Chief Academic Officer Says San Francisco Needs 14,000 Nurses By 2020

From candy striper to naval nurse to chief academic officer, Christy Torkildson’s passion has always been nursing. Hailing from Brooklyn and Miami, Torkildson worked as a candy striper at the local Children’s Hospital and knew that she had found her calling. She currently serves as chief academic officer for Unitek College and NCP College of Nursing, overseeing all academic programs and administering Unitek’s CCNE-accredited (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) RN to B.S.N. nursing program to over 1000 students at five campus locations.

Christy Torkildson

Unitek College CAO, Christy Torkildson

What is your background and education?

“I have a B.S. and M.S. in Nursing, with an emphasis on administration and education, and will soon be defending my Ph.D. in Family Nursing and Health Policy at UCSF. I’ve worked Neuro ICU, Oncology, Neonatal ICU, OB, Pediatrics as well as working as clinical specialist, nursing informatics and house supervisor. I began as a Navy nurse and was the first program director for George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, the first pediatric end-of-life and transitional care facility for children and their families in the country. I started teaching as a part-time clinical adjunct professor in 1990 and have been teaching ever since.”

What is your outlook on the health care industry in San Francisco for jobs?

“The country is facing a nursing shortage – the workforce is expected to grow by over half a million by 2022. The San Francisco Bay Area – impacted by an aging population, the Affordable Care Act as well as having a concentration of world-class medical institutions –will need over 14,000 nurses by 2020. Is the investment worth it? RNs in San Francisco make $91,000+ a year compared to the national average of $65,000. There’s also the need for qualified nursing instructors where graduate degrees are required.”

What career advice can you offer to students interested in a career in health care?

“The health care field is full of opportunities from direct patient interaction to supportive services. I decided what kind of nursing I wanted to do by volunteering as a candy striper. Attend career fairs and college open house events where you can talk to individuals working in the diverse fields of health care and nursing and speak directly to health care professionals about their experiences and education.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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Unitek College Welcomes Veterans Back to School

There were many reasons why Lannel De Los Reyes chose to pursue a nursing career. The most compelling reason was watching her dad suffer through rheumatoid arthritis and gout. She decided to dedicate her life to helping others.

“It just motivated me to become a nurse and take care of people, especially my loved ones,” Reyes said.

Reyes served six years active duty with the Air Force and decided to use her GI Bill to attend Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program in Fremont, CA. Her ultimate goal is to graduate with a Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) and return to the military.

In the same nursing classroom sits another fellow Air Force veteran, Grecia Benitez. One of Benitez’s motivations to enlist into the Air Force directly out of high school was the educational benefits. After completing 5 years of service, Benitez was ready to start on her career path. During an open house tour at Unitek College, she found the start of her nursing career with the Vocational Nursing program.

Benitez’s plan after college is slightly different from Reyes’s.  While Benitez does not shy away from the idea of returning to the military, she is currently focused on completing the Vocational Nursing program and continuing on to become a Registered Nurse through Unitek College’s LVN to RN bridge program. After finishing school, Benitez plans to either pursue a nursing career in a hospital or rejoin the Air Force.

Benitez and Reyes share both a dedication to their country and a desire to achieve higher learning. The Post 9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI bill, amongst other Veterans Assistance (VA) benefits, reward veterans for their service and allow them to pursue higher education.  Although many institutions have yet to accept VA benefits, Unitek College made accepting VA benefits a top priority to make quality education available to America’s returning vets.

The majority of healthcare training programs offered by Unitek College are VA approved. “Unitek College is 100% committed to assisting our dedicated service men and women in making a successful transition into civilian life. Our main priority is to help them obtain the necessary education and training that can be parlayed into a lasting and rewarding career. Serving our veterans is a privilege we don’t take lightly.” Navraj Bawa, COO and Executive Vice President, Unitek College stated in a press release.

“If nursing is what you want to do…I would definitely recommend this school”, Benitez said.

Unitek College anticipates growth in enrollments from veterans who are looking to achieve their goals of higher education. This is particularly true with the recent deep budgetary cuts at public schools. Reyes, in advising other veterans said, “Definitely take advantage of your GI bill. That is part of why I joined the military.”

Are you a VA looking to get into the field of nursing?  Unitek College offers Training in Vocational NursingRegistered Nursing (LVN to RN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelors of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN).  Contact us today at 888-735-4355 to see how you can get started on a very rewarding career as a nurse.

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Senate Approves Funding for Medicaid Extension

The U.S. Senate voted today to approve federal funding extensions for Medicaid programs throughout the country, reported the pharmacy-focused news sources Chain Drug Review and Drug Store News.

According to coverage by Drug Store News reporter Alaric DeArment, the 61-39 vote supporting the supplemental Medicaid funding was due, in large part, to a strong push by the U.S. retail pharmacy lobby and “an extension of the higher federal medical assistance percentage [FMAP] that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

The report also states that the bill, which could impact industry professionals like Sacramento pharmacy technicians, is set for a vote next week in the U.S. House of Representatives. Identical forms of the proposed legislation must be passed by the Senate and House before President Obama can sign the bill into law.

One of the bill’s biggest supporters, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), says members of the House are expected to postpone their annual August trips to their home districts for next week’s vote.

The NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson shared his support of the Senate vote in a press release issued today on the organization’s website:

“This enhanced federal funding of state Medicaid programs is important for the prevention of additional cuts to pharmacy services and pharmacy access at the state level. Pharmacy access is vital to helping patients take their medications correctly, which is essential for maintaining patient health and preventing dramatic increases in long-term healthcare costs, particularly in the treatment of chronic disease,” Anderson stated.

The extension of the FMAP, or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, would allow state Medicaid programs will continue to receive matching funds from the government. For Medicaid recipients, including many low-income families and seniors on fixed-incomes, the FMAP continuation would help them obtain crucial prescription medications at reduced costs.

Many Americans receiving state Medicaid benefits, including those in Northern California, rely on the assistance of skilled and understanding professionals like pharmacy technicians to assist with their medication needs. If you’ve been looking for rewarding career in a growing field, then consider a job as a Bay Area Pharmacy Technician.

Unitek College has a skilled PT training program to get you started on an exciting profession as a PT in Santa Clara or as a San Francisco Pharmacy Technician. Learn more about Unitek College’s quality PT training program now!

For additional information on the Medicaid extension bill, please visit:

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Ballot Measure May Allow Big Box Retailers to Compete with North Dakota’s Locally-Owned Pharmacies

A ballot measure backed by the retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s aims to change a nearly 50-year-old law that requires North Dakota pharmacies be majority-owned by independent pharmacists. Since 1963, the North Dakota Pharmacy Ownership Law has barred hospitals, chain drug stores and any retail businesses without majority-ownership by local pharmacists from operating pharmacies in the state.

North Dakota’s pharmacy ownership law is the only one of its kind in the United States. Its unique provisions have allowed independently-owned pharmacies to thrive throughout the state. According to figures published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), nearly 90 percent of North Dakota’s pharmacies are independently-owned and operated. By comparison, only around 30 percent of the pharmacies throughout the rest of the country operate under independent ownership.

With financial backing from Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart, the group North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare hopes to repeal the law through the passage of a ballot measure in the upcoming November election. After months of petitioning North Dakota voters, the group confirms it has exceeded the amount of signatures required to have their initiative placed on the state’s 2010 election ballot.

According to the group’s website, the pharmacy ownership law unfairly restricts the sale of generic prescription drugs in North Dakota by non-pharmacist-owned businesses. As a result, the group claims, North Dakota residents continue to pay more for medications than consumers in other states.

Despite claims that the pharmacy ownership law prevents North Dakota prescription drug users from saving money, a 2009 report issued by ISLR found that repealing the law may actually cost the state millions in lost tax revenue and related economic activity. The report also said passage of the repeal would jeopardize local pharmacies that serve the state’s many rural communities.

Recent efforts by the North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare group aren’t the first attempt to overturn the pharmacy ownership law. The law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the 1970s and was the subject of an attempted repeal by members of the North Dakota State Legislature in 2009.

Although its pharmacy ownership laws are unique, North Dakota, like all other states, relies on the expertise of pharmacy professionals to provide valuable prescription-related services to its residents.

Throughout California, the demand for qualified professionals, like San Francisco pharmacy technicians, continues to grow. The state requires more Sacramento pharmacy technicians and PTs in other locations to assist consumers with their prescription medications. Now is a perfect time to pursue a career in this expanding field. Discover today how quality training from Unitek College can jumpstart your career as a Bay Area pharmacy technician.

For additional information on North Dakota’s Pharmacy Ownership Law and the opposing ballot initiative sponsored by North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare, please visit:

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Medical Assistant Profession One of the Fastest-Growing Job Fields for Women Says Leading Career Information Expert

In a July 19 article published in ForbesWoman, an online and print periodical targeting women professionals, Medical Assistant jobs are listed as some of the fastest-growing professional opportunities for women in the country.

The article cites recent research conducted by Laurence Shatkin, a 30-year veteran of the career information field, and the prolific author of numerous employment resource guides, including “Best Jobs for the 21st Century,” “50 Best Jobs for Your Personality,” and “150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs.”

According to Shatkin, the Medical Assistant field is ranked eighth in a list of the 20 fastest-growing professional fields for women. Opportunities for Medical Assistants, such as San Francisco Medical Assistant jobs, are projected to increase 40% through 2018. This anticipated growth is likely to bode well for women professionals, who, according to ForbesWoman, make up 90 percent of the Medical Assistant field.

Shatkin is said to attribute the impressive growth of jobs in the Medical Assistant field, like San Jose Medical Assistant jobs, to the country’s significant population of aging baby boomers and the recently approved reforms to U.S. health care law; both factors are expected to contribute to the need for greater numbers of qualified Medical Assistant personnel throughout Northern California and the rest of the country.

According to the most current information listed in government’s established career guide, the outlook for the Medical Assistant field is particularly strong:

Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade. Job opportunities should be excellent, particularly for those with formal training or experience, and certification,” states the U.S. Department of Labor in the 2010-2011 edition of its Occupation Outlook Handbook.

In addition to requiring greater numbers of Medical Assistants, the healthcare field and medical professionals will need skilled personnel who can perform a number of key administrative tasks (scheduling appointments, maintaining patient files and arranging laboratory services); as well as clinical duties (taking patient medical histories, preparing patients for exams, recording vital signs).

If you’ve considered exploring Medical Assistant Jobs in Sacramento, Santa Clara or elsewhere in the Bay Area, now may be the best time to start training for this exciting and rapidly-growing profession! Learn how Unitek College can help you get the quality training you need to start your new Medical Assistant career.

To learn more about ForbesWoman’s Top 20 Fastest-Growing Jobs for Women, please visit:

For information on the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, please see:

And for additional details on Laurence Shatkin, please go to:

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Major Organizations for Pharmacy Professionals Endorse Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010

This past June, two leading organizations for pharmacy professionals, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), announced their support of the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 29, the bill seeks to increase patient access to the medication therapy management (MTM) services provided by pharmacists. Medication therapy management is used to describe a number of medication-related education and counseling services provided by pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, such as a Sacramento pharmacy technician.

Since being codified into in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, MTM has been recognized as an effective way for pharmacy professionals to monitor the medication regimens of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, and to advise these patients on critical information like prescription side effects and drug interactions. In particular, MTM is seen as important for those with multiple prescriptions for chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma, and the chronic conditions associated with aging.

The Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010, authored by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and cosponsored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), would increase the number of people eligible to receive potentially money and life-saving MTM services.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, expressed the organization’s support of the proposed legislation in June 29 statement:

“By encouraging MTM services in neighborhood pharmacies, the bill would improve public health and reduce healthcare costs by helping patients to take their medications in the right ways and avoid complications with their drug therapies. Patients suffering from chronic disease, be it diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions, will benefit from these pharmacy services, which also strengthen the pharmacist-patient relationship.”

Recent evidence points to the growing need for more medication management therapy services provided by pharmacists and professionals like San Francisco pharmacy technicians. It is estimated that only 50 percent of Americans take their medications as prescribed. According to a July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute, as much as $290 billion a year is spent on hospitalizations, doctor visits and other healthcare related to patients taking their prescription medication incorrectly.

The passage of Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010 could potentially save valuable lives and significant dollars. In the meantime, the demand for qualified professionals who can assist patients and pharmacists will continue to increase. Now may be the best time for you to start your career as a pharmacy technician in San Jose or a PT in Santa Clara. See how Unitek College can get you started on the important and growing Pharmacy Technician field!

For additional information on the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010, please visit: