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Demand for Nurses
Nurses may be the most in-demand health care position in the country.

University of Arizona offers masterâ

November 29th, 2010

The University of Arizona will offer a new online master’s nursing degree, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

This program is designed to cater to registered nurses who have earned a two-year degree at a community college and have at least two years of work experience.

In addition, it will utilize what officials refer to as a “carousel model.” The university will admit students three times per year for an eight-week semester. If an individual needs to stop their studies, they are free to resume them in eight weeks.

By offering this opportunity to students, the university is responding to two trends in the nursing field – a shortage of healthcare professionals and an increasing demand for nurses with a four-year degree.

“This is really about strengthening the nursing work force,” says Joan Shaver, the university nursing dean.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the impending nursing shortage is expected to intensify as baby boomers age, and as academic institutions struggle to raise their enrollment levels.

The university’s nursing program currently serves about 500 students, but with the addition of an online master’s degree program, enrollment could grow as high as 800. Individuals who take one class at a time can obtain their master’s degree in two years.

University nursing program through collaboration

November 29th, 2010

Through a collaboration with Samuel Merritt University, Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California has announced that it will offer a nursing program, the Mercury News reports.

Notre Dame has been attempting to offer nursing degrees to prospective students for some time now, but was hesitant to do so due to the cost of building a program from scratch.

Students who enroll in the program will be required to take two years of foundation course work in the liberal arts and sciences. In the spring of 2012, a number of these same individuals will transfer to Samuel Merritt for two more years of the training that is needed to obtain a nursing degree.

Officials behind the program believe the partnership will expose students to different communities, and immerse them in a number of nursing practices, scenarios and issues.

Judith Greig, Notre Dame president, believes this will be a “wonderful opportunity” for students with an interest in a career in nursing. In addition, she feels the program will provide a “quality liberal arts and pre-professional academic experience as well as a grounding in community service and social justice.”

Another catalyst for Notre Dame’s program is the increased interest in healthcare professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent over the next eight years.

50 Healthy Hacks to Help You Conquer Your Grocery Store

November 28th, 2010

Coming home from the grocery store in a good mood with bags of organic produce and fresh ingredients for tasty meals that help your waistline melt away is a fantasy that's actually within reach. A little planning ahead of time will save you at least part of the misery of hitting the grocery store, especially if you run your errands at off-peak times and are armed with a well-organized list that reflects your health concerns and budget. For more specific hacks to help you conquer your grocery store, keep reading.

Strategy and Lay Out

Make the lay out of your grocery store work for you — not against you.

  1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: You've heard this tip before, but it's an easy guide to help you save money and fill up on fresh ingredients: produce, dairy, seafood and meats are located on the outer edges of the grocery store, while packaged, processed items are usually concentrated in the middle aisles.
  2. Shop in the morning: If possible, do your grocery shopping earlier in the morning, when produce is freshest, and you'll have first pick.
  3. Fill up on healthy items first: Make it a priority to fill up your basket with healthier, fresh items so that you're less likely to add junk food and processed foods "just because." You'll have already reached your budget and should have enough food for the week.
  4. Know how long produce lasts: To avoid over-buying produce that will eventually spoil, know how long different fruits and vegetables last, and how to store them.
  5. Avoid buying things in boxes: If it's packaged in a box, it's generally less healthy for you than foods that are fresh or even refrigerated.
  6. Take your time: Shop during off-peak hours to allow yourself time to read nutrition labels and compare products.
  7. Plan your meals ahead of time: Only buy the ingredients you need to make those meals, and avoid buying extra food just because it looks good.
  8. Don't go to the grocery store hungry: To prevent yourself from stuffing your cart full of food you're craving just because you're hungry, go shopping after you've had a satisfying, healthy meal.
  9. Approach certain aisles with caution: When you breeze past the cookie, chip and ice cream aisles, put your guard up, and don't shop with the same abandon as you do in the produce section.
  10. Choose frozen over canned: If the fresh produce section isn't up to your standards, look for veggies and fruit in the frozen section, not the canned good section. Canned produce usually contains more sugars and preservatives that aren't good for you and add calories.
  11. Change up your store: Visit a health foods grocery store, farmer's market, or even specialty foods store, like a meat market, for higher quality, organic items.
  12. Look up or down: Eye-level products are usually less healthy and have been placed strategically to entice you to buy them after just a quick glance. Look at the top and bottom of the shelves to find healthier (low-fat and low-carb) options.
  13. Buy foods that freeze well: This can be your back-up solution if you have too much, or plan to freeze leftovers for the next week.
  14. Leave the kids at home: They'll sometimes succeed in wearing you down to buy sugary cereals and snacks that will tempt you at home.
  15. Have fun researching healthy recipes: This strategy should help get you excited about trying new foods and even going shopping for ingredients.
  16. Vow to avoid impulse buys: Ahead of time, commit yourself to avoiding impulse buys. If you're tempted to try a new product, write it down so that you can research it when you get home and consider it next time.

Nutrition Facts and Labels

Take time to read the nutrition labels and evaluate ingredients with these hacks.

  1. Avoid foods with too many ingredients: When buying pre-packaged items, avoid foods that list more than five ingredients on the label — real food doesn't need that much help tasting good.
  2. Check out the serving size: Don't just look at calorie count or the number of nutrients: pick the option that gives you the best caloric and nutritional value per serving size.
  3. Avoid ingredients you can't pronounce: If the nutrition label is full of words you can't even attempt to pronounce, the food is packed with additives and preservatives that you don't really need.
  4. Fats: As a general rule, buy foods with 0 grams of trans fat (the worst), and very low amounts of saturated fat, if any. Also realize that hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated means that your food contains some trans fats.
  5. Check the footnotes: The little asterisk next to Percent Daily Values usually refers to a 2,000 calories-a-day diet, which most of us don't really need. If you're trying to lose weight, you're probably on a lower-calorie diet, and need to adjust the daily value percentage accordingly.
  6. Limit These Nutrients: Listed as fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugars, these are the biggest nutrients to watch out for on labels, and the Big 4 you'll always want smaller numbers for.
  7. Get Enough of These Nutrients: The FDA believes that Americans don't get enough of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, or iron, so try to pick foods that have substantial amounts of these.
  8. Understand what % of Daily Value really means: A general rule is that foods with a Daily Value percent of 5% or lower means that it has a relatively low content of that nutrient or ingredient, and a value percent of 20% or higher means that the content is relatively high.
  9. Understand sugar content: It's sometimes hard to figure out just how much sugar your food has, so try this health coach's calculation: "divide grams of sugar by 4 to get the amount in teaspoons per serving. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon, or packet, of sugar."
  10. Read the ingredients list: In the ingredients section of the nutrition label, ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight, which means that the first ingredient has the most weight, and may be the main ingredient in the food. Foods that include preservatives, sugars and fructose, and other additives towards the top of the list are less healthy than those that list purer ingredients (milk, water, etc) first.

Buying Organic

Learn how to pick organic items and foods that are worth buying.

  1. Find the USDA Organic label: Foods with this label have been approved by the federal government as being organic and safe to eat.
  2. Pick in-season produce: You'll find the best quality organic produce for a more sensible price when you pick foods that are in-season.
  3. Buy organic meat, eggs, milk and poultry: If you're worried about growth hormones and antibiotics, organic meats and dairy products might be a practical solution for your family.
  4. Know the levels of organic: There's "100% organic" (which usually comes with the USDA seal), "organic," and "made with organic ingredients." They're not all the same.
  5. Be choosy: You don't have to buy all of your foods organic. Start with the foods you and your family eats most of, and also considering buying organic when selecting foods that have edible skins, like apples, or foods that have traditionally have high levels of pesticides, like strawberries and spinach.
  6. Know when the "regular" version is okay: Produce that you peel and that have lower pesticide residuals include onions, avocados, corn on the cob, and pineapple.

Selecting Healthy Foods

Here you'll get tips on how to evaluate the freshness and nutritional value of food.

  1. Whole grains: When picking out pasta, cereal, bread and rice products, opt for the whole grain options, ideally those that have at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.
  2. Fish should smell fresh: Fish and seafood that smell too "fishy" are probably too ripe and could make you sick.
  3. Choose low-fat dairy: Dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and eggs add a lot of important nutrients like Vitamin D and calcium — which are sometimes hard to find in other foods — to your diet, but low-fat and non-fat variations are even better for you, and still contain the good stuff.
  4. Buy frozen foods without sauces: Frozen foods can still be very healthy options and are more convenient if you're not sure when you have time to eat them. But buy foods without heavy sauces and dressings for sensible calorie and fat servings.
  5. Try a new vegetable each week: Besides expanding your recipe index, this tip will introduce you to new foods as the seasons change, helping you to save money, too.
  6. Skip the meat: While meat has lots of iron and other nutrients you need, you can find other healthy foods to substitute for meat at least once or twice a week, helping you to lower your fat and calorie intake, and save some money.
  7. Cross butter off your list: Cook with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, and buy low-fat margarine for a topper instead.
  8. Look for the heart-check mark: The American Heart Association has put heart-check symbols on foods that it deems are heart-healthy and that meet their criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol.
  9. Pick 100% juice: Reading the labels on drinks is just as important as your regular food. Juices and other drinks are often loaded with sugar and preservatives, so look for diet or lite versions, and when shopping for juice, check for labels that say 100% juice, which means it's full of nutrients.

List Help

Get help organizing your list so that you can zip through the grocery store in a logical order and avoid impulse buys.

  1. Think about how much you need: Try to remember how much you bought last time, and whether or not it was enough, it stored well, or it spoiled.
  2. Evaluate your current stock: Check out what you have in your pantry and refrigerator already before buying more.
  3. Match your budget to your list: Decide on a weekly grocery budget, and keep that number in mind when planning out your meals and menus.
  4. Include healthy back-up items: Buy a few cans of tuna, low-sodium soup, and frozen veggies that can be your go-to meals in a pinch (and will keep you from running out for fast food).
  5. Use an app or online tool: Add to it whenever you think of an item, and when you're in the store, you won't have to keep up with a crumpled piece of paper.
  6. Tailor your list to your diet: Give your shopping list a theme, like low-carb or sugar-free, and only include relevant items to help you stick to your diet even when surrounded by junk food.
  7. Sort your list by categories and aisles: Assign items an aisle number or symbol help yourself stay organized once you're in the store.
  8. Keep a running list: Keep your grocery list in the kitchen so that you can add to it whenever you notice you're running low on a particular item.
  9. Use a template as a checklist: You'll be reminded of healthier items to try out if you use someone else's list as inspiration.

Grant encourages nurses to pursue advanced degrees

November 28th, 2010

Iowa Student Loan (ISL) recently announced that it will offer grants of $4,000 per year to individuals who are pursuing advanced nursing degrees, The Des Moines Register reports.

This move by ISL, a private company that provides college loans, comes as officials in the field of nursing predict a shortage of workers in their industry. In Iowa, the recession has delayed retirement among many middle aged professionals. However, as the national economy improves, experts anticipate that older nurses will choose to retire.

As hospitals, clinics and nursing homes increase hiring, a lack of college instructors who can prepare new hires for the workforce is expected to become a major problem. This financial aid to students may help combat the shortage.

“If there are no teachers, there will be no students, which means less nurses to take care of all of us,” says Virginia Wangerin, president of the Iowa Nurses Association.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a shortage in school faculty is forcing many institutions to turn away qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate programs.

ISL is committed to spending $125,000 per year on their grant program, but the money is said to cover only a small fraction of the master’s or doctoral nursing program.

Technology prepares nursing students for the workforce

November 28th, 2010

In an ever-expanding healthcare system, many nursing programs are relying on high-tech mannequins and simulation labs to prepare students for real world challenges.

The Nashua Telegraph reports that Rivier College is utilizing many of these resources in their new 1,800-square-foot expanded nursing skills simulation lab center. A former athletic training clinic, the space now has pediatric, maternity and surgical-medical labs.

Students who are pursuing nursing degrees at the school will have access to remote control mannequins that are intended to provide them with a more realistic experience. For example, while students care for a child mannequin, a nursing instructor in a separate room can lower the artificial patient’s oxygen levels.

The mannequins come equipped with wireless microphones that will allow instructors to serve as the voice of the patient. Scenarios students may encounter as they move through the program include working on a child who has suffered massive head trauma.

Following the simulations, students and their instructors will gather in a conference room to review and critique their performance.

The new facility also includes two examination rooms where students will be able to perform basic checkups on college faculty.

Schools embracing new training technology reflect a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, which concluded that nursing professionals working today should receive higher levels of education.

Program prepares assistant nurses for geriatric care

November 28th, 2010

A $750,000 grant awarded to Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC) by the federal Department of Health and Human Services will lead to the creation of a nursing program, which will train individuals to care for the elderly, according to the Abilene Reporter-News.

TTUHSC and the Sears Methodist Retirement System will offer the free, certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program at the Sears Windcrest Alzheimer’s Care Center beginning November 29.

Around 15 students will be trained every two weeks in the 75-hour nursing program, which requires individuals to pass certification tests and undergo evaluations.

Pearl Merritt, the regional dean and professor at the Abilene campus of the TTUHSC, says “the overarching goal of the program is to prepare more CNAs for the workforce to care for our senior population.” She also believes this program may be a stepping stone for students who seek higher levels of nursing education.

According to Merritt, the hope is to graduate between 250 and 300 certified nursing assistants over the next three years.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing states that the demand for nurses is expected to increase as members of the baby boomer population reach their 60s and beyond. 

Edison State College introduces new training facility for its nursing program

November 28th, 2010

Edison State College (ESC) has introduced a new healthcare training facility for its nursing program that emulates a hospital setting, Naples Daily News reports.

The new 55,000-square foot building replaces ESC’s previous 1,800-square foot space and is said to recreate a hospital environment.

Inside the $13.5-million, yet-to-be-named facility, will be a 28,000 square foot mock 10-bed hospital – including a mock operating room and units for intensive care, pediatrics, obstetrics and skilled nursing training.

Students can use an array of patient simulators – which offer lifelike medical symptoms – to make their own decisions while training. These sessions will be simulcast to classrooms for learning purposes.

Anne Harner, a nursing professor, believes that working with simulators will mean “less anxiety” for students when they enter the workforce.

Nursing students will be able to learn alongside peers about respiratory care and other disciplines in the embedded teaching environment.

Out of the 400 people who applied to the nursing program this fall, 102 were accepted. Having a larger facility does not mean ESC will be able to expand enrollment in the immediate future. However, Mary Lewis, associate dean of health professions and director of nursing predicts, that growth will happen in due time.

Florida hospitals battle nursing shortage

November 24th, 2010

Hospitals in Florida are doing what they can to fight a state-wide shortage of healthcare workers by encouraging young people to pursue nursing degrees and improving working conditions, according to the Bradenton Herald.

The Florida Center for Nursing (FCN), a state workforce center based at the University of Central Florida, says 56,000 full-time nurses will be needed by 2025, due to a number of factors – including high turnover rates, limited access to educational programs, a rapidly aging patient population and healthcare reform.

Across the state, there is an estimated shortage of 5,900 full-time registered nurses. Currently, the two counties of Manatee and Sarasota have an estimated 249 full-time openings.

The FCN has proposed a two-pronged approach to tackling the shortage, which would include expanding nursing programs and embracing effective retention practices.

Some facilities are already offering more favorable working conditions to employees, and making it easier for them to continue their education. For several years, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) has offered 100 percent tuition reimbursement for its registered nurses.

Jan Mauck, chief nursing officer at SMH, added that shorter shifts and more mentoring responsibilities for older registered nurses have helped his employer keep maturing individuals in the workforce.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a registered nurse is $62,450. 

Medical center honored for its commitment to nurses

November 24th, 2010

Students who will soon be graduating with nursing degrees may be interested to hear that Texas’ Medical Center of Lewisville (MCL) has received a Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Star Local News reports.

The designation is granted to institutions based on the Pathway to Excellence Criteria, through which organizations are subjected to a thorough review process. The results of this analysis revealed high satisfaction among nurses at MCL and identified the facility as one of the best places for healthcare professionals to work.

MCL nurses participate through a confidential online survey.

“This designation attests to the quality and commitment of our nurses at MCL,” says Lynn Benjamin, chief nursing officer at the full-service acute care hospital.

The Pathway to Excellence honor is a public example of the support MCL offers to its nursing staff. The designation also encourages other professionals in the field – including recent nursing program graduates – to join their colleagues at the facility.

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of registered nurses who were working in 2008 was $62,450.

University of St. Thomas to reopen nursing school

November 24th, 2010

Texas-based University of St. Thomas (UST) has been awarded a $3.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that will go toward the reopening of its nursing program, reports the Houston Business Journal.

In addition to the development of a bachelor's of science in nursing degree program, the grant will support the institution’s goal of attracting more Hispanic and low-income students.

UST received the grant under the DOE’s Title V Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.

The university's nursing school closed in 1986. However, once re-established, students will have a new simulation center and the Nursing Success Center, which is a pilot academic program.

“As a faith-based institution, located only minutes from the Texas Medical Center and other hospitals and clinics, we can provide the highly educated and inspired nurses who are in such great demand,” says Robert Ivan, UST president.

Dr. Poldi Tschirch, the director of development of nursing program, will oversee a $25 million fundraising campaign to reopen the school. UST hopes to enroll students at the beginning of the fall of 2012, pending approval by the St. Thomas board of directors and the Texas Board of Nursing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be excellent, as employment is slated to grow by 22 percent over the next eight years.