3 weeks ago

Bryant Bank scholarships ease path for UAH nurses to emergency room, ICU roles

Bryant Bank’s Excellence in Nursing Scholarships helped pave the way for December 2020 Nursing graduates to develop the skills necessary to take up roles in the emergency room and trauma ICU, reports The University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Nursing (UAH CON), a part of The University of Alabama System.

The Bryant Bank Excellence in Nursing Scholarship was established in 2015 to award in-state students admitted to the Early Promotion into the UAH Nursing Program (EPNP). The EPNP is an honors program being offered by UAH’s College of Nursing. Highly qualified students who enter UAH as freshmen declaring nursing as their major, and taking all of the lower division nursing coursework on the UAH campus, are guaranteed a slot in upper division nursing courses.

Not only is the program a timely one, aiding students entering the profession during the COVID-19 pandemic, the scholarship is renewable. A full-time course load (12 hours) must be maintained each semester with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 on all lower division Nursing and Charger Foundation-required courses given in the BSN lower division program of study.

One of those scholarship recipients is UAH CON cohort Rachel Collins, who reflects on how she arrived at her decision to enter the nursing field.

“The dream to become a nurse is something that came to me later in life. I always knew I had an interest in science and learning about the human body, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to fuel that interest. I was recruited to play collegiate soccer at The University of Alabama in Huntsville and heard of UAH’s incredible nursing program, and decided nursing was the route I wanted to take. With each semester that passed, I gained a stronger understanding and love for the nursing profession.”

For fellow 2020 graduate Katarina “Katy” Ahmed, the same choice represented more of a lifelong dream.

“The first recollections I have of planning to do nursing was at four years old,” she says. “I knew I was going to be just like my mom. I distinctly remember how she taught me how to properly clean and bandage wounds. In my last semester of nursing school, I grew into the nurse I wanted to be. I had knowledge behind me, but the experience gained from precepting helped me put my knowledge to the test. My desire for direct patient care was solidified as I helped care for my grandmother as she slowly passed away from ovarian cancer. I got to serve her in a tangible way and witness the Hospice Family Care nurses show me how much care families should be treated with during one of the hardest times of life. If I can be even half as comforting, loving and passionate about my patients and families as those nurses, I will have accomplished my desire in this field.”

Cohort Laura Bowman reveals that her own journey had striking parallels to Ahmed’s, but reports her personal path was unique as well.

“As a child, I was extraordinarily squeamish,” she says. “I got very grossed out by the sight of blood and could not stand anything medically related! I always said I would never have what it takes to be a nurse. However, my grandmother began having a series of strokes when I was a young teenager, and over the next few years I helped care for her. The longer I cared for her, the more I adapted to blood and other bodily fluids. The week before she died she called me her ‘little nurse.’ That statement really stuck with me. It opened my eyes to the fact that I do have what it takes to be a nurse and inspired me to pursue that passion.”

When it came to furthering her education, Collins recalls, “I was looking for a university that wasn’t only going to help me achieve my goals in my soccer career, but would also push me academically and give me a great education. As soon as I visited UAH, I knew it was the perfect college for me. I was able to be a student athlete while simultaneously getting an incredible nursing education. I loved the campus, and I loved the city of Huntsville.”

It was a family connection to the school that helped Ahmed make her selection.

“I heard a lot about the program growing up, since my mom is an alumna of the UAH College of Nursing,” she notes. “Although I considered other universities, UAH remained my top choice. Not only did UAH allow me to live at home through college, but I was able to stay with my home church and remain with my closest friends. I was also able to stay out of debt throughout my collegiate career, because UAH offered me the Charger Distinction Scholarship and the Bryant Bank Scholarship. My spot in the Upper Division Program in the CON was solidified as I was offered and accepted the Early Promotion into UAH Nursing Program.”

Bowman was blessed with a similar familial connection that helped her narrow her choice as well.

“My dad is actually a UAH alumnus. I grew up in Huntsville and always heard about how amazing the UAH College of Nursing is. Between that and the scholarships UAH offers, it was a no-brainer for me to attend the UAH College of Nursing. UAH Nursing has prepared me to critically think in the real world. Real life patients are so different than textbook ones! However, UAH gave me the building blocks to translate textbook knowledge into real-world applications.”

The graduates are especially grateful to the Bryant Bank Scholarship and the profound impact it had on their lives and being admitted into the Early Promotion into UAH Nursing Program.

“It meant the world to me!” Collins says. “It really instilled in me the confidence to know that people believed in me. It helped me to study hard and push for the highest academic excellence I could pursue. The scholarship also meant I could graduate without any student debt! Receiving the Bryant Bank Scholarship and being admitted into the Early Promotion into UAH Nursing Program further validated that I was going to be part of such a special profession that is valued and appreciated by so many people. Knowing I had this support gave me confidence to go fearlessly into the nursing profession.”

Ahmed wholeheartedly agrees. “The Charger Distinction Scholarship, Bryant Bank Scholarship and the Early Promotion into UAH Nursing Program were, above all, an answer to prayer! All the perseverance and tears in high school paid off, and those three opportunities allowed me to go to UAH without the fear of going into debt. The Bryant Bank Scholarship meant a lot, because it is specifically for nursing students and was an incredible asset to earning my degree. People outside of my family and friends were actively investing in me and my studies! The EPNP allowed my mind to be at peace, knowing that I had a place in the Upper Division Program. These three incredible blessings were affirmations that determination, perseverance and a strong work ethic pays off with high rewards later down the road.”

All three nurses feel the rigorous UAH Nursing academic program has prepared them well for the work they are doing now.

“UAH Nursing pushed me to a limit academically that I couldn’t have ever imagined,” Collins says. “While it was difficult, I came out of it knowing I was going to be able to add something special to the nursing profession. UAH Nursing empowered me to be a lifelong learner and to always question the status quo. While I knew it would be a challenge coming out of nursing school and going straight into the intensity of the Pediatric ICU, I never doubted I had the knowledge and capability to someday excel in such a challenging unit.”

“I feel like I thought nursing would be much more straightforward as a student,” Bowman says. “The emergency room is a very stressful and fast-paced environment. You can fall behind so easily if you do not have good time management skills. You have to adapt quickly to changing situations. You also have to use interpersonal communication skills to interact effectively with both patients and providers. I love the fast paced environment, even though I was not anticipating it being quite as hectic as it actually is.”

“I feel the UAH CON fulfilled its objective in giving me a solid base to build on in my chosen specialty,” Ahmed adds. “Overall, nursing school requires scheduling and prioritization. These skills are applicable in the nursing profession as well, as nurses must ensure all aspects of patient care are done appropriately and in a timely manner. Classroom changes due to COVID-19 taught me flexibility, which is also applicable to nursing. I must credit and thank Dr. Anna Aultman and Dr. Sharon Coffey, who instructed me in the Critical Care course. Daily I recall the information, advice and critical thinking skills they persistently pushed during each lecture. I would also be remiss if I breezed over the Pathophysiology and Pharmacology courses. I use all of that information now to help process complex disease processes and medication effects.”

Collins is working in the Pediatric ICU at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, and admits that her first days on the job were challenging.

“Starting off, orientation in the Pediatric ICU initially intimidated me because I knew the expectations would be higher for me as a licensed RN compared to when I was a student,” she says. “However, I quickly learned that it’s okay to admit you are unsure how to do something, even as an RN. Most everyone is willing to teach you new things and walk you through unfamiliar procedures. One difference I’ve noticed is the expectation to manage my time. I’ve had to learn quickly how to manage hourly assessments, charting and giving meds simultaneously. I have loved my time so far working in the Pediatric ICU. I love the challenge of caring for such critically ill patients and getting the opportunity to critically think every shift I work.”

Ahmed, on the other hand, found her start at Huntsville Hospital in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU).

“As a new hire, I tried to go in with an open mind, ready to learn a specific patient population, new skills and drastically increase my understanding of complex patients and critical thinking,” she says. “I expected the unit to be a challenging environment to begin in, and it has not yet disappointed. However, I have been extremely welcomed. I truly enjoy the unit, my coworkers and what I get to do each day. Every nurse has been willing to help me and explain procedures and patients’ situations so I will have a deeper understanding of critical thinking and patient care. This information is building on the foundation that I received while at UAH, especially in the Critical Care course.”

As for what it is like to go into their first nursing jobs in the middle of a pandemic, the recent grads stress their understanding of what this commitment really means during a time of so much uncertainty.

“It is honestly extraordinarily stressful,” Bowman admits. “Walking into an environment where everyone is already exhausted can be discouraging. However, I am glad we are able to provide some relief to those who are already so overworked. As nurses, we care for patients equally, regardless of their diagnosis. So, COVID patient or not, they all receive the same quality of care. I am glad to be able to provide that care. Hopefully, this will all be behind us sometime soon.”

Collins chimes in: “It’s a difficult and simultaneously rewarding time to be a part of the healthcare field. Limiting visitors, especially in a pediatric unit, is hard on the families and the kids we care for. While it’s a hard time emotionally and financially for many people, I am empowered to know that I get to be in a profession that is making a difference throughout this pandemic.”

“COVID-19 has affected every career in some form or fashion, but especially the healthcare field,” Ahmed points out. “Although those in the medical and nursing professions have made a vow along the way to help those under their care regardless of the diagnosis, COVID-19 has been an incredible hurdle that everyone is still dealing with every day. Although I love the unit and my job, it can be scary to go into work! I have been exposed to COVID-19, and even with all of the precautions in place, will most likely be again.”

Then, after a pause to reflect, the young graduate goes on:

“But, from four years old to now, my dream has never changed! I made it through an incredibly rigorous nursing school. Through all of my education, I have also been learning the skills, both physical and emotional, to be the best nurse I can be. Starting a career in nursing during a pandemic was nothing I ever expected could happen. Sometimes I am scared and overwhelmed, but ultimately I have peace of mind. I know I was put into this role for a reason. This career is not easy, but in the end when I go home, I know that I did everything I could for my patients. I am thankful to UAH and my professors who taught me more than what can be found in a textbook. They lead by example, and I hope one day I can be an example for the next generation of nurses.”

Bryant Bank was founded on the belief that Alabama needs a bank that is focused on the needs of Alabamians. It was granted a charter by the State of Alabama Banking Department in 2005, and the company maintains 16 branches in Alabama, including two in Huntsville. The first Huntsville branch opened in 2007. For more information about the Bryant Bank Excellence in Nursing Scholarship Program, visit here.

(Courtesy of UAH)

1 hour ago

7 Things: Ivey says not to panic-buy gas, companies in Alabama need workers, border chaos must be addressed and more …

7. History will not remember Liz Cheney’s leadership position 

  • U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is on the cusp of being ousted by her fellow House Republicans, and the American media has declared this to be a pivotal moment in American history, which it clearly is not. Proving why she is being removed, Cheney spent her last full day in leadership rehashing the U. S. Capitol riots and talking about former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
  • U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) highlighted this when citing why his “friend” needed to go. He advised, “[S]he has made a decision that she is going to use her position as conference chairman not to just promote the position and point out the shortcomings of the Democrat majority and the Biden administration, but rather continue to relitigate what happened on January 6. It is not the job of conference chairman. It is to be the voice of our conference in talking about why we ought to be in the majority and why this majority is wrongheaded, the administration is not doing what the country needs.”

6. Rockets hit Israel, Israel hits back 

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  • In the latest round of Middle East violence, the terrorist group Hamas began shooting rockets into populated areas of Israeli cities with the support of Palestinian leadership. The Israeli military responded by launching targeted attacks on the leadership of Hamas and at rocket sites. Obviously, civilians are caught in the crossfire, again.
  • The American media seems somewhat unnerved by Israel’s defensive capabilities and uneven death toll, but they seem to be hellbent on ignoring the fact that the death toll is only low on the Israeli side because they are able to retard Hamas’ attacks.

5. Schumer wants to legalize marijuana 

  • U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is planning to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana and expunge records of those who have been convicted of possession.
  • Schumer specifically said, “It is not just legalization but a deal for the injustices of the past expungement of the records making sure that the money that’s made from marijuana goes to the communities, communities of color, poor people communities, that have paid the price for this ridiculous scheduling of marijuana.”

4. Kids 12-15 could get vaccinated in Alabama this week 

  • The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on those 12 to 15-years-old, and now it could be approved for use in Alabama by Thursday.
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham vaccination clinics are planning to provide the doses to younger age groups by Thursday if the vaccine is approved for use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today.

3. Secure the border 

  • Governor Kay Ivey and 19 other governors have signed a letter together demanding that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris address the crisis at the southern border. The letter points out that there have been “172,000 encounters in March, the highest number in nearly 20 years, as well as 18,890 unaccompanied children, the largest monthly number in history.”
  • The letter goes on to say, “The crisis is too big to ignore and is now spilling over the border states into all of our states.” They directly blame Biden’s administration and policy decisions for the surge.

2. There are jobs out there 

  • After it was announced that Alabama would be withdrawing participation from federal unemployment benefits, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released a report showing that there’s a record number of job openings.
  • In the report, 31% of businesses say they’ve raised wages and 20% will increase compensation within the next few months. In addition, there’s currently a record 44% of businesses reporting job openings.

1. Ivey: Stop panic buying gas

  • The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack has led to many in the Southeast panic buying gasoline, and now Governor Kay Ivey is urging people to stop panic buying, as this could result in even more issues.
  • Ivey stated, “Please do not fill up your car unless you need to and do not fill multiple containers. Overreacting creates more of a shortage. Please use common sense and patience!”

3 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Rogers on Liz Cheney ouster: ‘We’ve got to be fighting today’s fights and tomorrow’s fights, and not the fight of yesterday’

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is expected to be voted out of her position as House Republican Conference chairwoman, the third-ranking member of the House Republican caucus, and be replaced with U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

The move by Republicans has drawn very vocal reactions from the media and other Democrats, who allege that Cheney’s removal is a product of the GOP’s blind allegiance to former President Donald Trump. Cheney had been a frequent critic of the 45th president and remained so beyond his presidency.

During an interview that aired on Tuesday’s broadcast of Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), the ranking Republican on the House Armed Service Committee, called Cheney “a close friend,” but acknowledged her comments about the January 6 incident on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. had a lot to do with her ouster. He argued Cheney should have had a more forward-looking focus in her leadership role.

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“Everybody sees it coming,” he said. “Liz is a close friend of mine, but she has made a decision that she is going to use her position as conference chairman not to just promote the position and point out the shortcomings of the Democrat majority and the Biden administration, but rather continue to relitigate what happened on January 6. It is not the job of conference chairman. It is to be the voice of our conference in talking about why we ought to be in the majority and why this majority is wrongheaded, the administration is not doing what the country needs. She has made this conscious choice. You know, we had a vote on this back. I think it was in February. And she survived. And everybody told her then, ‘We don’t care how you vote on the impeachment or any of that. That’s all behind us. You need to be talking about the conference goals and agenda.'”

“That’s what that position is all about,” Rogers added. “She has chosen not to do that. I fully expect [tomorrow] she is going to be recalled, and Elise Stefanik is going to be put in that position because we’ve got to be fighting today’s fights and tomorrow’s fights, and not the fight of yesterday. She just won’t turn loose of it. Now at this point, because she’s my buddy, and I hate that she’s taking this course of action — but she’s a very smart lady, and this is a conscious decision on her part.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

17 hours ago

How the Regions Tradition led to Alabama’s star-studded vaccine PSAs

You already know the Regions Tradition’s reputation for competition. It’s the first major on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule in 2021, and it produces millions for charities.

But it’s also the place where things get done. And this year’s focus was intended to save lives.

The Bruno Event Team, which manages the Tradition, and the Alabama Department of Public Health used the annual Celebrity Pro-Am tournament as a stage to create a public awareness campaign encouraging Alabamians to get the COVID vaccine ASAP.

The idea, the pitch and the execution all came together in a week. And when approached, the centerpiece of the project agreed to participate without hesitation.

The centerpiece?

Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

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RELATED: College football’s biggest names turn out for 2021 Regions Tradition Celebrity Pro-Am

“Research told us you don’t use national celebrities,” said Gene Hallman of the Bruno Event Team, which produced the spots. “You use local doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Or you use local celebrities. And in this state, no one is better known than Coach Saban.”

In fact, according to a Montgomery pollster the Bruno team consulted, there’s no one more respected throughout the state than Saban. John Anzalone told the Wall Street Journal that Saban’s favorability rating is the highest in the state – 77 percent. That means that even Auburn fans who root against him each week still respect him.

Or, as Anzalone told the Wall Street Journal, “He is a God.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health reached out to the Bruno team to create a marketing campaign for the state’s underserved population, intending for the spots to motivate Black, Latino and tribal populations to get the vaccines. The public awareness videos will run on television and radio stations statewide, as well as on social media.

But as the campaign expanded, the goalpost moved. With federal and state grants provided for that specific reason, “we’re going to try to reach a very broad audience – the entire state,” Hallman said. “We’re not hammering people. We just want to provide an education on the science of the vaccine, so people can make an informed decision.”

And, since it’s Alabama, there’s also another lure: the opportunity to pack college football stadiums at 100% capacity next fall if enough people get vaccinated.

It’s not the first time the tournament known as the Regions Tradition proved to be a catalyst for change.

When the Champions Tour first came to Birmingham in 1992, Hallman’s group was called in to help with a very hush-hush operation. They were told an unnamed group of visitors from Europe, interested in bringing business to the U.S., would be coming to town to see what Alabama had to offer. No other information was provided, but they were to be shown a good time.

Only one problem.

The first tournament was held in August, a notoriously bad time for southern hospitality – at least for people used to cooler weather than the notorious sticky, 100-degree days. But, as luck would have it, an unusual cold front swept in at the start of the tournament, providing record low temperatures that created perfect temps for the visitors.

So, the secret entourage spent a week at the tournament, got to meet popular Champions Tour legend Chi Chi Rodriguez, and spent a day touring a large plot of land outside Tuscaloosa, less than an hour away …  land that would eventually become the site of Alabama’s first automotive manufacturing plant.

As for the vaccine spots, once Saban came on board others followed. The list includes an NBA legend, a college conference commissioner, a U.S. Senator and other coaches. All recorded their parts while participating in the Regions Tradition Pro-Am.

“We asked and they answered in two seconds,” Hallman said. “There was no hesitation. We got them all on camera that day.”

(Courtesy of Regions Bank)

17 hours ago

Governor Ivey urges Alabamians not to panic-buy gas

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday spoke with the U.S. Department of Energy on a call regarding the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, which has caused a shutdown of the pipeline operations.

The pipeline, which is the largest system for refined oil products in the United States, is 5,500 miles long and can carry 3 million barrels of fuel per day between Texas and New York. It is operated by Colonial Pipeline Company, which is headquartered in Georgia.

The pipeline runs through Alabama, as people may remember from a Shelby County leak in 2016 that caused gas shortages in the region. The county is home to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm.

However, Ivey wants to assure Alabamians that the temporary pipeline shutdown should be resolved in the coming days and that any potential gas shortages have not reached the Yellowhammer State.

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“Please do not fill up your car unless you need to and do not fill multiple containers. Overreacting creates more of a shortage. Please use common sense and patience!” Ivey said in a social media post.

The governor’s spokesperson reiterated Ivey’s message.

“She was assured that the pipeline should be operational in a few days,” said Gina Maiola. “She is urging Alabamians and others to not panic and to use good judgement. A shortage has not reached Alabama at this time, and she reminds us that an overreaction would only lead to that. Be courteous, only fill up if you need to, and do not fill up multiple containers. Governor Ivey urges patience and common sense.”

Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden echoed Ivey’s words.

“While the state of Alabama is fortunate to this point to not be suffering from gas shortages, there have still been reports of panic-buying and gas price increases,” he said in a statement. “I echo Governor Ivey’s request that Alabama residents refrain from panic-buying, which would only cause more anxiety in the market. As Colonial has stated publicly they are working vigorously to reestablish service.”

The Colonial Pipeline shutdown comes as the average price of gas in the U.S. has risen from $2.112 per gallon before President Joe Biden was elected to $2.985 per gallon this week.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

18 hours ago

Vocational center for construction, electric vehicle, aviation technology fields coming to DeKalb County

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced a $1 million grant to help the Fort Payne Board of Education construct a new vocational center aimed at training students in careers that include construction, electric vehicle and aviation technologies.

The funds come from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama.

The new DeKalb County vocation center will prepare Fort Payne high school students and adults for the future while helping to meet the needs of Alabama’s workforce in several career fields.

“Alabama is sounding the call for a skilled workforce and the Fort Payne Board of Education is responding to that demand,” Ivey said in a statement. “This program will ensure that students graduating from high school will be ready for rewarding and high-paying jobs, and that employers will be hiring a qualified workforce to move our state forward.”

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RELATED: Guest: Electric vehicles important for Alabama’s automotive industry

The new Building, Electric and Aviation Technology Center will provide students with a rigorous training program in a workplace environment to ready them for careers.

“The path to rewarding careers does not always go through colleges and universities,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell added. “I applaud the Fort Payne Board of Education for offering other options for students who have the same dreams for successful careers but choose a different path to get there.”

The project is supported by Sen. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), who chairs the Alabama Space Authority and the legislature’s Aerospace and Defense Caucus.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn