July is National Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month and this presents an opportunity for nurses to educate patients to protect themselves from the harmful effects of UV rays. UV rays not only cause skin damage, but also skin cancer and cataracts. There are three types of UV rays. UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not pose any threat. UVA and UVB radiation, however, have long- and short-term negative effects on the immune system, skin, and vision. The main source of UV rays is sunlight, although they can come from man-made sources such as diagnostic X-rays, tanning beds and booths, and phototherapy. Approximately 90-95% of the UV rays from sunlight is UVA, with the remaining 5-10% being UVB.
Summer is here, which means it’s the perfect time to get more physically active and enjoy being outside. Here are four tips to share with patients to help them avoid damage from UV rays.
1. Avoid overexposure to sunlight.
Avoid being outside for long periods in the sun and heat, especially during the peak hours of strongest UV rays, during the hours of 10 am to 4 pm. Overexposure to sunlight is known as the underlying cause for harmful effects on the skin, eyes, and DNA.
2. Apply broad spectrum protection sunscreen before stepping outside.
A sunscreen with SPF 30 can block out 96% of UV rays, while a sunscreen with SPF 50 can block out 98%. Unfortunately, there is no sunscreen that can provide 100% UV protection. Remember to apply a sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply after two hours because most sunscreens can last for about two hours on the skin.
3. Wear sunglasses that can filter at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays.
Sunglasses with UV coating, or polycarbonate lenses which have built-in UV coverage, can help prevent UV rays. Photochromic lenses are also a good choice. UV rays can cause a development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and retina damage. It is wise to cover skin with loose-fitting clothing and wear a wide-brimmed hat (3-inch or 4-inch brim all around) when out in the sun.
4. Avoid or limit the use of artificial UV light.
Research has shown the risk of malignant melanoma is much higher in people who use tanning beds. The risk of melanoma increases by 75% when indoor tanning devices are used before the age of 30. Avoid using tanning devices to lower the risk of having melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Nurses play important roles in all health care access points from hospitals and physicians’ offices to community health centers, school health clinics, nursing homes, and public health departments. Since their roles in patient care across the health system provide significant opportunities to affect health outcomes, nurses at all levels need to open up to new ways of thinking and working to have the confidence and skills to create new ideas and nursing interventions to work on specific issues beyond their typical responsibilities. Here are a few examples of nurses’ innovative thinking: creating a predictive model to prevent hospital readmission by Laura Beth Brown, MSN, RN, president of Vanderbilt Home Care Services; and making pillowcases for patients with cognitive impairments to decrease patient restraint by Jan Bahle, MSN, CNS, and her team at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center in Ravenna, OH.
Innovation consists of enthusiasm and curiosity and innovation comes from creativity. Innovative thinking is not a talent, but it is a skill that needs practicing. Here are four ways to help build your innovative ideas.
1. Build on Existing Questions or Problems.
When developing innovative projects, you need to clearly define the problems that you are attempting to solve and articulate why those issues are important. Always start with the what, why, how, when question and try to answer it. List down each question that comes to mind and determine which one you think is the best. With a thorough understanding of the question or problem you are interested in innovating in, you will have a sharper eye in recognizing possibilities and be more skillful in connecting different ideas together.
“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it” —Albert Einstein
2. Think Outside the Box.
Encourage yourself to be open to new ideas without setting limiting beliefs. You should write down your thoughts and ideas into your journal or scrapbook, as this will help you keep track of your thoughts and can even stimulate your thought processes and lead to one new idea after another. Creative thinking does not require you to follow all the time; creativity is about how you associate different ideas and facts—look for the unconventional and embrace the difference.
Make the commitment to focus on the present and not let it wander from one thought to another. Do not be afraid of failure. Instead, see mistakes as opportunities or learning process for achieving your innovation.
4. Build a Network.
Strike up conversations with different people and listen to their unique perspectives, which may help you reconstruct your ideas. You may not believe that the greatest insights often come from our interactions with people who hold views opposite from ours. Also, do not forget to have fun with your colleagues as this is a proven and common way to generate ideas.
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day and this brings an opportunity for all nurses across the nation to spread the word about the importance of getting an HIV test and to encourage patients and their family members to stay in care, and to support HIV prevention.
According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV do not know they have it. Getting HIV testing is the only way to know whether a patient has HIV. Knowing HIV status is crucial to keep patients and their family members healthy. The CDC has recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get an HIV testing as part of their routine health care.
Here are four key things nurses can do to help support HIV prevention.
1. Inform patients and their family members about where to get HIV testing.
There are several testing services, health centers, and other resources that provide HIV testing. Patients can easily find HIV testing and care services through the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator, or they can call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). Getting tested for HIV regularly (at least once a year) is an important part of good sexual health.
2. Educate patients about the window period for HIV test.
The window period is time between potential exposure to HIV infection and the point when the test will give an accurate result. The window period can be from 10 days to 3 months, depending on individuals and types of HIV tests. Patients who test HIV-negative during the window period will need a follow-up test after the window period to confirm the results.
3. Encourage people at higher risk to get tested more often.
HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk for HIV, for example, sexually active gay and bisexual men and injection drug users. These groups may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
4. Encourage patients living with HIV to prevent passing disease to others.
There are many actions that patients can take to lower their risk of transmitting HIV to their partner or family members. HIV can spread by contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. Here are some examples to prevent passing HIV: taking medicines to treat HIV infection, using a new condom every time they have sex, telling their sexual partners that they have HIV, and encouraging their partners who are HIV-negative to get tested for HIV regularly.
As nurses, we have an important role to play, regardless of the area of expertise, in promoting prevention, testing, and early treatment of HIV.