Colonoscopies Help Detect Deadly Colon Cancer

Colonoscopies Help Detect Deadly Colon Cancer

Of all the cancer screenings people have routine access to, the colonoscopy seems to be the one most maligned. And while it’s certainly inconvenient and is a long process, it’s also one of the best tools for early detection and even prevention of colorectal cancers.

For the past 21 years, March has been designated as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness about the disease and to give survivors and those whose lives have been touched by colorectal cancer a voice.

Screening for colorectal cancer is more complicated than a blood draw, but the test can actually detect abnormal cells that can eventually become cancer. Those abnormal cells and polyps can be removed during the procedure, thereby often preventing the disease from becoming malignant and spreading.

Despite a colonoscopy’s inconvenience, the payback is enormous. According to the American Cancer Society, patients whose cancer is detected early, or as a pre-cancer, generally have more treatment options available to them. Because colorectal cancer is the second leading deadly cancer of men and women, colonoscopies save lives.

This month, be sure to remind your patients about the importance of this screening test. Each patient is different, but these guidelines supplied by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance can help people understand when they should start testing.

  • Are you experiencing symptoms?
    • Talk to your doctor immediately
  • Do you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps?
    • Get screened at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother)
  • Are you African American?
    • Get screened beginning at age 45
  • Do you have a genetic link to colorectal cancer such as Lynch Syndrome, FAP, etc.?
    • Family members who tested positive for a relevant mutation(s) should start colonoscopy screening during their early 20s, or 2 to 5 years younger than the youngest person in the family with a diagnosis, and repeat it every 1-2 years.
      Family members who have not been tested yet should be screened during their early 20s, or 2 to 5 years younger than the youngest person in the family with a diagnosis.
  • Do you have a personal history of cancer?
    • Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 45
  • Do you have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or Crohn’s disease?
    • Talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 45

Educating patients about this cancer can motivate them to get screened for the first time or to keep up with a screening plan already in place. The organization Fight Colorectal Cancer has some excellent tips that can help with the colonoscopy prep. Some people are surprised to find out they can make the preparation of emptying their bowels easier if they start modifying their diet a week before the colonoscopy. Avoid lots of fiber-rich foods for that week—like raw fruits and vegetables, high-fiber cereal or whole grain breads—means there’s less to clean out when it’s time to completely empty the bowels for the colonoscopy prep. And anything that makes the test easier makes people less likely to avoid doing it.

Remind your patients, friends, and family members about the importance of getting colonoscopies when they are recommended. That one test could save their lives.

How Nursing Students Can Manage Midterm Stress

How Nursing Students Can Manage Midterm Stress

If you’re a nursing student, this time of year generally brings a schedule full of midterm exams and projects. Many students say this time of year is the toughest for studying. The weather is still chilly, and everyone’s ready for something, anything, than what they have to get done.

Being a nursing student is stressful and pretty busy in general. You’ve got a lot of work to do, a limited amount of time, and haven’t shaken off the winter hibernation mode yet. If that sounds familiar, here are a few ideas to help you power through this tough time.

Block It Out

The news is full of upsetting events. Coronavirus. Politics. Climate change. Influenza. If you have a fear or an anxiety, there’s probably something about it in the news. You’ve got work to do and world events are overly distracting—but you also can’t just pretend it’s not happening. Set aside specific times to check in with daily events. Don’t scroll through on your phone every hour. Resist the urge to check the news on TV when you’re making dinner or eating with friends. Being in control over the way you consume the information will make it less distracting and leave you time to focus.

Find Your Study Sweet Spot

You might find studying in the library is not the best location for you. Maybe you prefer studying in the gym with the rest of your gym buddies or your team. Maybe a coffee shop is for you or a lounge in your school’s campus center. Or maybe your best study spot is a comfy corner in an academic building. Wherever you can focus on your work and get the most done is the place for you to go during midterms. Find that place and set yourself up with snacks, a water bottle or some coffee, and get your work cranked out.

Time to Relax Isn’t Wasted Time

Endless studying is actually going to work against you. Your brain needs to take breaks to help it process what you are learning and what you are trying to get done. The key is to plan it into your day. A couple of hours of cramming deserve to be followed by a short walk with a friend or some time listening to your favorite podcast or watching funny cat videos. Plan a dinner in which your only company isn’t just a textbook. Connect with your family, friends, or pets. Take time to eat. Watch a movie. You’ll actually give your brain a much needed rest so it, and you, can perform best.

Pay Attention to Self-Care

You probably are going to skimp on sleep during midterms. There’s a lot to get done and only so many hours in the day. But try to keep as much to a schedule as you can. Fit in short naps during the day if you’re really dragging—they will refresh you. In this time of flu and colds, be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water—even when you feel like you’re washing your hands all the time. Stay hydrated with lots of liquids (water is always best) or even fruits and veggies like watermelon and cucumbers. Get outside when you can because sunshine and fresh air are refreshing to tired bodies.

Get Help

If you feel overwhelmed by the academics or the life overload, get help. Tutors, student success centers, study groups, or even reliable online help can give you a better understanding of work that you’re having difficulty with. Many schools offer counseling centers where trained therapists can help you manage the stress and anxiety many nursing students feel during midterms (or at any other time as well). The help is out there and taking advantage of it can help you through this tough spot.

Remember, midterms will be over soon enough and you’ll be on to the next great challenge that nursing school brings. This is part of the road to a career that will be rewarding to you and will make a huge impact on humanity. Good luck—you’ve got this!


Got the Winter Blahs? Tips to Banish Them

Got the Winter Blahs? Tips to Banish Them

Let’s face it—February’s 28 days (29 this year!) can seem like they last for years. The winter blahs tend to hit hard when the cold won’t let up and there’s no tropical vacation in sight.

Try out these options for when you need to bust out of your winter rut.

Get Outside

Believe it or not, getting outside, even when it’s cold, can help banish the winter blahs. If you aren’t the type for active winter sports like skiing, skating, or snowboarding, a brisk walk is a huge mood booster. Make sure you are dressed appropriately—layer up and pay special attention to protecting your hands, feet, and face. You’ll enjoy being outside if you’ve got the gear to offer warmth. Even better, grab a friend for company and catch up.

Take a Nap

There’s something about the dark winter that makes you want to curl up and hibernate a little. If the winter blahs are making your body crave a little extra rest, snuggle under the blankets and take a midday snooze on your day off. Don’t take it too late in the day and don’t make it too long, but you might notice a big pick-me-up from listening to your body.

Brighten Your Plate

In-season winter fruits and vegetables offer gorgeous colors and vitamins to help boost your immune system and banish the winter blahs. For nurses who care for and are around ill people frequently, anything you can do to supercharge your immune system will help keep you healthy this winter. Make a green veggie smoothie, roast squashes, put a vegetable soup together, or eat a salad with fruit.

Pretend It’s Summer

When you want something you know is impossible, you can always pretend. Slather on a little coconut-scented sunscreen, put a bowl of shells on the table, or listen to some recorded ocean waves. Break out your favorite summer movie or soundtrack, drink a pina colada (with alcohol or not), and buy some bright fresh flowers. If nothing else, it will remind you that it won’t be winter forever.

Find Other People

For those who hole up in the winter months, the stretch until spring can seem a little lonely. This is a great time to make an effort to connect with other people. It can be as small as visiting with neighbors, seeing family, taking a short class in something fun, going to a gym to keep up with your fitness goals, or volunteering your time every now and then. The key is to make a connection with others.

According to Punxsutawney Phil, spring isn’t too far away. Until then, try out some of these tips to banish the winter blahs to see if it makes winter a little more bearable.


Recognizing Critical Care Transport Nurses on February 18

Recognizing Critical Care Transport Nurses on February 18

Critical care transport nurses work to keep patients stable and healthy while they are being moved, and every February 18, their work is honored. The day recognizes how critical their work is to the healthcare organization.

Critical care transport nurses work in diverse and constantly changing conditions. They might be Med-Flighting a critically injured patient from a car accident or they may be moving an ill elderly patient from a nursing home to a medical facility. Those two fairly typical scenarios show just how prepared critical care transport nurses must be for whatever situation a day at work brings.

Founded nearly 40 years ago, the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA) is the professional organization for nurses in the field and sponsors this recognition day. According to the ASTNA, this career path is one that relies on skills build from a solid foundation of education and practice around nursing and trauma care.

The ASTNA offers the following education and experience requirement guidelines to become a critical care transport nurse:

  • Registered nurse standing in the state you’ll practice in
  • Two to three years of critical care/emergency experience or applicable acute care nursing environment
  • BCLS – Basic Cardiac Life Support
  • ACLS – Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certificate
  • PALS – Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certificate
  • NRP – Neonatal Resuscitation Program
  • A nationally recognized trauma program such as TPATC (Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TPATC), BTLS (Basic Trauma Life Support), PHTLS (Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum)
  • Certifications such as Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) may be required within six months to one year of hire
  • Some states may require nurses to have EMT-B or EMT-P (Paramedic) certification.

These requirements show the broad knowledge critical care transport nurses must have as they can be called on to use each skill at any given moment. They could be treating patients who range in age from newborn to centenarians. Their trauma skills need to be current and precise, and they also have to develop the ability to provide critical care in a moving vehicle or in flight. That means critical care transport nurses need to be able to react with exceptional speed and in with a calm and controlled manner.

If you’re a student nurse thinking of this role, know you’ll need to have an agility to simultaneously assess

  • the situation (a neighborhood with a mom who is in labor to a dangerous industrial accident site)
  • the patient (taking into account the location could be a home, highway, medical facility, office building, forest, or even a battlefield for military nurses)
  • the conditions (normal, blizzard, hurricane, flooding)
  • the transport vehicle (ambulance, helicopter, medical transport plane)

The work is exciting and satisfying for nurses who are willing and able to work in many layers of changing conditions. Critical care transport nurses often bring a sense of calm and relief to a patient who understands someone is now there to help them, provide care, and bring them to safety.

Critical care transport nurses deserve the recognition they get today – thank a critical care transport nurse in your life!


4 Quick and Effective Job Interview Tips

4 Quick and Effective Job Interview Tips

Do you ever wonder what makes one job candidate stand out enough in a job interview to actually get hired?

Being the best job candidate you can be takes time, effort, and a lot of preparation on your part. Now is the time when you have to raise your game so you become the job prospect who gets hired. Truth be told, you probably feel a little worn out after submitting your resume to many job openings and you’re just ready to get through this final step. Maybe you think your grad experience or your resume and exceptional work experience should speak for themselves—you know you’ve got what it takes to be part of their team.

The job interview has many layers. Yes, it’s about making sure you would be a good candidate who can do the job well. Any organization wants to know they have hired someone who is qualified, reliable, and professionally competent. But another layer of the interview is to see if you would fit in with the culture and mission of the organization.

Nurses know each workplace has a slightly different environment and work culture. Depending on the unit, the shift, and the established work guidelines, nurses will find they thrive better in one organization than another. That’s a natural part of any workplace and finding the right fit is something that can’t be found on a resume. Interviewers hope they can ask questions to understand how your background, personality, work expectations, work ethic, and training will help advance their team and provide their patients with the best care.

How can you prepare for that kind of pressure?

  1. Find Out More

Do a little investigating of your own before heading to a job interview. Understand the culture of the organization and find out how the teams work. Look at LinkedIn profiles, check out social media posts, and read up on the place’s history. Find out all you possibly can. No interviewer wants to explain a company to an interviewee. They expect you will come with an understanding of what they do and why.

  1. Understand What You Can Do for Them

If you’re applying for a job, an organization knows it can help you fill that immediate need. As an interviewee, you’re in the position where you need to sell yourself. Successful job candidates know you can’t just sell yourself by relaying all your accomplishments. Telling your interviewer about everything that’s on your resume isn’t the best use of anyone’s time. They have your resume—now they want to find out what you can do to help them. Where will you fit in and why will that help that healthcare organization be better? That’s what any interviewer wants to know. Don’t make them dig for that information in a job interview.

  1. Don’t Throw Away Your Shot

If you think you have only one chance to get something right, you’ll do your best. Well, this is your one shot to get it right. Today’s job interviewers don’t have time to coddle an interviewee. They want you to be prepared, to be dressed appropriately, to have any materials you need, to have references ready to go, and to be ready to answer their questions thoughtfully and thoroughly.

  1. Don’t Leave the Obvious Unsaid

You might think your five years on NICU will help you land this new role in a similar unit. You might be right, but do you want to leave that to chance? If two interviewees have the same experience, be the one who can demonstrate with anecdotes and proven results. Choose a few of your accomplishments in your last role and be ready to talk about how those results helped your last organization and also how it helped you professionally. Don’t assume your resume tells your story. The resume is the headline—the interview is the rest of the story.

Before you head to your next job interview, take some time for preparation and see what kind of a difference it makes in your interview process.