The End Of Malaria May Be In Sight

Dawn Dubsky is a nurse. She’s the founder of a successful non-profit. And because of one mosquito bite, she’s also a quadruple amputee.

During a trip to Africa, Dawn contracted a rare form of malaria-one that very nearly killed her. Clotting and other complications that rose from the battle against the parasite destroyed tissue in her arms and legs, and while doctors were able to save her life, they weren’t able to save her limbs.

But as we mentioned before, Dawn is a nurse, and one thing all nurses know is that when the moment gets hard, you don’t give up-you fight harder. After learning to adjust to her new life of prosthetics and mobility limitations, Dawn became a driving force in the fight against malaria.

Her non-profit, America Against Malaria, provides education and preventative materials to counties around the world in an effort to prevent the spread of malaria. You can hear more about her work from Dawn herself in this interview.

Malaria continues to claim lives (over 429,000 in 2015 alone). But this week, scientists announced a breakthrough that should make Dawn, her co-workers, and thousands of healthcare workers across the world very happy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been given official approval to begin using the first-ever malaria vaccine (Mosquirix) in the field. They plan to begin usage in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi in 2018.

“This is great news, actually,” said Dr. Photini Sinnis, a deputy director at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is a vaccine that has the capability to make a real difference.”

And so far, the results have been impressive. Recently, the vaccine was tested on 11,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa, and “it decreased mortality by almost 50%”

The vaccine requires four shots delivered through intramuscular injection, and the hope is that it will protect children from Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the malaria parasites.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot program will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.”

Thanks to Dawn and all those on the frontlines against malaria, and here’s hoping that this week’s news means a permanent turning of the tide in that battle.

Interested in becoming a part of the rapidly changing health care field? Unitek College can help. Contact us here for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.

The White House with an American Flag

America's Next Surgeon General Is A Nurse

The Surgeon General of the United States helps oversee and protect the nation’s health and wellness, and as of last week, that position is now held by a nurse. Traditionally, the position of Surgeon General is given to a medical doctor, but in rare instances (and for just the right person), tradition can be changed.

That’s where Sylvia Trent-Adams comes in. Inspired by her great aunt (also a nurse), and now a nurse herself with nearly 25 years of experience, Sylvia has worked closely with public health for the majority of her career.After graduation, she served as a medical nurse in the U.S. Army and as a research nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center. From there, she went on to become a member of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, where she rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Now, that impressive career resume includes the title “Surgeon General.”

And Sylvia can’t say enough about the role of nurses in today’s rapidly changing medical field. She believes that it’s an exciting time for nursing, and that “we can be involved in many ways: clinically, with creating policy, at the bedside, and creating innovative strategies…Nurses bring common sense to solving problems, which has not been recognized enough. Nurses spend more time with the patient than any other health care provider.”

A 48-year old mother of two, Trent-Adams is no stranger to the amount of hard work and dedication is needed to both complete a nursing degree and succeed in the field. She grew up on a farm in Virginia, where she was often the one who tended to sick family members-a job that helped spark her interest in nursing full-time. At twelve years old, she also volunteered as a candy striper at her local hospital, delivering magazines and mail to patients on Saturday mornings.

She credits her mother for giving her the drive to succeed as a nurse.

There is no way you are going to be an underachiever,” Trent-Adams recalled her mother stating. “While I was in middle school, she told me you are going to college.”

She’s also highly involved in the national fight against HIV / AIDS, a cause particularly close to her heart after witnessing the mistreatment and medical discrimination many AIDS patients faced during the early years of the disease’s emergence. Asserting that no human being deserves to be treated in that way, Sylvia has long been an advocate for better health access for AIDS / HIV patients in poorer communities, and even managed the $2.3 billion dollar Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009.

In short, the new Surgeon General is a woman who wears many hats, who has successfully juggled many heavy responsibilities, and who has brought care and compassion with her wherever she goes.

In other words… she’s a nurse.

For more information on beginning your own career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for personalized help on choosing a program that’s right for you.

Get checked for diabetes

Diabetics In Scrubs: Don't Let The Disease Slow You Down

Diabetes is a disease that affects one in every three people, which means it’s a given that some of the people who live with diabetes are also nurses. As any diabetic can tell you, managing the disease is a full time job-there are lots of variables to keep track of at all hours of the day-and for nurses, who spend their days tracking other people’s health, the added stress can be overwhelming at times. Imagine trying to keep track of your own blood sugar levels and remember how many carbs you ate in the last hour all while hurrying from patient to patient checking their vital signs, administering medicine, and updating charts. At times, it might feel like trying to do complex math while someone shouts random numbers behind you. But if you’re a nurse with diabetes, or you’re interested in beginning a nursing career but are worried about how your diabetes might get in the way, take heart. You aren’t alone, and many nurses have already blazed the trail.

Nurse Berit Bagely, for example, recounts her struggles after learning she was a diabetic. An emergency room nurse, Bagely was floored when she received her diagnosis, and described herself as “overwhelmed, sad, angry, scared, lost.” But while she struggled at first-keeping her insulin shots regular during unpredictable night shifts, avoiding the urge to over-test, etc-she not only mastered her condition, she let it motivate her into creating new career goals. She embraced her struggles, and eventually took a job in diabetes education-helping others like her cope with the diagnosis and life changes that follow.

Nurse Debra Johnson also struggled when she was first diagnosed at age 54 with adult-onset diabetes. A 34-year health care veteran, Nurse Johnson knew all too well the potential future ahead of her, and vowed to make a change. Dropping the fast-food and snack-heavy diet that she (like many nurses) relied on between shifts, Johnson was not only able to reverse her adult onset diabetes to a less threatening pre-diabetes, but she dropped 22 pounds in the process.

“It was a wake-up call,” she remembers. “I was scared to death. I knew I had to do something immediately to take control of my life or the diabetes was going to take control of me.”

Through education, organization, and lifestyle changes, both Johnson and Bagely were able to not only cope with diabetes, they came out stronger in the end. And while life as a nurse can be unpredictable, and there are plenty of distractions on every shift, planning ahead as much as possible can be key for keeping the disease from getting the better of you.

There’s also some positive progress being made in the fight against diabetes. A new medication is being tested as we speak, one that may be able to completely reverse type-II diabetes. By inhibiting a single enzyme, the medication restores the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Human trials are still a ways away, but the results so far are promising.

Diabetes is an obstacle, but it’s far from insurmountable… even for those of us in scrubs. But for those dealing with diabetes already in their personal lives, and who may be having a tough day of it, here are ten of Nurse Bagely’s notes to herself during her journey. You may just find one that speaks to you.

  1. Even the best nurses can’t carb count.
  2. Getting tubing caught on a door handle hurts.
  3. Don’t be defined by your A1C! (your long term blood sugar test results)
  4. Not feeling sorry for myself and continuing to learn how to take care of myself is a MUST.
  5. Occasionally my blood sugar will be higher than the ER patient I’m treating for hyperglycemia.
  6. Sensors still drive me insane.
  7. Occasional “deleting” of my OWN basal rates will and can happen while helping patients over the phone.
  8. When training on a Medtronic Minimed pump, NEVER adjust a temp basal pattern without a double-check.
  9. There are people who check blood sugar more often than me.
  10. Not all dieticians, nurse educators or providers work or think the same.

If you’d like more information on beginning a healthcare career, Unitek College wants to help! Contact us here for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.

View through a microscope of replicating cells

Humans Can Now Be Hacked… And That's A Good Thing

2016 was the year of the hacker, and it seemed no one was immune. We saw tech giants like Yahoo, Dropbox, and LinkedIn take hits, and even government and political groups such as the Democratic National Committee suffered losses. For many of those going into information technology (including those in our Unitek College IT programs), preventing a hack is a major part of their future careers. But on the medical side of things, the opposite is true. Instead of trying to prevent hacks, one group of scientists is trying to make hacking a standard practice when treating disease. Only instead of hacking computers, this team wants to hack human bodies… and they’re succeeding.

A team of scientists at Boston University have found a way to turn human kidney cells into tiny biocomputers. Literally. While programming cells isn’t necessarily a new idea, the field has mostly been restricted to doing so in bacteria as their DNA is simpler to manipulate. But now, thanks to Dr. Wilson Wong, human cells are on the playing field.

The way the process works is fascinating. It’s also very complicated, so the easiest way to explain how the system works is to give the example of a Rube Goldberg machine. (If you’re unfamiliar with Rube Goldberg machines, here’s a great example). Essentially, scientists insert new strands of DNA and proteins into cells that do very specific actions when activated, creating a chain reaction that either cuts or activates a gene.

For example, the researchers inserted “code” that produces a fluorescent green protein in a cell (a signal easily spotted) but ONLY if the cell detects a specific drug nearby. Basically, they turned a human cell into a complex drug detection computer, one that lights up when it gets a positive.

The full process is obviously much, much more complicated than the explanation above, so be sure and check out the full breakdown at to get the full picture.

“With these circuits,” says Wong, “we took a completely different design approach and have created a framework for researchers to target specific cell types and make them perform different types of computations, which will be useful for developing new methods for tissue engineering, stem cell research and diagnostic applications, just to name a few.”

So far, Wong and his team have completed 113 different types of circuits, all operating with a 96.5 percent success rate. And while the team’s work is simply “proof of concept” at the moment, the possibilities are endless. Not only could this technology help in finding and diagnosing disease, but cells could potentially be programmed to hunt down and destroy tumors-a huge step in the fight against cancer.

“I have been doing synthetic biology research for 15 years and I’ve never seen such a complex circuits work on the first try like with this platform,” says Wong. “We’re excited to get it out there so people can start using it, and we’re excited to see what they come up with.”

For more information on beginning your own career in the rapidly growing health care field, Unitek College can help! Contact us here for more information about our many nursing programs and opportunities.

Eat your greens! A bowl of fresh spinach

Science Turns Spinach Into Heart Tissue

We all know that one of the secrets to a longer life is vegetables, but normally, that just means eating them. But as of this week, the medical community has a whole new use for leafy greens-human heart tissue replacement.

You read that correctly. Scientists have found a way to turn spinach leaves into replacements for human heart tissue, and the leaves are performing remarkably well in tests. For a while now, labs have been able to use technology such as 3D printing to create larger sections of blood tissue, but they’ve struggled when it comes to the smaller, more intricate tissue and blood vessels that surround organs such as the heart.

The reason the spinach leaves work is due to the tiny, branching network of veins that deliver water to all sections of the leaf. But once you remove the water and cellular matter from those veins, they become an excellent distribution system for blood.

“We weren’t sure it would work, but it turned out to be pretty easy and replicable,” says Joshua Gershlak, a Worchester Polytechnic Institute graduate student who helped initiate the study. “It’s working in many other plants,” including parsley, Artemesia annua (sweet wormwood), and peanut hairy roots.

Plants such as jewelweed have also shown promise in replacing arterial tissue, according to the study. And even denser plant material such as wood could find a use as a bone replacement.

“We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” says Glenn Gaudette, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field.”

The eventual goal of the spinach tests, according to National Geographic, is to eventually replace heart tissue damaged by trauma such as heart attacks. The veins of leaves can potentially help carry oxygen to the damaged parts of the heart, which plays a big part in generating new heart matter.

And the tests aren’t just theoretical. The lab successfully grew beating heart tissue from these spinach leaves. If you’d like a closer look at those results, you can check out WPI’s video here.

So who knows? Maybe this is something you’ll see in practice at some point in your own medical career. And maybe that surgeon rushing through the halls with a spinach leaf salad isn’t on his way to a lunch break. One thing is for sure-there’s no just predicting what medical science will think of next.

Enroll in Unitek College to start your new career

Make Your Nursing Resume Unforgettable

Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, but just because more career opportunities exist for nurses doesn’t mean that you get to skip all the fun of job hunting. You still need to locate the perfect position, fill out the application, and of course have a sparkling resume. There’s nothing sadder than a stellar employee being passed over for a job because of a sub-par resume, so here’s a few things to keep in mind when making that initial introduction.

Put The Important Info At The Top – If there’s a vital piece of information you need a recruiter to see, put it at the top of your resume. If it’s buried at the bottom, there’s a chance the reader may not make it that far. So any certifications, credentials, or other job-specific qualifications should be given the choice resume real estate at the top of the page.

If You Choose To Include An Objective Statement, Make It Count – Self-proclaimed resume experts go back and forth on the “objective statement” portion of the resume. Some say it’s out of fashion, others say it can still serve a purpose in certain situations. But what they can agree on is that if you choose to include an objective statement, use it to put your best foot forward. Include specific information that sets you apart as a candidate-don’t just drop in a paragraph of vague buzzwords.

Get Specific With Professional Experience – If you have any professional experience in the nursing field, make sure to include it… and the specifics. Get into exact numbers, such as how many patients you covered per shift, the exact responsibilities you carried, and any improvements you left behind. And if you’re a newer nurse, share related experience such as volunteer work or clinical rotations to give the recruiter an idea of what you’re capable of.

“I am attracted to new nurse resumes that have service industry experience,” says Keith Kaiser, nurse manager at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who frequently hires new nurses. “This means the applicant has patience, can deal with people and is used to shift work.”

Affiliations, Qualifications, and Education – You’ve shared who you are, now let them know exactly what you can (legally) do. Share all the details of any nursing licenses-including type, licensing state, expiration, and license number. And if you’re bilingual, be sure and mention that as well.

Proofread – This seems like a common sense point to include, but you would be surprised how many resumes and cover letters arrive on recruiters’ desks with glaring errors in spelling and grammar. Think about if from their perspective-if you aren’t detail-oriented enough to spell check your resume, are you detail-oriented enough to keep a patient alive? Give your resume and cover letter a second (or a third) look, then ask a friend or family member to take a look as well. This may seem like a lot of redundant work, but if it ends with you landing that new job, it will have been well worth it.

And of course, as a Unitek College student, you have access to our Career Development Coordinators, a group of people trained to help you find and apply for that next big step in your nursing career. Be sure and take full advantage of them-they’re here to help!

If you’d like more information on beginning a career in nursing, Unitek College can help! Contact us here for more information on our nursing and medical assistant programs.