Category Archives: Good to know

Health Tip 101: Make Time for Proper Hand-Washing

According to a Michigan State study, ninety-five percent of people don’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom. But as startling as that statistic may sound, BYU College of Nursing professors aren’t phased by it.

“I believe it,” assistant teaching professor Karen Lundberg says, sharing her reaction to the study. “I think too many of us are complacent and don’t want to take the time to wash hands properly.” Lundberg teaches a Global Health class across rural Vietnam. She says that proper hand washing technique is one of the first things she teaches her young patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), proper hand-washing starts by getting your hands wet and applying soap to get a lather. The next step is to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, taking special care to lather the backs of the hands, between the fingers, and under fingernails.

“We teach children to sing the alphabet song while they wash their hands,” Lundberg suggests. “It’s something they can remember and helps them wash their hands thoroughly. It’s important that they take the time to expose germs to enough soap and water.” For those who don’t like to sing their ABCs, the CDC says that singing the “Happy Birthday” song two times from beginning to end is also a great way to measure proper hand lathering.

However, assistant teaching professor Daphne Thomas adds that just adding soap and water for 20 seconds isn’t enough to get your hands clean. You also need to get good friction between your hands.

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“Getting good friction during hand-washing is important because it gets the hands clean and helps get the germs off,” she says.

After 20 seconds of lathering and friction, the CDC recommends rinsing your hands with clean, running water, before drying them off using a clean towel or air dryer (for more, check out this handwashing demonstration video).

But if hand washing is such a simple task, why do so few of us take the time to do it right? Associate teaching professor Ron Ulberg shares his perspective from his time working on Intensive Care Units (ICU).

“We are constantly busy,” Ulberg explains. “Oftentimes we allow the busyness of what we’re doing to get in the way of the due diligence of hand-washing. As nurses, it’s important that we take the time to wash hands properly. We need to make sure we don’t bring in any germs when we work with the patient.” And as the weather gets colder and flu/cold season kicks into high gear, the presence of germs will only increase.

“Proper hand-washing is something that may seem really small and simple; it only takes a few extra seconds out of your day,” Lundberg says. “But in the long-run it’s so important to the health of our community.”

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College of Nursing Masterpiece Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Few BYU students may realize that one of the most iconic paintings on campus is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. That’s because they can’t find this masterpiece in any traditional Museum of Art gallery or HFAC display, but in the nursing student lounge on the first floor of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

In 1992, the BYU College of Nursing commissioned former BYU professor Trevor Southey to paint a work entitled “I Would Learn the Healer’s Art.” The four-by-six foot oil on canvas commemorated the 40th anniversary of the College. The painting’s inspiration came from a line from the hymn, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” that has become a motto for the College: “I would be my brother’s keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.”

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Southey wanted the painting to capture an intimate moment of healing between nurses and patients. He experimented with several different ideas in his sketches and finally decided to leave the patient resting peacefully, as the nurse prepares to care for her charge. Her arms are delicately out-stretched, ready to practice the Healer’s Art.

“I really love this painting not only because of its beauty, but also because of the symbolism it contains,” dean and professor Dr. Patricia Ravert shares.

Trevor Southey Healers Art

“I Would Learn the Healer’s Art” contains three specific symbols that form an inverted triangle within the painting. The red square on the right side of the painting represents blood and the human experience. Opposite the square is a golden sphere that symbolizes the spirit and things of eternity. At the bottom of the painting is an eternal flame, a tribute to the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

“I think ‘I Would Learn the Healer’s Art’ does a great job of showing what it means to be compassionate,” observes nursing student McKenna Warren. “That’s something that we try to learn, not only as nursing students, but also as disciples of Jesus Christ.”

For more information, watch this video: I Would Learn The Healer’s Art

Cholesterol: The Inside Story

When someone says cholesterol, it’s easy for someone to immediately think about heart attacks and regret devouring that greasy burger at lunch. Others may zone out when they start hearing scientific terms like HDL and triglycerides—comedian Steven Wright once made the tongue-in-cheek remark, “I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.”

With September being National Cholesterol Education Month, Learning the Healer’s Art sat down with BYU College of Nursing assistant professor Dr. Neil Peterson to learn the important facts about cholesterol and its impact on the body.

Learning the Healer’s Art: You’re one of our experts here in the College on physical fitness and related topics. This whole month is National Cholesterol Education Month and we’re trying to explain to students what cholesterol is and why it matters. What is cholesterol?

Dr. Neil Peterson: Cholesterol is an essential compound that stabilizes literally every cell in our body. It’s part of the cell wall. Some of the cholesterol you get from nutritional intake, but the rest of it is made by your body. Your body can usually make enough cholesterol for you to live on. Cholesterol is necessary for all of your cells and hormones and the bile that helps to break down fat that you eat. You do need cholesterol. It always has a bad connotation, of course, but it’s essential for living, kind of like fat. Everybody thinks fat is bad, but it’s essential as well.

LTHA: So cholesterol is something that your body needs.

Peterson: Yes. Not only does your body use it for all of your cell walls, but you need it for some hormones like testosterone and estrogen. It’s involved in the synthesis of Vitamin D, which is particularly important during winter time because people who have low levels of Vitamin D might be more depressed or have Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s used in your bile which your body uses to break down fat that you eat, which is plentiful in the American diet.

LTHA: If we get most of our cholesterol naturally, when we eat a lot of unhealthy food, does that bring a lot of unnecessary cholesterol?

Peterson: Yes, that’s true. Now usually your body handles that just fine by processing it and just sending it right through your body. But still some of it does get absorbed, and the problem with that is excess cholesterol along with high amounts of fat can get deposited between cells and contribute to the hardening of your arteries. You’re more likely to have decreased blood flow and have strokes, heart attacks, and stuff like that.

LTHA: So if you get too much cholesterol, your body cannot handle all of it and it gets jammed in your veins?

Peterson: If your body cannot get rid of it, it just deposits it in places in your body. Generally we talk about two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol– High Density Lipoprotein (HDL)–and bad cholesterol, which is LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein. What happens is your body sends cholesterol out everywhere and transports it using LDL, but you don’t want it out there if it’s not being used. The way that your body brings it back to the liver is through HDL. Since we almost always have an excess of LDL, then you really want a high HDL (or good cholesterol) to bring it back to the liver to be processed and sent out of the body.

LTHA: What do you have to do to have high HDL?

Peterson: There’s a few things you can do. Exercise is one. Exercising increases HDL production. A lot of it has to do, we suspect, through this mechanism of increased blood through, especially at the skin level. When you exercise, especially vigorously, you can increase your HDL. Having a higher body weight or higher BMI can sometimes make it harder for your body to produce more HDL or you end up making more LDL cholesterol. Women tend to have really good HDL because of their hormones, but men’s HDL tends to not be as good.

LTHA: Does an unhealthy diet contribute?

Peterson: It mostly contributes to high fat content and also LDL, so bad cholesterol, but there’s a few things you can try to take to try and increase HDL naturally like Niacin*.

LTHA: When I go to the doctor and they test my cholesterol, what are they measuring?

Peterson: We have the ability to test lots of different types of cholesterol, but in general they’re looking at your triglycerides, which are a reflection of your diet. High sugar intake and high carbon intake will bump that up significantly. Then they look at LDL and HDL, and then they can look at other things like the ration of good to bad cholesterol, your total amount of cholesterol. One nice thing to look at is the ratio because if maybe your bad cholesterol is on the higher end, but if you’ve got really good HDL and as your body deposits the cholesterol you’re able to compensate for it by bringing it all back using your good cholesterol, then that’s not as bad. But you could have a normal LDL but if your HDL is so low that it can’t protect you from the LDL deposits peripherally, then you can still be in trouble.

LTHA: What are triglycerides?

Peterson: Triglycerides are a reflection of your diet. We do put that in with our cholesterol panel when we draw that on somebody.

LTHA: What are some health problems associated with having an HDL/LDL imbalance?

Peterson: When you have a hardening of the arteries, everybody usually thinks about having heart disease. What I think that some people don’t realize is that the hardening of the arteries is literally happening everywhere in your body. You have a higher chance of having heart disease, you have a higher chance of having a stroke of brain disease from those blood vessels being hardened, kidney problems, liver problems, everywhere. Blood vessels feed your entire body, and if those vessels are hardening everywhere, then you could be in trouble anywhere in your body from that. We just happen to see its affects more readily in places like the heart and brain.

LTHA: Is healthy living the main way to avoid these problems?

Peterson: Yes. To some degree you can’t stop it from happening because like I said your body naturally makes cholesterol and you need it for a lot of different things. Some is naturally going to get deposited in your blood vessels, but you can do some things to try to limit that, especially exercise. Good diet, as well. You can’t get cholesterol from plants; plants in general don’t contribute to your cholesterol at all. Eating lots of plant-based foods would prevent you from having too much dietary intake of cholesterol. We get it all from animal sources: beef, chicken, pork, stuff like that because again it’s animal-type cells that make cholesterol.

*Peterson notes that versions of Niacin that are promoted as “flush-free” deactivate the property of Niacin that addresses cholesterol problems and are significantly less useful.

Happy Fall (Prevention Awareness Day)!

In 2007, a window washer astonished the world when miraculously he survived a 47-story fall. This past February, thousands of Youtubers viewed the footage of a Utah man surviving a 90-foot fall in the Grand Canyon.

While sensational falls like these attract a lot of media attention, they are just the tip of the iceberg.

In fact, the CDC estimates that every second of every day, an older American falls, making falls “the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans.”

That’s why today, the first day of fall, is Fall Prevention Awareness Day, sponsored by the American Council on Aging. The idea is to spread awareness of the dangers posed to seniors by falling and highlight preventative measures.

The CDC explains, “Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The CDC also estimates that the problem will increase as more and more Americans turn 65.

“[Falls] are very common in the older population,” says assistant teaching professor Dr. Blaine Winters, an expert on head injuries and gerontology. He believes that most falls go unreported despite the massive dangers they pose. Part of this, he thinks, comes from a lack of understanding about the nature of fall injuries or the health risks that can lead to them.

“Many times we hear ‘Oh, she fell and broke her hip,’ but in reality her hip broke because of osteoporosis which made her fall,” he says. He also points out that many times the consequences of a fall worsen over time, meaning that many Americans do not initially seek treatment and thus increase the chance of more serious health problems like a stroke.

That is why, Winters says, anyone, particularly older adults, who has fallen should promptly visit the emergency room. However, even more important are the preventative measures that even college students can start in order to reduce their future risk of falling.

“Fall prevention begins before you’re at risk for falls,” he says. Health living, including exercise, is critical to maintaining strong and flexible muscles into old age. Having proper lighting and removing tripping hazards in homes are also important.

Exciting New NLC Tech Transforms Student Learning Experience

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Assistant Lab Supervisor Kristen Whipple watches as students learn how to operate the new Pyxis MedStation

One of BYU’s top learning facilities got some exciting new upgrades this summer. Among the more exciting improvements, the Mary Jane Rawlinson Geertsen Nursing Learning Center (NLC) now boasts eighteen new hospital beds, two new state-of-the-art classroom manikins, and two new Pyxis MedStation 4000 systems.

“In the NLC, our goal is to simulate real-life nursing scenarios for our students, so they are better prepared when they enter a hospital for first time,” said NLC supervisor Colleen Tingey. “The Pyxis MedStations are what students are most likely to see in Utah area hospitals.”

“Pyxis is actually a real, clinical machine that we use as a teaching tool,” Assistant Lab Supervisor Kristen Whipple added. “But the same Pyxis machine we use here could be used in any hospital.”

Acquired through a donation by the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, the Pyxis MedStation 4000 is a computerized medical dispenser that is quickly becoming a standard piece of equipment for nurses across the country. The Pyxis MedStation is programmed with a patient database to help nurses keep track of all of their patient’s specific medical needs.

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“The whole idea behind the machines is to improve patient safety,” Tingey explained. “Because the patient’s record is already programmed into the machine, it can then dispense the right medication for that patient and help the nurse avoid medical errors.”

Prior to this summer, the NLC had just one older version of Pyxis to use for all nursing simulations, which often ran simultaneously. Nervous nursing students would often waste valuable time waiting to get meds for their simulation because of backlog at the older machine.

“We’re really excited to have two Pyxis machines, instead of just one,” Whipple said. “Now it’s easier for students to access them during their simulations.”

Thanks to the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, NLC also welcomed two new additions to the College of Nursing manikin family. The new arrivals (one adult and one child) are auscultation manikins that help students learn to identify heart, lung, and bowel noises.

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Nursing student Aimee Schouten with the new pediatric auscultation manikin.

Students can use a stethoscope to listen to the manikin’s heart rate and breathing. Computer programs allow the professor to control what sounds the student hears, as well as the area on the manikin that the sound comes from. The professor can also program the manikin to emit different types of sounds or project the sound through a speaker, so the whole class can hear.

“When students practice on each other, they get to hear normal sounds,” Tingey explained. They get to hear what normal, healthy patients sound like. But they don’t get the opportunity to hear abnormal heart sounds. These manikins provide an opportunity for students to hear what an abnormal heart sounds like.”

Nursing faculty are especially excited about the new pediatric auscultation manikin. Whipple said that nursing faculty had specifically asked for this device to better teach pediatrics to nursing students. “Small children don’t just behave like small adults,” Whipple pointed out. “Their bodies are different than adult bodies; so we need to train in what’s specific to them. This pediatric simulator acts like a pediatric body would and helps us identify those sounds that are unique to children.”

The new adult auscultation manikin has several unique features that are useful to professors and nursing students. Professors can use the adult manikin’s computer program to display EKGs, phonograms, and ultra-sounds. This allows students to see the physiology behind any abnormal sounds they may hear.

“Basically, this manikin allows our students to not only identify abnormalities like heart tremors,” Tingey said. “But it also allows students to learn how the sound correlates to what’s happening in the heart.”

 

 

 

Four Steps to Food Safety

 

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Practicing Proper Food Safety Techniques Can Help Keep You Family Safe               (Image Courtesy of CDC)

An undercooked steak could be the difference between a good night’s sleep and a trip to the ER. Every year 48 million Americans suffer from one of the most preventable diseases on the planet—food poisoning. As part of National Food Safety Education Month, here are four easy tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent food poisoning.

4%20steps to food safety - clean, separate, cook, chill

(Image Courtesy of CDC)

     1. CleanAccording to the National Health Service (NHS), a single flu virus can survive on your kitchen countertop for up to 24 hours. Use antibacterial soaps and cleaning supplies to rid your kitchen of any germs that may linger on your hands, utensils, or cutting boards. The CDC also recommends rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables under running water to clean off any dirt or pesticides before consumption.

(Check out this USDA Food Safety “Clean” Video for more details)

 

      2. Separate

Have you ever wondered why you need a separate bag for raw meats at the grocery store? This is to prevent cross-contamination—the spread of bacteria from one source to another, particularly from raw meat to other foods. Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods. Also, be sure to sanitize any surfaces or utensils that touch raw meat or meat juices before using them elsewhere.

Make Sure You Separate Food to Prevent Cross-Contamination                  (Image Courtesy of CDC)

(Check out this USDA Food Safety “Separate” Video for more Details)

 

     3. Cook

How do you know if your steak is cooked well enough? Just because it looks done does not necessarily mean it’s bacteria-free. Checking your food’s internal temperature with a food thermometer is a key way to make sure it is fully cooked.

The CDC recommends the following internal temperatures for different dishes:

  • 145˚F: Internal Temperature for whole beef, lamb, fin fish, fresh pork and ham.
  • 160˚F: Internal Temperature for ground beef, pork, and lamb, and any egg dishes
  • 165˚F: Internal Temperature for all poultry (including ground chicken and turkey), stuffing, leftovers, and casseroles

(Check out this USDA Food Safety “Cook” Video for more Details)

 

       4. Chill

Did you know that germs can grow on some foods within two hours if they are not properly refrigerated? The CDC recommends keeping your refrigerator below 40˚F to slow bacterial growth. Check food labels and ensure that perishable food items are properly refrigerated. Also, be sure to thaw frozen meats properly using a microwave or cold water.

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(Check out this USDA Food Safety “Chill” Video for more Details)

 

 

For additional information, see the links below:

https://www.cdc.gov/features/befoodsafe/index.html

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/how-long-do-bacteria-and-viruses-live-outside-the-body.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/education-month.html

 

 

Nursing Student Works to Raise Money to Combat Childhood Cancer and Honor His Grandfather

BYU College of Nursing student James Reinhardt’s grandfather has always been a positive example for him. He loves admiring his grandfather’s woodwork in the handmade clock in the family house, and he describes the former elementary school teacher as a peacemaker and a critical influence in the life of Reinhardt’s father.

There is only one catch: Reinhardt has never met him. His grandfather died of cancer in 1991, but his legacy lives on. That legacy is inspiring Reinhardt to participate in the Great Cycling Challenge USA fundraiser this June, where he will be biking hundreds of miles to raise money to combat childhood cancer.

“I saw it on Facebook, of all places,” Reinhardt says of the event. “It’s essentially where people across the nation will ride for the fight against cancer.” For the challenge, riders pledge to ride a certain number of miles, and they recruit friends and family to donate either by each mile or in a lump sum. Reinhardt hopes to reach $500 by the end of the month.

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Reinhardt’s grandfather, who passed away from cancer in 1991

To complete the challenge, Reinhardt is using a bike that actually belonged to his father while he was in college, and his grandfather’s story drives him to reach the 200-mile goal he has set.

“It’s cool to me to be riding my dad’s bike in honor of his dad who passed from cancer because we all think we’re going to be 100 and that you’re going to be able to see your great grandkids,” he says. “Well, he has to see them from the other side of the veil. That would be pretty cool if we could get more and more research so people could expect to live past their retirement age.”

The Great Cycle Challenge USA’s website says that its riders have gone 3,397,199 miles over the past two years and have raised $4,717,515 for cancer research. Riders often offer incentives to donors to contribute, and Reinhardt is considering letting the highest donor choose a costume for him to wear the last week of June.

Anyone who wishes to support Reinhardt can go to his rider page to donate (https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/JamesReinhardt). Others who want to be riders can go to the Great Cycle Challenge USA website and sign up.