Challenges Facing New Nurses during the COVID-19 Crisis

Doctor examining a little girl with a stethoscope at home.

Written By Lucy Peters

If you are new to nursing and you have recently started working at a hospital or health center, then without a doubt you have thought about what a big challenge the start of your working life will be. A recent survey by the American Nurses Association of 32,000 nurses showed that a vast majority (87%) of nurses are afraid of going to work and 36% have had to care for COVID-19 patients without adequate PPE. What are the biggest challenges facing new nurses, and what steps can be taken to ensure they stay safe during COVID-19 and future pandemics?

A Need for Greater Preparedness

As stated by Forbes, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of integrating more public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) content into nursing curricula. Previous crises had already highlighted the need for training in this area, but previous attacks (such as the 2001 Anthrax attack) were more short-lived and did not affect either the health system or the global economy to the extent that COVID-19 is. Offering post-graduate emergency preparedness and conducting emergency drills can help nurses be more prepared for public health emergencies.

Better PPE Provisions

In late May, a survey conducted by the National Nurses United (NNU) found that a majority of respondents said they were having to reuse protective equipment meant for single use. One third also said that their employer expected them to rely on their personal sick leave, vacation days, or paid time off if they were to become infected with the virus. A separate study released by the California Nurses Association also showed high PPE reuse rates. Clearly, the need for reliable protective equipment is an issue affecting new as well as more experienced nurses. Other protective measures that should be adopted include creating separate treatment zones for persons attending emergency due to COVID-like symptoms and having strict isolation plans for infected patients.

Increased Pay Opportunities

Nurse.org reports that some high-need areas are offering sign-on bonuses for nurses. Learning institutions are also making it easier for people to enter the profession — for instance, by offering nursing qualifications in one year to those who have a Bachelor’s degree in another field. Accelerated programs appeal to millennials studying medicine since many are concerned about college debt and/or the amount of time required to complete standard college degrees. Younger students are keen on newer approaches to medicine (including telemedicine) and they are meaning-driven rather than salary-driven. However, many are already shouldering debt from former college courses, meaning that searching out better pay has become a necessary priority for many.

The Benefits of Starting Nursing during the Pandemic

Despite all the challenges, some nurses who have started in the profession during the pandemic have reported a great sense of achievement and joy at making a positive difference to the lives of so many. Working at a time in which staff shortages and long working hours have become the norm in many hospitals also puts their skills and commitment to the test. Even seasoned nurses have reported feeling overwhelmed at times yet they have also reported a great sense of achievement as they observe patients heal and obtain their release from the hospital.

Nurses who have just graduated or who are completing accelerated programs to start working during the pandemic have many challenges ahead. Although some states seem to have passed the worst of the pandemic, others are still struggling with issues such as PPEs and long working hours. Nurses are here to heal, but not to be martyrs because of a lack of equipment and safety measures. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has only highlighted the importance of preparing health teams for future health crises of a grand scale.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s  Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a health care life coach program

Revamping The Old: Cleaning And Sanitation In “The New Normal” Of Healthcare

hospital bed

Written By Lucy Peters

Nearly 600 healthcare workers in the US have died from COVID-19, according to Lost on The Frontline. The study, conducted by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News, includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and other essential hospital staff like cleaning crews, administrators and special care caregivers. The pandemic has certainly made an impact on travel and how people live their daily lives. Another thing it will have a lasting impact upon is the concept of cleanliness in healthcare.

Hospital Cleaning Staff Gear

It is generally thought that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary to keep doctors, nurses and paramedics safe from COVID-19. However, it is now clear that it is no longer sufficient to keep a hospital in working order. Hospital cleaners who enter the premises must also have additional gear like an FFP2 mask, gloves, gown, face shields, and secure working boots, according to a study published by the Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences.

As cleaning crews often pass through different rooms and halls of hospitals, they must be duly protected from the transmission to enable them to keep rooms and areas sanitized. Beyond safety gear, their cleaning tools must have validated removal ratings that are certified from third-party laboratories. This is to ensure that their cleaning tools are actually doing their job rather than unknowingly spreading the virus around the hospital.

The Necessity Of Professional Sanitation Services

While hospitals do have their own sanitation staff, they may not be enough to ensure complete disinfection of surfaces, walls, hallways and bedding. There may simply be too much to do for regular cleaning crews to take on the load. As such, the presence and necessity of professional cleaning crews will increase in the immediate future. Professional crews possess heavy-duty cleaning equipment like steam machines that are 99.99% effective in removing germs and bacteria over a wide array of surfaces. The study, conducted by Michael Cazaban and others, established that a steam vapor system significantly eradicates S. capitis and other organisms from sensitive hospital areas.

Additional Cleanliness Protocols For Healthcare Workers

Gone are the days when healthcare professionals could simply perform hand-washing, take off any infectious gloves, and head on home. Now, it is advisable that healthcare professionals take spare clothing to wear separately and keep any work clothes and shoes in a separate plastic container, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. They found that excessive use of harder chemicals to wash clothes or bedding is unnecessary. Regular detergent is fine – as long as the laundry is done immediately prior to coming into any contact with any family members. The habit of wiping down surfaces of any vehicles used to go home with sanitation wipes must also be normalized.

This pandemic is effectively ushering new health protocols and stringent cleanliness requirements that will remain in place for the foreseeable future. While they may seem excessive, they are critical to maintaining the integrity and safety of healthcare workers everywhere. After all, it is they that are in the front lines fighting a virus that continues to threaten the human population.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Nursing Management Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

 

How Will Travel Change for Healthcare Professionals in the Near Future?

air plane wing over a landscape

Written By Lucy Peters

Despite still-rising rates of COVID-19 in some parts of the world, airports across the globe are already reopening as part of lockdown easing restrictions. The U.S. Travel Association has already outlined what travel will look like for people in the near future. Their report, Travel in the New Normal, indicates that health care professionals completing residencies abroad, attending key medical conferences, or applying for jobs interstate or overseas will be able to do so safely. The report covers many parts of the travel ecosystem that doctors, nurses, and other passengers will have to negotiate when opting to travel during the era of ‘new normality.’

Newly Designed Public Spaces and Airports

Until the COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured and received on a wide-scale basis, traveling healthcare workers can get used to new designs in airports. Thus, sanitation stands with antibacterial gel, physical barriers such as transparent screens in areas where customer attendants are dealing with people, automated entrance, and contactless check-ins will be prevalent. Payments via mobile, contactless ticketing and identification, and automated ordering and pick up for food and services during travel may also grow in importance. Because healthcare workers have a higher risk of exposure to the virus, it will be vital to follow physical distancing and PPE use seriously — both for the health worker’s health and those of passengers flying in close contact with them.

Training for Employees

The U.S. Travel Association recommends that healthcare and other workers who will be traveling frequently invest in training for employees regarding implementing safety measures. Resources can and should also ideally be provided to families traveling during the health crisis, since health workers completing a residency or stint of work abroad or interstate will most likely be bringing families unless they normally live alone. Resources should be provided regarding currently unsafe places to travel. This way, families can avoid flight routes that go through high-risk areas. Supplemental health travel coverage for family members may also be helpful if medical assistance is needed while you are abroad or in another state. Health workers should additionally be fully informed of the respective risks of different modes of travel.

Health Screening and Immunity Passports

One of the most frequently reported trends in travel involves the use of ‘immunity passports’ indicating that the travel has already recovered the COVID-19 virus. The arrival of the highly awaited vaccine may also herald a new era in which travelers will only be permitted access to planes or other means of transport if they have already been vaccinated. The extent to which immunity passports are feasible remains to be seen. At this point in time, airports, trains, subways and other public spaces are simply redesigning spaces, conducting temperature checks in some cases, and/or asking travelers to walk through sanitizing ‘spray tunnels’ that emit a sanitizing mist.

The nature of travel is already changing at a fast pace. From the use of methacrylate separators in customer service areas to new regulations with respect to serving food, many measures are being adopted by airports, food service companies, and other services related to the industry. Until the arrival of the vaccine, the requirement of ‘immunity passport’s remains a possibility. In order to keep healthcare workers and their families safe, employees should provide quality training regarding destinations and safety measures, and provide advice on the safest way to fly or travel on wheels.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

How Can Swimming Benefit Healthcare Workers?

SWIMMING RACE

Written By Lucy Peters

Healthcare workers face a plethora of physical and mental hazards on a daily basis — including biological hazards, stress, slips and falls at work, and more. They are at a high risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders owing to the handling, positioning, and lifting of patients. A study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care reports that common injuries include sprains and strains, with the most affected body parts including shoulders, the lower back, calves, and hand muscles. Stress is another issue for people working in this profession, with studies showing that the prevalence of workplace stress stands at around 68.2%. There are many exercise programs that can help curb physical and mental stress, with holistic activities such as yoga being particularly strong in terms of boosting mental health. Swimming is another activity that can be useful in terms of boosting physical and mental resilience.

Swimming and Stress

Swimming can help curb stress, as found in a study published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health. The study focused on the effect of winter swimming on mood, with findings showing that stress and fatigue decreased significantly during the four-month study period, while memory and mood improved. Those who took winter swims reported higher energy and activity than the control group. Swimming also has important physical benefits; participants who had rheumatism, asthma, and fibromyalgia reported that the activity had relieved their pain.

Swimming and Muscular Pain

Nurses and other health professionals who have experienced a painful injury should receive a professional diagnosis and treatment plan, since some injuries benefit from physiotherapy and exercise while others require rest. Generally, swimming is good for the shoulders because it gives muscles a good workout without loading the joints. Many patients with lower back pain are also prescribed swimming as a form of rehabilitation, because of the buoyant force of water. Swimming can also be a good way for those with minor sprains to enjoy a cardiovascular workout, focusing on the upper body. However, as warned by U.S. Masters Swimming’s Linda Foley, in the case of severe sprains, this exercise should be avoided because “The kicking motion puts the ankle in the plantar-flexed (pointed) and inverted position (toe slightly in), which places more direct pressure on the already sprained ligament.” The effect can be delayed healing.

The Importance of Correct Form

Health workers who are keen on trying out this activity should learn basic swimming skills under the guidance of a trainer or swimming instructor. They should take things slowly, focusing on proper technique. They can start with half an hour sessions around three times a week, making sure that their stroke and positioning is right. This is because poor technique can strain muscles and/or make small injuries worse.

Swimming and Obesity

Obesity prevalence is high across all professions in the U.S., including nurses (25.1%) and other healthcare professionals (14.4%). In a study by R. Kyle et al., researchers insist that this is a cause of concern because obesity “increases the risks of musculoskeletal conditions and mental health conditions that are the main causes of sickness absence in health services.” Swimming not only burns calories but also works out more of the body’s major muscle groups than other types of exercise. When running or cycling, for instance, people mainly work out their legs. Swimming involves not only the leg muscles but also the arms, chest, and core. Thus, those who swim assiduously boast excellent muscular development in the upper body.

Nurses and other health workers face specific risks, including stress and musculoskeletal injuries. Swimming can help them in many ways, by battling stress, playing a role in rehabilitation, and helping to strengthen muscles. This popular activity is also ideal for those wishing to lose weight and develop the muscles in their upper body.

 

 

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professional.

The Role of Diet in Dealing With Anxiety 

Fried fish on green asparagus with salad

Written By Lucy Peters

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults or 18.1 percent of the population every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While the healthcare industry has various medications and therapies you can use to calm or treat your anxiety, the answer could be hiding in plain sight; your diet. Over the years, nutritionists and doctors have realized that, just like other major body organs, the brain requires certain nutrients to maintain proper function and ward off mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. While there are no magic foods that will cure your anxiety, there are various changes you can make to your daily diet to improve your symptoms and support your road to recovery.

Get your omega-3 fatty acids 

One nutrient that has been proven to be especially effective at reducing anxiety symptoms is omega-3 fatty acids which you can get from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds. Foods rich in omega-3 provide two essential fatty acids- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are needed to reduce inflammation, regulate neurotransmitters, and promote healthy brain function. For the best results, you can aim to get at two servings of fatty fish every week.

Keep your blood sugar in check 

Over time changes in your blood sugar levels can increase your risk of developing anxiety disorders and other serious health problems. Thankfully, there are various measures you can take to gain better control of blood sugar levels and keep them stable. The easiest way to do this is by eating a well-balanced diet, controlling your food portions, and avoiding skipping meals. Beyond that, you must also be careful about the types of carbs you eat since they are the biggest influencers of blood sugar levels. Try to eat foods rich in complex carbs such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, whole-grain bread, and quinoa. This will give your brain a serotonin boost which has a calming effect. Minimize your intake of refined sugar and simple carbs such as white bread, rice, and pasta that may exacerbate your anxiety disorder.

Supplement your diet 

Thanks to the growth of the supplementation industry in the US, there are many supplements available today that allow you to get the nutrients you need directly and in the right amounts. One key supplement that will help you in the battle against anxiety is magnesium. Magnesium is a key mineral that is needed to maintain full body function and is also an important element of managing anxiety episodes. Vitamin D is another essential supplement in managing anxiety since it promotes a feeling of well-being. Other supplements that may help include L-theanine, vitamin B-complex, and melatonin. Before taking any supplements, make sure you consult your doctor and adhere to the recommended daily allowance to be on the safe side.

What you drink matters too 

What you drink is part of your diet, and you must be mindful of it if you want to deal with your anxiety. First of all, you need to stay hydrated with good old fashioned water to prevent dehydration which is known to cause mood problems. Next, try to cut back on your coffee intake. Studies have shown that caffeine can cause symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness and shaking or even induce panic attacks in people with anxiety disorders. On top of that, too much coffee may mess with your sleep which further deteriorates your brain health. If you are itching for a hot beverage, try some chamomile tea which can play a role in anxiety reduction.

While changes to your diet can make a difference to your mood and sense of well-being, they’re not a substitute for the medications or therapies that may be recommended by your psychiatrist. Nutrition will work best as part of a comprehensive anxiety treatment plan that includes counseling, medication, getting regular exercise, improving sleep habits, and increasing social support.

 

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Can The Air Quality Of Homes Be Responsible For The Occurrence Of Asthma?

Young woman using an inhaler during an asthma attack.

Written By Lucy Peters

Approximately one in 13 people live with asthma, according to the Center For Disease Control. That equates to 25 million adults and children in America that are going through the daily routine of avoiding asthma attacks and triggers. While one of the most commonly cited triggers is outdoor pollen, there is also overwhelming evidence that the quality of the indoor environment can just as easily trigger or cause asthma or related illnesses. Around two-thirds of people living with asthma say that the air quality worsens their symptoms. However, a key part of resolving this lies in understanding the indoor elements that can trigger asthma and educating asthma patients on avoiding these triggers.

Tobacco And Indoor Smoke

The presence of smoke has been well documented as a trigger for both asthma and asthma-related illnesses such as lung disease. People living with asthma who are exposed to second-hand smoke from cigarettes are more like to have an asthma attack or develop sinus infections. Children also face an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses and airway inflammation. In 2009, toxic fumes given off by candles was also shown to increase indoor air particulates. This has been shown to compromise lung and respiratory function. Instead, patients can opt for paraffin-free alternatives and maintain moderation when lighting candles to avoid these effects. For tobacco smoke, avoiding smoking in the home or close to it minimizes contact with it.

The Presence And Encouragement Of Allergens  

The presence of certain allergens in the home can cause both asthma and allergies related conditions, including eczema and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that around 90 percent of those with asthma also have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). The symptoms include tight chest feelings, sneezing and other signs commonly seen with seasonal and outdoor allergies. However, the triggers can also include pet dander, dust mites and cockroaches – all synonymous with the indoor environment. Other studies have shown that exposure to dust mites and termites such as cockroaches is a key trigger of asthma in children. However, a Tulane University study showed that the use of elimination measures such as cockroach bait in a home resulted in as many as 50 fewer days of asthma symptoms a year.

The reduction of these allergens to aid indoor air quality revolves around simple ongoing habits in the home like identifying the source of allergens such as pets, bedding, wall to wall carpet and damp areas. To avoid dust mites, the practice of weekly cleaning habits such as vacuuming and wiping down any surfaces that may attract dust can help. For those with pets, regular brushing and bathing may help reduce the shedding of pet dander. Steps can also be taken to reduce the buildup of moisture in the home by addressing any leaks, using a humidifier, and opening windows after a shower. A damp environment fosters the growth of slow-growing fungi like Stachybotrys, which releases airborne mold spores and can cause skin rashes, breathing difficulties and lung disease. Exposure to mold types like black mold has been shown to trigger severe asthma attacks in asthma patients.

Transmission Of Outdoor Air Pollution

While proper ventilation of the home is key to preventing humidity buildup, it is also important to limit the transfer of outdoor pollens to the indoor environments. Several studies have shown that lengthened exposure to air pollution can both exacerbate and cause asthma in children and adults. Pregnant women who have been exposed to high levels of pollution are not only more likely to develop asthma, but their unborn child is also more likely to develop the condition or have a compromised immune system.

Checking pollution forecasts for high pollen times can identify ideal times to close windows and other openings of the building. Additionally, asthma patients can utilize extractor fans and air conditioners to remove any existing pollens in the home. Finally, ensuring the doors and windows are properly sealed can help avoid outdoor irritants like pollen or smoke from entering the home.

Finally, if the current indoor environment contains any of these triggers, being aware of the early signs of asthma or asthma-related illness will alert patients about when to seek medical help. Frequent coughing, shortness of breath, nasal congestion and other signs of allergies may indicate it may be time to speak to a doctor.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Life Coach Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

The Intricate Connection Between Poor Posture, Shoulder Pain, and Stress

Eraser deleting the concept Panic Attacks

Written By Lucy Peters

The average American adult spends around six and a half hours a day sitting down. This statistic contributes not only to possible long-term effects such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but also to poor posture and, eventually, pain and stress. As found in a 2019 study by researchers at San Francisco State University, many people slouch while working on their computers, which can compress the neck, cause shoulder problems, and contribute to stress. After all, an average head and neck can weigh in the region of 45 pounds. As stated by the researchers, “When your posture is tall and erect, the muscles of your back can easily support the weight of your head and neck—as much as 12 pounds. But when your head juts forward at a 45º angle, your neck acts like a long lever lifting a heavy object.”

The Effect of Stress on Shoulder Pain

The relationship between posture, pain, and stress is complex, since stress can contribute to both poor posture and pain. Many people with anxiety disorders tense muscles throughout their body—including the neck and shoulder area—especially when they are stressed. However, even those without a mental disorder who face stress regularly, can develop pain. For instance, a study published in the Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, undertaken on nurses, found that the incidence of neck and shoulder pain was higher in those who had a higher level of work-related stress.

Shoulder Pain Can Cause Stress

Pain in the neck and shoulder areas is not the only problem that poor posture can produce; it can also affect mental health by increasing stress. A study published in the Journal of Occupation Health and Psychology found that workers who reported more musculoskeletal pain also tended to have more stress and psychosomatic symptoms. Pain reduction under the supervision of their doctor or physical therapist should be prioritized among health care staff.

Doctors may recommend a combination of stretching, strength, and expansion exercises. Shoulder circles, doorway shoulder stretches, and the use of gym rings can also improve mobility. Those using rings at home should ensure their equipment is certified safe, and capable of bearing their weight. In addition to rings, resistance bands, and yoga mats are accessories that can be used at home to boost gym workouts or to replace them if time is of the essence.

Steps to Take to Battle Stress and Shoulder Pain

Hospitals, clinics, and other institutions employing staff who work at desks should ensure that desks and chairs are ergonomically suited to the tasks being performed. Experts in ergonomics can help ensure that everything from lighting to desk height, helps to reduce pain. Stress should be seen as a separate yet equally important issue that should be tackled proactively. Health workers should have time and opportunities to exercise outdoors, since being in nature has been found to be an effective stress buster. Also beneficial are holistic exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi, both of which can be offered to staff as a way to enhance mindfulness and relaxation.

Poor posture, neck and shoulder pain, and stress are inexorably linked. This is especially true when it comes to workers who work for many hours at desk jobs. In addition to doing exercise and battling stress regularly, workers should seek professional help if pain is prolonged. Rehabilitation exercises aiming to improve mobility and functionality can go a long way towards reducing both pain and stress.

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Stress and Healthcare Professionals: What You Need to Know

Sleeping man near money with calculator

Written By Lucy Peters

83% of workers in the United States experience work-related stress according to the American Institute of Stress, and those who work in the healthcare industry aren’t exempt. With many factors at play, such as a heavy workload and long hours, stress is often viewed as an inevitable part of the job. However, by recognizing the causes and effects of stress, you can manage it much more easily. Whether you’re looking to get certified for the first time, or are planning to re-certify, keeping in mind how stress can affect you in the healthcare line of work

Causes of stress in the healthcare industry

For many in healthcare professions, stress is considered as an unavoidable part of the job. While the causes of workplace stress vary from person to person, it’s commonly triggered by heavy workloads, long hours, and the sheer amount of responsibility that comes with the position. Student loan debt may also be a major stressor for some considering the amount of schooling needed for many healthcare positions,  though it can be especially stressful when figuring out how to manage troubling finances. While causes of stress in the healthcare industry are abundant, it’s necessary to keep in mind that it can have a serious impact on a worker’s health, and even on their patients – and even more so for those who are just beginning their careers.

The physical and mental side effects

While getting to the root of workplace stressors can be a great way to begin solving your problems, identifying the symptoms of stress can prove to be just as important.  Common physical symptoms include headaches, muscle pain/tension, and fatigue. Stress can also increase your risks of developing health problems like high blood pressure, and can lead to further issues like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

While the physical effects of stress on the body may be a bit more difficult to notice for some, the mental effects may be more prominent. Mentally, someone who is experiencing workplace stress may develop anxiety, a lack of focus, mood swings, and can feel overwhelmed, which can all affect one’s ability to do their job, thus putting the patients at risk. In more severe cases, stress can also lead to depression as well, making it vital to manage the symptoms as early as possible.

Managing your symptoms and when to see a doctor 

While you’re sure to experience stress at some point in your career, there are several ways you can manage your symptoms and relieve it, both at work and at home. At work, taking a walk on your break can be a great way to clear your head, and making sure you’re taking all of your breaks in the first place can be a great help in getting your mind off of the task at hand.

At home, regular physical activity can act as an outlet. In fact, respondents to a Stress in America survey reported that 30% of adults felt less stressed after exercising. Other ways to relieve stress at home include participating in relaxing activities, like yoga or meditation, which can both allow you to clear your mind and think things through in a peaceful way.

While there are many simple ways to reduce and relieve stress in your day to day life as a healthcare professional, it’s necessary to know when it’s time to see a doctor. For instance, if you’re experiencing the more severe symptoms that stress can bring (like depression), or if the stress affects your job (or day-to-day life), it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor.

While it’s likely that everyone will experience stress at some point in their lives, those in the healthcare industry may view it as part of the job. For that reason, it’s necessary to know about the symptoms – both physical and mental – that stress can bring in order to identify and manage them, before they become too overwhelming.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

 

Can Fabrics Worsen Anxiety for People on the Spectrum?

Written By Lucy Peters

If you have a child on the spectrum and the first thing they do when they are anxious is reach for a plush toy or a soft blanket, it is probably because people are more attentive to tactile stimuli when they are upset, as found in a recent study. Fabrics are particularly important for people on the spectrum because these disorders are associated with differences in responses to sensory stimuli and sensitivity to these stimuli. To what extent can the choice of fabric aid or worsen distress in persons with ASD?

Pleasure and Distress are Matters of Perception

A study published in the journal Autism Research looked into how people with autism react to different textured surfaces compared to people who were not on the spectrum. Results showed that people with Apserger’s syndrome gave similar ratings for ‘roughness’ and ‘pleasantness’ of surfaces to those of their peers. However, they had a slight tendency to find the least pleasant stimulus (mesh fabric) rougher and less pleasing than their typical counterparts. Their research also found that the more frequent the exposure to unpleasant materials was, the greater the distress with respect to the material.

Wearing Clothes Amounts to Repeated Exposure

In the above study, participants were simply ‘touched’ with different textures/materials. Because results showed that repeated exposure increased negative response, it is only logical that if participants had to actually wear unpleasant materials, the result could be the kind of distress that could trigger anxiety. As found by research by Gillott and Standen, increased anxiety for people with ASD in strongly related to sensory stimuli and unpleasant events.

People with ASD React More Intensely to Unpleasant Stimulation

Dan King’s study showed that people with ASD have a more intense reaction to unpleasant rather than pleasant stimuli. This means that when choosing fabrics for everyday shirts, trousers etc., it is almost more important to beware of fabrics that are known to distress a person with ASD, rather than trying to find clothing that seems pleasant to someone who is not on the spectrum. Less grating fabrics such as cotton are typical choices for everyday wear, while rougher materials such as linen or rafia may be more distressing.

ASD and Sensory Anxiety

Taking great care to find the right fabric is key for anyone with ASD, but if they also have sensory processing disorder (SPD), then doing so can have a big effect on a person’s quality of life. For people with SPD, a sensorily unfriendly environment is a trigger to anxiety. Triggers can come from uncomfortable clothing, loud noises, or bright lights. Symptoms of this type of anxiety range from dizziness to stomach cramps, and even poor balance. Some advocate slow exposure to the source of anxiety (e.g. touching an unpleasant fabric, wearing a small piece of this fabric then eventually a larger piece) until exposure becomes less distressing.

The clothes people with ASD wear can play an important role in affecting mood and anxiety. They can react particularly strongly to fabrics they find unpleasant, so exposure should be gradual. If they also have severe SPD then avoidance (prevention) can be a better option than battling against distress. Each individual should decide what fabrics they are comfortable with, especially when it comes to clothing – which is worn for various hours straight and on repeated occasions.

 

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

How Can Employers Reduce Financial Stress For Healthcare Professionals?

Written by Lucy Peters

Around one in five Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and around 85% of them report feeling stressed about money at least sometimes, according to a survey by Propeller Insights. For 52% of healthcare workers belonging to Generation Y (i.e. those born in the 1980s and 1990s), personal finances are actually the top source of stress. Research by Emerging RN Leader suggests that around 20% of nurses have more than one employer, and many work full-time in two different clinics or hospitals. Much of the problem is driven by student loans. The median loan amount racked up by graduate nurses hovers between $40,000 and $54,999. This is a big burden to start one’s career with, and indeed, one that can be hard to eliminate in just a few years. How can employers reduce the burden on these and other workers, so they can have the future they deserve after so many years of service?

Financial Stress Is Not Exclusive To Nurses

Employers should offer financial advice to all workers on staff – including doctors, despite their significantly higher salaries. For one, physicians can feel stressed by the fact that their pay is often linked to productivity metrics. Others can enjoy relative stability, yet lack the financial literacy they need to protect themselves against financial fraud or to ensure they have enough saved for retirement. Financial literacy training can help all medical professionals ensure they have enough to live on when they are older. It can serve as a guide so that they are better able to spot scams aimed at older workers and dubious investment opportunities that can destroy years of savings.

Older people may not be aware of the steps they should take to stop the unauthorized use of credit cards. They may also need help with understanding issues like bank and card fees. Financial elder abuse does happen, far more frequently than is discussed on the media. Research indicates that increasing age makes people more vulnerable to financial scams. Health workers therefore need to ensure that their finances and investments are being overseen by trusted professionals. New investment opportunities should be sifted through with a fine-toothed comb and run by trusted financial advisers.

Financial Basics

Employers should provide nurses and doctors with financial courses covering basics such as budget creation, minimum savings percentages, and saving for retirement from day one. A study by EBTS found that not even 50% of healthcare employees budget their finances or have a savings plan in place. Employees should be provided with technology that make financial tasks easier. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget can easily be linked to their credit cards so that they can easily identify where their money is going at the end of the month.

Using these apps helps them clearly see how everything from that daily cup of gourmet coffee to dining out twice a week or more can hamper their ability to make decent savings from week to week. Literacy sessions should also cover topics such as loans and credit, how to pay debts off quickly and efficiently, and how to improve credit reports. Finally, staff should be introduced to different ways to start saving for their retirement today. This can include pension plans, offered by some private employers.

Battling financial stress begins by taking a proactive strategy to debt and spending. The first step for healthcare professionals is to analyze their own spending patterns so as to work out how to find the amounts they need to build a healthy savings nest. Employers should also provide financial training, so that employers can avoid stepping into financial pits – including credit debt, high-interest mortgages, and potentially problematic pension plans.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.