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The Evolution of Nurse Uniforms

by Jared Newnam
May 13, 2011

Nurses’ uniforms have undergone many changes since they emerged in the 1800s. From the days of floor-length dresses with aprons to today’s variety of colorful scrubs, the design of the uniforms has changed based on functionality, professionalism, and the role of the nurse.

Prior to the foundation of modern nursing in the 19th century, nuns provided nursing care to sick and injured people. So the first nurse uniforms were derived from the nun’s habit.

Florence Nightingale’s efforts during the Crimean War helped turn nursing into a respected occupation, and in the late 1800s, she established a nursing school. Thereafter, the nurse’s uniform began to look more professional in order to distinguish trained nurses from those who were not. It was actually one of Nightingale’s students who designed the first recognizable nurse’s uniform, which included a long dress with an apron and a frilly cap.

From the 1880s until World War I, the uniform changed very little. Not only designed for protection against illness, it was also considered an expression of feminine virtue. During World War I, it became clear that the former styles of nursing uniforms were no longer practical. As the war brought in a vast number of wounded, nurses needed to be fast and efficient. The bulky aprons started to disappear and skirts were shortened for better mobility. Meanwhile, military nurses also wore tippets – short, cape-like garments worn over the shoulders – with badges sewn on them to denote rank.

As the popularity of the nursing profession grew, uniforms would continue to change. By the 1950s, there was an increased need for uniforms which could be mass-produced and easily cleaned. Sleeves became shorter and caps varied from a pill box style to a pointed version. Eventually, uniforms would become even less complex. Open-neck shirts and pants surfaced in the 1960s as more men entered the nursing profession, and by the 1970s, disposable paper caps replaced cotton ones. By the late 1970s, hats started to disappear altogether.

Since the 1990s, the traditional nurse uniform has been replaced with scrubs in most hospitals and healthcare facilities in the U.S. and Europe. Scrubs are shirts or tunic-style tops and trouser combinations. The functional, easy-to-care-for clothing provides healthcare professionals with comfort and more mobility. Uniform options have also expanded with many colors, shapes, fabrics, and prints to choose from.

Nursing uniforms have come a long way over the centuries, but distinguishable features, functionality, and protection have been longstanding requirements for them.

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Ethical Principles for Business

by South University
April 8, 2011

Whether you work for a small business or a major corporation, following ethical principles matters.

The most recent lesson on the importance of business ethics came with the Wall Street collapse, as once highly esteemed financial institutions made headlines for their bad choices and questionable behavior.

While businesses have to meet economic expectations, they also have ethical responsibilities. Everyone, from the bottom to the top of the organizational chart, must take care to meet these responsibilities.

According to Dr. Jill Young, an instructor in South University’s College of Business, integrity is the most important ethical concept because it covers such a broad area. “If you act with integrity, ethical behavior is just a natural progression,” she says. “Those who have integrity are guided by a set of core principles that influences their decisions and behaviors.”

People with integrity value other principles, including honesty, respect, personal responsibility, compassion, and dependability. These qualities are integrated into the Six Pillars of Character offered by the Josephson Institute, a nonprofit organization that develops and delivers services and materials to increase ethical commitment. The pillars are:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

“The overriding principle that you have as an individual is you have to make the right decision,” says Rich Jarc, executive director of the Josephson Institute. “That is sometimes very difficult because a decision may be easier, but it is not right. So it takes more of a personal challenge to do the right decision.”

Jarc says making the right decision can also be difficult when it calls for the employee to look beyond the scope of their current duties.

“So, what is the right thing to do? It depends on the responsibility the executive has,” he states. “Most of us know what has been assigned to us and if we see something beyond that scope, it can tell us it’s time to bring it to someone else’s attention.”

“If you look at any profession, if you ignore something that is wrong, it could end up being a big problem,” Jarc adds.

Young says one of the ethical concepts in business that she highlights in her Business Ethics courses is the importance of executive leadership support of ethical practices within organizations.

Business Ethics

“If it does not come from the top leadership, it will not permeate through the rest of the organization,” she states. “Employees look to their top leaders for the behaviors they are expected to model.

“The main point I want to emphasize to my students is that ethical business practices are not necessarily the most profitable methods in the short term, but they are essential for long-term organizational survival,” Young continues.

However, behaving in an ethical manner can create positive business results. A business environment that promotes and upholds strong values is usually a happier and more productive workplace, Jarc says, and customers receive good service so they keep coming back.

In addition to work behavior, Jarc believes that ethical principles should guide our personal and professional lives.

“Being ethical requires looking at universal values and that is the decision matrix people can use in their business and personal lives,” Jarc says.

Business Ethics for Executives

In addition to the Six Pillars of Character, the Josephson Institute offers 12 Ethical Principles for Business Executives:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Promise-Keeping & Trustworthiness
  • Loyalty
  • Fairness
  • Concern for Others
  • Respect for Others
  • Law Abiding
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • Leadership
  • Reputation & Morale
  • Accountability
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Affecting Change Through Campaign Finance Reform

by Jared Newnam
April 8, 2011

They say that money talks, and in the world of government, that isn’t usually a good thing. Proponents of campaign finance reform are hard at work to silence the voice that money gives to wealthy donors by changing the way political campaigns are financed.

“We have a political system that values campaign donors and those able to buy access and influence in our public process,” says Adam Smith, communications director for Public Campaign, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to raise the voice of everyday Americans through common sense reform of the way elections are financed. “The voices of everyday Americans are left out of the process.”

Craig Holman is the government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization. He says that campaign finance reform is about making democracy, with its principals of equality, work well within a capitalist economy.

“To get the two to work together, you have to place reasonable restrictions on the role of money in elections or else you’re going to have just the wealthy dominating the political system,” he says.

Campaigns are incredibly expensive and candidates are forced to constantly fundraise in order to raise enough money to run one successfully, or even close to successfully. That means that public officials — already serving in office and seeking reelection — are frequently fundraising in addition to fulfilling the duties their offices require. Campaign finance reformers say this situation creates a culture that allows political campaign donors access to public officials that the average citizen doesn’t get.

We have a political system that values campaign donors and those able to buy access and influence in our public process.

“[Campaigns] are bought and paid for by special interest groups,” Smith says. “This leads to policy proposals that benefit those who are giving money and not everyday people.”

These special interest groups work to change or influence public policy by lobbying elected officials. Part of lobbying can involve attending fundraisers and donating to political campaigns. Examples of special interest groups include everything from The American Civil Liberties Union to the National Rifle Association, Greenpeace to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the League of Women Voters.

Holman says that public financing would best address the problem. With public financing, government money would pay for campaign elections and candidates would not be permitted to accept contributions from individuals, unions, organizations, special interest groups, or anyone else.

“The most ideal system would be complete public financing on all elections,” he says. “Take all of the special interest money out of the election all together. Remove all of that, and have candidates run publicly financed elections so they can all get their messages out to the public and the public knows where they stand. It’s money with no strings attached.”

That system is currently in place in Connecticut and Arizona, where it has significantly reduced corruption, Holman says.

“Wherever you have money involved, there is the potential for corruption,” he adds.

Smith says that his organization supports fair elections, a small donor system of campaign fundraising. He says that candidates would collect a certain number of small contributions - $100 or less — from individuals at the grassroots level. The money would be matched on a four-to-one basis with the matching funds coming from fees on civil and criminal penalties, or other sources. Smith says this method would eliminate the need by politicians to constantly fundraise.

According to the Public Campaign website: “Being freed from the money chase means they have more time to spend with constituents, talking about issues that matter to them. When they enter office, they can consider legislation on the merits, without worrying about whether they are pleasing well heeled donors and lobbyists. Fair elections would return our government to one that is of, by, and for the people — not bought and paid for by special interests.”  

Transparency is also an important part of campaign finance reform — and it’s something needed on all levels of government, Holman says.

“An inherent part of campaign finance reform is disclosure,” he says. “It’s the basis for how everything else is built.”

The bottom line is that campaign finance reform is all about returning the political process to the people, instead of the lobbying firms and special interest groups. And that, Smith says, is a powerful thing.

“A lot of this is about power — who has it and who doesn’t,” Smith says. “In our system the wealthy have the power and the everyday people don’t.”

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Spring Can Bring Showers of Depression

by Jared Newnam
March 4, 2011

Spring’s arrival puts most people in a pleasant mood, but there are some who experience the opposite feeling. For those suffering from seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the longer days and warmer weather in the spring can actually send their bodies and emotions into a tailspin.

In general, as the seasons change, so do our behavior, energy levels, desire to socialize, and sometimes sleeping patterns. And often, the term "seasonal affective disorder" is inaccurately used to describe the normal winter blahs and lower energy levels most people feel in the fall and winter.

Those diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder don’t just have a case of the blues, but instead find it difficult to cope and get out of their depression on their own. There are differences between the winter- and summer-related forms of the disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of winter depression include loss of energy, oversleeping, and weight gain – as a result of food cravings. Summer depression symptoms, however, include anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Spring- and summer-based depression can be particularly troublesome because while most people are enjoying the increased amount of sunlight and higher temperatures, those suffering from it are feeling overwhelmed.

“They feel like ‘everyone is happier when the spring rolls around, except for me,’” says Dr. Kathryn Klock-Powell, clinical coordinator in the Professional Counseling department at South University — Savannah, adding that studies have shown there are high risks for depression and suicidal thoughts during the spring and summer seasons.

They feel like 'everyone is happier when the spring rolls around, except for me.'

With seasonal affective disorder, there is not a specific diagnosis — it is considered major depression with seasonal patterns, Klock-Powell says.

“Major depression is awful because the person feels terrible, but still might come up with reasons not to seek help,” she says.

The exact cause of seasonal depression is not known, but many experts believe it may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which may be hereditary or caused by events in a person’s life.

“It may also have a lot to do with exposure to sunlight,” Klock-Powell offers.

She says there have been studies on seasonal affective disorder and its prevalence in different places around the world. Not surprisingly, studies have found the disorder is prevalent in daylight-lacking Alaska, but not in “Sunshine State” Florida.

“However, it was interesting that a study found that people in Iceland don’t get it,” Klock-Powell says, referencing a 2000 study that reported a low prevalence of seasonal affective disorder in the country which has long dark winters. “But, people in Iceland eat a lot of fish, which has vitamin D and there is a lot of vitamin D in sunlight.”

Although more light can brighten the moods of those with winter depression, a different type of treatment is necessary for people with spring and summer depression. Experts recommend that those attributing their symptoms to heat limit their exposure to the elements and find relief in cool and air-conditioned environments. A healthy diet and regular exercise may also help.

Klock-Powell advises those who have seasonal slumps lasting for long periods of time to seek professional therapy.

“It may be normal to have a couple bad days but when it lasts a few weeks, it’s time to talk to somebody,” she says.

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Does Social Media Addiction Really Exist?

by South University
February 4, 2011

The term “social media addiction” is frequently seen in headlines and tossed around by television pundits. But society should not be so quick to attach the term “addiction” to social media activities, experts say.

“Addiction is a word that should not be used lightly to describe a set of behaviors,” says Mark Fabbri, director of the Psychology degree program for South University. “Addiction is related to a compulsion to consume something or engage in a set of behaviors to the point that it significantly interferes with a person’s life.” 

The dictionary defines addiction as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, such as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

Fabbri points out that common, identified addictions include sex, gambling, various substances, and even the internet. 

“Any action can become addictive if it has a negative significant impact on a person’s life, but I would caution using the term addiction outside its intended definition,” he adds.

Social Media Addiction?

Adam Singer, the analytics advocate for Google, wrote a blog post for his media blog, The Future Buzz, titled Why ‘Social Media Addiction’ Makes Absolutely Zero Sense. He says individuals who abuse something, like social media, to the extent that it causes problems in their lives probably have deeper issues.

“I think social media addiction is something being played up in the media because it is a hot topic right now,” Singer says. “A lot of people are leveraging that for story ideas, or to trump up the value of something whether that’s products that stop access to social sites at work or psychologists trying to sell different services. There are motivators to playing it up.”

Neil Vidyarthi is managing editor of Social Times, a blog which covers the stories of the people in the business of social media. He says he personally believes social media can be addictive, using Facebook as an example.

“There’s a voyeuristic tendency none of us realized would be so high,” he says. “That’s why there are 500 million users spying on one another. We’re all interested in what others are doing. Facebook does something you could never really do before. Now you have this real-life, breathing example right in front of you and it’s so fascinating to people and they can get addicted.”

But Fabbri cautions that there is a big difference between addiction and overuse of social media.

“An addiction will cause the individual to lose out on other things on life,” he adds. “For example, spending so much time on social networks at work causes the individual to lose their job. A person can spend too much time in social networks but still are able to function adequately in life. Like any activity there is a need to find balance in what we do.”

An article in Psychology Today called Social Media Addiction: Engage Brain Before Believing echoes Fabbri’s assertions, saying “it concerns me that, as a society, we are very cavalier tossing around the concept of ‘addiction.’ Addiction is a serious psychological diagnosis based on specific and seriously life-impairing criteria.”

Fighting Social Media Addiction

To combat overuse and prevent any type of addiction, real or perceived, Vidyarthi recommends keeping the computer in a common area of the house, especially for families with children.

“It’s a huge challenge,” he says. “I do think you can stay on Facebook for four or five hours and that can be dangerous. People should limit themselves to knowing they can only have one or two hours per day.”

Studies on social media as an addiction are scarce and inconclusive. Vidyarthi believes that eventually there will be more data on the topic and until then, it affects how much his site covers the topic.

“There isn’t enough conclusive evidence or studies that have been done about it yet,” he adds. “But they will certainly come out.”

Communication with vs. Addiction to Social Media

Meanwhile, as the popularity and usage of social media increases, it changes the way we communicate with one another.

“Social networking has become not only a vehicle to communicate but a reason to communicate and share personal thoughts and ideas,” Fabbri says.

In some cases, he continues, it is replacing other forms of communication, such as face-to-face interactions.

“Again, social interaction through social media isn’t a bad thing,” he adds. “From a personal perspective I have enjoyed posting blogs; it has given me an avenue of expressing an opinion where I hadn’t the opportunity in the past. Utilizing social media to engage in social interactions is just another alternative. The key is to be able to balance the use of this exciting form of interaction with all the other aspects of our lives.”

Or as Singer points out, it may be that social media channels are becoming the predominant form of communication, especially amongst younger generations.

“When the phone was the predominant form of communication, did we say that teens had phone addiction? Probably not,” he says. “This is just the normal mode of communication for them.”

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