World Hepatitis Day Raises Awareness

World Hepatitis Day Raises Awareness

To shine a light on a deadly disease, World Hepatitis Day on July 28 gives this chronic liver infection the attention it deserves.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are afflicted with hepatitis B (240 million) or hepatitis C (80 million). The infections contribute to approximately 1.4 million death annually, numbers similar to deaths caused by tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria. World Hepatitis Day calls attention to these staggering numbers, but also shows hope that the disease can be eliminated.

In fact, the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis is an aggressive goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Like other communicable infections, hepatitis is hard to control.

According to the sector report, the five strains of hepatitis infection (A, B, C, D, and E) can occur through different transmissions. Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne and can be spread through tainted medical practices, injections including drug use, mother-to-child at birth, and sexual contact. Hepatitis D is also blood-borne and only infects those with a co-infection of hepatitis B, so is preventable. Hepatitis A and E are spread through unsanitary food and water conditions. Neither of these causes a chronic infection and so do not pose a threat of long-term liver damage including cirrhosis and liver cancer, but can be miserable to cope with.

Luckily, hepatitis A, B, and E are preventable with a vaccine series (and hepatitis D by proxy of receiving the B vaccine series). There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, although it is preventable and new treatments can cure up to 90 percent of infections.

The challenge comes because hepatitis infections have not received the traditionally high attention of other communicable and preventable, although equally deadly diseases. Many people aren’t aware they are infected and can spread the disease unknowingly, and access to affordable, preventative vaccines and health care, accurate medical information, and government funding is spotty at best in some parts of the world.

Nurses can use World Hepatitis Day to inform patients about hepatitis infections and about their risk for infection. Remind them that hepatitis infects people globally and can happen in anyone—even sharing a razor with someone who is infected puts you at risk because of the potential exposure to bodily fluids. Talk to patients who might be at obvious risk (those who received blood transfusions, those who could be traveling to countries that might have active A and E problems, or those who have been IV drug users at any point in their lives or sexual partners of past or present IV drug users). Also have conversations with those whose risk is less obvious (those who might not discuss unsafe sex practices, who could have been infected during an unsanitary tattoo or piercing).

Discuss topics like prevention through available vaccines and safe practices around sexual activity, preventative hygiene habits (not sharing razors, toothbrushes), and drug use. Also be willing to guide patients to available testing and have some information about current treatments.

With such a push to end the threat of hepatitis across the globe, nurses can do their part from the close relationships they develop with patients. The earlier hepatitis infection is detected, the greater likelihood of starting treatment that can be potentially life-saving.

5 Tips for Making the Transition to Nursing School

5 Tips for Making the Transition to Nursing School

New student orientation at most colleges and universities starts within the next six weeks, and for new nursing students, the prospect is both exciting and daunting.

How can you make the transition to nursing school easier? Here are five tips.

1. Get to Know Your School

Follow your new school’s social channels. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer excellent insights into what your school is all about, and they’ll probably even share tips that will help you. Check out the campus maps online, and take a virtual tour, so you’ll know where all the buildings are, where you might grab a bite to eat, and where you’ll find your classes and the gym.

2. Learn About the Area

Your campus might seem like a bubble, but it probably is an integral part of the wider community. Whether your school is in an urban center or a rural outpost, find out about the neighborhood. What’s around the school? How are students helping out in the community? Are there places that seem safer than others? Look at the local Chamber of Commerce to find out about nearby attractions and things to do.

3. Find Our About Your Courses

Nursing often has one of the most structured curriculum plans in any school. With so many required courses, it’s good to have an idea of what you’ll need to graduate. The school’s course catalog (often found online) is an excellent resource. Here, you’ll find out about the faculty in your department, the required courses and credits for your degree, and the course descriptions. If you know this, you’ll have a good idea of what your college courses should look like, and you’ll be less likely to be surprised by any forgotten requirements.

4. Meet People

Host or go to a gathering of students in your area. Join a Facebook group for your class and any of the clubs you’re interested in. Talk to your roommate in one way or another. If you are close enough, take a trip to campus to walk around and talk with people. Once you get to campus, you’ll be glad to meet up with familiar people.

5. Get Excited

Yes, this is like stepping into the big unknown. But, it’s also the start of a journey that will take you to one of the most rewarding careers possible. You’ll have successes and failures, and you’ll learn different things from both. Start envisioning this new path and welcome the changes it will bring.

What Is Nursing Informatics?

What Is Nursing Informatics?

According to the HIMSS 2017 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, nursing informaticists are in a growing field that offers a rewarding career move and one that also helps to advance the field of nursing. Nursing informaticists use their nursing backgrounds, cutting-edge technology, and all the data, communication, and information that is produced in the field to make a healthier world.

According to the American Medical Informatics Association, nurse informaticists are challenged with a wide set of responsibilities, most of which focus on the systems and technologies in which patient information, healthcare results, and research findings are used, stored, and connected. Survey respondents classified their jobs into three main categories: systems implementation, utilization and optimization, and systems development.

Some informaticists tasks include building regional and nationally connected data and communication systems, determining the best ways to ensure that research findings are accessible through practice, promoting information presentation and retrieval in a manner that supports safe patient care, and even defining healthcare policies.

According to the survey, nearly half of the respondents reported great career satisfaction earning salaries of more than $100,000. Because the field is progressing so rapidly, given the technological developments, nursing informaticists receive both on-the-job training and additional training. Forty-one percent of the respondents said they are participating in some kind of degree program to get additional training—including a formal degree program or a non-degree degree program or coursework.

Many nursing informaticists are registered nurses and then go on to earn a bachelor’s or master’s in nursing to gain expertise in the field. Some nursing informaticists might earn an advanced degree in an information technology area like computer science. For those looking to earn an advanced degree, scholarships are available through the American Nursing Informatics Association.

If you are interested in nurse informatics, certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center is also available and the survey results showed that about 51 percent of respondents indicated they would be pursuing some kind of certification and that they thought this additional education would have a positive impact on their careers.

If you’re a nurse who enjoys technology, check out this branch of nursing.

What Is Your Career Fear?

What Is Your Career Fear?

One of the most dreaded job interview questions is this: “What is your biggest fear?” Like a deer caught in headlights, many job candidates don’t know how to answer such a question—should you admit your real fear or should you turn it into a “positive” and skim over it all?

Even if you aren’t job hunting right now, the question, “What is your biggest fear?” is an excellent way to assess your career hopes and plans. Figuring out your underlying dissatisfaction and what areas you are most concerned about can help jolt you into taking action to overcome your biggest concern.

What’s you career fear?

I am not getting anywhere.

After years of being in the same role, it’s easy to assume your chances for advancement are limited. If you are unhappy with your role, it’s time to rethink your career path. Do you want a supervisory role or are you looking for more responsibility in your job duties? Do you want to move from one area of nursing to another? Deciding where you want to go is often the first step in achieving your goal.
I am expendable.

Many nurses, at one time or another, feel like their jobs aren’t secure. They aren’t off base—layoffs happen and nurses are often the first target in a hospital staff reduction. They key is to make your presence well-known, well-established, and valuable to your unit and to your whole organization. Always do your best, and go above and beyond your job requirements. Read up on the latest research in your specialty so you’re current with cutting-edge developments. Learn to become the expert on new equipment in your unit. But don’t just do your job and go home. Join a committee within your organization and make an effort to help facilitate change or boost engagement for all employees.
I don’t have the qualifications I need for the job I want.

You can’t fake experience. If you need more qualifications to get the job you want, you have to start somewhere, and you might as well start now. But don’t assume you need another degree. Consider the role you want and see what other people in that role have for qualifications. Would more certification help you? What about a switch to experience in a different department or even another area of the country? Qualifications come in many forms, so decide where your need to boost yours and get started on it.

I could do better than this job, these benefits, this organization.

Feeling dissatisfied is a huge red flag that it’s time for a change. What is the root of your concern? Is your organization in financial or ethical trouble? Maybe it’s time to actively open up your own job search. Is your salary below that of other nurses with your education and experience? It might be, but consider all the other factors that play into your salary total and work-life balance. Would a salary boost require a much longer commute? Is your benefits package more generous than most? Being properly compensated for the job you do is essential, so make sure you consider all the factors surrounding your whole benefits/salary/work-life combination. If you are truly underpaid, it’s time to gather hard evidence and talk to your manager or human resources. And if that fails, a new organization might be your next step.
Confronting your biggest job fear isn’t a fun task, but it’s one that can get you out of a rut and on the road to a career you want.

How to Spot Mental Health Distress in Patients

How to Spot Mental Health Distress in Patients

Mental illness is a major health condition affecting millions of American families. With no regard to education, age, class, family, ethnicity, or gender, mental illness can impact anyone’s life and often has widespread effects.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and helps spread the word about the higher risk of mental illness in minorities own lives and the real barriers minorities face to receiving timely, high-quality, and accessible care.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), rates of mental illness impact minority communities in greater numbers. Culturally, many minority communities have a greater stigma associated with mental illness, so people have a hard time speaking up or admitting they need help. If they do decide to get help, the barriers for finding high-quality, accessible, and affordable care can be insurmountable.

As a result, nurses might routinely see patients who have symptoms of mental illness but won’t address it. Most of these conditions are treatable with the right help, so it’s important to let patients know about available resources or even that what they are feeling is a true biological illness, not something that they can just get over or take care of on their own.

The American Psychiatric Association and the Mayo Clinic offer these indicators that might signal something more serious than a passing phase. Experiencing one or two of these symptoms isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm, but if symptoms are interfering with someone’s ability to perform their normal functions, take care of themselves, work capably, or hold meaningful relationships, then they need to get help.

What are some signs and symptoms to look for?

  • Feeling sad, down, or hopeless
  • Excessive anger or an inability to cope with stress
  • Anxiety, feelings of guilt
  • Withdrawing from social activities, friends, family
  • An inability to keep up with grades or normal work quality
  • Sleeping too much or an inability to sleep
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Extreme mood changes – highs and lows that are beyond average
  • Increased or troublesome use of drugs and alcohol
  • Feelings of being disconnected or experiencing delusions
  • Thoughts of suicide

Many people experience sadness or mood changes throughout their lives. A bad day at work can make you grouchy, and family problems can make you sad and anxious. But lingering problems with these feelings and those that impact daily life need attention.

Be on the lookout for any of these symptoms in your patients and listen to the ways they might express them. If they are in danger of harming themselves or someone else, immediate help is necessary, so call 911 or get your emergency team to respond immediately.

Above all, reassure your patients that, like any other medical illness, mental illness is something that is treatable and nothing they are at fault for. A little compassion can make a huge impact.