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Things Every Nursing Student Should Have: Part II, Palm Pilots and Programs

I left a cliffhanger of a post in Part I of this article. This section of the article will focus more on things to help you be successful and knowledgeable in your clinical skills as a student nurse, even if you do decide to go further for your master's or doctorate degree in nursing. Palm Pilots As I mentioned in the previous article, buying a palm pilot was the smartest thing that I ever did. Going on many websites, your head may swoon when thinking of all that you have to consider when buying a Palm Pilot. There are only three things that you need to worry about: price, compatibility, and memory. Price Most good palm pilots (PDAs) start at a range of $199 and can go as far as $499 or higher. I am not a rich person at all. The Palm Pilots (yes, plural...see below) I have bought took months for me to save up for. In my humble opinion, I would have to say that a PDA for $199-299 might be all that you need. Before you tsk, tsk me, there are several things working for you as a student nurse. The first is that you're a student, a poor, poor student who needs help financially. Most companies offer some kind of student discount if you order PDAs from their website like Skyscape and Epocrates. These two websites offer bundles in which you buy PDAs and medical programs together at a discounted price. There might be more sites out there, but these are the two big sites that I deal with when shopping for medical stuff for my PDA. Secondly, as I said in the last section of this article, you can always hit all of the relatives up for some palm pilot lovin' during Christmas/Hanukkah/birthday or whatever time. Compatibility I have had 4 Palm Pilots in my whole life. The first was lost by family members. Number two was tossed out due to the power button breaking...that was the Tungsten E, which I guess was on the list of many repairs and updates leading to Tungsten E2. The third was a Tungsten E2 that ran out of memory. Epocrates is a memory hog...more on this below. Currently I have a Palm TX, one of the few loves of my life. I only know Palm OS (operating system) as opposed to Windows Mobile. Most of the PDA programs that you're going to buy are going to be Palm OS compatible, so it can work on both a Mac or a PC. The PDAs that are only Windows Mobile compatible can only work with programs built for Windows, not for Macs. There are not many Windows only programs, so you're best bet is buying a PDA that is Palm OS compatible. Memory You want to have at least 32 megabytes of memory on the actual device. Palm's Tungsten E2 has this much memory and did very well for me. Most nurse practitioners (and nurses) who I have seen with a PDA have a Tungsten E2. If you choose to shower your palm with a good reference guide, medical dictionary, and drug book, then you will definitely need a memory card. A memory card with 1 gigabyte should be enough. I'm kind of obsessive about new and cool medical books available on PDAs, and I have a 1 gigabyte memory card. Be sure to know which major programs you would want to buy before buying a PDA. Some software requires a certain amount of memory to be on the actual PDA device, even if you have a huge amount of memory on your memory card. Programs Here's the fun part. The inner nerd in me loves nothing more than to break open a new PDA box or play with a new medical e-book found on the internet. You will find this to be true, too,or maybe I am a freak. Student Nurse Must Haves: 1. Epocrates Essentials Pros:
  • Keeps you up to date on current research (depending on how much you update Epocrates)
  • A 5-minute Clinical Consult in which you type in symptoms and it gives you the most likely diagnoses and treatment modalities
  • You can look up different labs and what they mean, different medical diagnoses/diseases, different drugs different medical math formulas i.e. body mass index, creatinine clearance, and pediatric maintenance fluids.
  • Epocrates = memory hog. Get a memory card to save you the trouble and heartache
  • It sometimes has trouble updating and gives you corrupt files. If you have a PDA with WiFi, like the Palm TX, then do the auto update wirelessly instead of using your hotsync cable. This will save you 5 months of constantly calling Epocrates tech support. You'll know exactly what all this mumbo-jumbo is when you actually have a PDA, I promise.
2. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary Pros:
  • A full 2439 pages all wrapped up in 10966 kilobytes of memory.  It may sound like a lot of memory, but it's still not as much as Epocrates.
  • web access to the dictionary with illustrations.
  • No illustrations for the PDA version.
3. Lexi Comp Drugs International Pros:
  • In-depth description of tons of drugs...far better than Epocrates.
  • Many international drugs used in Canada and Europe listed.
  • Patient education and monitoring parameters are really spelled out well.
  • It is a bear to download and update. They are based in Hudson, OH, but their books are used all over. I'm really surprised that they haven't made their website more user-friendly.
Grad Nursing Student Must Haves: 1. Washington Manual Outpatient Medical Survival Guide 2. Washington Manual Internship Survival Guide These two books saved my life a few times when doing my clinical rotations. As student NP, you are basically treated as a resident because many people don't know what your training exactly is. This experience was bittersweet...maybe more sweet in hindsight, because I trained myself to not only think on an advance practice nurse's level, but also on medical level along with all of the residents and docs. Studying many sections of these two books also had prepared me for seeing common problems in all of my rotations that NPs and docs have to deal with all the time. I know it is the end of the school year for many and maybe soon to be the beginning of the school year for some. I get asked these questions all the time from classmates, so I figured if that many people wanted to know about PDAs and medical software, then there has to be hundreds more people out there who haven't even started nursing school, yet. I hope this article has helped you. If you have any questions, post them in the comments section below and I will try to answer or add additional parts to this article. Feedback is always greatly appreciated. Good luck in your future studies!

The Best Wii Games You’ll Never Play

The Nintendo Wii is a lot of fun, but it's in a bit of a new game drought right now. While the rest of us sit with bated breath awaiting Super Smash Brothers and Metroid, some folks have made some Wii games of their own. Or at least they pretended to and put videos on the Internet. Here's a whole series of rejected WiiPlay games from the folks at Loading.Ready.Run. Wii toothbrushing is probably the best idea ever, but there is something a little sinister about this series of clips. The Wii controller is all fun and games until someone dies in a spray of obviously fake CG blood. [youtube]MwX8I7PA6t8[/youtube] The Wiimote should not be used to spread butter, margarine, or any other spreadable food item. [youtube]9XXLrrLA6RU[/youtube] Finally, a little bit of NSFW video to keep your mind in the gutter: [youtube]JpB9BpeGJGw[/youtube]

Who Cares About the iPod, Where is the Apple Glucose Meter?

A few months ago I was looking at blood sugar meters and cholesterol testers for family members.  I have had my blood tested for various things throughout my life and I've seen the standard drugstore-issue glucose monitors in action, so I had a very basic idea of what I was looking for.  But I wasn't exactly an expert, so I went online. Now one of the benefits of living in the Internet age is that if you need to learn about any technological device, from MP3 players to video cards to application servers, you can quickly and easily find out all about it online.  Making a major purchase?  Some skillful Googling will lead you to novice-level tutorials, product comparisons, recommendations from normal users, and jargon-laden details from experts. Unless you want to buy a glucose meter.  I found virtually nothing except for short blurbs on retailers' sites.  I even had a hard time finding product info from manufacturers! The worst thing is, I was wasting my time.  Even if there had been a ton of info out there, comparisons, anecdotes, reviews, etc., it would have been no use.  Because as far as I can tell, all blood glucose monitors are complicated, confusing devices that are difficult to use.  Diabetics are supposed to test their blood every day, but the testers are temperamental, require expensive consumables, and can fail without always alerting you to the error. You have to line up drops of liquid on a tiny little target.  Make sure you cover the whole target, or the results will be off.  Make sure you don't go outside the target, or you'll screw up everything.  Oh, maybe you need to recalibrate.  Did you check how old the strips are? I was really, really surprised about this.  Actually, it was a mix of surprise and anger - why should anyone have to put up with such frustration for something that is so important? Why would a confusing interface make me so angry?  I couldn't really put my finger on it (bad pun) until now.  I just read an article at Techcrunch, "Apple iPod vs. the Insulin Pump."  Apparently a blog that covers Diabetes that has posted an open letter to Steve Jobs of Apple:

We are, of course, deeply grateful to the medical device industry for keeping us alive.  Where would we be without them?  But while they’re still struggling with shrinking complex technologies down to a scale where we can attach them, hard-wired, to our bodies, design kinda becomes an afterthought.

This is where the world needs your help, Steve.
This is precisely what is needed.  Now, it doesn't have to be Steve Jobs or even Jonathan Ive, the guys who designed the iPod.  Any designer with some insight and a proven track record of making usable devices could probably improve these medical devices immeasurably.  Millions of people's lives could be made easier if someone married modern medical technology with user-centered design. So add me to the list of people asking the questions in this letter, Steve (few people realize that Steve Jobs reads Unsought Input daily and hangs on our every word).

How to Install Windows Vista

A lot of people who bought the new windows Vista have been having trouble installing it on their computers. Here's Anthony from the Opie and Anthony radio program showing you how to properly install it. [youtube]LxQm3IsSKAo[/youtube]

Five T-Shirts That Can Improve Your Life

T-shirts are the apex of human fashion design. Although man and womankind have clothed themselves in many different materials, in arrangements ranging from the functional to the impractical, from the plain to the ebullient, nothing tops the simple comfort and versatility of the T-shirt. You can even use yours as a laptop case. Need proof? Below are five T-shirts that can actually improve you life. window blinds T-shirt1) Can a T-shirt with a simple, elegant design, help you find your soul mate? The answer is yes. Pull the cord, and suddenly it is apparent why this shirt is so brilliant. By raising these shades, you can send a subtle but sexy message to that attractive person from across the dance floor (or bingo parlor, whatever, I'm not going to tell you how to live your life). Made by a Japanese company with an inscrutable name, it's a good illustration of the kind of clever, art-and-craft ideas you buy Make Magazine and shop at Ikea for. Unfortunately, it's only available at museum shops in a few select cities.
digital watch T-shirt2) Watches have become completely superfluous. Everything has a clock on it, and you are never at a loss for the current time. In my house, if I want to know what time it is, I can check the stove, the microwave, my phone, my MP3 player, my computer, and my wife's extensive clock collection. The point is, watches are superfluous, and if you try to get a watch that actually is useful - like a calculator watch - you will be ostracized for your poor fashion sense. So this shirt is perfect, in that it makes owning a watch even more optional than it already is. How will it improve you life? Well, having thrown away all your watches, if you ever find yourself adrift in the open ocean, you can use this accurate time piece to calculate longitude. You can see it at ThinkGeek.
dry-erase T-shirt 3) One of the age-old dilemmas of the human condition is the problem of communication. Homo sapiens is a social animal, yet outside of speech, we are given few ways to express ourselves. And things like text-messaging and sign language don't count, because they are unnatural abominations. T-shirts can solve this problem. They impart super powers - specifically, telepathy. This shirt uses an advanced dry-erase technology to allow you to communicate your thoughts without speaking a word. Finally you can transmit abstract, complicated concepts directly from your brain (or actually your neck, from the placement of the thought bubble) out to the world. More information at Blue Fish T-shirts.
Math cheat sheet shirt4) Unlike sombreros, tabi shoes, and saris, T-shirts are useful and universal. So it is fitting that this next shirt helps you with the universal language: mathematics. That's right - although languages and religions vary from place to place, when it comes time to build a bridge or send up a satellite, everyone uses the same math. But how are you supposed to remember your sines, cosines, and tangents when you haven't used any of that stuff since high school? Now you don't need to, you can bring a math crib sheet everywhere you go. Don't even get me started on calc--what the hell was all that supposed to be? It's sold by a place called Computer Gear.
Air-guitar T shirt5) This last shirt will make you wonder how you have lived you life wearing such boring, non-musical shirts. What would you say if I told you that all the time you have spent at Van Halen concerts rocking the air guitar from the bleachers no longer will go to waste? Strum the air, and a chord is produced - almost as if a guitar was there. Dr Richard Helmer a team of researchers at CSIRO Textiles and Fibre Technology have made your dream a reality by inventing a functional air-guitar T-shirt. Although actually, there is some controversy over who was the true inventor of the air-guitar shirt. As far as I can tell, it's not yet available for sale. So you will have to wait, most likely with bated breath. If the prospect of a magical air-guitar T-shirt does not make you gaze skyward and sigh, then you, my friend, must already be dead inside. Special bonus: Want more ideas? There's a book, Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, that should give you a few little projects to try.