way the glass works is fascinating. In every human eye, there are three photopigments (cones) that are each sensitive to a unique color-blue, red, or green. As photons from light hit the cones, they translate that information into color. Blue cones operate independently, but the red and green cones often overlap in their duties… for example, if an equal amount of photons hit the red and green cones simultaneously, we see yellow. If they land primarily on the green instead of the red, we see a more greenish hue. (There’s also a 4th type of non-functioning cone found in a small percentage of women that, if activated, would allow them to see 100 million colors rather than the one million most people see).

Colorblindness occurs when the red and green cones overlap too much (the cause of colorblindness in 99% of cases). It’s as if the cones can’t decide between each other what color to send to the brain, so they choose “nothing”. McPherson’s glasses add a “band of absorption”, essentially forcing the light photons to separate further, preventing overlap issues between the cones.

The glasses aren’t perfect, but they’re an amazing leap forward for those struggling with colorblindness. Some rare cases, like those where a person is completely missing a set of cones, can’t be helped. But the technology is on the move, new types are being turned out, indoor glasses in the process of being developed, and some doctors are hoping to use the glasses to prevent the progression of colorblindness in children.

The medical science is fascinating, the results are incredible, and if you need us, we’ll be watching more of those Youtube videos for the next hour. Please pass the tissues.

For more information on starting your own career in the medical field, contact Unitek College here to find out how you can begin working towards your nursing degree now!