Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the days grow shorter and the temperatures cool, many people experience a feeling of “let down” or "winter blues" as the warmth of summer fades into the less active seasons of fall and winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the diagnosis used for people who are affected by depression during one certain time of the year mostly in fall and winter (although it has been noted in spring or summer). Between 4% and 6% of people in the United States suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience a mild form of winter-onset SAD.

It is believed that the lack of sunlight triggers those affected by SAD. The vitamin D that comes from sunlight exposure is important for many body functions, including pain management and mental well-being. Some believe it is a throwback to earlier times when people would instinctively hibernate during the cooler months, staying indoors and out of the harsher temperatures, winds and snow. Researchers have also noted that people who live closer to the equator have less reported cases of SAD. Whatever its causes, SAD can be mild or severely debilitating, causing disruptions at work, home and with many other interpersonal relationships.


Nurse practitioners and medical professionals screen for SAD when a patient comes in with symptoms of depression. The main difference between SAD and other mild depression is the timing and pattern of depression that is attached to the calendar year. Symptoms of SAD include increased sleep and irritability, weight gain that may be caused by carbohydrate cravings, body aches (particularly in the arms or legs) and a reduced sex drive. When these symptoms present, it is important that your physician, nurse practioner, or other medical caregiver notes the presence of the symptoms as well as the severity. Treatments for SAD include phototherapy, anti-depressants, counseling, supplements or any combination therein.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common ailment that falls under the diagnostic umbrella of depressive disorders. A skilled nurse or caring medical professional may be the greatest ally for a person who is fighting against their body’s natural need to hibernate and rest during the winter months, even while the demands of life, family and career continue to push that person ahead. With the right amount of sunlight, it is possible to help the effects of SAD on patients.


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Flight Nurses

Nursing can take you around the world, across the country, into rural, urban or even suburban areas depending on your specialty and the demand for nurses in those areas. Nursing can also take you into the air, especially if you are highly skilled in trauma care and have a high spirit of adventure. A career as a flight nurse is demanding, both mentally and physically, and is perfect for those who revel in a fast-paced environment like an emergency department, but much smaller, less equipped and hundreds or thousands of feet in the air.

flight nurseFlight nurses are nursing professionals who perform critical care on helicopters, airplanes and jets after rescues or in the case of life-threatening trauma from accidents, natural disasters or other catastrophic events as well as transferring patients from hospital to hospital, as the need may arise. Patients range from the elderly man who collapsed in his home to premature infants who may need a rapid transfer to a higher level NICU than what is found within the hospital they were born, and anyone in between who needs immediate care from a qualified hospital. Some flight nurses may also serve as medical escorts for patients with illnesses or injuries that may prohibit them from traveling alone.

Many flight nurses are often specialists in emergency medicine, critical care, ICU nursing or have other training, such as a, EMT or paramedic. Mentally, flight nurses need to be prepared for some of the hardest patient care possible, especially when dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, vehicle accidents, neonatal care or even in a military setting. The job is demanding physically, as well, and flight nurses are expected to be in top physical shape in order to perform some of the potential job functions, such as triage in tight spaces or even being part of a rescue team.

Beyond an RN to BSN degree in nursing, extra certifications and experience may be required for flight nurses. Most flight nurses are expected to have worked in an emergency department, critical care or intensive care unit for two or more years. Certifications in life support, resuscitation and trauma nursing are also desired, plus any additional education or experience that can reflect the nurse’s ability to make quick decisions that help stabilize and save lives. For flight nurses who serve as a medical escort, it may be beneficial to have experience or certifications in the illnesses of the patients being cared for. Lastly, it is important that a flight nurse is able to process trauma and the experience of being “on call” or the ability to function in high-altitude situations.

Flight nursing is a competitive job with little turnover, because of the challenges and career satisfaction it provides. Critical trauma care is never an easy job, even within a fully staffed and supplied hospital setting, and the nurses who help in life-threatening, flight situations must be highly skilled and mentally and physically competent. Flight nurses go the extra mile to ensure the best care is given to patients who are out of the logistical range of qualified hospitals or medical care centers. Read more about the most popular careers in nursing.

Nurses Teaching Nurses

Some say a nurse’s calling is helping others through difficult moments in their life, especially when they are faced with their own health concerns, or those of their family and friends. Nurses perform a special role in the medical world in which they offer medical knowledge as well as empathy toward patients and loved ones. At times, nurses are the mediators between doctors and patients, explaining complex medical terminology or treatments or performing more hands-on medical tasks than physicians are sometimes able to fit into their patient care. An extension of this calling may be the education of other nurses, giving a nurse the ability to educate her peers with new medical information, strategies and techniques, keeping healthcare her top priority through the education of other nurses. Nurse educators create, improve, employ and assess a variety of educational programs and curricula to enhance the professional growth of registered nurses and student nurses.

nurse educator online nursing degreesNurse educators have the ability to teach within a hospital, including during clinicals or through seminars that train nurses in various specialties. Nurse educators are also able to instruct others in colleges, universities and medically-oriented businesses. Some nurse educators may travel as speakers, while others may remain in their local area, presenting new concepts through workshops and seminars or teaching to their peers in a classroom setting. Nurse educators design curricula, document its impact, write grants and even critique and advise students as they make their way through nursing school. They may have administrative duties beyond instruction, and can even serve important roles in the definition of medical policy within hospitals or as legal or political consultants. Above all, nurse educators are experts in training nurses how to be nurses, and as such, they need to have excellent communication and analytical skills as well as advanced education and experience.

Most hospitals and academic institutions require that a nurse educator obtain a master’s level education. Many nurses begin their actual nursing careers after receiving their Bachelor’s degree, then go on to attend classes for various specialties while still working within hospitals, clinics or other medical facilities. With the demanding schedules of many nurses, fitting in extra classes along with work schedules and family obligations may be difficult. For nurses interested in pursuing a career as a nurse educator, there is always the option of online nursing programs that can fit their advanced education around their schedule, giving the nurse an ability to work, care for family, and still grow within the nurse’s preferred medical or nursing field.

Ensuring the careers of nurse educators means that the practices and edification of nursing and the medical field will continue to grow and evolve as science and technology bring about new medical discoveries, treatments and therapies. Teaching other nurses how to properly care for patients in light of these advances is imperative for the benefit of health care today and in the future. Nurse Education is a career option that benefits the nurse and the world of medicine, as well as patients and their loved ones. It is an excellent career choice for the nurse who wants to do more than patient care, but also help and educate other nurses in specialties, new techniques or therapies.



Caring for your Parents

You know your parents deserve the best level of care possible when it becomes evident that they can no longer provide that care for themselves like they could in years past. Deciding to broach the subject of an assisted living facility, in-home care by a Geriatric Nurse or Elder Care Team, or even moving your parents into your own home can be a hard decision to make. It is even harder to tell your parents that you feel they are not able to provide their own care. This is a decision many families are facing, especially in light of the Baby Boomer generation growing older.

If you have chosen to bring your parent or parents into your home in order to maintain their feeling of independence and assure everyone that they are receiving the best care possible, you are not alone. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 2.3 million elderly parents were living with their kids in the year 2000. By last year, the number had jumped to 3.6 million. This “boom” is creating a bigger need for families to come together in order to provide care for their senior members, whether through specialized facilities or professionals like Geriatric Nurses.

In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, keep in mind that you and your parents are, in a sense, switching your roles. While you were a child, they were responsible for meeting your basic needs, such as preparing meals, washing clothes, etc. As your parent enters your household, their role is different and they may feel that they have to put forth more effort in order to “earn their keep,” or care for you as they did when you were a child. You, on the other hand, may have struggles with maintaining your own independence and authority within the household. This role reversal may be difficult for everyone, but it is definitely manageable if you are well-prepared and both sides are willing to compromise.

Some ways to make the experience easier is by involving your parents in the household decisions you are comfortable with. Meal planning and shopping, scheduling time for medical appointments and activities, transportation, caring for pets and plants can all be a “group effort,” giving each party a voice in the overall decision-making within those realms of the household. If your parent is able to contribute financially, then give them the ability to feel they are part of the household, even if you do not need the money. If they are able to take on household chores, allow them to do what is within their physical ability. Be sure to check with your parents’ medical professional or Geriatric Nurse to learn what activities are most beneficial and least strenuous to their health.

Giving your parents the freedom to function within their new household, while keeping your own independence, is the balance needed when bringing your elderly parents into your house. The benefits of caring for your parents during their "golden years" are numerous and long-lasting, and a way to thank them for the care they provided to you during your own childhood.

Nutrition Nurses

As scientist and researchers discover more evidence about the link between our health and what we eat, more people are turning to dietitians and nutritionists as a way to stave off illnesses or help treat current diseases or disorders. Nutrition nurses are also becoming prominent figures in the care of many people with long-term illnesses such as cancer, diabetes or other diseases that have been shown to occur due to dietary deficiencies or allergies, like Celiac disease.

nutrition nursingMany nurses already give out basic nutritional advice to patients, helping them to care for themselves in one of the most basic ways: through the consumption of healthy foods. Typical advice includes limiting processed foods, eating more vegetables and staying away from foods high in fats or sugars. A nutrition nurse, however, may have in-depth knowledge about which foods are thought or known to help increase iron, immunity or even boost the mood of their patients. They are thought to know more about the particular benefits of different foods and their affects, positive or negative, on the health concerns of patients.

Specializing in nutrition best takes place after receiving a degree in nursing. From there, the nurse can enroll in online nursing programs or earn CEUs (Continuing Education Units) in nutrition. Many clinics and medical specialty offices are looking for nurses to fill this role as a way to treat patients with less actual medical interventions, or as a way to compliment current treatments.

Nutrition nurses help give patients an insight into their health and well-being through avenues that give the patient more control over their own illnesses and health. Fighting disease through the use of food may help patients live longer and have a better outlook on their own health and wellness.

Nurses Need More Education

nurses need more trainingWith the passage of the Healthcare Reform act in March, 2010, over 30 million Americans will be added to the patient loads of doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses. Experts are expecting a deficit of physicians, leading to even more hurried healthcare visits or longer waiting times for patients. A solution to this problem may be both in the further training and education of nurses, as well as broadening their roles within the medical practices, hospitals and clinics.

Many nurses today are licensed with two-year degrees in nursing, giving them a good basis for medical care, but not nearly enough education to fill the gaps between basic nursing skills and physician-level care. In order to bridge this gap, nurses can gain further education or certifications in a more seamless manner than today’s nursing programs. Giving nursing students a better path toward higher education in their field may help inspire them to learn more and become more confident in their skills and career choices. Nurses can also be vital to the development of policies within the medical community, letting their experience, drive and intelligence open up the field of nursing further into the physician's role in medicine in order to ensure that nurses' medical skills are being used for the benefit of society. As the physician shortage draws closer, it may be a logical conclusion to allow nurses to take on more responsibility within their realm of expertise.

Giving nurses and nursing students the ability to further their education and bringing them into the realm of management and policy making within the medical community may be the best solution to the healthcare gap that will likely be experienced in America once the Healthcare Reform Act is put into place. The career satisfaction for nurses comes from knowing that they are able to help their patients get well, and by expanding the education and opportunities for nurses and nursing students, that satisfaction and subsequent excellent patient care is can only grow stronger.


Pediatric Home Health Nurses

pediatric home health nurseIf you have ever had a sick child, you know the care involved with giving them medications, and keeping them healthy and feeling safe while in your care. Unfortunately, there are times when a “childhood illness” needs more than chicken soup and plenty of liquids, and in the case of more complicated illnesses, many parents face the fact that their child may have to be hospitalized.

Pediatric Home Health Nurses are helping to ease this scary time by providing in-home health services to families of children who may not need the full attention of a hospital staff, but who also still require monitoring of their condition and symptoms. Through the availability of telehealth devices and the regular checkups provided by Pediatric Home Health Nurses, children may recuperate from their illnesses in the comfort of their own homes, giving them a sense of familiarity and security and enabling their parents to provide the most normal life for the ill child, as well as for the rest of the family.

Pediatric Home Health Nurses may also help offset the high costs of hospitalization and bring a family together by offering resources and even an extra hand in the family’s day-to-day lives, reducing pressure on the parents of the sick child and enabling them to interact and care for their other children or family members.

With non-hospitalization options available to families of children who may be recuperating from surgery, illness or other health concerns, pediatric home health nurses are helping to increase the normalcy and positive effects of in-home hospice to all members of a family affected by the illness of a child.

Nurse Navigators

Being diagnosed with cancer can bring forth many emotions from not only the patient, but the patient’s loved ones. As there are many different treatments and options for cancer patients to choose from, it can be overwhelming to not only cope with the diagnosis itself, but also to research and understand all that goes into a care plan for a cancer patient. Many oncology clinics and offices are now offering a “Nurse Navigator” service to help the patient understand and make informed choices from the initial cancer diagnosis through treatment and the post-treatment recommendations for health.

Nurse Navigators are case managers and a single point of contact that the cancer patient and family can use if there are any questions or concerns about treatment options. The Nurse Navigator can help explain the diagnosis, give information about side effects and the best way to treat them, help schedule and coordinate appointments, tests and procedures, collaborate with the entire Cancer Support Team and provide community resources, plus a Nurse Navigator can be there to listen to a patient while a doctor focuses on the best course of treatment for the patient.


Nurse Navigators are specialists in their field, and provide more than oncology nursing assistance, but also help bring together the information and resources needed by patients and families in order to facilitate the best treatment possible for the cancer patient. The specialized training for Nurse Navigators goes beyond nursing school and certifications, there is also a love of patient care that doesn't stop at the end of a shift, but continues throughout the patient's journey as they battle cancer.

Breast Cancer linked to Ovarian Cancer Genetic Factor

There are many women’s health issues making headlines as researchers continue to look at the unique physiology and chemical makeup of women and develop techniques for diagnosis and treatment. While heart disease remains the number one health concern for women and men, there are many other health issues faced by women that cannot be ignored.

breast cancer mammogramA genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer, the fifth most common cancer among women, has recently been discovered by researchers, giving the medical world the ability to diagnose and treat women who may be prone to the disease in its early stages, when it is most effective. These same genetic factors may also be linked to breast cancer, a disease that is best known for its detection through regular mammograms. Nurses and medical professionals can best use these recent discoveries to both treat and diagnose these diseases early, giving patients a better chance at survival and recovery. When it comes to illnesses such as cancer, the best prognosis depends on early detection and treatment, as well as healthy living and eating habits.

Women’s health concerns are increasingly being given the time and research needed in order to help fight fatal illnesses and disorders. As research continues into the genetics of humans and more information is provided, the fear of these health concerns is decreasing with the knowledge and application of effective diagnosis and treatment options.

Forensic Nursing

Between advancements in technology and crime rates continuing to climb, specialized medical professionals are needed to help collect physical evidence that can be used to prosecute criminals and potentially save lives. Forensic nurses are a large part of these efforts with their specialized training and access to patients in emergency rooms, clinics and through SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) programs that help victims of sexual assault, abuse and rape.

Forensic nursing began to be recognized as a specialty of nursing in the early 90’s when the first national conference for sexual assault nurses which led to the founding of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. Forensic nurses work with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trauma and can even work with victims of elder or child abuse. They may also work in correctional or mental health nursing, or work with coroners or even at crime scenes. Their skills are needed in order to properly collect and catalog evidence that is left on a person’s body, as well as give resources and support for the mental well-being of the victim. Some Forensic nurses even act as legal representatives or experts in court.


The education requirements for a forensic nurse may vary depending on the requirements of the job. It is necessary to have a R.N. degree as well as post-graduate, masters or doctoral work in forensics as well as experience with criminal investigation or the legal system. A Forensic Nurse is required to not only provide medical care, but also care for patients by helping to secure any evidence that may help prosecute the perpetrator of crimes against them.


Forensic Nursing can be a fast-paced and interesting career choice for a person who not only wishes to help heal others, but also to bring justice to those who have been wronged in criminal actions. Caring for those who have been victimized is a hard, but rewarding job that can make a difference to the victims and the community at large.