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Pink garden roses in bloom

Take a break and smell the roses

Whether you’re in class, learning in the field with your dental assisting externship, or building practical experience in the Unitek College Dental Assisting Lab, one thing is the same: you’re working hard. When you’re working towards a possible new career in the Dental Assisting field, it’s easy to get caught up in studies, projects, and exams, and there’s nothing at all wrong with working hard to meet your career goals. But it’s also important to take moments when possible to “rest your brain”, refuel, and refocus. Fortunately, if you’re studying at our Sacramento campus, you’ve got plenty of options. Here are a few ideas on how to spend your valuable down time.

Smell the Roses in MSmell the RosescKinley Park – Literally. McKinely Park is home to one of Sacramento’s famous rose gardens, a must-see if you’re the type of person who needs to get outdoors to clear your head. The rose garden features free admission and takes about 30-minutes to see start-to-finish. There’s also a jogging track, plenty of play areas for kids, and the park is dog-friendly if your furry roommate needs a break as well. We’re told April is a particularly nice time to visit.

Coast Along the American River Bicycle Trail – Considered one of the best bicycle trails in the country, the American River Bicycle Trail winds its way through the Sacramento area and is available only for non-motorized visitors… which is great news for students who enjoy biking without worrying about distracted drivers. It’s a quick way to forget that you’re in the middle of a city. Look for beautiful river views, quiet forests, and occasional wildlife… but if possible, avoid the trails around midday on the weekends. They can get crowded!

Shop in Old Sacramento – Nature not your thing? Check out the cobble-stone streets of Old Sacramento. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you like museums, food, or shopping (they have a great mix of old-timey shops plus a few modern boutiques). If you play your cards right, you’ll come back from your visit an expert on California Gold Rush history.

Catch a Movie – There are lots of ways to watch a movie, and Sacramento has all of them. Check out a concert or catch a classic movie at The Crest. Or combine entertainment with the great outdoors and see a blockbuster at the Sacramento 6 Drive In. Need a little more “oomph” in your films? The Esquire Imax Theater just got an upgrade (and we hear the new seats are very comfy).

Chow Down with a Food Tour – Foodies, we didn’t forget about you. And hey, who can study on an empty stomach? Check out the Local Roots Food Tours for a personalized tour of some of the best restaurants, cafe’s, and watering holes off the beaten path. Or satisfy the sweet tooth with a tour of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Whether you’re on your own, with kids, or with pets, the Unitek College Sacramento campus is surrounded by activities, attractions, food, and unique experiences. We all need a break from studies at one point or another, and our Dental Assisting students have a world of opportunities from which to choose. Don’t forget to let us know some of your favorites!

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Nursing Job Specialties – New Areas to Consider

It seems like the hot topic for nursing students right now is the vast area of nursing specialties. Every website and blog that I’ve been checking out has this topic on the top of their list. If you are in a Vocational Nursing program in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a lot of options to consider.

Different people have different talents and character traits, and there are just as many specialties as there are personality types.

If you like to work with children, maybe a children’s hospital or pediatric ward would suit you. However, this takes a certain type of person to deal with the grief and hardships that come with helping sick or terminal child patients.

Another area that may be of interest is working as an ER nurse. If you like the fast paced action and variety of illnesses and injuries that enter the doors, this might be the field for you. “ER nurses work in a fast-paced environment because they have to deal with life and death situations at a moment’s notice. They might be busy for hours on end and then not see a single patient for many hours or an entire day.” You have to handle stress well and think on your feet at a moment’s notice.

One area that is new to me is the trans-cultural nursing sector. “The trans-cultural nursing sector presents among the largest and growing nursing job opportunities. This is a field in which a nurse would aid an individual or family from another country and with different cultural needs. Healthcare provision is based on these individuals’ specific physical, spiritual and emotional needs and will be determined by their own cultural factors.”

Working at a fertility clinic is also a growing area for nurses seeking employment. It seems that fertility centers, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and fertility drugs are becoming more common place. As a woman who has battled infertility for six years, I appreciate this field and the medical staff who have dedicated their lives to helping couples build their families. Although we did not use fertility treatments to start our family, the compassionate people we came across helped us to make life changing decisions for our future.

These are only a few examples of the specialties that are out there. If you are in an Vocational Nursing school, look into all of your options and use the people around you as resources to help guide your future. It’s like the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”

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Health Care Crisis is Devastating More Families

Within my circle of family and friends, I’m shocked at how many are ill and have been hospitalized recently. It feels like this strange windfall of crazy occurrences and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. I can’t help but wonder if it’s the times we live in: are people sicker and stress is compromising our health more or is stress weakening our immune system therefore causing us to be sicker? Does worry make us sick or are we sick which gives us another thing to worry about and makes us weaker to handle situations?

In The Merced Sun Star, reporters Jocelyn Weiner, CHCF Center for Health Reporting and Ken Carlson also noticed that with the hardship of the economy, many families are being hit with serious medical conditions. “A health care crisis is sweeping the Central Valley, devastating middle-class and poor families and threatening to overwhelm the region’s fragile safety net.

“The deep recession has pushed the ranks of the uninsured here to unprecedented levels. At the same time, a dire state budget deficit has forced lawmakers to drastically scale back or eliminate key health care programs for the state’s poorest residents.”

Weiner and Carlson explain that across class lines, patients are struggling to get the medical attention they need. “Doctors and nurses at county and nonprofit clinics say they’re seeing mounting numbers of out-of-work professionals and laid-off blue-collar workers joining the chronically poor and undocumented in waiting rooms throughout the region… In the past few years, growing numbers of unemployed workers have added 700,000 to the ranks of the state’s uninsured, bringing the total to 7.1 million.”

“When people become uninsured, not only do they live sicker, they die younger, they’re one emergency away from financial ruin and there are very few options available,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, which advocates for affordable health care for all Californians. “It’s a tattered safety net that has gotten worse because of the budget crisis.”

How will this affect those who are medical assistanting, pharmacy technicians or Vocational Nursing? There is definitely a shortage of those in the health careers industry so there is more stability than in other professions. With the federal health care bill, ideally more government money will be designated to the uninsured, but with cutbacks and having taxpayers maxed out, we’ll just have to wait and see. If the government does pass this bill, more medical staff will be needed to treat the new individuals who were previously uninsured.

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Start Your Career on the Right Path

          It’s never easy to enter a new career path. “Will I get a job? Am I doing the right thing? What can I expect after I graduate?” All these questions and many more can flood your mind and make you doubt your decisions. Once you enter the field, things may get even harder; but hang in there! When you know the right steps to take, you can avoid unnecessary frustrations.
          RealityRN.com has an interesting article entitled “A Great Start to Your Career: How a new nurse can build a resume” written by Connie Curran. Beyond the fear of one-on-one patient care and hoping you remember everything you learned in class and on rotations, Curran has a couple of valuable tips as you encroach on a new profession.
          Curran suggests that continuing your education should be a top priority throughout your career. If you have your LVN, pursue your RN. If you have your RN degree, look into entering a BSN program. If you have your BSN, why not get a Master’s? “The person with the most skills is going to have the most choices in life… You’ve got the study skills. You’re in the student groove. So stay in the groove, especially since the many hospitals today reimburse you for the tuition.”
          If you’re worried about the added time and expense of more coursework, there are many classes that you can take which will still look good on your resume. “Your employer, for example, may have a course in the hospital on wound care. Often you will get the time off work to take the course. You’re not paying for tuition while adding confidence to yourself and skills to your resume. That will be worth money in your next job, if not your current one.”
          Curran’s second tip is to refine your leadership skills. “Whether you coach baseball, volunteer at church, do blood-pressure screenings – start developing skills that require you initiate activities, manage people, and get things done. Not only will it add joy to your life, it will open up other avenues. A resume is not only about your work and educational experience, it should show your interests as a human being.”
         Experience, education and improving your skills with not only help you as you embark on a new journey, but it will also better you as a person. That’s not such a bad way to live…
For more information, please go to:
http://www.realityrn.com/more-articles/managing-your-career/a-great-start-to-your-career/269/

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What Kind of Nurse Would Steal a Patient’s Meds?

I’ve been putting off writing on this type of story because it seems so tabloid-like and puts nurses in a bad light. Unfortunately, it seems like every day I see updates or a new story about how a nurse or pharmacy technician has stolen patient medications. I just can’t fathom what could go on in a person’s mind to get to such a low point as to stealing drugs from a patient.
I read a story on Minnesota.cbs.local.com that appalled me. A nurse, Sarah May Casareto, was supposed to administer drugs to a patient who was to have his kidney stones removed. “The patient should have received 500 mcg of Fetanyl, a schedule II controlled substance. Instead, authorities allege Casareto ‘wasted’ more than half the drug and took 50 for herself. The patient received 150 mcg — about a third of the intended dosage.”
Furthermore, what completely disturbed me was that the patient was “screaming and moaning during the procedure” while the nurse appeared to be tired, dizzy,” belligerent and disoriented”. First of all, if a patient is in that much distress, wouldn’t the other staff present try to tend to his needs? Wouldn’t they know that something was amiss if the appropriate dosage of Fetanyl was administered? Secondly, if the nurse who consumed the medication was acting strangely, not performing her tasks and appeared “intoxicated”, shouldn’t someone have pulled her aside or removed her from assisting with a medical procedure?
The article on the website continues by saying that “After the procedure, a colleague found Casareto with two unlabeled syringes in her pocket. The colleague told her to throw the syringes away, and she emptied one syringe and threw it in the garbage…The colleague then refused to sign the medication sheet after the surgery, believing medication had been wasted or unused.
“When doctors and human resources representatives later confronted Casareto on the matter, they found an additional four empty syringes in her scrubs. She was asked to take a drug test, but instead resigned from the hospital… Casareto later met with police and told them she was dependent on pain medication.”
As a professional in Vocational Nursing, pharmacy technician, or RN, this incident just reminds me how important it is to be the patient’s advocate, not just protecting them from illness or injury, but from any source that may hinder the result of healing.
For more information, please go to:
http://www.kare11.com/news/article/906363/391/Charges-Nurse-stole-drugs-from-patient-before-surgery
and
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/02/09/nurse-charged-with-taking-painkiller-from-patient/

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California Needs More Nurses

After looking at many news sites for the past few months, a reoccurring theme is the shortage of nurses that are projected for the future. California continues to have a population growth spurt, but budget cuts in higher education have greatly impacted the number of nurses that are projected for the future. Many nurses are choosing to get their LVN certifications rather than enter an RN program or BSN degree due to both financial cost on behalf of the students and budget cutbacks in the educational systems.

According to Randy M. Caine on sfgate.com, “Since the start of the state’s Nurse Education Initiative in 2005, California has thankfully seen a 78.7 percent increase in new student enrollments as a result of opening 35 additional nursing programs. But California is still scrambling to get out of the nursing shortage hole and, in the 2008-09 academic year, saw the increase of new enrollments slow.

“California falls short of the national average of 825 registered nurses employed per 100,000 population. With just 653 registered nurses employed per 100,000, the state’s nursing shortage will climb to 80,000 by 2015.”

One major factor contributing to the nursing shortage is the vacancies in the faculty departments that are not being filled. Not only are there shortages in professors, but budget cuts are causing cutbacks in education and more faculty members are not being hired. Caine comments that, “California was forced to turn nearly 23,000 qualified applicants away from nursing programs during the 2008-2009 academic year.

“As a nursing professor at California State University at Los Angeles until 2008, I saw highly qualified students being turned away simply because we didn’t have the staff to teach them. I saw students who had to worry about their program being offered the following year, and I saw faculty members who didn’t know if they would get a paycheck.”
Most interesting in Caine’s article was the statement, “We should not view today as a lull in the need for nurses, but as the calm before the storm…Many have closed their eyes to the ripple effect of today’s nursing shortage, but it is impossible to discuss the need for more nurses without looking to how this will change the future of health care.”

For more information, please go to:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/04/EDQP1HIIDK.DTL