Nursing jobs on a cruise ships

Could A Cruise Ship Be Your Next Nursing Job?

Nursing jobs on a cruise ships

Could A Cruise Ship Be Your Next Nursing Job?

Most people (with the exception of sailors and entertainers) don’t think “full-time job” when they hear the words “cruise ship”. Most of us think of a cruise as a getaway, our chance to leave work and worries behind for an all-inclusive, buffet-filled vacation at sea. But running a cruise ship takes a lot of manpower behind the scenes, especially when it comes to heath care.

More and more people are taking cruises every year, with the industry continually setting new records for numbers of passengers. In 2016, attendance jumped to a record 24.2 million people who cruised worldwide, and when the number of people grows, the potential for health issues grows as well.

Time Magazine compiled a list of some of the significant disease outbreaks aboard cruise ships in the past few years—including the norovirus outbreak on Royal Caribbean that infected over 600, and back to back outbreaks on Princess and Celebrity cruises that sickened over 1500 passengers combined. Passengers can also be injured or infected while exploring ports. And if that’s not enough, the rising and falling seas while onboard (combined with steps, wet surfaces, and alcohol) often lead to slips and falls… especially among elderly passengers.

All that to say… a cruise ship may sound like paradise, but they definitely rely heavily on their ship nurses, and if you’re looking for an opportunity to provide health care while traveling, then a cruise line may be one possible fit.

In most cases, ship nurses report directly to the ship doctor / physician, and work under the supervision of the lead nurse (also a solid career opportunity). In addition to assisting the ship doctor and lead nurse in a broad range of medical care, ship nurses are also usually the first line of defense when an injury or illness is reported—one reason why many cruise lines prefer to hire nurses with emergency room experience.

Interested? offers a few of the pros and cons of the position. In the “positive” column, the website lists the flexibility of short-term contracts, travel, chances to explore international ports, and generally more responsibility than one might find in a traditional nursing position. Under the “negatives” column,  they list the stress of multi-month deployments (especially for those with a family), a competitive job market, and a lower than average pay rate… although they also mention that due to the free room and board the job offers, the salaries tend to even out.

For many nurses, though, such as Nurse Joan Jones, the experience is one they return to again and again. “It can be like a working vacation,” she says. “It is far less stressful than a hospital environment.”

(It might be a good idea to make sure you aren’t prone to sea sickness before you apply, though, or you may spend as much time in the sick bay as the people you’re treating!)

If you’d like more information on exploring a career in nursing, contact Unitek College today for more information on our multiple nursing and medical assistant programs.

Protecting Your Patient

Protecting Your Patient: What We Learned From Nurse Alex Wubbels

Protecting Your Patient

Protecting Your Patient: What We Learned From Nurse Alex Wubbels

It’s a video that swept across the social media pages of nurses and non-nurses alike: a Utah nurse roughly put in handcuffs and arrested for refusing to follow the orders of a police officer. And not only is the story sparking outrage nationwide, it’s also highlighting just how important it is for nurses to know both the law and their hospital policies.

The issue began in July, after a driver fleeing from police crossed into oncoming traffic and caused a major collision. The driver was killed in the crash, but fortunately, the other man (a truck driver and part-time police officer) managed to survive. He was rushed to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where Nurse Alex Wubbels (a former Olympic skier) was assigned to him.

This, however, was when Alex’s situation took a turn for the frightening.  John Payne, a police detective, arrived at the hospital shortly after the injured driver, requesting a sample of the motorist’s blood to be analyzed at the crime lab. But the patient was still unconscious and couldn’t give his consent. Payne ordered that the sample be drawn regardless, and that’s where Nurse Wubbels drew the line.

“The patient can’t consent,” she says to a person on the phone in the released video of the incident. “And he’s told me repeatedly that he doesn’t have a warrant. And the patient is not under arrest. So I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do, that’s all.”

Soon after in the video, Payne goes on the offensive, accusing Wubbels of interfering with an investigation. She repeatedly attempts to explain the hospital policy to him, but his responses grow more and more agitated.

“I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow,” Payne can be heard saying.

Wubbels, crying for help, was put in handcuffs and led away—an action that Wubbels and her attorney now say amounts to assault. While she was soon released and allowed to physically recover, Wubbels doesn’t consider the matter resolved. She tells the Salt Lake City Tribune that she’s “heard anecdotally of other health care workers being bullied and harassed by police, and that these videos prove that there is a problem.”

“I can’t sit on this video and not attempt to speak out both to re-educate and inform,” she said. Police agencies “need to be having conversations about what is appropriate intervention.”

The incident is currently being investigated, though the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office has already issued an apology, but what happened to Nurse Wubbels shines a spotlight on the need for all nurses to be aware of their hospital policies.

“If you choose not to follow hospital policy — say, for instance, you drew the labs on the request of the detective, without a court order or patient consent, and on a patient that wasn’t under arrest — you open yourself up to many potential legal ramifications,” writes Dr. Jennifer Mensik for

She also points out that Alex Wubbels stood up—not just for hospital legal policy—but also for the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. Two parts of the code, she points out, were at stake. Provision 1.4, which requires all patient decisions to be voluntary , and Provision 2.1, which says that a nurse’s primary commitment is to her patient.

“The nurse stood up valiantly for her patient when the patient could not speak for himself,” concludes Mensik. 

While we always hope that issues like those Nurse Wubbels faced never happen again, it’s still always best to be prepared to face them. So familiarize yourself with the American Nurses Code of Ethics, and your hospital or clinic’s policies, and never hesitate to reach out to your superiors or your workplace’s legal department if you ever question something you’ve been asked to do.

For more information on beginning your career as a nurse or medical assistant, contact Unitek College today.

Nurses Face Off Against Hurricane Harvey

Nurses Face Off Against Hurricane Harvey

Nurses Face Off Against Hurricane HarveyIt’s been days since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, and he’s still causing trouble. The storm has claimed two lives so far and continues to dump inches of water into east Texas—sending the residents of flood-prone cities like Houston scrambling for higher ground.

But evacuation isn’t a simple task, and not everyone is able to do so without a significant amount of help… residents of this nursing home, for example, were stranded in waist deep water until help could arrive. As Harvey approached, many hospitals began closing their doors—sending their patients north to Dallas.

“We want to make sure that people are located in a facility where they can receive care without the impact of a hurricane,” explained Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha.

The federal government made emergency health care a top priority as well, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price declaring a public health emergency—a decision that relaxes many Medicare and Medicaid requirements to make it easier for health centers to treat the wave of new patients.

But even with the federal help, treating the sudden influx of patients requires more than just paperwork assistance. It requires boots on the grounds and scrubs in the halls. In other words, fighting Hurricane Harvey requires an army of nurses, and nurses from all over are answering the cry for help.

A team of thirteen from the Texarkana region boarded a plane and headed for the coast, landing ahead of Harvey and immediately going to work easing the burden on Texas hospitals.

“We’ll help take care of those patients and provide the care. We’ll provide the hospital a little relief as they’re taking in these added patients,” explained Micah Johnson, CHRISTUS St. Michael-Atlanta Director of Nursing.

Other nurses, like NICU nurse Michelle Smith, helped fly critically ill and premature babies to Dallas, as doctors felt the risk was too great for the young patients should their hospitals lose power. Smith, who did similar work following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, took the role very seriously.

“I saw one young mom saying goodbye to a baby she loves very much,” Smith said. “We don’t take lightly the responsibility of caring for their children.”

Other nurses stayed behind to assist patients who couldn’t be moved, including four mothers who gave birth in Corpus Christi during the storm… one of the babies was even named “Harvey”.

And as the storm fades, more nurses continue to volunteer to help, using services such as the RN Response Network to find a need. (If you’re interested in helping out, you can fill out their volunteer form here.)

Thanks to all of the brave men and women in scrubs who stepped up to the challenge, proving once again that when the skies get darkest, that’s their opportunity to shine the brightest.

If you’d like to explore your potential future as a nurse or medical assistant, Unitek College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us here for more information.

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Alabama Nurse Changes Woman’s Life… Twice

It was a moment that could have ended in tragedy but instead ended with a woman’s life changed for the better, all thanks to one Alabama nurse.

Twenty years ago, Erika Samuels (then an associate at her local Best Buy) was in a serious crash after a drunk driver slammed into her car. The night could have very easily been her last were it not for the help and determination of a young nurse, Philip Streit.

“I almost lost my life that night,” recalls Samuels. “And to have someone who cared about me when my parents weren’t there, he gave me more than nursing care. He actually gave me life…. I just remember all this glass, in my face, in my eyes, in my hair, and I was in so much pain. And Philip was there for me the whole time and never left my side. Even when my parents came, he was holding my hand.”

Saving her wasn’t the only way Streit changes Samuels’ life. After the accident and initial hospital stay, it took Samuels three years of physical therapy to get completely back on her feet. But despite the pain and hard recovery, that potentially tragic night had given Samuels a new purpose in life. So grateful was she for the actions of her nurse after her accident, she decided to become a nurse herself and continue the cycle of caring.

“What he did for me actually changed my life,” Erika says. “That’s why I have a passion for nursing, because of people like him.”

Their story could have ended here, with Streit unaware of just how much his help had impacted Samuels, were it not for a chance encounter just a few weeks ago. Twenty years after her accident, Samuels (now a nursing student, graduating this May) was featured in a video presentation during a hospital ribbon cutting in Mobile, Alabama. And it just so happened that Philip Streit (now a nurse administrator) was in the crowd that day.

The moment he saw her name on screen, Philip knew that he was seeing “his Erika” from two decades past. After the ribbon cutting, he quickly tracked her down and asked whether she had ever been in a car accident. The result was a tear-filled, joyful reunion between the two nurses, one that was captured on camera and shared online more than 33,000 times. The story was even noticed by NBC News and covered by Lester Holt himself.

You can see the full NBC story here.

So here’s to Philip and Erika, two people who turned tragedy into something amazing, and whose lives have been dedicated to good ever since.

If you’d like more information on become a nurse or medical assistant, Unitek College can help! Contact us here to take your first step towards your medical career.

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Taking Care of Nurses Means Better Care for Patients

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing showed that patients who are treated in hospitals with good working conditions for nurses had up to a ten percent lower chance of readmission when compared to patients treated in hospitals with poor working conditions for nurses.

Researchers examined data from more than 200,000 nurses and 412 hospitals, looking at readmission rates for medicare patients over 65 who have suffered from a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. For hospitals with superior work environments, roughly six percent of patients returned within 30 days, while patients treated in hospitals with inferior working environments returned at rates as high as 16 percent.

The study examined Medicare patients specifically, because hospitals can be penalized for excessive rates of readmission. According to Penn Nursing, preventable readmissions cost Medicare more than $15 billion dollars each year.

“To work effectively, nurses must practice in an environment that reinforces their professional role and autonomy, provides adequate resources, demonstrates consistent and high-quality managerial support and leadership, and includes nursing in institutional decision making,” said Dr. Matthew McHugh, a health policy expert at Penn Nursing.

While improving nursing environments, which often includes having an adequate number of nurses on staff, poses a financial hurdle for many hospitals, the study also suggests that at least some of those costs will be offset by factors such as lower turnover rate, less retraining, improved patient outcomes and lower readmission rates. Regardless, this study confirms what is common sense for many nurses: Providing the best care for the patient, means providing for the caregiver as well.

Funding for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Nursing Research, the National Institute on Aging, the Frank Morgan Jones Fund and the Penn Institute on Urban Research.

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

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Nurse Donates Own Kidney to Patient

Longtime transplant nurse Allison Batson knows better than most that the donation of an organ can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people in need. So when Clay Taber – a 23 year old, recent Auburn University graduate with a rare kidney disease – was admitted to Allison’s wing of Emory University Hospital, she knew she had to help.

“Immediately, when Clay came onto our unit, he became a special patient that everyone just gravitated to,” Batson said. “Here was this young man with everything in his life ahead of him, and he was fighting for his life.”

As Allison got to know Clay better, she started to build a strong connection with this near-stranger who wasn’t even technically her patient. “He wanted to get married to his sweetheart. He just graduated from college. The whole world was his, with the exception of this incredibly rare illness that hit him out of the blue. I have children his age, and I felt the same kind of pain his mother was feeling. Something inside me said I needed to do more.”

Auspiciously, Allison shared Clay’s rare blood type (O-negative) and further screening confirmed that she was a perfect match to be a donor. She then literally offered part of herself to a person she practically just met.

“She said ‘My offer stands. If you’ll let me do this, I want to help you,’ ” Taber explained. “Something at that point just hit me. There are so many people in need of an organ transplant and have been waiting like me – even longer than me in many cases. And here is Allison offering to do this amazing thing. When she said ‘If you’ll let me,’ there was just something in those words. I couldn’t say no.”
The operation was performed January 10th, and both Allison and Clay are reportedly doing well. What will happen going forward? For one thing, when Clay gets married this June, he’s saving a special dance at the wedding for the nurse who made it all possible.

Source: Emory University

Photo courtesy of Emory University Hospital