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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

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How Would You Like to Be Paid Based On Your Nursing Performance?

          How would you like to be paid based on your nursing performance? This is a question that was recently explored and was not met with positive results. Ellen Kurtzman, RN, MPH, FAAN, assistant research professor in the GW School of Nursing recently published her findings in Health Affairs magazine.
         “This research has given us an unprecedented opportunity to be in the field and interview hospital leaders and unit nurses about the impact of performance-based incentives,” said Kurtzman. “While nurses are not typically considered in the design of such incentive programs, our study indicates that they influence the implementation of such policies and are impacted—in some cases negatively—by these programs. Overall, interviewees reported favorable effects of financial incentives on patients but viewed these emerging policies as burdensome to nurses and having little positive effect on improving nurse staffing or turnover.”
          About ten years ago when I was teaching high school history, this issue came up as an incentive to raise state test scores for students. Much of the same results were found; I could do everything in my power to prepare my students for success, but there are so many influences that are beyond my control: parent attitudes, their home environment, and funding in low income areas deny some of the advantages that wealthier areas have. Much of the same issues plague those working with patients: those nurses working in Oakland have a different clientele and medical issues than those who are working in Walnut Creek. Medical facilities with higher funding have more access to better technology and more staffing.
          Another issue I foresee would be who would evaluate the nurses’ performances? Would it be based on mortality? Would patients fill out forms? I’m sure one nurse with a patient who got well would be rated higher than a patient who is still battling illness. There are too many emotions and variants to evaluate a medical professional.
          Currently, there are incentives to pursue higher levels of education such as LVNs to get their RN degrees or RN’s to get their BSN degrees. There are also opportunities to earn more for bilingual nurses or those with special skills.
          I think there is a need for performance evaluations, but pay incentives are clearly not a way to improve the medical profession.

For more information, please go to:
http://www.endonurse.com/news/2011/02/performance-based-payment-incentives-may-harm-nursing-conditions.aspx

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Changing Technology Effects Health Care Industry

I got a new cell phone last month. Okay, so I’m a bit behind the times, but my husband insisted I turn in my old flip phone for one that accesses the internet, has an internal keyboard and has a million apps on it. I was hesitant to get a new one because my old phone just needed a new battery and with a new phone comes an instruction manual as thick as the Bible that sits on my nightstand. Now that I’ve had my new phone I must admit that I do like some of the more convenient features, but I still miss the simpler days where all I wanted it for was to dial home.
So what does this all have to do with being a Medical Assisting , pharmacy technician or nurse? Well, technology is everywhere and it influences every aspect of our life. A few nights ago I watched an episode of Family Ties and Elise and Steven Keaton were playing baseball on an old 1980’s tan computer with an attached keyboard. Compare that to the Wii and it’s a pretty amazing jump how far technology has advanced just in the not-so-simple world of gaming.
Several months ago my husband, who is an Vocational Nursing , had excessive training on a new drug dispensing machine at his place of work. (I can’t help but think of the glass and red painted metal candy machines that are at the front of grocery stores in which you drop in your quarter, turn the knob and candy spills out like a slot machine.) Instead of bugging the pharmacist, he just plugs in his ID number and the patient’s name and the pre-packaged drug can be found in the appropriate slot (or so he says). This machine has made work somewhat easier for him (except for the training and the weeks that followed as bugs were being worked out in the system), and as time progresses, I can’t help but wonder what other technology is on the horizon. When I had my baby a year and a half ago, I was surprised that my medical bracelet had a barcode and that the nurse had to scan it every time I popped a pill.
With new medicines, procedures and technology, it is important to stay on top of your game. If you are considering going back to school to become a nurse, a pharmacy technician or a Medical Assisting , consider Unitek College. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Clara and Sacramento, Unitek will give you the skills you need to thrive in this ever changing and fast paced profession.

For more information, please go to:
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/733278

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Most Interesting Nursing Jobs

          Nursing is an exciting profession. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be so many TV programs which take place in a hospital, right? From Doogie Howser, M.D. to Scrubs, the medical profession has provided fodder for entertainment for decades.
          Okay, so you can’t always trust what you see on the flat screen… but nursing is an interesting profession when you think about the cases that walk through the hospital or clinic doors and the life or death situations that are presented on a daily (if not hourly) basis. According to scrubsmag.com, here are the top ten “coolest” jobs in nursing:
1. Holistic Nursing – This area involves massage and alternative treatments. The “excitement” intro to this article didn’t appeal to you? Well, this is the opposite. Relaxation and meditation soothe the body and mind.
2. Nursing Informatics – Are you a techie? Hospitals are always looking for ways to run smoothly and more efficiently. Should all charting be done on an iPad?
3. Forensic Nursing – CSI fans, this is for you. This is a mix of medical knowledge applied to law enforcement.
4. Outcomes Management – Scrubsmag.com describes this area as “Measuring quality – length of stay, quality of care, and utilization – can get you a job working for a health insurance company or hospital system.”
5. Fitness Nursing – Rehab, surgical recovery or at a health spa, there are several places to apply your skills.
6. Entrepreneur and Consultant (Self Employed) – “CPR training, adult day care, staffing agencies, educational companies, and more. Being a nurse entrepreneur is a broad field that is constantly changing and growing,” scrubsmag.com explains. The only limitation is what you can imagine.
7. Medical Esthetics Nurse – Everyone wants to look younger and better. Botox, chemical peels and collagen are just the tip of the iceberg as countless people are searching for the fountain of youth.
8. Faith-Based Nursing – These nurses pray with their patients tending to their bodies as well as their souls.
9. Insurance Nursing – “Is answering the ask-a-nurse advice line your strength? Or perhaps you’re into writing wellness newsletters, running education programs for insurers, or monitoring outcomes data.” If so, than Scrubs Magazine thinks this job just might be for you!
10. Assisted Living and Long Term Care – As hospitals move patients out of their beds in a shorter amount of time, these patients are being moved to care facilities.
          If you’re thinking about becoming a health care worker, now is the time to join this exciting field which offers a ton of different experiences. You may want to look into a school like Unitek College if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can get a quality education in a minimal amount of time.
For more information, please visit:
http://scrubsmag.com/10-most-exciting-jobs-in-nursing/