SNAAz – Making the Connection 2014 – 1st Midyear Convention

The Student Nurses Association of Arizona did a fine job with their First Annual Mid-Year Convention held at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation Building on the downtown Phoenix ASU campus.  Caroline Branch, hosted the event and introduced each speaker.

SNAYC (Yavapai College) was well represented at the conference, filling a row of tables.  Great turnout, Yavapai College!

Arriving at 10, I experienced the LinkedIn workshop:

LinkedIn Workshop, hosted by Dayna M. Mathews

Make your linkedIn profile at which is free and can bring hundreds of leads to your career search. Ms. Mathews recommended all nurses and nursing students follow these LinkedIn groups:

Nursing Network    40,825 members

RN (Registered Nurse) Network   50,626 members

NURSING JOBS    20,001 members (awww, darn. closed to new members)

Nursing Student Network 8,542 members

Nursing Professionals 7,192 members

At LinkedIn, those letters of recommendation become a huge credibility boost.  If possible, I will attempt to get both: hardcopy letters and LinkedIn recommendations.  Here is how mine LinkedIn looks.  I am going to work on LinkenIn for an hour each week as Ms. Mathews suggested, so it is still a work in progress:

I followed Ms. Mathews on LinkedIn and to her credit, a return follow was done within a day. She is a solid LinkedIn participant and I intend on becoming one as well.  What good is talent and degrees if know one knows you exist?  Good marketing has always been key to career success.

Health Care Reform – The Tsunami, hosted by Denise G. Link, PhD, MSN, Clinical Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Dr. Link presented a dynamic slide set providing an overview of the radical changes that The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA, Obamacare).  The underlying theme in her presentation was “What Nurses do Matters”.  I requested the powerpoint from her, but they too must be on Spring break.  Much deserved, I can imagine.

Study Skills and Organization for Nursing School with Trini Sandoval, Counseling Department, Glendale Community College

Lots of one-liner ideas were being thrown around this unusual but interesting breakout session. Here were a few standouts:

Overall the conference was useful and interesting.  I hope to attend again next year.

Had to post CD cover for fine Local Band

Was visiting local live music venue and restaurant “The Raven Cafe” in Prescott, AZ and had to buy the CD of fine guitar duo Anton Teschner and Drew Hall.

Anton Teschner and Drew Hall

Anton Teschner and Drew Hall

When I looked online to find the cover art for these two fine flamenco style players, it was not found …shocking, so I scanned it up and here it is for all to enjoy. Please support these two fine players by attending their shows and purchasing their fine CD as I did.

I could not believe how well they played their arrangements of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” among others. One of those evenings when you are trying to have a conversation, but the music was so good that everyone stopped talking and had to listen.

It was a wonderful evening of musical entertainment.

Lessons Learned, Grades Earned

In the Spring semester, I took a class I should have earned an ‘A’ in.  The lectures were good, and we were allowed to bring a reference sheet into the exams with us.  Since I use an Android tablet to take notes, I thought everything would go smoothly.

Lessons Learned. Better Grades for Summer.

Lessons Learned. Better Grades for Summer.

But sometimes I had to take paper notes and some of my files had funny names.  On two occasions, my notes did not make it into the essential reference sheet and I suffered on two of those exams.  I had to settle for a ‘B’ in the class.

Typically, that is not a problem, but as I head into the more challenging coursework I will need every break I can get.  This summer, I was resolved to earn ‘A’ grades and I did.  I took a more proactive approach to each class and I devoted the old study formula, “2 to 3 hours study time per week for each hour class time.” Example: study 3 hour class for 6 to 9 hours per week.  Lessons learned, grades earned.


Education Inflation: Do Online Classes Make Us Dumb? Part III: Would the Last Student Here Please Turn off the Lights?

It was the 1990s. A brand new age of technology was here. Welcome to the “Information Superhighway.” Pop culture seethed with movies like Sleepless in Seattle where relationships hinged on the AOL trademarked email alert, ‘you’ve got mail!’ Even former Vice President Al Gore was rumored to have invented the internet, when in fact he did have involvement in technical legislation. In those days of technological promise and riches, the new century was met with optimism and anticipation.

Education was at the heart of innovation. ARPANET, the forerunner of the global internet, was hosted and researched by major universities, defence contractors, and government agencies. Famously, Stanford University nurtured the search engine Google and the rest is history. Ironically, the scholarly pencil pushers created the machines that obsoleted the pencil. But will the online environment be as effective in education as the traditional methods of the past? Hard to say, but it certainly true things have changed in education.

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The Lights are Out in the Online Forums / Image from

Last spring, I took a traditionally lectured English class and this summer, I took an English class online. While I did enjoy both classes thoroughly, I realized that the value I got from education was determined by the effort I put into my coursework. This is because as an adult student, I have the discipline to work hard at everything, derived from my general life experience. Generally speaking, young adults tend not to have the same sense of urgency about education. Online classes demand less of students, and as a result, instead of leveraging the power of the internet, most students embrace the isolation of online classes and become more passive about their studies.

In a traditionally lectured class, at least the instructor could require the students to stand before the class to make a presentation. Not possible with online classes, where isolation is the norm. In a traditionally lectured class, the instructor could challenge the sophomoric utterances of an uninformed student, while in online classes most questions are followed with student responses of “I agree”, “Me too”: an all too well conditioned generation of popular Facebook users following the crowd and not accustomed to critical thinking or debate.

The forums of the online class I took were more concerned with polite agreement, rather than debate. The effect is familiar to anyone using social networking platforms, but is the comfort of consensus too high a price to pay? From my online class forum reading, I was the only participant willing to challenge others with their posts. My peer review of student papers were left ignored without reply for my efforts. Apparently only a light, agreeable touch will hold the attention of these students. In that case, they will find themselves woefully unprepared for the challenges of more demanding classes and the real world of work.

Education Inflation: Do Online Classes Make Us Dumb? Part II: Did your Surgeon use the Biology Lab?

Last spring, I had the privilege of taking a molecular biology class from a qualified professor in a well equipped lab. In this classroom, students were instructed on a bit of life science chemistry, followed by the molecular structures that make up the foundations of life. Our professor had spent a great deal of time as a graduate student working in a research lab at the University of Colorado before earning his Masters of Science. He was fully capable of lecturing the class and filling the whiteboard with material, without notes or automation, which is how the class was taught.

In our lab assignments, students gained hands on experience using microscopes, isolating DNA, typing blood samples, and experiencing the human genome firsthand with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) isolation techniques. Each one of these biology labs made for a very engaging science experience for the class participants. With a microscope, a student must grapple with the field of view that changes when magnifications settings are adjusted. Finding and focusing on a specimen can be so frustrating that at times, you must ask for assistance from another student or the professor to achieve focus. It is a humbling experience that forces the student into collaborative effort.

Result?  B positive.  What is yours?

Result? B positive. What is yours?

Blood typing requires the student to take their own blood sample with a lancet. Some students decide against pursuing a health career on that day, due to the minor blood work. This is what the lab can show a student: because knowing what is not your passion can be as vital as knowing what you want to pursue as a career. Similarly, the DNA and PCR experiences can inspire the student in ways that are difficult to describe. Suffice to say that when the double helix of the DNA molecule and the striped racetrack of the PCR gel are seen live, firsthand (not simulated) through the lens of knowledge of molecular biology, the experience is without equal.

Later in the semester, I was surprised to learn that Biology 181 was being offered completely online. In the online version, there is no biology lab time or facetime with the professor required. The consensus approval for the course was overwhelming. Sections filled quickly as students eager to bypass the rigors of lab work executed their registration. Remote instructors unable to lecture without notes or automation could deepen their grasp on the pool of available students. Everyone wins online, with the exception of actual science and real life experience, which gets kicked down the road to higher level classes.

Please relax, because I am reasonably sure your surgeon has used a microscope. Even if your doctor took classes online, eventually the lab awaits, and the skill is learned. However, the bigger issue is while our schools diminish the academic experience with virtualized science classes, the onus of a hands on experience is shifted to the ever higher level coursework, hence the effect of education inflation. At least I was still able to use the lab for my class.

Education Inflation: Do Online Classes Make Us Dumb? Part I, The Untested Rush to Technology

Next to the produce department at most supermarkets sits the ubiquitous grocery bakery. Although most of us realise the bakery department is not like a real bakery, the mass marketed supermarket bakery has survived, and perhaps prospered, over the last half century.

Yet, most people would agree that supermarket baked goods are not as high quality when compared to a real neighborhood bakery. So how do they remain in business? It is because they fulfill a need for the community. When overworked, fatigued parents are presented with the requisite cheap cake essential for yet another annoying birthday party, the supermarket cake is ‘good enough.’ Besides, the children, lacking refined tastes in cake, seldom complain.

My Information?  My Way?  I doubt it...

My Information? My Way? I doubt it…

Fast forward these children from the birthday party to the education system. Next to the college dean’s office is the college IT department. They run software that simulates the classroom experience. Automation in education creates savings and efficiencies with scale and speed not unlike a modern supermarket bakery.

However, students and educators understand that online classes are nothing like the real classroom. Then why are online classes pushed by schools and abundantly enrolled in by students? While school administrators and educators are expected to offer more classes with smaller budgets, the untrained population is being encouraged to enroll in college to improve their skills. When the education quality issue is raised, the online classes are ‘good enough.’ Besides, the undergraduates, lacking refined tastes in education, seldom complain.

Online classes are the current remedy to the issue of today’s high enrollment and fewer resources for colleges and universities. Stay tuned for our next blog topic, Part II: Did your Surgeon use the Biology Lab?

Staying in Shape with “Body by Science,” by John Little and Doug McGuff, MD

It is tough to spend a lot of time at the gym, or running doing ‘cardio’ and the like.  I wished for a better answer, and I got it.  I found a training book called “Body by Science,” by IMG_3790John Little and Doug McGuff, MD.  What really appealed to me about the book is that half of the contents are about molecular biology and the other half is discussing these “SuperSlow” weight bearing methods.  So many of the thing in the book dispense with traditional gym mantras.  No longer do I “warm up with a ‘cardio’ run” or “lift 3 sets of 10 reps”.  Now I lift less weight than ever, for a shorter period of time and only go to the gym once per week.  And the SuperSlow really is challenging!  Dr. McGuff says that when you lift only 10 times, super slow (count of 10 up, count of 10 down), to failure by 10, then you have recruited all the slow and fast twitch muscles involved.  Since muscles are where the enzymatic activity takes place, you do end up getting a full workout with his method.  It takes a full week to recover properly.  Finally, a research based fitness program that uses what I have learned in biology to improve my strength.

Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie Summer School

Oh my, summer school looms!  Just got the welcome message from the CNA instructor.  School starts 8AM on Monday.  Yikes!!  Better eat well this summer to keep up with the routine.

Smoothie and Flax

Smoothie and Flax

Notice there is no fruit juice, no added sugar.  The pineapple is enough sweet for this low glycemic breakfast.  Must not forget that it is the over sugaring of the diet that is the root of many of our modern health issues.  Is it possible to consume only 50g to 100g of total carbohydrate per day?  Sure it is.  To your health!!

Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup homemade full fat yoghurt
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • Handful of frozen pineapple chunks
  • 2 T Walnut Oil (Omega-3!!)
  • 1/3 cup whey protein
  • 1/3 cup flax meal (stir in bowl after above is blended)