Doctor and surgeon rushing to see their patient

Surviving Your First Weeks As A Nursing Grad

Starting any new job can be stressful. Starting a new job where people’s lives depend on you can be downright terrifying. But every year, over 150,000 new nurses do just that. They pull on the scrubs, tie on the no-slip shoes, and push past those first few weeks of training and orientation to begin making their mark in one of the fastest growing career fields in the country. And if they can do it, you can do it. You just have to remember a few key pieces of advice.

  1. Get Everything You Can Out Of Orientation – You have to go through orientation one way or another, so you might as well make the most of that time and learn everything you possibly can. This should come naturally, considering the amount of information you had to memorize and understand in your nursing classes. “Take advantage of every learning opportunity,” urges Jean Mills, RN, MS, clinical instructor with the University of Illinois College of Nursing. “Even experienced nurses actively engage in new employee orientations.”
  2. Be A Team Player – There are two parts to this piece of advice. The first is to remember to invest in the people you’ll be working with, from management to fellow nurses to the building maintenance team. No nurse can do their job alone, so tap into that network of support as fast as you can. The second part is that as a member of the team, you shouldn’t be afraid to contribute, even early on in your career. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions or sharing perspectives, even if you’re new.
  3. Eat Well, Drink Lots (of water) – Nursing is a high stress occupation, and for new nurses struggling to learn the new system, the stress can be even higher. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by eating food that will nourish your body and mind (try and avoid the fast food and vending machine stops). And stay hydrated, advises “Your body and brain need water. Make sure you drink enough to at least keep your urine clear and your mucous membranes moist. Stay hydrated at all times.”
  4. Let Others Help You – No matter how well you did in nursing school, everyone needs help to a certain degree when transitioning to a nursing career. So don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t know something-no one is expecting you to know everything right out of the gate. Ask questions as many times as you need, get help when you’re struggling with a procedure or treatment, and use your mentor as much as you can. Everything will begin to click eventually, but remember-even seasoned nurses need to ask for help once in a while.
  5. Be Proactive – That “nurse call” button is a necessity, but let’s face it, it’s not always an emergency every time a patient presses it. Sometimes they just need a water refill or an extra blanket, or they’re looking for pain medication. Nurse Susan suggests in her blog that the best way to protect your workflow from constant interruption is to be proactive in meeting these needs. “When you go into a patient’s room, check if their water pitcher is filled, ask if they need to go to the bathroom, and assess their pain. Add in other environmental scans or assessments that may help the patient while you’re already in the room. Patients really, really appreciate it, and you have fewer interruptions. Win, win!”
  6. Take a Break – You might be tempted to go full throttle, day in and day out, as soon as you hit those hospital floors. And while a good drive is vital in a good nurse, you can’t maintain that kind of push indefinitely. Take some time for yourself when you can, recharge those batteries, and you’ll avoid burning out.
  7. Don’t Give Up – Ask just about any seasoned nurse and they’ll tell you that while the job isn’t easy, it is rewarding. Your first few weeks may be tough, but stick with it, because it does get better. “All change is frightening, and you need time to adapt to your new role as a professional,” says Nancy DiDona (EdD, RNC, coordinator of the traditional program in nursing at Dominican College). “It takes a good six months to a year to feel part of a work situation.”

“You’re going to be there when a lot of people are born, and when a lot of people die,” ” writes 44-year EMT veteran and author Thom Dick. “In most every culture, such moments are regarded as sacred and private, made special by a divine presence. No one on Earth would be welcomed, but you’re personally invited. What an honor that is.”

For more information on starting your own career in nursing, contact Unitek College for more information on available programs, tuition, online class options, or to find a campus near you.

Your Best Foot Forward: Choosing The Right Nursing Shoes

Nurses are no strangers to the pains of aching feet and empty stomachs, and this week’s blog post aims to help you out with both, starting with the rumbling of a missed meal. This Wednesday, June 14, Chipotle restaurants nationwide are offering nurses a “Code Burrito”-bring in your nurse’s ID to for a “buy one, get one free” on all burritos, tacos, bowls, or salads.

As for the aching feet (and by association, legs and back), that’s an issue that can be a little more complicated. The answer, of course, is to choose the right pair of nursing shoes, but with so many options and varieties available, this can be a daunting task. The shoes that work for your co-worker may not work for you, and choosing the wrong pair can make those 12-hour shifts feel like an eternity. It can also result in “heel pain, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain, or low back pain”, so as you can see, a lot rests on your decision (no pun intended).

Here are a few things to consider when buying your next pair:

Biomechanics – According to, feet are designed to do two things with every step-absorb the shock of the first step, and provide you with a push for your second. This is accomplished through specific biomechanical motions, such as pronation (rolling in) and supination (rolling out). But no two steps are the same, and some people’s gaits will over-pronate while others can under-pronate, causing fatigue and pain either way. In the end, it all comes down to your foot’s arch (look at the wet outline of your footprint after a shower for a good indication of how high or low your arch is). suggests that “If you have a low arch (flat feet/over-pronator), you should choose Motion Control Shoes. If you have a normal arch (neutral pronation), you should choose Stability Shoes. If you have a high arch (under-pronator), you should choose Cushioned Shoes. (Keep in mind that high arch and under-pronation are extremely rare.)”

Age of Current Shoes – Experts suggest that you switch out your shoes every 500 miles-and those miles add up quickly in a hospital hallway. Your shoes’ support can wear down over time, so even if you choose the perfect pair to start, they can wind up hurting you in the end if you hold on to them too long.

Style – Sneakers, clogs, and slip-ons are the most popular choices for nursing shoes, and each is built for different scenarios. If you’re in a fast-paced department (such as the emergency room) where speed and mobility are factors, sneakers are the best choice. Slower paced shift? Slip-ons can provide support and comfort, while clogs can offer a little extra wiggle room for aching feet and can relieve pressure points. (Though always check your hospital or clinic’s footwear requirements first).

Account For Swelling – A good shoe doesn’t need to be broken in-it should feel comfortable from the start. And keep in mind that after a long day on your feet, you may experience some swelling, so size your shoes so you’ll be just as comfortable at the end of the day as you are at the beginning.

Slip-Prevention – Lots of things wind up on the floors of hospitals. Lots of things. And spills plus linoleum can add up to a painful fall. Be sure and choose a shoe with slip-prevention attributes.
And as a bonus suggestion, in addition to the right shoes, wearing compression socks can also go a long way to both easing foot pain and preventing spider and varicose veins.

Of course, if you continue to struggle with foot, leg, or back pain, consult a specialist to find a solution that works best. The less you have to think about your aches, the more you’ll be able to think about your patients, and that’s a win/win for all of us.

For more information on starting a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for information on our fast track nursing and medical assistant programs.

Medical person typing on their laptop

Five More Websites That Help Nurses Stay Sharp

The opportunities for nurses to make a difference come hard and fast once you begin that career path, sometimes while you’re still just studying to be a nurse. Last week, for example, a nursing student used CPR to save the life of a woman at the Indy 500. So with that in mind, you can understand how important it is to soak up as much information as you can-in class, out of class, and even after graduation. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools out there to help keep your mind sharp and ready to go, and most of them are just a few clicks away.

  1. is a website and app suite that helps nurses enhance their understanding of anatomy and physiology. Think of it like a 3D atlas of the human body, with cross-sections that allow you to look deeper and in more detail at the systems, organs, muscles, or functions you’re hoping to study. There’s even a kids’ version of the app available if you have a little one who’d like to study alongside you. You can check out here.
  2. Nursing-Informatics is a tutorial website that doesn’t just start with flash cards and mnemonics. It offers self-assessment tests to help you first identify which areas you need the most work. The site primarily focuses on the technical and utility abilities of nursing-using the computers and other technical medical equipment on a day-to-day basis. “It is important that nurses feel confident in their use of computers and software in the practice setting,” the site explains, “especially at the bedside, in order to be able to attend to the client at the same time.” You can check out the free self-assessment test here.
  3. Lippincott Nursing Center is a website created for nurses by nurses and so, unsurprisingly, it contains lots of information that most nurses will find useful. Whether you’re looking for job opportunities, articles on the latest medical breakthroughs or nursing news, or suggestions for meeting those continuing education requirements after graduation, it’s all here.
  4. Epocrates isn’t technically a website (it’s an app), but it’s one that definitely deserves a mention on any list of helpful tools. Epocrates condenses a library of drug-reference guides into one smart phone app, helping nurses do everything from checking for harmful drug interactions to referencing drug guidelines to helping identify prescription drugs visually. It’s not a free app, unfortunately, but with over a million users in the medical field, it’s hard to argue with its effectiveness.
  5. RN Central. Okay, we admit it, this one (RN Central’s list of 100 best websites for nurses) is a bit of a cop out, but this list is just too good not to mention. Whether you’re looking for tutorials, communities, blogs, or even entertainment, you should have no trouble finding it here. There are even nine sites dedicated to simply helping you find a job.

There’s a popular myth about sharks that says a shark will drown if it ever stops moving forward. While that may not actually be true about sharks, it is true about a career in medical fields. The world of medicine is constantly growing and evolving, and if you want to stay afloat, plan to keep learning long after you’ve passed those nursing school classes.

For more information on the nursing programs available at Unitek College, contact us here.

22-Year Old Nurse Saves Life On Plane

News stories that take place on airplanes have been overwhelmingly negative the past couple of months, from people being dragged off flights, to men fighting in the aisles. But this is a story that is far from negative, and one of the main reasons is because it involves a nurse.

According to a recent story in USA Today, Nurse Courtney Donlon was mid-flight from Texas to New Jersey (following a vacation in Vegas) when she woke up to the sounds of flight attendants asking for medical help. A 57-year old woman in another section of the plane had begun showing signs of medical distress, including symptoms of a heart attack.

“I stood up and went over to the flight attendant. As soon as I identified myself as a nurse, they let me start assessing the woman in distress,” Nurse Donlon recounts. “I introduced myself – told her I was Courtney and I worked at Robert Wood Johnson and what kind of floor I worked on so she would start to trust me a little bit. I told her she was in good hands. From there, I assessed her pain.”

While Courtney (22) only earned her nursing license recently, she reacted like a seasoned professional, quickly gathering information on her patient and gathering any and all medical supplies the flight attendants could find. There wasn’t much to work with… the plane’s defibrillator, a blood pressure cuff, a small tank of oxygen, and a bottle of Aspirin. But it was enough for Courtney to do what she needed to do.

“I think even with the adrenaline going through me, I have seen this and heard about this my whole life,” Donlon said. “I have seen my mom take control before and my sister take charge in the field. If you don’t step up, it’s kind of a bystander thing and in my family, they have always been the ones to step up and try to give care, so I felt it was natural for me to do so. … I can’t lie – I was nervous at first being on a plane with limited supplies, but once I realized I was the most qualified person on the plane and someone had to be the confident one, then I could take to the role pretty easily.”

After her initial treatment, Courtney went a step further, personally convincing the plane’s pilots to find the nearest place to land and get the woman to a hospital. Eventually, they were able to touch down in South Carolina, where Courtney transferred her patient (and a full medical report) to the waiting medics. The woman arrived safely at a nearby hospital, and Courtney was able to finish her journey home.

It may not have been the way Courtney expected to end her vacation, but it’s one that neither she nor her emergency patient will ever forget.

If you’re interested in beginning your own career as a nurse, Unitek College has several programs that can help get you on your way. Contact us here for more information.

An Unlikely Hero In The Fight Against Scars

“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing” – Author Linda Hogan, “Woman Who Watches Over The World“.

There are fewer and fewer problems that modern medicine can’t solve. From disease to trauma, hospitals and clinics are armed with an arsenal of technology, skills, and discoveries to face the problem head-on. However, even when a procedure or treatment is successful, scars can often remain behind-a glaring reminder of the close calls and accidents. But a new treatment is on the horizon, one that shows promise in eliminating most scars once and for all. And believe it or not, this isn’t a technology developed in a lab, but an amazing piece of nature found beneath the sea.

Scars are formed using the same protein as the rest of your skin, but when it regrows to cover a wound, it does so in a different pattern. Untouched skin is formed of collagen fibers that form a random weave pattern-like a basket. But when covering a damaged area, the collagen fibers grow in the same direction-usually without hair follicles or sweat glands and generally weaker than surrounding skin.

So how do we prevent skin from growing back with the inferior pattern? The answer may be found in goop secreted by mussels. Yes, you read that correctly. Goop secreted by mussels and mixed with a dab of a skin protein called decorin.

It’s not the first time “mussel goop” has found its way into hospitals. Since 2015, hospitals have used the secretions as a bio-glue to seal wounds-particularly due to its ability to maintain adhesion in wet conditions. Now, thanks to a team in South Korea, the mussel glue may be able to both hold wounds together and completely heal the scar, even allowing hair growth and sweat glands to form again.

So far, the combination of decorin and mussel secretion has only been tested on rats, but after positive results, researchers hope the mixture will soon be used on humans.

According to results published in New Scientist, “by day 11, 99 per cent of the wound was closed in the treated rats compared with 78 per cent in the control group. By day 28, treated rats had fully recovered and had virtually no visible scarring. In comparison, control rats had thick, purple scars.”

“If this can be replicated in humans, it might be the next big thing for scar therapy,” says Allison Cowin at the University of South Australia.

As nurses, you’ll help treat patients for any number of medical issues and traumas. You’ll have patients facing surgeries, recovering from accidents, or burns, or cesarean births, and every single one of them (whether they ask or not) will be wondering about the scar. Hopefully in the very near future, you’ll be able to smile and respond to those worries with “what scar?”

For more information on pursuing a career in the exciting field of nursing, contact Unitek College here for information on our many programs, courses, and opportunities.

Happy nurse checks Ipad

Men Who Hesitate To Become Nurses… And Why They Shouldn't

Despite a desperate need for qualified nurses nationwide, one group of eligible workers is still hesitant to put on the nursing scrubs… men. As of the beginning of this year, roughly 9 million American men are looking for work, yet less than 10% of the country’s nursing force is male. For one reason or another, there seems to be a widespread hesitation for potential male nurses… a hesitation that the country’s health care community can’t afford.

“In my mind, nursing is a great profession that needs complete inclusion and diversity because everyone that walks through the door of a hospital is different,” says RN Chris Stallard, a family nurse practitioner. “We need all kinds of diversity, experience and insight to continue to provide a high level of care for our patients.”

But Stallard also acknowledges the challenges that male nurses can face. “The term ‘male nurse’ immediately separates me from the rest of nursing,” he says. “Whether it is meant in a positive or negative way, it sets me apart from every other nurse and makes me feel not quite 100 percent nurse.”

The emotional and cultural challenges to male nurses can come from all sides. On one side is the perception of nursing as a “pink-collar job“, or a job traditionally held by women-which suggests that a male is somehow less masculine if he holds said job. On the other side is a different stereotype, one that holds that men as a whole don’t possess the compassion and nurturing characteristics required of a nurse.

One nursing student recalls his nursing school professor telling him this directly. “Initially, I was shocked,” says nurse Kurt Edwards, who left his warehouse job to pursue nursing. “I was there to learn how to become a nurse, and she was telling me I didn’t have what it takes because I lacked these attributes. So I made up my mind to develop them.”

These types of stereotypes are unfortunate-not only because they aren’t true, but because they continue to prevent potentially wonderful nurses from entering the field.

“We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market,” says Andrew Cherlin, PhD, a sociologist and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins.

A hospital or clinic needs diversity in its workforce, because the patients they treat are also diverse, with diverse needs and diverse preferences. There will be patients, for example, who will feel more comfortable being treated by a male nurse than a female nurse, and vice versa. There will be moments when physical strength may be required (moving patients or moving equipment), another moment for some male nurses to shine.

But most importantly, nursing is an incredible career opportunity, one with a rapidly expanding field of opportunities, and anyone-regardless of gender, age, creed, or race-should be encouraged to pursue it. So if you’re a male and interesting in wearing those nursing scrubs, don’t let old ways of thinking make you hesitate. Go for it, because we need all the help we can get.

For more information on pursuing a career in nursing, contact Unitek College here for program information.