Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Rest up for Finals Week…and Your Safety

Sleep is one of the most powerful indicators of student success, and with good reason. Sleep not only refreshes our organs and physical bodies, but it helps us consolidate and synthesize the information  we take in everyday. Many college students (and adults in general) find that they have trouble getting enough quality sleep at night.

Not only is sleep important for success in the classroom or the workplace, but getting enough sleep is critical for your safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.

I found some great tips for improving the quality and quantity of your sleep, from Middlebury College in Vermont:

Develop a routine. Routines signal to our body that something is about to happen—in this case, sleep! Starting a bedtime routine 30 minutes before going to sleep can help unwind the mind and body and release melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Starting the routine at the same time and trying to wake up and the same time everyday can improve sleep quality and quantity.

Reduce caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to cause people to take longer to get to sleep, cause more awakenings, and lower the quality of sleep. Many types of soda contain caffeine as does chocolate, coffee and many types of teas.

Limit alcohol. Consuming alcohol, even as little as one to two drinks can produce fragmented sleep, causing a decrease in deep and REM sleep.

Go screen-free. The light emitted from cell phones, computer screens, tablets, and televisions trick our bodies and brains into thinking that it is light outside and we should be awake. Adding screen-free time into your routine can help you fall asleep faster.

Make time for physical activity. Often at the end of the day our brains are exhausted but our bodies are restless after sitting in class all day. Making time for physical activity, even just a walk around campus or your neighborhood, can help the brain and body get on the same page at the end of the day.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Five Tips for Enjoying Spring Break…Safely

Parkland College’s spring break is just around the corner, so here are five tips for staying safe during the break:

Stick together
If you’re going on a trip with a group of friends, you’ll all be safest if you stick together. Should one of you decide to leave a party early or go on a solo shopping trip, make sure others in your group know where you’re going and how long you’ll be.

Keep an eye on your money
You don’t want to get stranded in a new and unfamiliar place without any money, so be sure to bring enough to last you the whole trip. If you carry cash, try to keep the amount you take with you on routine excursions to a minimum. Try distributing your money in various places among your belongings and accommodations so that if by chance you lose some or it’s stolen, you’ll still have more elsewhere.

Alcohol and you
Most spring break trips involve some level of alcohol-related activities, and while you may be safest if you don’t partake, the reality is, that will probably not be the case. Being smart about the way you drink is the next best thing, and that involves being cognizant of the risks of alcohol poisoning, selecting a designated driver if you’ve got to travel, and being wary of accepting drinks from strangers.

Safe sex
Should you decide to have sex during spring break, take the necessary precautions to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STDs/STIs. Make sure that consent has been explicitly and freely established between all parties before engaging in sexual activities.

Use proper activity gear
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that accidental injuries kill more Americans age 30 and under than any other cause of death. With this in mind, be sure to wear those seat belts and use life vests, knee pads, and other appropriate gear, especially before venturing out to some high-risk activity.

Have a fun—and safe—spring break!

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

The Parkland College Department of Public Safety is here to provide a safe and secure campus environment conducive to learning. Every week throughout the year, we’ll be releasing a new public safety message, providing applicable information that you can use to stay safe and have a successful experience here at Parkland.

Our message this week:  Teen Dating Violence Awareness.

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, when we collectively recognize that abuse can happen to anyone at any age, and shouldn’t be overlooked. The 16 to 24 female age group experiences abuse at the highest level of frequency, at almost triple the national average, and 43 percent of college-aged women report experiencing violent and abusive dating relationships.

If you or someone you know feels caught up in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and that there are a wealth of resources here at Parkland College to help. Here are a few:

  • Most obviously, you can make a report with the Parkland College Police Department if the abuse is happening here or involves another student. Our officers are also available to talk about it and offer advice, even if it’s not happening on Parkland property.
  • The Parkland College Counseling and Advising Center is staffed with trained counselors who can also provide assistance,
  • You can go to the Dean of Students to get help.

Other resources are available at loveisrespect.org, where you can chat with a live advocate, or call 1-866/331-9474.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

“Try Online!” Series: The Fundamentals of Nutrition

Don’t let them fool you: online classes can be some of the most engaging, rigorous, and interactive college courses out there. In this short series of posts, “Try Online!”, Parkland faculty briefly introduce you to some of the most popular online courses we teach, available now in our summer/fall 2016 lineup. Below, check out  BIO 120, The Fundamentals of Nutrition, taught by Associate Professor Toni Burkhalter, Parkland’s 2016 Teaching Excellence Award winner.

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Summer is an excellent time to learn something new at an accelerated pace that you can immediately put into practice with support from an online community. Whether your goal is to become healthier or merely to investigate foods in a new way, BIO 120, The Fundamentals of Nutrition, may be worth checking out.

I have a passion for teaching nutrition; very few classes impact a person on a daily basis in such a pronounced way.

As lead instructor for BIO 120, I choose experts in the field to partner and teach with me so we can share accurate information in the field of nutrition. Our students have been an eclectic group of eager learners from across the globe. They are often a mix of practicing nurses sharing their experiences in the field, college students earning a life science credit, high school students anxiously taking their first college course, or seasoned community members wanting to set up a solid foundation of nutrition for their own benefit. Although students enroll in the course for a variety of reasons, most walk away achieving their goals from it, with us by their side.

What to expect
Because students are able to learn BIO 120 course material in various ways, the course appeals to different learning styles. It features 10 modules, each focusing on a different aspect of nutrition. For example, one of the modules, titled “Carbohydrates,” touches on sugars, starch, fiber, glycogen, and the impact of carbohydrates on diabetes. Within this module, students are encouraged to read one chapter from the textbook, watch a short video created specifically for the course, and interact with the module’s PowerPoint.

I assess students’ knowledge of a module by having them complete a discussion, an application-based assignment, and a module quiz. In addition to module work, students have a midterm project in which they reflect on personal dietary choices, a capstone calculation quiz, and a comprehensive final exam. The capstone calculation quiz covers nutrition calculations that were covered throughout the semester; for example, students may be asked to calculate the percentage of calories from fat in a given meal.

All assessments are completed online.

About the instructor: Over the past 14 years, Toni Burkhalter has taught classes that focus on the effects of nutrition and exercise on the body. She continues to keep abreast of the subject by attending conferences, engaging in experiential learning through her sabbatical, and returning to school whenever possible. Often, Toni is taking additional graduate classes at the University of Illinois while teaching full time at Parkland. Toni loves academics and the topics she teaches.

***BIO 120: Offered June 13-Aug 4 and Aug 22-Dec 9. Register online today for either section.***

 

[Derrick Baker is director of the Professional Development and Instructional Technology unit at Parkland College.]

Nursing Conference: Continuing the Legacy of Sister Julia

[This post was written by Richard Francis, Regional Director for Clinical Education at Presence Covenant Medical Center.]

What if I told you Parkland’s Nursing program had Catholic roots? 

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Sister Moriarty (News-Gazette photo.)

Sister Julia Moriarty started Parkland’s nursing program in a joint venture between Parkland College and Presence Covenant Medical Center (then known as Mercy Hospital). Sister Julia was a remarkable and accomplished woman, who was first and foremost a servant to others. A member of the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, Sister Julia first came to Champaign-Urbana in 1942 to finish her nursing training and serve at the local Catholic hospital. She stayed for close to 50 years.

In the late 1960s, Parkland approached Sister Julia about starting a nursing program at the college. Although at the time, Mercy had its own hospital-based nursing program, Sister Julia saw the college program as a way to positively impact not just one hospital, but the community as a whole and nursing as a profession. Sister Julia spent five years living in the convent with the other sisters at the hospital while working with Parkland to establish their nursing program. Colleagues who taught with Sister Julia typically remark that she was well beyond everyone else in her thinking and vision for what nursing should be, and how nursing can positively impact the whole community. She was loved and respected by colleagues, co-workers, and patients. Her kind and warm spirit touched all who knew her.

In the spirit and example of Sister Julia, Parkland College and Presence Covenant are co-sponsoring a nursing conference with a local scope and flavor, The Spirit of Nursing Conference: Emerging Topics in Nursing.  Topics at this conference and future conferences will be kept global to appeal to all types of nurses, not just specific disciplines. Topics at the May 20 conference will include: The Changing Landscape of Healthcare, End of Life Decisions, Generations in the Workplace, and Life Skills for the Nurse.

The conference will begin with a light breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Presentations begin at 9 a.m. and the conference will end at 3 p.m. Lunch will be provided.  Continuing education units (CEUs) available through the conference: 4.

The conference fee is $49, with proceeds supporting the Sister Julia Scholarship Fund at Parkland College.  Advanced registration is required due to limited seating.

To register, or for more information, please click here or call 217/351-2235.