Vital Record » Nursing http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:00:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Addressing public health abroad: Aggies team up to provide health services in Ecuador http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=addressing-public-health-abroad-aggies-team-up-to-provide-health-services-in-ecuador http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=addressing-public-health-abroad-aggies-team-up-to-provide-health-services-in-ecuador#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=24050 This summer, an interdisciplinary group of Aggies - composed of students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy - spent a week abroad providing basic health services to residents of Guamaní, Ecuador. ]]>

This summer, an interdisciplinary group of Aggies – composed of students from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy – spent a week abroad providing basic health services to residents of Guamaní, Ecuador.

A small community of about 39,000 residents, Guamaní lies on the southern outskirts of the country’s capital, Quito. A relatively new, incorporated community, Guamaní deals with many public health issues including water, sewer, transportation, safe recreation and reliable trash removal. The students wasted no time getting to work, and within the first two hours, created:

  • a triage center for medical and dental attention;
  • a pharmacy center for filling prescriptions after seeing a doctor, nurse and/or dentist;
  • an education center to teach positive nutrition and health routines;
  • a child care center;
  • and a public health training and interview center.

Throughout the week, students worked with community residents and leaders to implement a community health assessment, conducted focus groups and visited with families to discuss what public health means to them. Additionally, residents participated in a photo voice exercise, walking the community, photographing and simultaneously commenting on health conditions in Guamaní.

“Being on the ground and learning directly from residents about the public health challenges in Guamaní really allowed us to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom,” said Evelia Castillo, a student in the Master of Public Health program. “Despite the challenges, the people are resilient and resourceful. They are already working to address many of the challenges that were documented. I hope the work we completed in collaboration with Guamaní residents can be used to amplify their current efforts.”

The data will be consolidated in a report and sent to Guamaní leaders and participants for their use in creating and implementing future community health development projects.

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Breast milk or formula: What’s best for baby? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=breast-milk-or-formula-whats-best-for-baby http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=breast-milk-or-formula-whats-best-for-baby#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 20:37:58 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23930 Parenting is no walk in the park, it’s filled with daily decisions – some large, some small - many of which can affect the well being of your child for years to come. One of the most important decisions new moms must make is what they will feed their new bundle of joy: breast milk or formula]]>

Welcome to parenthood, where the decisions come by the dozen and Google becomes an even better friend than it was pre-baby. All joking aside, parenting is no walk in the park, it’s filled with daily decisions – some large, some small – many of which can affect the well being of your child for years to come. One of the most important decisions new moms must make is what they will feed their new bundle of joy: breast milk or formula?

Baby sleeps on mom's chest.

One of the most important decisions new moms must make is what they will feed their new bundle of joy: breast milk or formula?

Shelley White-Corey, M.S.N., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, outlines several options available to new moms, including: exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, a mix of the two or formula.

Exclusive Breastfeeding

“Breastfeeding is a special experience for new moms and promotes bonding through skin-to-skin contact,” White-Corey said. “It can also give the newborn a sense of security.”

Not only is breastfeeding comforting to baby, breast milk is made by nature, meaning it has all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs, as well as antibodies to build up their immune system. It’s also easily digestible.

The most evident advantages though, White-Corey pointed out, are that it is (mostly) free and readily available.

“While breastfeeding is considered “free,” there is a little extra cost in food for mom to consider because she needs to eat 500 more calories per day in order to produce quality milk,” White-Corey said.

Breastmilk is also readily available – no need to tote around bottles and bottle bags – and requires no prep, as it’s already the perfect temperature, making it especially convenient for nighttime feedings.

Obvious disadvantages of breastfeeding include time and commitment.

“Newborns who are breastfed are going to need to be fed more often, around eight to 12 times per day, since the milk is easily digested,” White-Corey said.

While most will agree that breast milk is a good source of nutrition for the baby, many people are uncomfortable seeing mothers breastfeeding in public.

“This can deter new moms from choosing to breastfeed because they may only feel comfortable feeding their baby at home,” White-Corey said. “However, it is important to remember that breastfeeding is a natural thing and it shouldn’t be an issue.”

Exclusive Pumping

Though one of the less common forms of breastfeeding, exclusively pumping – feeding your baby only breast milk from a bottle – may be a good choice for moms with babies that have trouble latching correctly or are not able to breastfeed for other reasons, including illness or prematurity.

Milk production depends on frequent and effective milk removal from the breasts, which can make exclusive pumping a very time-consuming option. Exclusively pumping requires that mothers pump at least eight times in 24 hours.

“Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The more the baby feeds or you pump the more you are going to produce,” White-Corey said. “This is especially important in order to maintain a good milk supply.”

Additionally, exclusive pumpers will need a quality breast pump, which can be pricey. White-Corey suggests calling your insurance company before purchasing a pump, as many now supply electric pumps free-of-charge to expecting mothers.

While pumping, new mothers are going to want a private, comfortable place to do so, and special arrangements may need to be made, especially when going back to work.

“Every workplace should have a designated, private room for pumping. If not, try talking to your manager about what arrangements can be made,” White-Corey said.

Breastfeeding and Pumping

The combination of breastfeeding and pumping is perhaps the most flexible of the two aforementioned options. There are many reasons women choose to both pump and nurse, including: moms who want to return to work, relieving engorged breasts and increasing milk supply.

This option offers the flexibility and ease of feeding your baby in public, along with the bonding that comes with breastfeeding.

Moms who breastfeed and want to go back to work often choose to pump at work and leave a bottle with the caregiver, this way the baby can still get the benefits of breast milk without mom having to be there.

There is the possibility of nipple confusion though, or a preference of a bottle over breast, which can hinder breastfeeding. White-Corey recommended introducing the bottle after breastfeeding is well established, around one month of age, to avoid this issue.

Formula

Formula comes with it’s own unique advantages and disadvantages.

A major advantage of using formula is that anyone can feed the baby, which can ease some of the pressure off of the new mother.

“If the newborn wakes up hungry during the night, either mom or dad can feed the baby with formula,” White-Corey said.

Using formula can also make dad feel more included because he can share the special bond that comes from feeding the baby.

Formula-fed newborns do not need to be fed as often as breastfed babies. Typically, formula-fed newborns eat every two to three hours and as they grow, that duration extends to every three to four hours.

While formula feeding does have its conveniences, there are some real disadvantages.

“The cost of formula can quickly pile up as it is something you will constantly need to buy, along with other essential supplies,” White-Corey said.

Formula requires more preparation than breastfeeding as the formula must be mixed and the bottle heated to ensure it is the right temperature for baby (unlike breast milk that is always the perfect temperature).

Formula also has the possibility of causing your little one tummy troubles, as it can be harder to digest than breast milk.

“The lack of antibodies found in formula is a major issue as newborns have immature immune systems and are more susceptible to infection until they get their vaccinations at around two months,” White-Corey said. “To protect your newborn, I would urge all moms to be up-to-date on their vaccinations and make sure everyone in close contact with the newborn is vaccinated as well.”

In the end, there is no superior option that is perfect for all women. It’s simply a personal choice, based on what is right for each individual and their family.

“I believe that women have the right and authority over their own bodies to decide what is best for both themselves and their newborn,” White-Corey said. “It should be a woman’s choice and no one has the right to judge or criticize them for making such a personal decision.”

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Is it a food sensitivity or a life-threatening allergy? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=is-it-a-food-sensitivity-or-a-life-threatening-allergy#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:00:37 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20169 Many people suffer from a food intolerance or sensitivity—meaning they may start to feel bad after eating a certain food, but they don’t have a life threatening reaction. How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity? ]]>
Pizza Slice

How can you determine if you have a true allergy or a minor sensitivity?

“Food sensitivity or intolerance is a common condition, and it is often mistaken for a true food allergy. A sensitivity reaction will cause a localized response such as a headache, nausea, or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” says Vicky Keys, M.S.N., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “It can be very uncomfortable, but not life threatening.”

On the other hand, a true food allergy (FA) activates the body’s immune system at the cellular level, and reactions can be life threatening. The body reacts to the food as if it were a foreign invader. Symptoms may occur within one hour of ingesting the offending food. FA is a public health problem that is increasing in prevalence. It affects less than four percent of adults, and six to eight percent of children. The prevalence is highest in infants and toddlers. Major culprits include milk, eggs, various nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish and various shellfish.

There is no treatment for FA, only management strategies based on strict avoidance of the offending food (elimination diet), and prompt treatment of adverse reactions once exposure has occurred.

A primary care provider can conduct a food allergy test to confirm the offending allergen. If you are considering an allergy test, or suspect that you may have a food sensitivity, Keys suggests keeping a detailed food diary to help determine the culprit. Since any number of ingredients could trigger a reaction, keep a record of what you eat, the type of symptoms you experience, and the amount of time between ingestion and your symptoms. “Keeping a food diary can help you and your physician pinpoint what is causing your discomfort faster,” says Keys.

If you have a sensitivity, avoidance is the key to managing symptoms. Keys recommends the following strategy to take charge of your safety:

1. Familiarize yourself with ingredient names and read food labels

Read the label to make sure there are no traces of your allergen present in the product. “Many companies will post if there are other ingredients that the product could have come into contact with,” notes Keys. “There are several ingredients that a single item could have encountered. Even a small trace of your allergen could cause a potential reaction.”

In the presence of a FA, these additional precautions should be taken.

2. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.

Because you can’t control the environment around you, exposure to harmful allergens could happen at any time. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace could help others if you have a life-threatening allergic reaction.

3. Carry an epi-pen or other necessary allergy medicines.

If your health care provider determines you do have a food allergy, they may prescribe you with an epi-pen. If so, they will demonstrate how to use it, and the package insert comes with instructions. You should always carry your allergy medicines and the epi-pen, in case you have a severe allergic reaction.

Make sure someone in your home, work, or school knows how to use the epi-pen if you are unable to activate it yourself.

“It’s extremely important to immediately seek medical help if you experience a food reaction, even if you’ve used your epi-pen,” warns Keys. “Anaphylactic shock is life-threatening and can happen very quickly.”

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Fighting childhood obesity starts at home http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fighting-childhood-obesity-starts-at-home http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fighting-childhood-obesity-starts-at-home#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 13:00:54 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=18925 To help better understand the cause of the growing obesity epidemic, Alison Pittman, M.S.N., RN, CPN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, shares a few lifestyle-based solutions that can have an impact well past childhood]]>

Childhood obesity levels have more than tripled in the last 30 years, making a healthy diet and exercise crucial. To help better understand the cause of this growing epidemic, Alison Pittman, M.S.N., RN, CPN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing, shares a few lifestyle-based solutions that can have an impact well past childhood.

Alison Pittman researches obesity epidemic.

Childhood obesity levels have more than tripled in the last 30 years, making a healthy diet and exercise crucial.

“The growing obesity epidemic of American children and the potential consequences of inactivity are well outlined in current research,” Pittman says. “What is harder to determine is why, despite the efforts of educational programs that encourage physical activity, some children choose not to participate in physical exercise as they grow into their middle school years.”

“But despite this trend, making just a few lifestyle changes can help our children lead healthier lives,” notes Pittman.

Pittman suggests that all parents begin implementing healthier ways of living now, with the following diet and exercise tips.

Pack a healthy lunch

Packing a healthy lunch is a great way to provide children with the proper nutrition they need to perform well in school. Unfortunately, lunch boxes are often crammed with prepackaged foods full of calories, sugar and sodium. This excess can leave kids feeling lethargic and unmotivated by mid-afternoon and ultimately contributes to long-term health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

When packing a lunch, one of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to follow the MyPlate guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. MyPlate can serve as a guide for packing lunches that taste good and provide the energy and nutrients children need to excel during the school day.

  • Make half of your child’s lunch consist of fruits and vegetables. Kids love to “dip” foods, so try providing a small container of dip such as ranch dressing, peanut butter or hummus.
  • Make sure half the grains in your child’s diet are whole grains. This is becoming easier as more whole-grain breads, crackers, bagels and even pretzels show up on store shelves. Try brown rice instead of white rice, or whole grain noodles instead of traditional pasta.
  • Pack water or low-fat, unflavored milk instead of sugary sodas and juice drinks. Pack a water bottle with lots of ice in his/her lunch box so it will still be cool at lunchtime. If you do provide juice, make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice and limit to eight to 12 ounces per day for the school-age child (four to six ounces for preschoolers).

For more information, including helpful posters for the fridge, sample lunch and snack ideas, and other tips, visit MyPlate.

Increase activity as a family

Today, children experience a very different lifestyle than previous generations. According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, eight to 18-year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including, TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies. Gone are the days of spending time in the great outdoors, and engaging in physical activity together, as a family. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Pittman recommends following suggestions from Let’s Move!, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to encouraging children to begin healthy lifestyles in the early years.

Let’s Move! suggests the following family activities to instill a love for exercise in your children:

  • Select activities that are easy to do anywhere, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope or aerobics.
  • Bike to the library together.
  • Dance or move during commercial breaks – that’s usually 15 minutes in a one-hour television show.
  • Go up hills instead of around them.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
  • Celebrate special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries – with something active, such as a hike, volleyball game or frisbee match.
  • Train together for a charity walk or run.
  • Park further away. Count the steps with your children it takes from the car to the destination. Write it down. See if you can park even further away on your next stop.
  • Walk or bike to your children’s sports events to cheer for them. You can pace the sidelines while they play.
  • Take a family walk after dinner.
  • Replace a Sunday drive with a Sunday walk.
  • Go for a half-hour walk instead of watching TV.

For more information on the initiative, visit the Let’s Move website.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity,” says Pittman. “Involvement in your child’s well-being is key to ensuring a healthy future for the next generation.”

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Can my baby catch a virus before it’s born? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=what-to-know-about-congenital-cmv http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=what-to-know-about-congenital-cmv#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:00:21 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=10869 Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common, usually innocuous, virus. In healthy individuals, it rarely causes symptoms. Symptoms may include fever, malaise, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and loss of appetite. However, when a baby is infected in utero, it’s called “congenital CMV,” and can cause significant problems such as hearing and vision loss and learning disabilities]]>
pregnancy

CMV is a very common, usually innocuous, virus. When a baby is infected in utero, it’s called “congenital CMV,” and can cause significant problems such as hearing and vision loss and learning disabilities.

What is congenital CMV and how can it affect babies?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a very common, usually innocuous, virus. In healthy individuals, it rarely causes symptoms. Symptoms may include fever, malaise, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and loss of appetite.

The virus is transmitted through contact with saliva, urine and other body fluids. It can infect people at any age, but children ages one to three are most commonly infected. When a baby is infected in utero, it’s called “congenital CMV.”

“The biggest concern is when the virus is first contracted during pregnancy, it can infect the baby and cause significant problems such as hearing and vision loss and learning disabilities,” said Shelley J. White-Corey, RNC, WHNP-BC, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common congenital infection, causing more disability than Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome or spina bifida. Estimates are 30,000 U.S.-born children are affected each year. Of these, 8,000 will suffer permanent disabilities, and 400 will die from the infection.

If a pregnant woman is having symptoms, blood tests can identify a primary CMV infection. Abnormalities found on ultrasound can be signs of possible fetal infection. In these cases, an amniocentesis (test of the fluid surrounding the baby) may be done.

“The good news is that 90 percent of infected newborns have what is called ‘silent’ CMV, meaning they have no symptoms and are expected to lead normal, healthy lives,” White-Corey said. “The other 10 percent should be monitored closely to provide early intervention for problems.”

So if you’re pregnant now, what can you do?

The most important thing is to avoid infection by observing good hand-washing technique, especially after changing a diaper, wiping a runny nose or handling children’s toys, White-Corey says. Avoid contact with saliva by not sharing food, drinks or eating utensils with small children or receiving “sloppy” kisses. Clean toys, countertops and any other surfaces that may come into contact with children’s urine or saliva.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend routine screening for CMV during pregnancy, if you are planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about blood tests to determine if you have ever been infected with CMV. Antibody testing can differentiate between active, primary infections and inactive (or dormant) infections. Primary infections during pregnancy are most risky for the unborn baby.

For more information, visit the CMV Action Network online.

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Basics of a healthy lunch box http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=basics-of-a-healthy-lunch-box http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=basics-of-a-healthy-lunch-box#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:22 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=11318 Outfit for the first day? Check. Backpack? Check. Lunch box? Check. A nutritious lunch to pack in that new lunch box? Oops. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. But with childhood obesity levels more than tripling in the last 30 years, packing a nutritious lunch is becoming more and more essential, says the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. ]]>
healthy lunch

With childhood obesity levels more than tripling in the last 30 years, packing a nutritious lunch is becoming more and more essential.

Outfit for the first day? Check. Backpack? Check. Lunch box? Check. A nutritious lunch to pack in that new lunch box? Oops.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. But with childhood obesity levels more than tripling in the last 30 years, packing a nutritious lunch is becoming more and more essential.

“Packing a healthy lunch is a great way to provide children with the proper nutrition they need to perform well in school. Unfortunately, lunch boxes are often crammed with prepackaged foods full of calories, sugar and sodium,” says Alison Pittman, M.S.N., RN, CPN, assistant professor in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “This excess can leave kids feeling lethargic and unmotivated by mid-afternoon and ultimately contributes to long-term health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.”

When packing a lunch, one of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to follow the MyPlate guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pittman says. MyPlate can serve as a guide for packing lunches that taste good and provide the energy and nutrients children need to excel during the school day.

The following are major recommendations from MyPlate that will help you pack a lunch your child will enjoy:

  • Make half of your child’s lunch consist of fruits and vegetables. Have your child help pick out fresh fruits and vegetables at the store or farmer’s market and then help prepare lunch the night before. Preparing lunch may encourage your child to taste what he or she is creating. Kids love to “dip” foods, so try providing a small container of dip such as ranch dressing, peanut butter or hummus.
  • Make sure half the grains in your child’s diet are whole grains. This is becoming easier as more whole grain breads, crackers, bagels and even pretzels show up on store shelves. Try brown rice instead of white rice, or whole grain noodles instead of traditional pasta.
  • Pack water or low-fat, unflavored milk instead of sugary sodas and juice drinks. Pack a water bottle with lots of ice in his/her lunch box so it will still be cool at lunchtime. If you do provide juice, make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice and limit to eight to 12 ounces per day for the school-age child (four to six ounces for preschoolers).
  • Watch the sodium content. The updated USDA guidelines recommend 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day for children. When you consider that most fast food kids’ meals contain over half this amount, it’s easy to exceed this guideline. Foods prepared at home are often lower in sodium (and fat and calories, for that matter) than commercially prepared foods.

“With a little planning, creativity and input from your child, packing a healthy lunch that includes the essential food groups will become more of a routine than a daunting chore for parents,” Pittman says.

For more information, including helpful posters for the fridge, sample lunch and snack ideas, and other tips, visit the MyPlate website.

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Summer safety for kids http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=summer-safety-for-kids http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=summer-safety-for-kids#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=15237 Summer is almost upon us, and with it comes warmer weather, outdoor fun, and more freedom for our children to move and be healthy. As the season approaches, it helps to be reminded of ways to keep our kids safe in the summer months]]>
girl swimming

If you own a pool, make sure that the fence and self-latching gate are in working order, and never allow children to swim in your pool unattended or while you are away.

Summer is almost upon us, and with it comes warmer weather, outdoor fun, and more freedom for our children to move and be healthy. As the season approaches, it helps to be reminded of ways to keep our kids safe in the summer months.

Don’t Bug Out
Unfortunately, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes love summer as much as we do. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus, which has been on the rise in recent years, along with St. Louis encephalitis and other diseases. To protect yourself, reduce the number of mosquitoes in and around your home by draining sources of standing water and repairing door and window screens. Wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors when weather permits and use mosquito netting over infant carriers and strollers. Avoid outdoors when possible at peak mosquito biting times (dawn and dusk).

The most effective repellents are those which contain 20 to 30 percent DEET, and repellents with greater than 30 percent DEET have not been shown to offer any extra protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends repellents with no more than 30 percent DEET on children.

Other ingredients such as picardin and essential oils (eucalyptus, lemon, cedar, soy bean) have shown some effectiveness in studies by the Centers for Disease Control if you want to try a more natural repellent. The AAP recommends NO insect repellents of any kind for children under two months. Chemical repellents containing permethrin are recommended for tick and flea infestations in yards, outdoor equipment, and even clothing, but should never be applied directly to the skin.

If you do find a tick on a member of your family, don’t panic. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upwards evenly to avoid leaving the mouth-parts attached to the skin. After removal, thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. As always, if a family member develops severe headache, confusion, or weakness, seek medical attention immediately, as these may be symptoms of a transmitted illness.

Sun Smart, Swim Smart
Make sure to use sunscreen every day
you are in the sun, with at least SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 and both UVA and UVB protection (“broad spectrum”). Reapply after swimming and as directed on the container. Recently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) proposed new regulations regarding sunscreen, including removal of claims that they are “waterproof” or “sweat proof,” and changing products that claim to have SPF higher than 50 to read simply, “SPF 50+.” There is no reliable data that products with SPF over 50 provide any additional protection, and these products can be more costly and more laden with chemicals.

Please keep an eye on your children at all times. Children can drown in seconds, and in silence. Use personal flotation devices that are U.S. Coast Guard approved for children. If you own a pool, make sure that the fence and self-latching gate are in working order, and never allow children to swim in your pool unattended or while you are away. The Consumer Product and Safety Commission has a great website on pool safety.

Additionally, avoid swimming when you are sick. Yes, chlorine helps to kill germs, but not immediately. Many people have become sick from germs in contaminated pools and lakes, so teach children to avoid getting water in their mouths. Take kids on bathroom breaks often, and check diapers/swim pants frequently. Be sure to shower after swimming, using the bathroom, or changing diapers.

Safe food handling and hand washing
It just isn’t summer without some delicious food cooking on the grill. Just make sure to avoid food-borne illness by washing hands before and after handling food, and use a food thermometer to ensure that meats are cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Marinate and defrost in the refrigerator, not on the countertop and don’t put cooked meats back on the same unwashed plate that held raw meat. In hot weather, food should not sit out for more than an hour before going to the fridge.

Street Smarts
The freedom that summer brings for kids can create a lifetime of memories. To make sure everyone stays safe, make sure to remind your kids of basic traffic rules, including looking both ways, using crosswalks, and never allowing children under 10 to cross streets without an adult. On bikes, wear a helmet every time you ride, even on short rides. Make sure you know where your child is at all times, and tell them when they are expected home. Teach kids to avoid isolated areas and to practice the “buddy system,” instead of wandering off alone. Revisit the conversation about “stranger danger,” including the fact that grown-ups should ask other grown-ups for help, not children.

Road Trip!
Summer also means more cars on the road, including yours. So remember to buckle up every time, and keep kids under 12 in the back seat. Remember that kids need a booster seat until they are about four feet nine inches tall. Avoid distractions while you are driving, so that you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. With more states and communities passing “no texting while driving” laws, consider an app for your phone that sends automated responses to incoming texts while driving, such as SafelyGo, DriveScribe or Zoomsafer. Interestingly, a recent study showed that tending to children in the car distracts the driver up to 12 times more often than talking on a cell phone! Set some ground rules for your kids, so that they know they can’t get your help until the car stops.

Our community has so much to offer in the warm summer months. Following these simple tips will ensure a safe and happy outdoor season.


The story originally appeared in 
Brazos Family Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2013 edition courtesy of Alison Fisher Pittman, RN, M.S.N., CPN, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing.

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When breaking the rules leads to better patient care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=when-breaking-the-rules-leads-to-better-patient-care http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=when-breaking-the-rules-leads-to-better-patient-care#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:00:22 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=15674 Professional nursing standards were created to guide patient care services and lay the foundation for best practices. However, health care is unpredictable and not always black and white. What works for one patient, might not work for another. What happens when hospital policies contradict the nurse’s opinion of the right thing to do?

Jodie Gary, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor of nursing at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing, explores this topic in her concept analysis, “Exploring the Concept and Use of Positive Deviance in Nursing,” available online and in the 2013 August edition of the American Journal of Nursing.

Positive deviance involves an intentional act of breaking the rules in order to serve the greater good. The concept is widely used in business, management, sociology and criminology; however, there is no consistent definition of the term as it applies to nursing.

In order to increase understanding of what positive deviance is, and what it is not, Gary used the Walker and Avant method of concept analysis to explore and identify an operational definition for the term.  Positive deviance is intentional and honorable behavior that departs or differs from an established norm; contains elements of innovation, creativity, adaptability, or a combination thereof; and involves risk for the nurse.

Essentially, nurses might have to react creatively, and break hospital policies or physician’s orders, in order to meet the needs of the patient.

“The concept of positive deviance is useful, offering nurses a basis for decision making when the normal, expected actions collide with the nurse’s view of the right thing to do,” Gary says. “Nurses must balance their decisions for patient care between what evidence-based practice dictates, what is mandated by law and what the situation demands.”

positive deviance

Caring for a patient is not always black and white, some patients fall in a grey zone. However, nurses are asked to practice within very rigid hospital policies.  Jodie Gary, Ph.D, RN, assistant professor of nursing, explores this topic her concept analysis, published in the American Journal of Nursing.

There is evidence that positive deviance is routinely used by nurses in the health care setting, but because of strict policies and fear of loss of license, nurses generally choose not to report (or are unable to report) the exact care they provided. Thus, there is no outcome data for the care that was actually provided.

“Nurses, who are positive deviants, may be generating new knowledge on the fly and we need to be able to access that knowledge,” Gary explains.

It is essential that nurses have a way to safely report the deviations they make for the sake of patients. Accurate reporting and documentation of the actual nursing care delivered are vital to having accurate outcomes data, to ensuring patient safety, and to furthering the profession.

“As nurses become more autonomous providers of primary health care services, I believe the use of positive deviance must become a goal,” Gary says.

In addition, she notes, guidelines should guide practice and assist in allowing nurses to provide care that is centered on the best needs of the patient in the specific care situation. Guidelines should not serve as a formula that tells a nurse what to do, but rather they should help a nurse be as smart as possible every step of the way while ensuring that the nurse has the critical information, is systematic about decision making and has communicated with everyone involved.

“Today’s professional nurse wants to be a critical thinker and have the autonomy to make individual decisions at the bedside to provide quality patient-centered care,” Gary says. “Although better documentation and further research are needed, it seems likely that patient outcomes will improve when nurses have the courage to make intentional, honorable decisions to provide innovative, creative, and adaptive care in situations that demand it.”

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Texas A&M Health Science Center celebrates largest graduating class in history http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-celebrates-largest-graduating-class-in-history http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-celebrates-largest-graduating-class-in-history#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:18:59 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23639 Texas A&M Health Science Center graduated 639 students at commencement ceremonies across the state last month. This is the largest graduating class to date, and is indicative of Texas A&M’s commitment to educate exceptional health care leaders in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences]]>

Graduates gig 'emAddressing the need for highly trained state and national health care professionals, Texas A&M Health Science Center graduated 645 students at commencement ceremonies across the state last month. This is the largest graduating class to date, and is indicative of Texas A&M’s commitment to educate exceptional health care leaders in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences.

“As the health care landscape continues to grow and change, so do the needs of our patient populations, but one thing remains the same – the need for compassionate and skilled providers and leaders with a desire to serve,” said Paul E. Ogden, M.D., interim executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. “That desire to serve and the mindset of leading by example is innately Aggie, and is exactly what the members of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Class of 2015 embody as the next generation of health care professionals.”

Graduates for each college are as follows:

Texas A&M College of Medicine – 184 students received a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), 11 a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and one a Master of Science (M.S.) in Medical Sciences.

Since graduating its first class in 1981, the college has welcomed more than 2,200 Aggie Doctors to the work force, with 64 percent choosing to stay in Texas and half of all Texas A&M College of Medicine graduates entering into primary care. The College of Medicine also exceeds the national benchmark with a 97 percent pass rate on the national medical licensing exam.

Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry – 93 students received a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), 30 a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Dental Hygiene, 2 students receiving an additional PhD and 45 students with graduate’s degrees and certificates in specialty programs.

The college has the highest percent of under-represented minority students in the nation, and nearly one-third of all dentists in Texas are graduates of the Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry.

Texas A&M College of Nursing – 112 students received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.). Since its opening in 2008, the college has produced more than 500 nurses to help in addressing the state and nation’s critical nursing shortage. The Texas A&M College of Nursing holds special commendation status from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for pass rate excellence.

Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy – 84 students received a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). The College of Pharmacy ranks in the Top 50 “Best Grad Schools for Pharmacy” by U.S. News & World Report, and to date, more than half of the college’s graduates remain in South Texas to practice.

Texas A&M School of Public Health – 45 students received a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), 35 a Master of Health Administration (M.H.A), two a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) and one a Doctor of Public Health (D.R.P.H.). The school ranks in the Top 25 “Best Grad Schools for Public Health” by U.S. News & World Report.

Texas A&M Health Science Center’s enrollment across its five colleges and eight statewide campus locations totaled 2,467 students in 2014.

Story by Jonathan Knechtel.

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