What It’s Like to Get Healthcare in Rural Texas

Accessing healthcare in rural areas can be a challenge, especially if you live in rural Texas. Over the last several years, healthcare centers across the state have been slowly closing their doors, leaving patients with few alternatives. Patients routinely drive long distances to access vital care services, or even just to update their prescriptions.

Of the 254 counties in Texas, 170 are considered rural, and nearly 20% of the state’s population – more than 3 million people – reside in rural areas. Rural Texans tend to be older, poorer, and less healthy compared to those living in urban areas, making the situation all the more dire. Find out what it’s like to look for healthcare in rural Texas and why so many facilities are closing their doors for good.

The State of Healthcare in Rural Texas

Rural Texas doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to healthcare. According to the 2018 report, “What’s Next? Practical Suggestions for Rural Communities” conducted by the A&M Rural and Community Health Institute and the Episcopal Health Foundation, more than 20 hospitals in rural Texas have closed in recent years, and 60% of the 164 remaining hospitals are at risk of closing.

The report also found that of the state’s 254 counties:

  • 35 counties have no physician
  • 80 counties have five or fewer physicians
  • 58 Texas counties are without a general surgeon
  • 147 Texas counties have no obstetrician/gynecologist
  • 185 Texas counties have no psychiatrist

With nearly half the state lacking access to mental health and specialty care services, patients regularly face long wait times and even longer commutes. Older, sicker patients tend to have trouble securing a ride to and from the doctor’s office, especially if they don’t have a driver’s license. They may have trouble getting in and out of a vehicle. Traveling in a car may also worsen their symptoms.

Low-income patients may also have trouble getting to and from the doctor’s office. Traveling long distances means more time away from work. Parents may have to take their kids with them to the doctor’s office or find a sitter. All that extra gas money can eat away at a family’s savings.

Who’s to Blame?

According to the report from A&M Rural and Community Health Institute, healthcare facilities are closing their doors for a number of reasons, most notably because of a lack of funds and patients. Patients can be hard to come by when you’re working in one of the most rural states in the country. The state’s demographics are also shifting rapidly as more Texans move to major cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Texas also has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. Just over 5 million Texans lack health insurance, which makes accessing care even more challenging. Patients may put off care or avoid the doctor entirely if it means paying for services out of pocket. Around 17.7% of the state’s population is uninsured, which is more than double the uninsured rate for the country at 8.5%.

Poor management and even fraudulent behavior also contributed to the string of recent closings. An investigation by Modern Healthcare found that some rural Texas hospitals closed their doors after billing insurers for extremely high volumes of lab tests that may not have been performed for their patients or even in their facilities. A Texas hospital cited in the probe “reported extremely high outpatient lab charges in 2015 and 2016: $213.6 million and $372.2 million, respectively. Outpatient labs accounted for 62% of the hospital’s total charges in 2015 and 86% in 2016.”

Hope for the Future

As dire as the situation may seem for some rural Texans, there is some hope for the future. The state is quickly embracing telehealth – using live video and audio to remotely connect with patients. Telehealth spending has more than doubled in recent years as more providers invest in this technology. This makes it easier for rural patients to access vital care services. They don’t have to secure a ride or leave their home to visit with their care provider.

Thanks to a recent law, initial in-person consultations are no longer required, so providers can quickly take on new patients without forcing them to make the commute. The law also removed the requirement for a designated clinical place of service, as long as the setting doesn’t compromise the standard of care. This means patients can access telehealth services on the go, at school, or from the comfort of their own homes.

The state is also putting an emphasis on mental health as it gets these new programs off the ground. In Texas, the majority of telemedicine and telehealth services are used to treat clients with behavioral health conditions. Among these clients, common diagnoses included attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and unspecified mood disorder.

Texans seem to be taking a liking to this new technology, as well. The number of patients utilizing these services has increased dramatically over the last few years.

 

Texas isn’t the only state grappling with these challenges. Across the U.S., accessing care in rural areas continues to be a problem for both patients and providers. Opening a clinic or hospital in rural Texas might not make a lot of sense from a business perspective. Patients will continue to depend on telehealth services until more options become available in the state.

 

Beyond EHRs: What Is “Meaningful Use” and How Can It Help Your Facility?

You may have heard the phrase “meaningful use” floating around the healthcare industry as of late. The term is actually a part of the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA), which was passed back in early 2009. The law is designed to modernize the country’s entire ailing infrastructure, including the healthcare industry.

As part of this effort, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a program to incentivize healthcare professionals to adopt the latest technology – namely, electronic health records (EHRs). CMS will reward facilities that can prove they are using electronic health records in meaningful ways and that this technology is ultimately benefiting their patients.

However, the term “meaningful use” doesn’t just apply to EHRs. You can use it to monitor the success of virtually every aspect of your facility. Let’s take a closer look at what this term means and how it can help you achieve your healthcare goals.

Defining “Meaningful Use”

The federal government has been adamant about modernizing the country’s healthcare system. One of its biggest efforts has centered on interoperability and digital communication, so different providers can easily share personal health information with their patients and other healthcare professionals.

While this new program is entirely voluntary, providers will now receive an EHR incentive payment if they can prove they are putting these new electronic records systems to “meaningful use,” according to the guidelines set by CMS.

According to the CDC, these EHR incentive payments can range from $44,000 over five years for Medicare providers to $63,750 over six years for Medicaid providers. Providers can also reduce certain Medicare/Medicaid fees by participating in the program.

To prove “meaningful use”, providers must show that their EHR system is improving the quality of care their patients receive. Providers must choose a certified EHR provider to qualify. They must also use this technology in meaningful ways, such as for electronic prescriptions, improving care coordination between providers, and improving the overall health of the public.

The CMS will then score providers based on their use of this technology. The better the results, the more money providers will receive from the federal government.

How “Meaningful Use” Applies to the Rest of Your Facility

According to the CDC, the term “meaningful use” rests on the following performance indicators:

  • Improving quality, safety, efficiency, and reducing health disparities
  • Engage patients and families in their health
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • Ensure adequate privacy and security protection for personal health information

As you can see, each pillar represents an important aspect of your facility. As changes in your facility meet the performance indicators listed above, they will then be deemed to have “meaningful use”.

Whenever you and your team decide to invest in new technology, adjust routine processes, or make changes to your facility, you can reflect on these changes in much the same way you would if you were applying for an incentive payment from CMS, except you don’t have to submit your findings to the federal government.

You can use key performance indicators to track the success of any changes you make to your facility, such as the overall health and satisfaction of your patients, the number of hospital readmissions or visits to the emergency room, or your overall healthcare expenditures within a specific period of time.

Whether you’re opening a new wing in your facility, introducing new technology, or offering a new service, “meaningful use” helps you monitor the success of these changes, so you can quickly identify and overcome certain challenges when getting these new programs off the ground. This helps you decide if these changes are the right choice for your facility.

 

The healthcare industry is rapidly going digital, but CMS reminds us to be strategic with our use of the latest technology. It’s important to remember that every facility is different. Just because a piece of technology works for one business doesn’t mean it will work for another.

Implementing new technology and services into your practice can ultimately benefit your practice in more ways than one, but you can’t be certain of these benefits until you’ve measured the results in real time. Collect data on your facility and the health of your patients to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.

 

Working in the Dark: How to Prepare for a Blackout

Healthcare facilities should always prepare for unexpected emergencies, including power outages. We tend to focus more on extreme weather, fires, and biomedical hazards when it comes to emergency preparedness, but power outages remain all too common in the healthcare industry. In case you haven’t noticed, the healthcare industry is quickly going digital, which means more devices and machines will need to be hooked up to the grid to function.

If a power outage should occur, doctors, nurses and care providers will need to be prepared for unusual working conditions. Some devices and monitors may not work at all during a blackout, forcing providers to make do with what little they have.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen several high-profile outages within the healthcare industry. During the summer of 2019, Mount Sinai Hospital West in New York City endured a crippling five-hour blackout. Administrators were able to get several backup diesel-powered generators working, helping the facility avoid the worst-case scenario. We’ve also seen similar incidents in Hawaii, New Jersey, and suburban Seattle.

In 2017, 36.7 million Americans were affected by 3,526 reported power outages, according to Eaton’s Annual Blackout Tracker Report. While the number of reported incidents decreased slightly from 2016, the number of people affected by these outages has skyrocketed in recent years.

A power outage can happen to any healthcare facility. The trick is knowing how to prepare. Use these emergency preparation tips to help your colleagues prepare for a possible loss of power.

Sourcing Your Electricity

On the administrative side, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to hooking up to a power source. If your power source fails, your facility may lose access to key services and functions. That’s why it’s best to hook up to at least two power sources, so if one of them fails, you and your patients won’t be in the dark.

You should also have multiple backup generators onsite in case you lose access to the main power grid. Keep these generators connected, so that if one breaks down, the others can pick up the slack.

It’s also important to regularly inspect and maintain your generators. You probably don’t use this equipment very often, so don’t forget to make sure they’re working in case they become your last resort. Keep important contact information on hand, including the equipment manufacturer and your local utility company.

Establish Care Priorities

In the event of an outage, you’ll need to concentrate all available power on the most important aspects of your facility, most notably critical care patients, those undergoing or recovering from surgery, and those on life support. Certain machines and equipment need to run 24/7 or the results could be disastrous. Caring for your most sensitive patients should always be your first concern when preparing for or responding to a blackout.

Additional priorities should include:

  • Making sure patients and providers can move from one area of the facility to another. If the elevators lose power, do you have another way to get your employees and patients out of the building?
  • Refrigerating temperature-sensitive medicines. Make sure your refrigerators and coolers are hooked up to alternative power sources, so these medicines don’t spoil. Watch out for humidity and excess heat as well. Room-temperature medicines can go to waste if they get too hot.
  • The comfort of your patients, including elderly and chronically ill patients who may respond negatively to excess cold, heat or humidity. Install backup air conditioning units and heaters to keep your patients healthy and comfortable.
  • Lighting. While some lights may not be as much of a priority during an outage, providers and patients need to be able to see in the dark, or accidents may occur.
  • Organization awareness and communication. You and your team should also have a way to communicate during such an event. If an emergency should occur, you should be able to check in with staff members and supervise key processes, so you can respond immediately if something goes wrong.

Identify your main priorities as a facility administrator or care provider, so you can still deliver essential care services during a blackout. If an emergency should occur, these systems should go on automatically, so you don’t interrupt vital care services.

Staff Training and Awareness

Once you’ve established a response plan, it’s time to educate your team. Everyone should know what to do in the event of a blackout, including which devices will be working and which will not. Staff members may need to adjust their approach to care during an outage, such as relying on non-digital instruments and tools.

You can also help your employees prepare for an outage by running regular outage drills in your facility. With predictive maintenance and thorough maintenance logs, you can better predict when certain machines and devices will fail, so you can prepare your team accordingly. You can periodically cut off the power and activate your emergency plan to make sure everything goes as planned. This helps you identify any potential weak spots that may put your patients at risk if a real blackout should occur.

Every facility should be prepared for a loss of electricity. Keep these tips in mind to avoid the worst-case scenario. You can also look over the FEMA Healthcare Facilities and Power Outages Report to learn more about this important issue.

From a Dentist to the Stars to Koala-Saving Vets: The Best Instagram Accounts to Follow in Healthcare for 2020

A picture says a thousand words, or in the case of our best accounts to follow, hundreds of thousands. From Dentist to the Stars Gabe Rosenthal, to an Australian Veterinarian who is saving Koala bears during Australia’s insane wildfires.

Below are some of our favorite social media stars, earning a place on our list of the top Instagram accounts to follow in 2020, we start with med student JP Scott, the Ambassador to the new LGBTQ hub of Scrubs Mag.

@jpscott.med

 

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As an MD candidate, JP Scott has his work cut out for him. On Instagram, you’ll find him toiling over medical books in preparation for his next exam, sharing inspiring stories about his life, and rocking some fly scrubs as an ambassador for Cherokee Uniforms. He’s also a proud member of the LGBTQ community, showing his support for other LGBTQ healthcare providers. Follow his account to learn more about his unique journey. JP is also the head ambassador for Scrubs Magazine’s LGBTQ hub, hit up ScrubsMag.com/LGBT to read his musings on everything LGBTQ+.

@nurse.iv

 

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As a CVICU travel nurse, Imaris is constantly on the go. While she lives in Chicago, IL, she spends her career hopping from one healthcare facility to the next. She’s also a full-blown fashion icon. You can catch her rocking all kinds of cute outfits and scrubs on the floor. She’s known for her sense of humor and outrageous sense of style. During her time on the road, she’s worked in interventional radiology in the neuroscience department and the cath lab, but her passion has always been the cardiovascular ICU. Stay tuned for all her adventures as a traveling nurse.

@effierozi

 

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As a practicing veterinarian from Greece, Dr. Effie Rozi is living the dream. You can find her relaxing under the Mediterranean sun, taking care of all kinds of adorable animals, and rocking the latest fashions in healthcare. She regularly posts about her outfits and how Cherokee scrubs help her make the most of each day at the office. She currently works at Attiko Vet Hospital in Athens, Greece. Follow her to see more.

@drgaberosenthal

 

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Dr. Gabe Rosenthal is taking cosmetic dentistry to new heights. Offering top-of-the-line dental services, he regularly shows the results of his work on Instagram with lots of before-and-after photos. From fixing tragic accidents to giving his patients the smile of their dreams, there’s nothing Dr. Rosenthal can’t do. With two offices in Encino and L.A., he’s become the go-to choice for some of the biggest influencers and YouTubers in Hollywood, such as the YouTube sensation Jake Paul.

@nursetaylorr

 

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Running on caffeine and positive vibes, Nurse Taylor gives you a rundown on her life from her day job as an ER nurse to life in Philly. She’s always showing off her scrubs and fashion sense, alongside being a Cherokee Uniforms ambassador.

@explorn_emcheng

 

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As a self-described “travel nurse guru,” Em Cheng wants to inspire nurses all over the world. She’s always trekking through some of the most remote regions of the world, bringing her healthcare skills and expertise to those in need. Travel nurses regularly help out at understaffed facilities, and Cheng is no exception. You’ll see gorgeous views, learn about what it means to be a travel nurse, and see how she handles the challenges of modern nursing. Above all, she wants to empower YOU.

@dr.onury

 

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Dr. Onur Yenigun is ready for anything that comes his way. He’s a Stanford ER resident doctor, a former U.S. marine, and a lover of all things related to fitness. You can see him competing in bodybuilding competitions, spending time with friends and his pals from the marines and being a great doctor to his patients. He’s also a brand ambassador for Cherokee Scrubs. Whether he’s learning a new technique or goofing around in the classroom, Dr. Yenigun is here to brighten up your day. Follow him to see a true American hero at work.

@evamachado 

 

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Spunky and full of love, Eva Machado is standing up for nurses. She wants to help her colleagues lead their best lives by staying healthy in and out of work. She regularly shares tips for self-care and managing burnout on the job. You’ll find her spending time with friends at work, traveling with loved ones, and sharing empowering messages of hope. She also runs Purpose People, an ecommerce store that sells mugs specifically for nurses. You can also read her blog and join her online book club. Send her your tips for staying healthy as a nurse.

@thecaffeinatedbsn

 

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Samantha is a senior year-nursing student who’s ready to take on the world. She’s got lots of attitude and a lust for life that few can match on Instagram. You can see her rocking all kinds of fashionable scrubs, including Tooniforms from Cherokee Uniforms. Obviously, she has a thing for caffeine, which helps her through nursing school at Florida Atlantic University. She’s soaking up rays of sunshine as she powers through her next exam. She’s got all the inspiration you need to be all you can be.

@dr.robinb

 

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Robin B, or Dr. Bea as she’s often known, is a third-year pharmacy student. She loves traveling the world and learning all she can about pharmaceuticals. She also hosts her own show on YouTube called “The Dose,” which talks about self-help, nourishing your body and becoming the best version of yourself. She’s already helping people before she even graduates. She’s full of positive vibes and inspirational ideas. Follow her on YouTube and Instagram to see what’s happening in the world of Dr. Bea.

@dralexhynes

 

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As an “animal crusader,” Dr. Alex is doing everything she can to save animals in need. She’s currently on the frontlines of the South Australian bushfires, rescuing koalas from starvation and dehydration. Thousands of residents and animals have been displaced as the fires rage on. Thankfully, Dr. Alex and her colleagues are there to help. Catch up with all her adventures as a nurse for the country’s Animal Emergency Service in Brisbane. There’s never a dull moment.

@drgerardopoli

 

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Looking for some inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. Dr. Gerardo Poli is serving up all kinds of wisdom and positivity on his Instagram feed. As an emergency veterinarian and the Director of the Animal Emergency Service in Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Poli spends his time saving the lives of all kinds of animals, including koalas, a lion, and some adorable stray kittens. He’s also the author of the MiniVet Guide, a go-to guidebook for aspiring veterinarians. Keep up with all the excitement on his Instagram feed.

@marthareyna_

 

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Martha is a BSN, RN with a huge appetite for life. She’s a hardworking mom and wife, on top of taking care of patients all day. You can see her and her family spending lots of quality time together, including taking some epic international vacations. She’s also a brand ambassador for Cherokee Uniforms with a killer sense of style. She also created @LatinaRN, a social media and personal wellness campaign that’s designed to encourage and inspire Latino people working in the healthcare industry.

Dr. Bryan Abasolo

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You may remember Dr. Bryan Abasolo from the Bachelorette, well he’s just launched a fantastic new podcast focusing on life, fitness and all things health. His first interview? The woman he married from, you guessed it, The Bachelorette. You can listen here.

Follow these rising Instagram healthcare influencers to keep up with some of the brightest stars in the business.

How China Plans on Reducing the Price of Care

China has officially become the world’s largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity, according to the International Monetary Fund. For centuries, China has remained relatively isolated from the rest of the world in terms of trade, but now the doors are wide open. China’s middle class is growing quickly as more families and individuals seek out better-paying jobs and access to the latest technology like smartphones and laptops.

As China’s economy continues to grow, the country is looking to revamp its healthcare system without inflating the national debt, so middle-class families can access vital services without going broke. China has unveiled plans to create the best and cheapest healthcare system in the world.

Here in the U.S., policymakers and advocates are trying to reduce the cost of healthcare. As we grapple with many of the same issues as our neighbor across the Pacific, let’s take a look at how China plans on creating world-class, affordable healthcare.

The China – U.S. Divide

China and the U.S. have been duking it out on several fronts, including cybersecurity, military power, human rights, and most recently, trade. The Trump Administration is in the middle of a nasty trade dispute with China as the two argue over intellectual property rights, labor issues, and other economic issues. However, China wasn’t always the goliath it is today.

China opened its doors to the rest of the world in the late 1970s. Since then, the country’s economy has been growing at an exponential rate. The country has a population of 1.2 billion people, which is more than four times that of the U.S. As the Chinese economy continues to modernize and trade with countries all over the world, millions of families and individuals have been lifted out of poverty and are starting to enter the middle class.

The middle class is defined as a family or household that has enough money for everyday expenses with some money left over for trips, entertainment, or additional consumption. These families have plenty of money to spend, and U.S. companies are looking to sell billions of products to this rapidly growing market of consumers, including some of the biggest healthcare companies in the world.

Just five years ago, the wealthiest Chinese would often leave the country for medicine and other healthcare services, while the poor were generally left with sub-quality healthcare and high rates of disease and illness. Now, the government is on a mission to make sure nearly everyone can access affordable, quality healthcare.

Here are just some of the ways China plans on reducing the price of care for its middle-class citizens:

  • Investing in Healthcare

China has announced plans to offer first-world healthcare at a fraction of the price other countries pay, including the U.S. Part of this plan includes ramping up public investment. The country has doubled the amount of money it spends on public hospitals over the last five years to $38 billion.

The country hopes to have a healthcare system worth $2.3 trillion by the year 2030. Only time will tell if they have the funds and resources to make that happen.

  • Reducing Drug Prices

One of the main ways China plans on reducing the price of care is to lower the price of prescription drugs. The U.S. pays some of the highest drug prices in the world. The FDA grants pharmaceutical companies the exclusive rights to sell and market the drug to the public for around seven years, giving some companies the freedom to jack up the price so they can recoup their investment as quickly as possible.

However, China is looking to avoid this conundrum. China plans on buying pharmaceuticals in bulk from some of the largest drug makers in the world, thus reducing prices for the general population. The country believes these companies will lower their prices in order to access China’s largely untapped middle-class market. Companies like Pfizer and Roche have already agreed to cut prices by as much as 70%. For generic drugs, prices have already dropped an average of 52% through the country’s bulk-buying program.

Reducing the price of drugs ensures that middle-class households will be able to pay for these drugs. It helps establish China as a destination for low-cost healthcare without inflating its medical insurance fund, which helps insure millions of Chinese citizens.

Spurring Innovation

Venture capitalists are paying close attention to what’s happening in China’s growing healthcare market. China is reducing the price of care and easing federal regulations in order to attract some of the brightest minds and biggest investors in the industry. Tech companies have largely had trouble setting up shop in China, considering the country has a long history of stealing intellectual property rights.

However, venture capitalists see an opportunity in China. Digital healthcare companies hope to launch the next generation of medical devices and apps in China in order to get their products and services to market as quickly as possible. In the years to come, China may emerge as the new face of digital care as more companies focus their development strategies around China.

We have some time before China overtakes the U.S. as a leader in healthcare. Both countries are trying to reduce the price of care in their own ways. In the future, it may be easier and cheaper to schedule a surgery in China than it is to have the procedure in the U.S. Keep an eye on these trends as China and the U.S. face off over the future of healthcare.

Harvard and USD Graduate Dr. Jonny Kim is Headed to NASA

Dr. Jonny Kim comes with his fair share of accomplishments. He’s been considered one of the brightest and most valuable minds in the medical industry, and now he’s headed to outer space. Kim has completed more than 100 active duty tours throughout the Middle East during his time as a special operations sniper in the Navy. He then went on to graduate from the University of San Diego in 2012 and Harvard Medical School in 2016, where he quickly had become a standout in his graduating class.

Now Kim is heading for NASA as part of the department’s Artemis Program. Learn more about Kim’s exciting adventures and what it will be like to use his healthcare training in space.

Inside the NASA Artemis Program

The Artemis Program is the latest big swing from NASA. Through this ambitious undertaking, NASA plans on sending the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024, so researchers can learn as much as they can about the lunar surface. The department then hopes to share these findings with international partners in hopes of creating a sustainable form of transportation to and from the moon by 2028.

All of this is in preparation for the next phase of NASA’s master plan: sending astronauts to Mars. This comes at a time when the Trump Administration is pushing for more space exploration. Administrative officials have even floated the idea of a nationalized space force, which received funding from Congress at the end of 2019.

Several nations have announced plans to travel to the moon in the next decade. NASA hopes to make America the first country to send live astronauts to Mars, which could unlock new insights into life here on earth. The capital “A” from the Artemis logo represents the agency’s mission to travel further into space. It just needs the right men and women for the job – and Kim is one of them.

Kim’s Journey from War Hero to Astronaut

Dr. Jonny Kim knew he wanted to practice medicine after returning home from his time as a Navy Seal. As a special operations sniper, Kim has plenty of experience with high-stress situations and life-and-death experiences. Instead of helping the U.S. fight a war, he planned on treating and helping as many patients as possible. He graduated from two of the top medical schools in the nation with flying colors: USD and Harvard Medical School.

He then decided to fulfill his dream of becoming a U.S. astronaut. Along with 18,000 applicants, Kim submitted his application to NASA in hopes of working on future space missions. Thanks to his experience and superb medical training, Kim is now one step closer to making his dreams come true. He’s one of the first to graduate from NASA’s Artemis Program, along with 10 other recruits. Kim will remain on active duty as a Navy officer while serving as an astronaut at NASA, the department said in an official statement. This gives Kim the chance to serve his country in more ways than one.

On social media, Kim describes himself as a “public servant” and “lifetime learner”. These skills will certainly come in handy as Kim and his fellow astronauts venture to the moon and beyond. As a fully trained physician, Kim will be there to respond to any medical emergencies that may arise during the mission, which is good news for his companions.

Everyone at Scrubs Mag is more than excited for Kim and his upcoming adventures. He truly embodies the spirit of public service and life-long learning. We could all stand to be a little more like Dr. Jonny Kim. Follow him on Instagram @jonnyykim for more updates as he gets ready to depart on the mission of a lifetime. He regularly posts about his experiences in the NASA training program, what it’s like to prepare for life with zero gravity, and how his experiences as a healthcare provider continue to shape his worldview. Step inside the shoes of Dr. Jonny Kim and get ready for a whole new chapter in space exploration.

Working Around the Clock: What Happens to Your Body as the Hours Go By

If you work as a nurse, you’re probably all too familiar with long shifts. Nurses typically work in shifts that can last anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. While many nurses tend to stick to a 40-hour week schedule, long nights, emergencies, and shift swaps can easily push that number to 55 hours a week or more. But what effect does all that extra time on the floor have on your physical and mental health?

Find out how working long shifts and too much overtime can take a toll on your body.

The Dangers of Sitting

Not all nurses run around tending to their patients. Some healthcare workers sit behind desks most of the day organizing records, updating files, and answering emails. The bad news is that too much sitting can be just as bad for your health as smoking.

According to a 2017 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for long periods of time can lead to a range of negative health outcomes. Researchers used hip-mounted devices to track inactivity levels among nearly 8,000 working adults over the age of 45. The results showed that those who sit for more than 13 hours a day were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who were active for 11.5 hours. If you’re thinking about binging Netflix for another 90 minutes or staying late to answer a few extra emails, all that sitting might catch up with you.

Long periods of sitting may also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome. When we sit, our largest muscles are completely relaxed, which means they take up less glucose from the blood. Sitting can also increase your sense of pain by stiffening your joints and muscles. It’s best to move around every 30 minutes to an hour, so you can stretch your muscles. Try doing a few jumping-jacks in your office, walking down to the end of the hall and back, or just jogging in place to get the blood flowing.

Going Over 40

Working overtime may help your bank account but not your overall health. A recent study published in European Heart Journal of over 85,000 workers across the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, and Finland shows that working overtime comes with its fair share of risks. Those who worked over 55 hours a week were about 40% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation in the following 10 years than those who worked 35-40 hours per week.

Studies also suggest working overtime can increase your risk of workplace injuries due to fatigue. It also increases your chances of being diagnosed with chronic illnesses later on in life, such as heart and lung disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Working too much can also increase stress and worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety.

When you get home after a long day at the office, you’re probably too tired to cook a delicious meal. Working overtime often leads to unhealthy eating habits, including frozen and over-processed foods, fast food, and other junk foods that are bad for your health. You may also have trouble sleeping if you work overtime continuously.

If you pick up an extra shift here and there, you probably shouldn’t be too worried. However, consistently working more than 40 hours a week can be a danger to your health, so try to cut back your time at work as much as possible if you regularly work overtime.

Is Overtime Worth It?

While earning some extra money may be great in the short term, taking all those extra shifts may cost you in more ways than one down the line. If you feel like you have to work more than 40 hours a week in order to do your job, it might be time to look for work at another facility. Talk to your manager and find ways to reduce your workload. If you continue to work more than 40 hours a week, find time to relax, plan some time off, and see your doctor regularly.

Considering the nature of the healthcare industry, everyone should be aware of the health effects of working too much. As nurses, we are routinely asked to stay late and deal with all kinds of emergencies when we least expect it. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect your health. Try to eat healthy at the end of a long day, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated.

You can also pass this information along to your patients. If some of your patients are dealing with depression, obesity, anxiety, muscle stiffness, chronic pain, or they’re having trouble sleeping, talk to them about the dangers of working too much and encourage them to take a day off.

Treat your body with care and find ways to cut back at work, so you can live a long, healthy life.

Succession Planning: Keeping Knowledge and Expertise in the Workplace

The healthcare industry needs reliable, capable leaders as it weathers a period of great change. As the cost of care continues to rise, new healthcare technology comes on the market. As baby boomers age and require more around-the-clock care, industry leaders will need to help their colleagues and employees make the right decisions for their patients.

However, the healthcare industry can also be extremely volatile. Nurses and other healthcare workers are often subjected to long hours on the floor, stressful situations, and even unsafe working conditions. Employees and managers may leave their roles unexpectedly, either to relocate to another facility or to retire from healthcare all together. Replacing employees and healthcare leaders isn’t always easy, considering the nature of the industry. Furthermore, healthcare is expected to add another 1.9 million jobs over the next ten years, which means competition for top-tier recruits will only heat up.

While many healthcare facilities focus on hiring and retaining new recruits, succession planning doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Find out how to prepare your existing employees for a change in leadership, so all that valuable experience and expertise don’t go out the window.

Why Succession Planning Is Important

Your nurses and staff members know your facility inside and out, but when they leave, they take all that valuable knowledge and experience with them. Without a comprehensive succession plan in place, staff members may leave without properly training their replacements. Hiring talented workers in the healthcare industry can be a challenge, especially if your facility is in a rural area or there are lots of competing facilities in the community. New hires will have limited knowledge of your establishment, which will reduce productivity.

Succession planning is even more important at the C-suite level. If the head of your organization unexpectedly retires or takes a new job, employees may lose faith in the leadership that remains. This can lead to miscommunication and missed deadlines and opportunities. The facility may also fall behind on the latest trends, putting it at a disadvantage in the marketplace. A study of the world’s 2,500 largest public companies shows that companies without a specific replacement in line for outgoing CEOs forgo an average of $1.8 billion in shareholder value.

Succession planning ensures your team has the right staff members in place to keep your facility moving in the right direction. If a staff member falls ill, retires, or takes another job, your team will be more than prepared to pass the baton of leadership.

Healthcare Succession Planning Tips

Every healthcare facility is different, but there are certain common pitfalls that come with succession planning that you’ll need to avoid. Keep these tips in mind when creating your succession plan:

  • Evaluate and Identify Current Duties and Responsibilities

It’s best to create distinct succession plans for every role in your facility, including entry-level employees and those at the very top. Every succession plan should include specific duties and responsibilities, but these should go beyond a typical job description. Talk to your existing employees about all they do for your organization, some of which may catch you by surprise.

You should also consider how much time you’ll need to replace these individuals, whether you’re promoting someone in-house or hiring from outside your organization. Set clear requirements in terms of how much notice you need from your employees if and when they plan on leaving your organization.

  • Opportunities for Leadership

Many organizations will identify potential replacements for outgoing leaders and C-suite executives. Existing employees will already be familiar with your organization, which streamlines the succession process. This also gives the replacement a chance to spend more time with the departing team member before they leave.

Promoting in-house employees also improves workplace morale. Millennials in particular tend to value leadership opportunities and career mobility. Hiring outside your organization may dissuade your existing workers from sticking around. According to a recent Gallup poll, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job — far more than non-millennials.

  • Create Consensus

You’ll need to get everyone on board with your succession plans before you make them an integral part of your organization. If some of your employees do not approve of your succession plans or they aren’t aware of them at all, there’s bound to be some confusion as you go about replacing these employees. No one knows these roles like your current employees, so ask for their input and consent. Ideally, everyone will be on the same page when someone announces that they’re leaving your organization.

  • Leave Room for Flexibility

Every employee has their own preferences when starting a new role at your organization, so avoid being too rigid with your succession plans. Leave some room for flexibility, so future hires and recently promoted employees can put their unique stamp on the position. If you try to force new recruits into a box, there’s a good chance they won’t stick around for the long haul.

  • Emphasis on Technology and the Future of Your Workplace

The healthcare industry isn’t set in stone. In fact, it’s accelerating and evolving at a rapid pace, and your succession plans should reflect that. Consider how your facility may evolve in the months and years to come when working out the details of your succession plan. Even if you’re not sure what the next big trend in healthcare might be, you can invest more time and money in researching potential new trends if and when new leadership roles become available.

No one wants to lose their best employees, but turnover tends to be high in the healthcare industry. Stay one step ahead of the curve and start hammering out a comprehensive succession plan today.

2020 AANP National Conference

Don’t miss out on the biggest nurse practitioner (NP) event of the year: the 2020 AANP National Conference (#AANP20). With the theme NPs: Jazzing it up in The Big Easy, you know it’ll be a week to remember! Whether you want to explore history and haunts, shopping and swamps or food and fun, there are countless opportunities to make memories alongside thousands of your NP colleagues. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) invites you to enjoy the legendary hospitality of New Orleans while earning up to 40 hours of CE credit; joining discussions on current state and federal legislative, regulatory and practice issues; and making lasting connections with NPs of every specialty. Come see why #AANP20 is the place to be this June!

Katie Duke: Keynote Speaker

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Katie Duke a Cherokee Uniforms Ambassador left in her mid-20s to pursue a feeling inside her that there was, “something greater out there.” That feeling led her to New York City. New York proved to be the right move for Duke. It was the energy of the city that inspired her to find her purpose, leave a very abusive relationship, complete her education and gain opportunities that opened up new chapters in her life.

One of those chapters was being a featured emergency room nurse on the prime-time ABC medical documentary series “NY MED” and its spinoff, “NY ER,” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, TLC and Discovery Life channels. Albeit she had a controversial turn on “NY Med” related to a post on social media, she realized that the best way to work through life’s tough lessons is to own your mistakes. For the last six years, she has been dedicated to leading others by sharing her good and bad experiences and lessons and by empowering others to embrace and grow from their not-so-glorious moments.

Duke started with an associate degree in nursing from Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish Hospital College in St. Louis, and she finished her BSN at City University of New York-Hunter College. She completed her education with a Master of Science in Nursing as an Adult Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner from Columbia University.

Duke has 15 years’ experience in nursing, with the last four years spent working as a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) specializing in inpatient cardiology and cardiac surgery in New York City at Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals.

In addition to her full-time career as an NP, she also serves as a clinical preceptor to NYU ACNP graduate students, an editorial contributor, a motivational speaker, a mentor, an agency-represented social media influencer, host of the “Bad Decisions Podcast” and founder of the “Duke It Up Event,” which is an empowerment and mentoring workshop.

Duke is respected most for her authentic, raw transparency and relatable content focusing on motivation, lifestyle and professional career insights and guidance. In 2019, the Katie Duke + Cherokee Uniforms Collection launched, making it the first collaborative scrubs collection in the world between a medical apparel brand and a nursing professional. The collection is an affordable, functional and all-inclusive size line of trendy and classic pieces for all health care providers.

Over the course of building her personal platform, she has worked with global brands such as Cherokee Uniforms, Laneige, Prudential Financial, Clinique, Magee Women’s Research Institute, Nestle Boost Nutrition, Match.com, Dentyne, Kaplan NCLEX Prep, Anisa Beauty, Panera, Jet.com, SoFi Financial, Littmann Stethoscopes, Swimsuits For All, Easy Spirit, Nurses Travel Network and more. Duke has been featured in global women’s empowerment media campaigns alongside Ashley Graham, Brooke Shields and Angela Simmons.

In addition to continuing her inpatient NP career, Duke’s two-year goals include authoring a book about embracing your bad decisions and mistakes as a stepping stone to success, expanding her motivational event series, growing her collection with Cherokee Uniforms and branching into lifestyle products to help the everyday professional woman find work-life balance.

Scrubs Magazine Celebrates the “Year of the Nurse”

Nurses play a vital role in the healthcare industry and our local communities. With over 3 million nurses across the country and over 19 million across the Globe, educating and empowering these healthcare providers is the key to improving the healthcare industry as a whole. Nurses not only care for their patients, but they also educate the larger community about various health issues. As caregivers, educators, and communicators, nurses are the thread between everyday patients and the health of the world.

It is for these and many other reasons why 2020 has officially been designated as the “Year of the Nurse”.

Scrubs Mag proudly announces that we will join countless healthcare organizations around the world, including the American Nurses Association, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the American Nurses Foundation, in celebrating all that nurses do for their communities. Healthcare industry officials plan to engage with nurses, thought leaders, and consumers to spur innovation in the field of nursing.

The general population is aging fast as more baby boomers get ready to retire. These individuals will need around-the-clock care in the years ahead. Meanwhile, the cost of healthcare continues to rise as the industry experiments with new technology and other ways of engaging patients. If providers are going to usher in a new era of healthcare, take on more leadership roles, and improve patient outcomes, nurses will need to be front and center.

Celebrating the “Year of the Nurse”

Here at Scrubs Mag, we understand how crucial nurses are to the healthcare system at large, as well as to the experiences of everyday patients. They spend more time with patients than any of their colleagues. They also make up the largest group of healthcare providers.

Nurses play all kinds of roles in the healthcare industry and the larger community. In addition to caring directly for their patients, nurses advise schools, community centers, and other organizations on proper health practices. They facilitate care within the larger community by relaying important information to individuals across various industries. The “Year of the Nurse” campaign will focus on inclusivity, spotlighting the various roles nurses play within the community.

Yet, nurses often take a back seat to facility administrators and other policy makers. Nurses have valuable information to share regarding the patient experience and the inner workings of the care delivery system. That’s why Scrubs Mag, the ANA, and other healthcare organizations are encouraging more nurses to take on leadership roles in the industry, so they can better advocate for their patients and help the industry overcome challenges. These challenges include improving patient engagement, reducing the price of care, and incorporating the latest technology into the patient experience.

The “Year of the Nurse” campaign will spotlight all that nurses do for their patients, the healthcare industry, and the larger community. The healthcare community also wants to better understand the overall value of nursing, so it can funnel more resources into the research, education, and development of nurses around the country.

This year, National Nurses Week, which traditionally runs from May 6th to 12th, will expand to run throughout the entire month of May, giving everyone a chance to show their appreciation for nurses. It’s just one example of how the industry is putting the spotlight on this elite group of professionals.

Why 2020? Why Now?

Nurses have been going above and beyond for their patients for years, so why is 2020 considered the “Year of the Nurse”? This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

The campaign also comes at a time of great change for the healthcare industry. The nursing profession is expected to grow at a rate of 12% over the next ten years as the demand for care continues to rise. Large portions of the nation are already struggling with a shortage of healthcare providers, leaving some to wonder if we have enough nurses to keep up with patient demand.

The industry is also in a period of transition as more practices and facilities incorporate the latest technology into everyday patient interactions. As the face of modern care, nurses will need to educate their patients about the latest technology, so they feel comfortable using it on their own. Telehealth, health apps, and other new programs have the potential to reduce the price of care, increase access to care (especially in rural areas), and improve patient outcomes.

The “Year of the Nurse” will encourage more nurses to take on leadership positions while making sure these valuable professionals have the resources and training they need to further their careers.

As a nurse, this is your year. Consider taking on a larger role in your facility or the community at large with some help from the ANA and other healthcare organizations. You can use the hashtag #yearofthenurse and follow Scrubs Mag and the ANA on social media to get involved. Visit the official ANA website to learn more about what this exciting program means for you and your colleagues.