Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Sociological Nurse

Sociology and nursing: one wouldn't normally associate the two subjects with each other. Sociology is academic and theoretical, while nursing is practical. Someone studying sociology at the university level is not very likely to take a career in nursing. But you may be surprised to know that there are an increasing amount of nurses and nursing programs that incorporate the theories of sociology as part of their practice and programs.
There are many reasons why one would need the services of a nurse, from chronic illness to physical injury. The job of the nurse goes beyond administering medicine, helping doctors and bandaging wounds, but caring for individuals. sociology examines the relationship between individuals and the community they live and work in, it is very useful in the nursing industry to help people adapt to their environment when faced with new physical and mental health issues. If one is sick or injured, their relationship to their environment can change varying degrees. It could limit their ability to work, alter their relationships with family and friends, or heighten the levels of pre-occupation and anxiety about the state of their health in ways they may not have been prepared for. 
There are two kinds of sociological areas of thought that are related to the healthcare industry and are taught in nursing school: the sociology of health and the sociology of medicine.
Sociology of Health
This branch of sociology deals with the bigger picture of how society understands and deals with notions like life, health, illness and death. Our individual ways of making sense of these situations is often greatly influenced by how we, as a society, interpret and react in these cases. One of the main topics of sociology of health is the search and understanding of the causes of diseases. This pathological approach explores natural phenomena as well as the environmental impacts on our bodies, for example: over-crowded urban centres causing respiratory illness due to air pollution, or causing psychological alienation from mass anonymity. Another important theme explores the motivation for getting or avoiding treatment, and why certain kinds of medical aid are preferable over others. As a society, for example, we need to be aware of the limitations for resources for certain medicines, or the side-effects of treatments on large groups of people.
Sociology of Medicine
This branch of sociology may be more pertinent in a nursing program. Here, the specifics of medical institutions are examined and how they function within a community. It focuses on the relationships between medical professionals, like nurses and doctors, with patients and other professionals in the healthcare industry, like hospital administrators and pharmaceutical developers. Unlike the abstract study of life and death, medicinal sociology takes a micro look at the people and institutions of the healthcare industry in a practical way. For example, instead of studying how a society deals with disease, it will look at how a patient is experiencing his or her treatment.
Incorporating sociological studies into greater healthcare education means more rounded healthcare professionals. And this means better service and care for our communities.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Four Key Concepts of Accounting

Accounting is no easy job. It requires a mind for pure numbers and calculations with a sense for the world of business. Whether an accountant is employed within a single company, or acts as an intermediary for an entire industry, there are many factors which the accountant must master in terms of translating numbers, figures, assets and flows from one recognizable set of data to the next. How does one translate sales of manufactured products and intangible services? How is a company's competitive edge measured in terms of employee expertise or speculative markets? How are financial standings understood regarding money earned and money owed? These are just some of the questions an accountant must be ready to answer.
There are several key concepts that are integral to the education of an accountant. These are:
- Revenue Recognition
- Fixed Assets
- Intangible Assets
- Goodwill
These concepts are inter-related in sometimes complex ways; sometimes these concepts overlap and sometimes they stand in contrast with one another. There are several published guidelines the accountant must be familiar with that sets standards and principles for defining these concepts, such as the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). A thorough accounting program will ensure the future accountant is very familiar these standards and principles regulate how these four concepts function on a balance sheet.
Revenue Recognition
This is the principle which measures revenues of a company based on the company's activity regardless of whether the company has been paid. In simple terms, it is how much money one can count on receiving in a certain period of time, and not how much money a company has at a given time. An example would be if I sold my services as a house cleaner for a future date, and will only get paid after the job is done. The money I am expecting becomes listed as revenue recognition.
Fixed Assets
This is also known as Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE). This relates to the assets of a company that has value but is not easily sellable or liquefiable. An example of this would be a printing press in a book publishing company, or a fleet of cars for a pizza delivery restaurant.
Intangible Assets
These are assets a company has that are not actual physical objects, and thus have no clear way of measuring or valuing them. The basic principle of intangible assets are time and effort that a company invests in order to make money. Examples of these are things like professional expertise, but also things like intellectual property.
This is closely related to intangible assets. In simple terms, goodwill are intangible assets that have been given some sort of monetary value because they have been sold. For example, if a pizza restaurant has a secret recipe for tomato sauce, in itself it is an intangible asset. But if they sell their recipe to another pizzeria, the value of that sale is listed as goodwill.
These are simple definitions with easy to understand examples. Accounting courses can be entirely dedicated to each one of these concepts. Knowing them individually and then understanding their relationship is core factor in mastering the concepts of accounting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Taking Obstetrics in New Dimensions: 3D and 4D Ultrasonography

Childbirth is considered both a scientific necessity as well as a miracle. No matter how much we learn about the nature of reproduction, it is nearly impossible to stand by and not be amazed at the process of bringing new life into the world. But "standing by" is exactly what we do while a woman undergoes the stages of pregnancy-standing by to support her, st`nding by to monitor the progress of the fetus, standing by to ensure the health and safety of the expecting mother. In fact, the Latin verb for "to stand by" is obstare, which is where we get our current word for the medical field of obstetrics: the science of a woman's reproductive process.
One of the main methods by which we monitor the progress of the fetus is ultrasonography, which produces images of the fetus inside the womb. It may seem counter-intuitive at first to use a sound-based frequency to produce visual-based information, but this is not ordinary sound as we know it. Ultrasound describes a frequency of hearing that is higher than what is audible to the common human ear. Ultrasonography works by taking ultrasound waves, which non-invasively penetrate the skin, and bouncing them to the womb. The sound waves bounce back and are read by a scanner which then translates the ultrasound waves inside the body into visual images.
The standard ultrasound image has undergone some major technological advancements into 3D and temporal-based 4D. State-of-the-art healthcare training in ultrasonography now includes a thorough education of this new equipment.
3D Ultrasonography
In standard 2D ultrasonography the sound waves are beamed into the body and are reflected directly back to the scanner for a flat image. 3D ultrasonography is able to achieve this extra dimension of the image by using "echoes" which are multiple sound-waves that are sent into the body at a variety of angles. The computer which reads the returning waves is far more sophisticated than the scanner used in 2D sonograms. One of the immediate advantages of 3D sonography is the ability to not only see the surface of the fetus from one position, but to rotate the image from all angles. Another important advantage is the ability to see beyond the surface into the internal organs of the fetus.
4D Ultrasonography
The progress of fusing health and technology becomes extremely evident with 4D ultrasound technology. Speaking of the fourth dimension may sound more like science fiction than medical science because we are speaking of a dimension outside of space: that of time. The 4D ultrasound produces a moving image of the 3D ultrasound. The technology is not that different from 3D ultrasounds, except that many scans, or pictures, are taken rapidly and displayed in succession, producing the "moving image" effect, or as we know it, a 3D movie.
Today, there is no serious need for a pregnant woman to have a 4D ultrasound where a 3D ultrasound will do. One must, however, marvel at the miraculous powers of our technology in giving expecting parents a real living glimpse of their baby. These scientific "miracles" are only fraction of the miracle of life they have been invented to serve.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Community and Institutional Pharmacists

The first pharmacies, or drugstores, can date all the way back to the Middle Ages in Baghdad. This is not to say that chemical compounds from plants were not used prior to this in ancient times. But with the development and recording of botanical studies and chemistry in the Islamic world of the Middle Ages, the time had become ripe for the proper classification and subsequent merchandising of medicine for everyday commercial use. Europe trailed behind the Middle Eastern world for several centuries until drugstores began springing up across the continent in the 13th century.
Today, drugstores are everywhere, from strip-malls to airports, from bustling urban centres to small-town general stores. And they are no longer limited to just prescription medicine, but one can find all sorts of over-the-counter drugs, not to mention toiletries, cleaning products, greeting cards and food. But this isn't the only type of pharmacy to endure since Medieval times. Pharmacies today can be divided into two categories: community and institutional.
Community Pharmacies
This is the case where pharmacists as healthcare professionals simultaneously act as retailers, as in shop-workers. The basic design of one of these pharmacies is a store divided into two sections, a general store area where consumers can shop freely as in any supermarket, and a back area which acts as a dispensary. This restricted area houses the prescribed medications and it is where pharmacists help customers understand the proper usage of their prescriptions.
This type of pharmacy is rightly named because it is truly integrated into the community, with as much of an emphasis on drug preparation as customer relations. Undertaking pharmacy technician training prepares one equally for both aspects of the job as these qualities must come together to provide the best service for the community.
Institutional Pharmacies
We are much less familiar with institutional pharmacies as opposed to community ones. This is mostly because as regular, everyday consumers, we are well-provided for by our community drugstores. Institutional pharmacies normally handle the pharmaceutical and medicinal needs of other industries in healthcare that aren't based on a single customer relationship. Examples of institutions these pharmacies deal with are hospitals, nursing homes and even military facilities. Sometimes institutional pharmacies are located on the site of these other institutions. Otherwise, they may have their own facilities and utilize regular courier and delivery services to distribute medication.
Along with the massive production and distribution of medicine, institutional pharmacies can also apply statistical analysis. This means that they keep constant records of the efficacy of certain medicines, its frequency of usage, its consumptive demographics, as well as other resource, manufacturing and cost considerations. This information is then shared and integrated with other healthcare specialists in a constant effort to improve the quality, efficiency and availability of prescription drugs. Not only can hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers benefit from this information, but schools of Health Science can as well.
Becoming a pharmacist gives one many options for the exact nature of work and work environment. Whether one is interested in working with a community or working at an institutional level, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will always serve a valuable role to society.