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Bad weather can hit in time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Bad weather can hit any time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Have you been caught in turbulent weather: Possible tornadoes like the tragedy that happened in Moore Oklahoma; April blizzards in the Dakotas. So far it’s been anything but “spring-like.” To top it all off, experts are saying the upcoming hurricane season could be worse than last year. One scientist even said watch out for Super Storm Sandy 2.0!

As healthcare travelers, you very well could find yourself assigned to any of the states that repeatedly get battered by hurricanes. Or you could be on contract in one of the 45 states and U.S. territories labeled as “moderate to very high risk” of earthquakes. Remember the 5.8 quake that struck Washington, D.C. back in 2011?

So what if you happen to be assigned to an area that falls victim to Mother Nature’s whim; would you know how to react? Do you have the emergency supplies readied?

The following are a few essentials to keep on hand and advice on how to stay safe as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign (ready.gov).

THE BASICS
• Extra prescription meds and eyeglasses along with first-aid supplies.
• Water, nonperishable food, and pet food for three days. Remember dietary requirements for both you and your animals. Tip: Avoid salty foods.
• Keep copies of pertinent documents—insurance policies, identification, medication list, allergy list, and bank accounts—in a waterproof container.
• Paper towels, plates, and plastic cups and utensils. Oh yeah, and a manual can opener so you can get to the food.
• Change of clothes, including cold/hot weather attire. Also, stash an extra blanket.
• Battery powered or hand-crank radio and cell phone charger. Don’t forget extra batteries.
• Refresh the kit every few months. Tip: When it’s time to change the clocks, it’s time to change supplies.

EARTHQUAKE EXPECTATIONS
• Keep a pair of durable shoes and a flashlight near your bed.
• Stay inside and find cover from falling objects.
• Ask the hospital where you are assigned about its earthquake response plan.
• If the shaking starts while you’re driving, park in a clear area. Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, and of course, power lines.
• Don’t expect to be one and done. Aftershocks can follow for days, even weeks, after the initial rattler. Make no mistake, aftershocks are still earthquakes and should be treated as such.

HURRICANE HOW-TOS
• Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio (noaawatch.gov) for real-time updates from the National Weather Service.
• Bring in outdoor plants or furniture that could be tossed around by winds.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. In the case of power outages, your food will stay colder longer.
• Fill up your gas tank.

TORNADO THOUGHTS
• Find a safe location, like a basement, storm cellar, interior room, or hallway.
• If in a car, keep your seatbelt on, duck below the windows, and cover your head.

Predicting Mother Nature’s next move is a fool’s game, but it never hurts to be prepared wherever you are assigned.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston by telwink, on Flickr

When picking a new travel assignment, you can compare the “cool” factor of cities across the country.  Forbes ranked 65 American cities based on how cool a place they are to live. Cities with abundant entertainment and recreational opportunities, large number of restaurants and pubs (excluding chains), young diverse population, significant migration into the city, and low unemployment rate were the factors used to compile the list.

Houston’s strong economy has spurred its enviable growth. Residents and visitors enjoy world-class arts, pro sports teams, award-winning cuisine and loads of shopping in the nation’s fourth largest city.

WHAT TO SEE

  • •Buy a $2 METRORail ticket and go explore Houston’s Museum District. With 19 museums and a 50-acre zoo, the intellectually curious will find a range of satisfying topics from the Holocaust to postmodern art.
  • •Bike or hike on trails inside the 10.4 acre downtown Sesquicentennial Park or kayak through Buffalo Bayou during a four hour urban excursion.
  • •Play at the number #1 ranked children’s museum in the country or take the kids to the Health Museum—it’s part of the world renowned Texas Medical Center.
  • •Shopaholics can spend days in the Galleria with more than 375 stores. Take a break at the indoor ice skating rink.
  • •Spend an evening at the 17-block Theater District. Reserve a seat at the Alley Theater, the Houston Grand Opera, or Houston Symphony.
  • •Sports fans can back their favorite pro team. H-town has its own football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey teams.

TOP TEN

The top ten coolest cities in America are:

Houston, Texas

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles, California

Dallas, Texas

Seattle, Washington

San Diego, California

Boston, Massachusetts

Orange County, California

San Francisco, California

New York, New York

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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BDesotelle1

Photo courtesy Bruce Desotelle

I love this time of year, when every weekend, stadium parking lots come alive with a sea of tailgaters. For example, Kansas City Chiefs’ fans are known to get the party started a few days early. Each football town has its own way to boost team spirit. As healthcare travelers, you have the opportunity to witness first-hand how different fans in different cities honor their teams’ tailgating traditions.

Regardless of where you attend the party while on assignment, there is a certain etiquette expected of all tailgaters. Here are a few of the basics for beginners.

• Fanfare: Unless you’re a diehard fan for your own team, invest in some local spirit gear, such as a cap or T-shirt, so you fit in with the crowd.

• Car show: Once on the scene, stroll the grounds to see how vehicles have been decked out and customized to display their owners’ over-the-top team loyalty. Most people will be happy to explain how they converted an old school bus into a football lounge on wheels.

• Personal chef: One of the best parts of tailgating is tasting regional favorites prepared on portable grills or creatively constructed cook tops. If you’re in Boston on assignment, you’ll find kettles of New England clam chowder at Gillette Stadium. Every grill at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., will be loaded with brats. Even if you’re not hosting the football fiesta, offer to contribute to the menu, maybe a side dish or dessert. Extra ice and drinks are always appreciated, too.

• Dress code: Better to be over-prepared than get caught in the rain or snow. Bring an umbrella, or gloves, scarf, and hat if you are on contract in a northern town. Here’s a thought: battery operated portable heater.

• Keep cool: Sure, the majority of people will be cheering for the local pigskin players, but there could be visiting fans, too. Good-natured teasing might be okay, but keep the “game talk” G-rated so everyone has a good time.

• Clean-up service: No matter if you’re attending the big game or watching the gridiron showdown on TVs set up in the parking lot (yes, that happens), don’t leave a mess behind. Bring along extra trash bags to pick up after your neighbors if necessary.

Whatever the final score, everyone wins when tailgating is done right.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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The arrival of September signals fall harvest is ready for the dinner table. But don’t expect to find the same cornucopia of goodies at every farmer’s market. Those travelers on assignment in the Northwest will find something different from travelers in the Northeast, and so on.

To find out the season’s top crops for your current contract, check out this quick guide.

NORTHEAST
Pumpkins — Okay, so this is an obvious choice, but did you know this squash is loaded with vitamin A? Cut it up, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast it in the oven for a flavorful potato substitute.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins by RichardBowen via Flickr

Radicchio — There’s more to this bitter lettuce than just salad fixings. Cut it in half lengthwise and pop it on an indoor grill for a smoky side dish.

On the Chopping Block: Radicchio

On the Chopping Block: Radicchio by madlyinlovewithlife via Flickr

MID-ATLANTIC
Leeks — Don’t like the taste of onions? Try the more subtle leeks. They’re great in soups and stews.

Leek Stalks

Leek Stalks by LollyKnit via Flickr

Brussels Sprouts — Low in calories and high in fiber, these mini cabbages are good to the core. Roast them in a hot oven to caramelize the natural sugars.

Brussels sprouts before roasting

Brussels sprouts before roasting by johnsu01, via Flickr

SOUTHEAST
Eggplant — Research shows that eggplant contains chlorogenic acid, which helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even better, this veg is super versatile. Serve it on its own or stirred into pasta sauces.

Eggplant

Eggplant by NellieMcS, via Flickr

Okra — If you’ve eaten gumbo, you’ve had okra. It’s a natural thickener, but just as tasty breaded and deep-fried.

Okra

Okra by NatalieMaynor, via Flickr

MIDWEST
Beets — I was one of the those kids who had to force down beets at dinner, but I have come to enjoy them now, especially in salads with a little goat cheese. And don’t ignore the leafy tops; they’re chocked full of vitamins and minerals.

Beets: Chioggia, White, Gold, Red

Beets: Chioggia, White, Gold, Red by Suzies Farm, via Flickr

Parsnips — One cup of this carrot cousin will provide you with 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Parsnip

Parsnip by ©HTO3, via Flickr

SOUTH
Figs — With or without the cakey Newton, figs are sweet treats. Interestingly, the dried version has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than the fresh ones.

Michelangelo's Forbidden Fruit was a Fig

Michelangelo’s Forbidden Fruit was a Fig by Rubber Slippers In Italy, via Flickr

Kale — This is one of those wonder greens nutritionists are always reminding us to eat more often. Here’s a secret: Top any dark green with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Kale!

Kale! by B*2, via Flickr

WEST
Peppers — Red, green, yellow, orange, purple, spicy, mild: Peppers come in a rainbow of colors and varying degrees of heat. Experiment with different kinds in dishes like stir-fry.

peppers

peppers by killrbeez, via Flickr

Pomegranates —You may have to put in a little effort to get to the juicy seeds, the only edible part of the fruit. An average-sized pomegranate can contain 600 seeds.

Pomegranate 4 רימון

Pomegranate 4 רימון by shyb, via Flickr

PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Artichoke — This thistle flower is tasty when dipped in melted butter or a kicked-up mayo. If you’re an artichoke newbie, ask an experienced friend to demonstrate how to scrape off the meat from the leaves and dig into the heart.

Artichokes

Artichokes by TonalLuminosity, via Flickr

Huckleberries — Think long-lost relative of blueberries. They’re similar in appearance, taste, and application, like sweet jams and preserves.

Huckleberries

Huckleberries by outdoorPDK, via Flickr

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