Spring Break For The Girl That Settled Down

Spring Break For The Girl That Settled Down

Settling down has changed my way of thinking about Spring Break. This year I'm trading the parties for a nice week at home.
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So next week is my Spring Break since I am a college student. However, I will not be partying it up in Panama City, sipping margaritas in Mexico, or backpacking Europe with my sorority sisters. Now that I have my own home with my boyfriend and have settled down a bit, Spring Break means something different to me.

Instead of picking out swimsuits and looking up mixed drinks, I am picking out paint swatches and bathroom fixtures. Instead of saving up money for a trip, I have been saving up money for renovations. I am daydreaming of free time, some possible extra hours at my job, and catching up on laundry. I'm not looking forward to the beautiful beaches, or massive snowy mountain slopes, I'm excited to spend some extra time curled up on the couch with my love, admiring the progress we've made with our new home.

It is very weird to me, this change of mind about this week I used to look forward to every year. It was not so long ago that I would have laughed at anyone that said they were excited about staying home and spring cleaning. I would have looked at them in confusion because just a short year ago, I would not have understood their contentment with settling down, especially at my age. However, in the last year or so, this idea is not so foreign to me.

It's not going to be any less memorable, though, I can promise you that. As my single friends are posting their pictures of their beach days and partying nights, I'll be Pinterest-ing my DIY projects. While some of my girlfriends are meeting hot foreign guys, I'll be spending time with my sweetheart. While my peers are hitting the newest clubs, I'll be at home with a glass of wine and a relaxing bubble bath. Just because I won't be having the typical Spring Break like most college students, doesn't mean it will be any less to me. Just like I would have thought a while back, I am sure some of my peers and friends will not understand and laugh, but they too will feel the same way one day. Everyone has their time when they settle down, I may have just hit mine a little early.

So to all the traveling, partying spring breakers, I wish you safe travels and good choices. To all you old, young folks like me, may the spring cleaning begin.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Not My Michigan

A Michigan student-athlete turned Registered Nurse on the Michigan Medicine contract negotiations in 2018.

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It's May 1st, 2016. I'm bright-eyed, eager, and graduating from the University of Michigan as a Nursing Student and Student-Athlete.

I am ready to take on the world the way that Michigan taught me how: fearlessly, compassionately, and wholeheartedly. I bleed blue. I know what it means to be a Wolverine and to represent the Michigan Difference in everything I do. I wear the block M on my School of Nursing scrubs and my Michigan Dance Team uniform well aware that it represents goodness, tradition, and excellence. I am determined. I am inspired. I am ready.

It's Monday, September 17th, 2018. What does Michigan mean to me now? I used to be so sure. Now, I simply don't know. So, what's the deal? How did my view on an institution become so indifferent in recent months?

I chose U of M to start my nursing career because it had the widely known reputation of putting its patients first, respecting its nurses, and providing the best care to patients in the state (5th in the country, to be exact). In my first year, as I was clumsily learning how to push patient stretchers, titrate intravenous vasopressors, and to communicate with the medical team, I proudly participated in our hospital's effort to achieve Magnet status.

When Nursing earned Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and indicator of the strength and quality of Nursing at Michigan, I felt that same pride as I did in May of 2016.

I knew in my heart that I picked the best institution to develop my nursing practice and to give high quality, patient-centered care to anyone who walked, rolled, or was carried through the doors of Adult Emergency Services. The hospital's goals were aligned with mine and those around me. We put patients first, and more specifically, we put patients over profits.

I am lucky enough to work at a hospital that has been unionized for more than four decades. When I started working, the concept of a union was foreign to me. For those who may need a refresher, unions promote and protect the interests of all employees. They collectively bargain with employers to secure written agreements for employees regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Collective bargaining agreements are legally enforceable contracts holding employers and employees to mutually agreed-to workplace rules and process to provide a fair and just workplace. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, has been working diligently since January to bargain with the University of Michigan to protect me, the 5,700 nurses who work within the institution, and our patients. I'd like to think they're the good guys in this story.

Here's where things get sticky: David Spahlinger, president of our prestigious U of M health system, has publicly stated that Michigan is "committed to maintaining current staffing levels," but will not make this commitment in writing. Common sense is reflected in the most high-quality research on the topic of nurse-patient ratios and its direct effect on patient care.

Appropriate staffing allows me and my coworkers to give the quality of care that I know we have the ability to provide. High staffing levels are associated with reduced mortality, falls, medication errors, ulcers, restraint use and infections. Unregulated staffing is a significant barrier to nurses' abilities to provide optimal patient care and prevents Nursing at Michigan from providing what we know to be the Michigan Difference in healthcare.

UMPNC held voting on a work stoppage for unfair labor practices last week. Out of 4,000 votes cast by nurses at the U, 94% authorized a work stoppage in protest of the University's unfair labor practices. No date is set, but our elected nurse bargaining team now has the authority to call for action.

Thank you to Katie Oppenheim, who chairs our union, for reiterating in an article to the Detroit Free Press that a work stoppage is not our goal. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing. The university can remedy this situation immediately by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."

I am proud to be a nurse and I hope that our efforts to keep Michigan a patients-over-profits institution are recognized at the community, state, and national level. Anne McGinity, David Spahlinger, and those who have the power to make Michigan the magical place I once thought it was, make like Nike and just do it. For the love of patients, nurses, and our great University. I know we are better than this.

(Stay Tuned, folks).

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California Heat

California's heat waves have been at an all-time high lately.

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California's heat waves have been at an all-time high lately, and they are only exacerbating the ongoing wildfires all over the state. The latest one, Carr Fire in Redding, has been rather destructive on residential areas. Evacuations have been issued for several towns in the Trinity/Shasta County, according to Elizabeth Zwirz from Fox News, and so far, it is only 27 percent contained. This fire has been burning since July 23—apparently, it has destroyed more than 110,000 acres of land, continuing to threaten more homes and property.

Farther south, Ferguson Fire has also consumed nearly 58,000 acres of land and has caused Yosemite Valley to close for the first time in 20 years, Jennifer Calfas states from Time.

In 2017, 44 people were killed by these fires, and wildfire season continues to work thousands of firefighters daily as they battle 16 active wildfires as of July 31, 2018. The cause of this may actually be the end of California's six-year drought, according to Stephen Pyne, author of several books on fire and environmental history. During the winter, unexpectedly big storms filled the California reservoirs and revitalized the vegetation all over the state. This vegetation dried out with the dry winds that came during the summer, providing ample fuel for fires to spread quickly and easy. Considering that wildfire season is from May to October, there are several months to go—and some even say that wildfire season may end up being declared year-round.

The constant wildfires are causing some health concerns to be raised by air pollution specialists. The surrounding atmosphere caused by the wildfires may trigger asthma attacks or other health issues in people with weakened immune systems, including the elderly.

The heat waves continue to reach all-time highs, and temperatures at the Hollywood Burbank Airport reached 114 degrees, while Riverside reached a temperature of 118, paralleling or perhaps even exceeding the heat here in Tucson. The heat in Tucson, however, isn't quite as humid as California's, and there is little vegetation to allow huge spread of fires. Winds don't reach quite the speeds they do in California, so while these temperatures are relatively bearable by Arizonan residents, California's weather is another matter altogether.

Tim Arango from the New York Times also brings up some important points about the impact on lifestyle among all residents of California. Many who are accustomed to balmy 80-90 degree weather are now restricted from hiking some trails that may cause unsafe conditions in the heat, and the homeless population is huddling at the library or in any shade whenever possible. One woman, Ms. Galbreath, stated that the cold was easier to handle than the heat—"It's easier because everyone comes together; everyone huddles up."

There are even restrictions on when major appliances can be used, as Natasha Geiling reports on Think Progress, since air conditioners are being pushed to their limits with the unexpected heat. If there is too high of a demand for electricity from multiple residences, the grid could be overwhelmed, which could cause blackouts. The state has requested that use of major appliances should be avoided between 1 PM and 10 PM on Friday.

The state clearly has its hands full, so to speak, with handling both residential issues as well as the immediate concerns of putting out fires. Monetary donations can be made to several different organizations working on helping victims of evacuation like The Red Cross or The Haven Human Society for animals impacted by the fires as well.

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