Unitek College Guest of Honor: Congressman Swalwell

August 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm
Congressman Swalwell speaks at Unitek College graduation.

Congressman Swalwell speaks at Unitek College.

Congressman Eric Swalwell left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance at Unitek College’s allied health and nursing graduation on Saturday July 27th. His speech was both enthralling and inspiring: it began with laughs from the audience, then brought some to tears, and ended with the entire room feeling motivated and confident in their ability to make a difference in the world. Staying true to his nickname, the “Technology Rep”, he whipped out his phone as soon as he stepped on stage, to take a quick Vine video of the grads. He posted it to his Twitter account (@RepSwalwell) before graduation was even over.

As the youngest member of Congress, you may think Swalwell led a privileged life, the child of well-connected parents. And this is simply not the case. Like many Unitek College graduates, he worked hard to get where he is today. When he lost his college scholarship as the result of a soccer injury, he took an unpaid internship in Washington DC. Just to get by, Swalwell maintained a standard intern schedule, but worked from 5AM to 8AM at a gym, and from 5PM to 10PM at a restaurant. He commended the many graduates in the audience who also overcame adversity before being able to walk across the stage that weekend. Swalwell noted one in particular: she came to the United States and learned English as a second language. She attended Unitek College while working a full time job and mothering to two young children. And now, her perseverance has paid off: she is a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Swalwell said, “You have to stubbornly pursue your dreams, even if others tell you that you cannot do it.”

Swalwell went on to talk about the bright futures of the graduates sitting in front of him. He noted that they are entering the medical field, a field that is constantly changing and improving and being revolutionized by technology. But technology will never replace the human touch of a nurse. He spoke to the graduates about the ever-present need for the human touch: “In our sickest times, in our lowest times, during the times we need help the most, there is no ‘app for that’. There is you.”

“Technology will replace a lot of things in our lives and in the medical field, but it will not replace the care, attentiveness, knowledge and skills needed to make our patients better. And that is why it’s so important we have qualified nurses entering the field today.” Unitek College is proud of this weekend’s graduates, as they have most definitely proven that they have the compassion, knowledge, and skills necessary to be effective allied health and nursing professionals.

Swalwell challenged the grads to remember how they got to where they are today: their own hard work and resilient spirit, and the support of others. “You did not make it here on your own,” he said, “Find someone you can help. Someone pulled you up. Now it is encumbered upon you, as you start your career, to reach down and pull somebody else up.” Speaking directly to the grads, he said, “There will be challenges. But never forget why you started, an unequivocal desire to help others.”

Mobile & Modular Cath Labs: What Nurses Need to Know

November 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

Admin Note:

Have you considered working with Mobile or Modular Cath Labs? Cardiac nursing is a very popular area to get into. Working in critical care; the cardiac cath lab nurse is responsible for administering interventional procedures, assist doctors when implanting pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators, assist doctors in angioplasties, cardiac catheterizations, and valvuloplasties, and to work closely with the patient. There are many types of equipment you will come across, so we thought we would expand on some of those today.

You have a difficult job as a nurse. Literally, you’re responsible for the health and well-being of your patients, sometimes in life or death situations. That’s why you need to complete your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or bsn program educational and certification requirements before stepping into the role. And in case traditional facilities aren’t challenging enough, there are also mobile or modular catheterization labs that you might need to use at times throughout your career.

What are mobile or modular cath labs, exactly?

Specifically they’re labs that are typically ordered during a hospital renovation or short-term project where medical functions and research on the heart can be carried out by the institution without skipping a beat in everyday operations. They resemble a medical mobile home and are typically parked adjacent or connected to the medical facility that needs to use them.

What type of equipment is often present in these labs?

It’s similar to what you’d find in any hospital in terms of heart care gear–equipment varying along the likes of electrophysiology, heart catherization, mobile angio hardware and pediatric cath technology.

The mobile lab can also be deployed for training and demonstrative purposes, which is fitting because no matter what a hospital or medical facility requires, proper training and use of the equipment is essential. After all, would you want a nurse untrained in such equipment working on your heart?

Here’s a closer look at the types of equipment you’re likely to find in such labs and the general scope of training nurses need:


Measures the electrical activities of the heart. The types of equipment you would find surrounding this category of instruments include voltage clamps, current clamps, patch clamps and planar patch clamps. Such instruments help nurses and other medical professionals study and measure the ions and tissues from a biological standpoint, helping professionals better understand and treat heart conditions and diseases. If they’re not used correctly, they won’t give you the correct results, which can certainly impact how you treat certain conditions.

Heart cauterization

Imaging tools, catheters and flex tools are all used to gain either physical or virtual entry into the heart to test and perform heart treatment. Misuse of such equipment could worsen heart conditions and even lead to irreversible damage.

Mobile angio

Imaging devices and other equipment for performing mobile angioplasty also exists in mobile cath labs. Angioplasty is an increasingly common yet complicated procedure. But the latter point can be stated about almost any procedure involving the heart.

Pediatric cath labs

These labs involve heart conditions in children. Such labs include cardiac imaging systems, monitoring systems, injection systems and digital archiving technologies. It’s all advanced and specialized equipment that nurses can gain an overview on by watching instructional videos, or observing in the field. But how much can you grasp on a particular instrument from watching someone else demonstrate it? Pediatric cath lab equipment, like all of the other equipment listed above, is best learned with hands-on training.

There’s a bevy of equipment that nurses who are stationed in these mobile or modular cath labs need to be educated on. Such training isn’t something that’s learned overnight, but learned with hours of both instructional text and hands-on demonstration and practice. Your employer may also make specialty classes mandatory, where you need to pass tests and/or acquire proper certification. Are you ready to step up to the challenge? Your patients are depending on you.

Nurses who wish to work in this area must have an Associated Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelors Degree (BSN) along with 2 years of experience working as an RN. Contact Unitek College to learn how you can get started in this exciting specialty area today.

About the Author:

Drew James produces content for Modular Devices. When he’s not writing, you can catch him running urban trails all over the Midwest.


All Images were provided by Modular Devices.

How to Survive Working on Christmas

December 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

No one wants to work on Christmas Day (well, except maybe Santa but that’s just in the early morning.) It can be really depressing having to get up early to go to work knowing you’re missing all the festivities at home. When you have your BSN degree, sometimes working holidays is just part of the job. Here is how my family deals with working holidays.

1) Celebrate on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas Day – My husband is a nurse and unfortunately this is his weekend to work. Over the years we’ve learned that this is the nature of his job so my pouting and sadness have been thrown out long ago with the dead, brittle Christmas trees. On December 23 we are celebrating the holiday with his side of the family. For Christmas Eve after work we are going to church, we’ll pick up a to go dinner and then open all of our gifts. Christmas morning my daughter and I are going to go to my sister’s house in our pajamas to open a few more gifts and have a nice brunch. After my husband gets off work we are going to go to my parents’ house for a delicious meal. Yep, it takes a lot more work and planning, but he won’t miss out on a thing. (And it certainly helps that our families are in driving distance.)

2) Make it special for your co-workers – Your fellow nurses want to be there about as much as you do. I’ve made three trays of Christmas cookies for each of the nursing shifts to share. It’s not much, but it’s something! I also made homemade jam from our peach tree over the summer and wrapped it with a cute kitchen towel for my husband to pass out at work. (Okay, so not everyone makes homemade jam and cookies, especially when they are in nursing school and working. These are just ideas….)

3) Make it special for your patients – Your patients want to be there about as much as you do. Although you won’t be handing them sugary treats or little gifts, your smile and cheerful attitude probably mean more than these trinkets. Dress in brightly colored scrubs or put on a stupid button with Rudolph’s light up nose. Ask them what their favorite Christmas movie is. A little cheer goes a long way.

Being a nurse sometimes means having to sacrifice, but your attitude makes all the difference. Graduating from an RN to BSN bridge program may mean that you have to work some holidays, but you can bring a little bit of joy to patients stuck in a hospital bed. You just may be their best gift.

What 5 Challenges Nurses Can Expect in 2012

November 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Just reading that title sounds pessimistic, doesn’t it? However, every job has its challenges and nursing is certainly no different. The good thing is that when you know what battles may lay ahead, you can get better equipped to face the trials. Being in an accelerated RN to BSN program, you probably already know to count the cost to prepare to get the job done.

Rebecca Hendren of HealthLeaders Media wrote an informative article pertaining to the five challenges nurses can expect in 2012. Here are the most pressing issues that nurses will face in the upcoming year.

1. Advanced degrees are no longer optional – With the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80% of nurses earn their BSN degree by 2020, many nurses are looking into furthering their education. Furthermore, “BSN nurses are encouraged to be leaders in evidence-based practice and research,” explains Hendren.

2. The importance of the “patient experience” – Not only is reimbursement at stake, but patient readmissions. Hendren writes that the best nurses, “help patients understand their care, involve families in decision-making, coordinate multidisciplinary care, sit with patients to explain complex diagnoses, and even, occasionally, have time to offer a quick hug or hand to hold.”

3. Patient safety – Nurses need to be engaged, accountable and involved in the recovery process of their patients. Among these priorities, keeping infections at bay is also a huge factor towards patient wellness.

4. Cost cutting – We’ve all read the countless articles and heard the many stories about hospitals’ financial woes and pending cut backs and layoffs. However, cutting medical staff also leads to employee burnout, higher patient mortality rates, lower patient satisfaction higher readmissions and longer hospital stays. Hendren suggests that, “Organizations can get more agile with staffing and scheduling and find creative ways to reduce cost while maximizing efficiency. Embrace change and flexibility to create the mobile, agile workforce healthcare organizations need to adapt to changing economic realities and increases in patient population.”

5. Retention – “Invest in nurse residency programs that have proven results for retention and for increasing the competency of new nurses,” states Hendren. Research your place of desired employment before you accept any position. Happy nurses equal a happy working environment.

Okay, so none of these challenges are really new or unexpected. Nurses in an RN to BSN completion program have faced these issues for quite a while and will continue to do so. The good thing is that none of them are deal breakers and you can be effective in facing these situations.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:

From a Patient’s Point of View

October 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm

None of us are immune from sickness or injuries. We take preventative measures like popping vitamins and exercising, but sometimes illness finds us no matter how we try to fight it off. Being in an online RN to BSN nursing program, we learn a lot about skills and procedures. However, some of the most valuable lessons we can learn are from life.

On CNN.com, reporter Elizabeth Landau wrote a story about a doctor and nurse who both faced the monumental task of overcoming breast cancer. Not that anyone would want to take this journey, but through their pain they gained a new sense of strength, compassion and empathy for their patients.

“There have been times I’ve cried with the patient. You cry with them, you pray for them, you hope for them. You pray for their families. It’s a tough job, but it’s very rewarding,” said Cindy Davis who is an RN at the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M.D.

Davis has also learned valuable insights that other nurses who haven’t gone through the process don’t know. She can advise on where to get a beautiful wig, how to disguise nails disfigured due to chemotherapy and how to take their minds off of the discomfort. There is something genuine and beautiful in connecting on a shared level that can’t be duplicated without the process.

Right now my family is going through its own medical dilemma. I’ve written before how my 11-year-old nephew, Nate, has hemihypertrophy and in early July had rods put into his leg to lengthen his bones. Now almost four months later, the poor little dude is in a spica cast. Armed with misinformation and brushed off like unwanted lint on a black coat, my nephew was sent home miserable and immobile. They only directions they were given was in the form of a small pamphlet published in 1990 with kids smiling in these constrictive devices with moms whose hair took up most of the picture. Would the doctor have treated the situation differently if his son was in the cast? I would never wish any child to have to suffer through this, but I would appreciate more compassion and thoughtfulness on behalf of the doctor.

Compassion is a vital requirement for anyone in a BSN degree program. We all have had situations where we or a family member have had to don a hospital gown. Whether you’re in the gown or helping someone in a gown, you have to show people more than your backside.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

Hospital Bathroom Secrets Flushed Out

October 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I don’t enjoy using public bathrooms. Once you get past the acrid smells, the disintegrating paper stuck on the floor and the earth shaking industrial flushes, you’re faced with the intimate task of private necessity. Then when you are finished taking care of business, you watch the person in the next stall briskly walk out the swinging door without a drop of water or bubble of soap located on their hands. Yuck.

So what is the point of knowing about hand washing for someone getting their RN to BSN degree? Why of all this “potty talk?” Helen M. French, retired operating nurse, writes on beckersasc.com about the negligence of bathroom cleanliness and the high infection rate that it causes in hospitals. French writes, “Although there are many cost management concerns in all healthcare facilities which encompass staffing, inventory, turnover time between procedures and the like, the most cost-avoidant and most deadly issue for patients and even the staff is the lack of basic knowledge and awareness about simple handwashing and bathroom equipment issues. This lack of awareness — or the lack of compliance — could also come around full circle to the staffers in regard to their own health and possibly the health of their loved ones and even the public whom they might infect even in a local grocery store (note many recent articles pertaining to infected scrubs and even doctors’ ties ). Somewhere on the chord of a circle is our most important product — our patients. It is our patients whom we are entrusted to protect. It is our patients whom we cannot allow to be affected or infected by someone else’s bathroom contagion.”

French also explains six important things to know about using the bathroom: 1) “If there is no lid on a toilet, the surrounding area of about six feet in circumference will be covered with class #3 [gastrointestinal/genitourinary system fluids] or class #4 [GI/GU system fluids] toilet water. The area, or the stalls, the stall door, the stall handles, the floor of the stall, the toilet paper roll, etc., will be contaminated to some degree.”2) With no auto sensors on the faucet, soap pumps or paper towel holders, your hands will just get re-contaminated. 3) Touching the door also re-contaminates your hands. 4) Hand dryers are equally ineffective if the filters aren’t changed often. 5) If you don’t use enough friction or time to wash your hands thoroughly, you’re hands are still gross. 6) New soaps and foams are not as effective as the old way using “a 10-minute scrub initially and after that a five-minute scrub using cold water and/or warm water, with several options of hand soap.”

So even with all of your knowledge that you’ve obtained in an online RN to BSN program, sometimes it’s the simplest procedures that are the most effective.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:

Communication is Cornerstone for Nurses to Aid in Patient Healing

September 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Communication is the key to any relationship be it husband to wife, parent to child or employee to boss. In a nurse to patient situation, it’s no different. To aid in the complete recovery process, patients have to describe their ailments and nurses need to explain the steps needed towards healing. Being in an RN to BSN bridge program, it’s important to learn how to communicate and listen effectively.

Megan M. Krischke, contributor to NurseZone.com writes about the importance of proper communication in the medical field. From patients who are not fluent in English to those whose anxiety in stressful situations limits their cognitive skills, nurses need to be sensitive on the best ways for each patient to gain understanding.

“Clear communication with patients is of utmost importance to Erica Dickson, RN, BSN, CCRP, oncology research manager for Poudre Valley Health Systems (PVHS) in Fort Collins, Colo. Dickson leads a team of nurses and other professionals who offer oncology patients opportunities to participate in clinical trials and then works with these patients to coordinate their care.
“’My job is to make sure patients have the time and the information to make their decision. “No” is as good an answer as “yes”,’ explained Dickson. ‘Often patients tend to take anything the doctor says as prescriptive. So if a doctor informs a patient that there is a clinical trial that could be a good option for them, what the patient may be hearing is the physician saying that they should participate in the trial. The nurse’s job is to start a new conversation; to say this is a choice and it is totally voluntary.’”

Explaining health issues can be complicated and a lot for the patient to remember, especially under stressful conditions. “’When they don’t understand the lingo, not only is our ability to communicate limited, patients can also feel alienated. Early in my career a physician was discussing with me the patient’s condition and within ear shot of that patient used the acronym SOB to refer to shortness of breath. The patient, however, thought the physician was insulting him,’ related Fé Ermitaño, RN, BSN, project manager for the patient experience at Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC) in Seattle. ‘This very sweet patient was hurt that the physician saw him in such a poor light.’”

Communication is probably one of the most important skills needed for an online RN to BSN degree graduate. Patients want to know what’s wrong, what will be done to fix their situation, what the complicated medical lingo means and that you care.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:

Tips for Juggling Being a Nurse and Being a Parent Part II

August 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm

It’s hard being a nurse. It’s hard being a parent. Put the two together and you are the most fulfilled and tired person around! You’re probably great at multitasking since you are in or completed an RN to BSN bridge program. You probably have a social life, job and family, but who couldn’t use more help getting organized and balancing everything? Parents Magazine had an interesting article on this subject and hopefully some of their tips will help you.

Planning ahead can ease tension and make life go much smoother. Every night check to make sure homework is in the right backpack, lunches are packed, and clothes are laid out. I know this doesn’t always work, but it makes most mornings so much easier! Also, plan on who will pick up the kids in case you have to work a double or if you’re running late due to circumstances you just can’t control. Always have a Plan B.

There are only 24 hours in each day and sometimes it feels like we have to make every minute count. “Be disciplined and set time limits when checking email or making phone calls, things you can do when the kids are sleeping. Reduce TV watching to once a week to maximize time with your partner during the evenings. Try to avoid multitasking, especially when spending time with your children” advises Parents Magazine.

The next tip is to schedule family time and activities together. In my last post I mentioned that many moms feel guilty for having to work or for being too busy. This is the guilt eraser. Have family game night or Friday Movie Night. Go to the park. When I was a high school teacher I noticed that they biggest problem kids had was that parents didn’t spend time with them and they tried to buy them off with fancy clothes or expensive gadgets. Time and attention and boundaries and affirmation make all the difference in the world.

Take time for yourself, take time with your spouse. I’ve read this tip in many stress busting articles and it is a biggie. If you’re cranky, tired, sick or depressed you won’t be effective in running your family or productive in your work place. Relax and recharge by yourself and then reconnect with your spouse to maintain a healthy relationship.

It seems like in this fast paced world there is never enough time to get everything done that we need to. Prioritize what’s important and realize you can’t do everything. Being a BSN nurse and a parent is demanding, but when you know your limits and make time for yourself juggling seems to get a little easier.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

Tips for Juggling Nursing and Family Part I

August 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Is there anything more wonderful and difficult than being a parent? Yes: being a parent AND a nurse! Life is complicated, so here are some tips to help you balance two of the greatest jobs in the world.

As a student in a RN to BSN bridge program, you’re used to juggling work and clinicals and family and friends. But once you get your degree, you still need to keep multiple balls in the air. Parents Magazine writer Serena Norr has some great tips to help working parents balance home and work life.

It’s no wonder that this is a popular topic with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother. It’s no secret that most nurses are moms, but dads also feel the pressure of working and being the perfect parent. Guilt seems to be a popular hurdle to overcome so the first is to let go of the guilt. Surviving in this day and age is expensive requiring most families to have both parents join the workforce.

The second tip is that if you have to work, find the best childcare or school for your child. Ask around and interview multiple places. Make sure it is safe, mentally stimulating, and that your child feels loved. If they are spending as many hours awake in child care as they are at home, invest in somewhere with people who will value your kid. “A good childcare provider should have extensive experience, excellent references, and a record to prove it. A good daycare facility should have flexible hours, a low teacher-to-student ratio, outdoor space, up-to-date licenses, and employees who have had their backgrounds checked” suggests Norr.

The third tip is to create a family calendar. My sister has a great example of this on her door to her garage. She has a dry erase board that has the days of the week on it and she writes each doctor’s appointment, school project or extracurricular activity on it. On the wall next to it is a chore chart for each child and the house rules. Let’s face it: life is crazy and it’s impossible to keep every detail in your head. Now every member of your family can be on the same page.

Being in a BSN degree program is difficult, but juggling life and work will continue after you get you degree. Tune is Wednesday for more tips!
To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit


Tasty Health Tips for Nurses (recipes included)

August 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

Lately I’ve been on a quest to find ways for nurses to be healthier which sounds ironic, I know. This also goes for nursing students in LVN courses andBSN programs. Shouldn’t healthcare professionals, nurses and doctors especially, be more healthy than everyone else? If you’re a healthcare professional, then the hypocrisy is no stranger to you. There are many doctors and nurses, who do not practice what they preach. Often they do not exercise as much as they tell us to, or eat as healthily as they advise, and lack far more sleep than any of their patients.

As I’ve mentioned on my more recent posts, these unhealthy habits are not only harming the doctors and nurses who practice them, but their patients as well. Once the negative effects of unhealthy habits take root, they take a toll on our minds and bodies, preventing us from performing at our best. For nurses and doctors, this means not being able to care for their patients to the best of their abilities. For nursing students in LVN courses and BSN programs, this is an important precaution, take note now and be better healthcare provider later.

We must understand however, that the daily strain of having to care for others makes it difficult for nurses and doctors to focus on caring for themselves. They often have irregular schedules and long work hours which prevent them from maintaining healthy food, exercise, and sleep habits – all of which are essential for our minds and bodies to function at ease. When we do not practice healthy eating, sleeping, and exercising habits, we get disease. I’m not going to take the time to list all the diseases here, because if you’re reading this, chances are you’re already very familiar with them. Not to mention, nursing students are on extremely hectic schedules as well, so the effects of daily strain goes for them too.

The key then, is to find and share healthy habits that are easy for healthcare professionals and students to maintain within their intense schedules.

I’ve recently posted healthy eating habits and sleep tips for nurses. To go along with my “Food for Nurses” post, here are easy and delicious breakfast recipes from WellNurse.com:

For a Super Energy Breakfast –

Scramble 1 or 2 eggs (the amount of eggs should match the size of your palm), and top them with a large spoonful of warm tomato salsa. Serve with a slice of wholegrain toast with a little butter (yes!), or a whole-wheat tortilla, and a fruit smoothie made by blending orange juice and frozen berries.

More and even quicker balanced breakfasts –

§ Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a piece of fruit

§ Whole-grain cereal with milk and berries

§ Yogurt with granola or oats and fruit

§ Half a whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus and fresh tomatoes (one of my personal favorites)

I emphasize breakfast in this post because it really is the most important meal of your day. After 10 or 12 hours without food, your body needs energy. And on a nurse’s busy schedule, you’re also probably skipping meals which makes it even more imperative that you eat before you start your work day. Again, the same goes for you nursing students in LVN courses and BSN programs, eat healthy, start with a tasty balanced breakfast!

For more yummy, quick and healthy recipes and tips on how to be a healthier nurse, please visit WellNurse.com