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Level up! Selecting the best video games for your children

Education - 23 hours 41 min ago

(BPT) - Kids love video games - they're exciting, fun and engrossing. While games can promote learning and growth, too much video gaming - or playing inappropriate games - can lead to negative consequences. What should parents know to make good game choices for their children?

“The video game rating system works well and is pretty accurate,” says Richard Fiore, an instructor in game art and design/visual effects and motion graphics at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) provides ratings from “Early Childhood” to “Adult Only.” Fiore says that while these ratings are accurate, it is up to the parent to pay attention to them.

For young children, Fiore says tablets are the way to go, because they are very tactile. He adds that it is important to get your child acclimated to technology, and tablets are great for children’s hand-eye coordination. “Leapfrog makes tablets that are tough enough for kids to play with,” he says. These tablets make age-appropriate games and provide children with technology that resembles what their parents have.

Ken Kavanagh, visual and game programming instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver, says education software and software that makes a child think is better than twitch games, where children are simply moving a character around. “You can start a child on software earlier as long as you are adamant on it being educational,” he says.

As children grow, you can continue this with games that encourage creativity and imagination. He says a lot of online education games and storybook software are prominent for young children, where they have some interaction with the story.

Fiore recommends Disney online gaming for young children. All safety features are turned on so there is no chatting with strangers. He likes Club Penguin, because it is somewhat educational and fun. It allows children to play with other children around the world, with preloaded things they can say to each other. “It’s enough for kids to feel like they are playing real video games and being part of a community,” says Fiore. For online games, Kavanagh likes Hooda Math, which offers fun flash games that have an educational spin on them.

Children 6 and older can start to appreciate sandbox-type games such as Minecraft. Games such as this, with very few limits, “really fosters the kids’ imaginations,” says Fiore. “There’s a whole process that kids need to learn to build and create. I think those games are way better, because you aren’t simply racing a car or collecting coins or fighting.” He warns that the most important thing to remember is to turn off the chat function because it is the most dangerous part for children.

While educational games are great for children, Fiore says playing a game for fun every now and then is totally fine. Limiting a child’s screen time is also a way to ensure your child is experiencing other things outside the gaming world. Fiore allows his son to have one hour of screen time a day, but he can earn another hour by reading for an hour.

When looking at consoles, Fiore recommends Nintendo. “It seems like Nintendo has more appropriate games for kids,” he says. For instance, the violence in a game like the Mario games isn’t real violence, but cartoon violence. He also says a lot of children enjoy the Nintendo 3DS. It’s tough and doesn’t scratch. Fiore says if a group of children are sitting together with 3DSs, they are all probably playing the same game. This way children aren’t playing alone.

Fiore sees virtual reality as the future of gaming, but not necessarily a good idea for children. “I see that being a problem for kids, and I say keep them out of it.” He says children’s eyes are still growing and the virtual reality glasses can cause a lot of eye strain.

Once children start buying their own software, it is important for them to have been taught what they should buy, Kavanagh says. “You have to care what your children are interacting with.”

Categories: Lifestyle

Research study uncovers small business predictions for 2015

Business/Careers - 23 hours 41 min ago

(BPT) - Small business owners can easily get caught up in the December rush. But once the holiday sparkle fades, business owners and entrepreneurs will need to refocus and make decisions likely to impact their business in 2015.

Before coming to any conclusions, entrepreneurs should be aware of some business revelations uncovered by the Q3 Spark Business Barometer while they feverishly plan during the last few weeks of the year.

Women and millennials’ optimism will drive sales: Do you know an entrepreneur who is skyrocketing to the top? Surveys show that there is a good chance that person is a millennial or a woman. The Q3 Spark Business Barometer indicates that millennial and women business owners are seeing improved sales, and tend to be more optimistic about financial conditions and business prospects, as well as the economy, compared to other generations and male counterparts. Entrepreneurs should seek out diverse points of view from their millennial and female counterparts; a new perspective may help tackle a long-standing challenge or identify a new opportunity.

Employees will be better compensated: The cost of doing business – and doing it well – will continue to rise in 2015. The good news for workers at local businesses is that employers have a renewed focus on rewarding and growing talented workers. Employees can expect to see higher salaries and better training in 2015. Nearly half (46 percent) of small business owners plan to increase funding for employee salaries, while a third (33 percent) plan to spend more on employee training. Employers that have struggled to win and retain top talent should consider investing more in their training and compensation policies. A relatively small investment can pay dividends in worker productivity.

Retirement plans will help business owners attract and retain employees: Where are business owners not investing? Retirement plans. Growth of retirement planning adoption has remained static, as only 24 percent of business owners offered this benefit in 2013 and 2014. However, businesses should realize that replacing an employee can often cost more than investing in current talent. Those looking to attract the best employees should consider offering retirement plans to compete with other employers – you can even save some extra money during tax time by implementing a plan before the year ends!

Main Street will adapt to Silicon Valley: Entrepreneurs recognize that technology can help them streamline their operations, grow their businesses and even cut costs – and they are investing accordingly. According to the survey, nearly a third (29 percent) of small business owners plan to increase spending on hardware and software next year, while 16 percent will invest more in mobile payment technology. Entrepreneurs should consult a technology expert who can advise on the best hardware, software and solution investments that will help grow their business.

As the business landscape shifts constantly, business owners should seek out advice from peers and industry experts. Resources are available to provide businesses with valuable insight on the opportunities and challenges affecting the business community.

Categories: Lifestyle

Ask the Pharmacist: Don't let a bleeding disorder wreck your travel plans

Community Cares - 23 hours 41 min ago

(BPT) - If you or someone in your family, has a bleeding disorder, you know that even the simplest accident can be a cause for major concern. Major developments in care and treatment have significantly improved quality of life. Most patients can now self-administer intravenous clotting factor with education and direction from a trained clinician – like Accredo bleeding disorder nurses – rather than going to a treatment center for each infusion.

“However, many medications have special treatment, storage and transportation requirements,” says Leslie Oygar, a clinical nurse liaison in the Accredo Bleeding Disorders Therapeutic Resource Center. “This means that traveling with a bleeding disorder, especially during the busy holiday season, can pose particular challenges.”

A few precautions can ensure that patients and their families can have a safe and healthy holiday travel season, she adds. Specialist nurses, like Oygar, in Accredo’s Therapeutic Resource Center, can help patients effectively manage their condition.

Here are a few tips for people with bleeding disorders to consider as they plan to travel:

* Plan ahead: If traveling a long distance, make sure to discuss arrangements in advance with a physician or specialist pharmacist. Obtain emergency contact information for both the physician and pharmacy.

* Be prepared: Not all hospitals carry clotting factor or the other medications used to treat bleeding disorders. Make sure to carry adequate clotting factor, other bleeding disorder medications, infusion supplies and, if possible, a few extra doses in the case of a significant bleed or trauma. Many insurance providers require prior notice to be able to authorize extra doses of medication. Allow 3-4 weeks to make sure you have all the approvals in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information about treatment centers in the U.S, as well as hematologists who can provide medical intervention at or near travel destinations, if necessary.

* Keep your records current: If traveling for extended periods, make sure the specialty pharmacy has accurate information about how to contact you and where to ship the factor during the travel period.

* Carry documentation: A letter from the hematologist is an important document of introduction and information for anyone treating the patient if medical intervention is necessary. This letter will also provide an emergency physician with treatment guidelines specific to the individual, and the contact information of the patient’s personal hematologist and nurse coordinator.

* Know the rules: When using public transportation, whether air, bus, train, or anything else, call ahead to ask about requirements associated with traveling with needles, syringes and other medication administration equipment. Sharps boxes are usually acceptable even if they contain used syringes. If traveling by air, download and complete the TSA Notification Card 72 hours prior to air travel and contact TSA Cares at 855.787.2227 to help facilitate your trip through airport security.

* Keep the original packaging: Keep all medications and supplies unopened and in the original boxes especially when traveling by air, which requires an inspection of carry-on bags or coolers if appropriate. Medications and equipment should be accompanied by a letter from the physician and carried by the patient while traveling. Wear a Medic Alert at all times – especially when traveling.

* Store carefully: Mini-fridges in hotels and other accommodations can have poor temperature control, which increases the risk of freezing the factor. Be careful to store medications at the appropriate temperature.

For bleeding disorders patients traveling internationally, the World Federation of Hemophilia website can provide information about treatment centers outside the U.S. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

Categories: Lifestyle

Seizing a second chance: More adults going back to school to earn degrees

Education - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Henry Ford had three companies fail before he launched the game-changing Model T. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, lost multiple elections and had a mental breakdown before being elected the country’s 16th president. America is a land of second chances made good – which could explain the ongoing trend of more adults returning to college.

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people 25 and older attending college increased by more than 2.1 million, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). By 2021, NCES predicts that number will grow by an additional 1.6 million-plus, bringing the number of older college students to more than 10.1 million.

“Adult learners return to college to gain advanced degrees or complete unfinished programs for many reasons, and enhanced marketability in the workplace and increased earning potential are just two factors,” said Tracy Lorenz, president of Western International University (West). “They are also doing it for personal satisfaction and to be better role models for their children.”

Among women, personal achievement is the strongest motivator, according to a survey by West. Nearly eight in 10 of the 1,000-plus women who participated in the online survey also said having a college degree is important to being a role model for their own college-bound children.

Ample data supports the belief that a college degree enhances one’s job and earnings prospects. The median wage for people with bachelor’s degrees is $457 more per week than workers who have a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Their unemployment rate is also significantly lower – 4 percent versus 7 percent for high school graduates, the BLS reports.

Research also backs the impact a college degree can have on one’s family. For example, working mothers who have bachelor’s degrees spend about 51 percent more time with their children than moms who only have a high school diploma, according to the College Board. Children of college graduates are also more likely to go on to college themselves, according to PostSecondary.org; 85 percent of children whose parents had a bachelor’s degree or higher went on to attend college.

Ease of access is also drawing more Americans back to school.

The rise of distance learning and online degree programs means you no longer have to live near a school – or relocate your family – if you want to return to complete a degree or earn an advanced degree. Online programs can also offer greater scheduling flexibility and lower ancillary costs to adult learners, many of whom work full time and juggle financial commitments like mortgages or rent and childcare costs. In fact, in the West survey, respondents said cost, accreditation and flexibility were primary considerations when choosing a higher education program.

“Colleges and universities are recognizing that there is a large shift occurring in the type of students that are looking to earn degrees and are offering programs that meet the needs of working adults,” said Dr. Benjamin S. Pryor, provost and senior vice president of Western International University.

Online degree programs like those offered by West cater to adult learners. Course content, cost and schedule flexibility are designed to make returning to college an accessible option for busy professionals. Adult learners enrolled in online programs are better able to fit weekly coursework into their schedules, and at West, receive instruction from faculty who not only teach, but are also currently working in their field of expertise.

As the number of adult learners continues to grow, more professionals will seek degree programs that meet their educational and professional goals, schedules and lifestyles. To learn more about Western International University, visit www.west.edu.

Categories: Lifestyle

Defeat drowsy driving dangers: Tips for staying awake at the wheel

Community Cares - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - One in five fatal accidents in America involves a drowsy driver, according to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, driving while fatigued is common in today’s business world. Yet the consequences of driving when you’re tired can be tragic.

“Drowsiness is similar to alcohol in how it compromises driving ability by reducing alertness and attentiveness, delaying reaction times, and hindering decision-making skills,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and national spokesperson for the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, which is raising awareness of the dangers of driving while fatigued. “Drowsy driving is deadly, but it can be prevented.”

The Healthy Sleep Project has issued a Drowsy Driving Health Advisory, which urges every driver to take responsibility for staying “Awake at the Wheel.” Drivers should make it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refuse to drive when sleep-deprived, recognize the signs of drowsiness, and pull off the road to a safe location when sleepy.

“Rolling down the windows or turning up the music will do little to increase your alertness while driving,” Watson says. “You can drink coffee for a short-term energy boost, but if you catch yourself drifting into other lanes or nodding off, it’s absolutely time to pull over and take a nap.”

Getting seven to nine hours of nightly sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving, according to the Healthy Sleep Project. Drivers should also avoid driving late at night or alone, and they should share the driving with another passenger on long trips.

How do you know if you’re too sleepy to drive? If you experience any of these warning signs, you should pull over or have another passenger take the wheel:

* You keep yawning or are unable to keep your eyes open.

* You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.

* You can’t remember driving the last few miles.

* You end up too close to cars in front of you.

* You miss road signs or drive past your turn.

* You drift into the other lane of traffic.

* You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.

The Healthy Sleep Project also encourages transportation companies to promote public safety by adhering to hours-of-service regulations, scheduling work shifts based on sleep need and circadian timing, implementing an evidence-based fatigue management system, and screening commercial drivers for sleep diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea.

“There is no substitute for healthy sleep – it’s essential to promote personal safety and optimal alertness behind the wheel,” Watson says. “Evaluate your sleep habits, address potential problems with a board-certified sleep specialist, and make sleep a priority to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers from avoidable, life-threatening accidents caused by drowsiness.”

For more information, visit projecthealthysleep.org.

Categories: Lifestyle

Defeat drowsy driving dangers: Tips for staying awake at the wheel

Automotive - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - One in five fatal accidents in America involves a drowsy driver, according to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, driving while fatigued is common in today’s business world. Yet the consequences of driving when you’re tired can be tragic.

“Drowsiness is similar to alcohol in how it compromises driving ability by reducing alertness and attentiveness, delaying reaction times, and hindering decision-making skills,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and national spokesperson for the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, which is raising awareness of the dangers of driving while fatigued. “Drowsy driving is deadly, but it can be prevented.”

The Healthy Sleep Project has issued a Drowsy Driving Health Advisory, which urges every driver to take responsibility for staying “Awake at the Wheel.” Drivers should make it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refuse to drive when sleep-deprived, recognize the signs of drowsiness, and pull off the road to a safe location when sleepy.

“Rolling down the windows or turning up the music will do little to increase your alertness while driving,” Watson says. “You can drink coffee for a short-term energy boost, but if you catch yourself drifting into other lanes or nodding off, it’s absolutely time to pull over and take a nap.”

Getting seven to nine hours of nightly sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving, according to the Healthy Sleep Project. Drivers should also avoid driving late at night or alone, and they should share the driving with another passenger on long trips.

How do you know if you’re too sleepy to drive? If you experience any of these warning signs, you should pull over or have another passenger take the wheel:

* You keep yawning or are unable to keep your eyes open.

* You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.

* You can’t remember driving the last few miles.

* You end up too close to cars in front of you.

* You miss road signs or drive past your turn.

* You drift into the other lane of traffic.

* You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.

The Healthy Sleep Project also encourages transportation companies to promote public safety by adhering to hours-of-service regulations, scheduling work shifts based on sleep need and circadian timing, implementing an evidence-based fatigue management system, and screening commercial drivers for sleep diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea.

“There is no substitute for healthy sleep – it’s essential to promote personal safety and optimal alertness behind the wheel,” Watson says. “Evaluate your sleep habits, address potential problems with a board-certified sleep specialist, and make sleep a priority to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers from avoidable, life-threatening accidents caused by drowsiness.”

For more information, visit projecthealthysleep.org.

Categories: Lifestyle

New year, new career: Four growth industries for career-changers in 2015

Education - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - In early January 2014, 21 percent of American workers said they planned to change jobs within the next 12 months, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Introspection is common at the turn of the year, and people who plodded along in less-than-fulfilling jobs for the preceding 11 months begin thinking about what they can do differently in the new year. Many will turn to their education options to help improve their job prospects.

Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help make you more marketable to employers, improve your chances for promotion, and enhance your earning potential. A degree can also help you change careers. Many working adults turn to competency-based universities, like Western Governors University (WGU), to earn a degree. Competency-based education lets students focus on what they need to learn and move quickly through what they already know, giving working adults the scheduling flexibility and cost savings they need to balance work and family while mastering the skills required for a degree. At WGU, the average student is 37 years old, and students attend from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

If you’re thinking about switching careers in 2015, WGU points to four growth areas to consider:

STEM education

Salaries for workers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields rose between 2000 and 2013, and the shortage of STEM professionals continues, US News recently reported. As demand for STEM workers has increased, so has the need for teachers who can prepare students to pursue STEM careers. Institutions like WGU’s Teachers College, which is the nation’s No. 1 producer of STEM teachers, specialize in degree programs that equip graduates to teach math and science at kindergarten through 12th grade levels.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of 12 percent for teachers in elementary and middle schools, and 6 percent for high school teachers between now and 2022, with demand for math and science disciplines higher than average.

Health care

With more baby boomers reaching retirement age and more Americans covered by health insurance, demand for health care professionals is set to increase significantly over the next 10 years. For career-changers, health care offers many well-paying jobs that require just two- or four-year degrees, and these are growing at a faster rate than other industries.

For example, according to the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the industry will need to add more than 64,000 dental hygienists by 2022 in order to keep pace with rising demand. The job requires just a two-year degree and median pay is about $70,000 per year.

Information technology

Information technology affects nearly every aspect of modern life. The BLS notes that IT professionals are instrumental in keeping systems running, maintaining networks, creating new software, and keeping information systems secure. The industry shed fewer jobs during the recession and is expected to grow far more quickly than other industries, the BLS reports.

Most IT jobs – such as computer network architect or software developer – require a bachelor’s degree in information technology. WGU offers several bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in information technology, most of which include industry certifications as part of the coursework included with tuition.

Business

Demand continues to be strong for managers in all areas of business. Certain business occupations are poised to grow faster than the overall economy. For example, demand for medical and health services managers will increase 23 percent between now and 2022, the BLS predicts. The profession requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Skilled managers will also find opportunities in IT, human resources, accounting, sales and marketing, and administration.

To learn more about Western Governors University and online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that can lead to careers in these four growing areas, visit www.wgu.edu.

Categories: Lifestyle

Answering the biggest unmet need in cancer care today

Community Cares - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - “I thought cancer was like dessert - you only got one. I thought wrong,” says Jim Riswold, a two-time cancer survivor and one of the advertising geniuses responsible for some of Nike’s most iconic ads. Fourteen years ago, Riswold was told he had between two to four years to live, but because of a once-a-day pill developed by Dr. Brian Druker, director of OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Jim is now sharing his story through artwork.

His survival was made possible by understanding the biological switch that drove his leukemia. Years later, when Riswold developed prostate cancer, he underwent a disabling surgery, with the cause of his prostate cancer remaining a mystery.

Stories like Riswold’s are the impetus behind the Knight Cancer Challenge, a unique fundraising campaign developed to support OHSU’s world-class research program. The Challenge was started by Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, who challenged OHSU to raise $500 million by February 2016. If OHSU meets this goal, the Knights will match the donation for a $1 billion total investment in groundbreaking cancer research.

In 2001, Druker and his team made history when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever targeted cancer therapy, a once-daily medication for chronic myeloid leukemia. Druker’s research proved it was possible to find the biological switches that drive cancer in the body and turn them off with targeted treatments, leaving healthy cells unharmed. Early detection of these biological switches for all cancers is the natural progression of OHSU’s pioneering work in targeted treatments.

“A better understanding of what fuels cancer will help us detect it when it’s most treatable and attack it with medications that are more effective, increasing the number of cancer survivors,” says Druker, who is also Riswold’s doctor.

Smarter, earlier detection means a better chance for survival. OHSU’s research will focus on catching lethal, fast-spreading cancers when they're most curable, with the goal of impacting survival rates and reducing the need for systemic, harsh treatments which have long-term side effects for many patients. Further, smarter, earlier detection will help doctors avoid overtreatment. Instead, they will have the knowledge necessary to engage in appropriate treatment when the time is right.

“Even as treatment options have dramatically improved, the detection of cancer has been frozen in time,” Druker says. “We need better tests and tools that can detect subtle changes in the body that signal a lethal cancer is developing. This is the single most important unmet need in cancer care today and key to saving more lives."

“A research program like OHSU’s takes hope and turns it into science, not emotion,” says Riswold, whose latest show, Art for Oncologists, pays tribute to the medication, doctors and even animals that help fight cancer. “We need to continue to invest in science and the researchers that make it possible. Long live oncologists; longer live their mice; longest live their patients.”

As you make your end-of-year donations or choose organizations you will support in 2015, consider being part of OHSU’s historic program that’s changing the way the world understands cancer. OHSU has raised nearly 90 percent of its goal, but additional donations ensure this program becomes a reality.

Learn more, donate, and track progress at onedown.org.

Categories: Lifestyle

Office ergonomics: Is your job literally a pain in the neck?

Education - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Millions of people work in an office environment every day, but that doesn’t mean their fate has to include back aches and joint pain. Correct office ergonomics can help prevent some of the most common issues associated with sedentary jobs, especially for hardworking small-business owners who typically put in many more than 40 hours per week.

Unfortunately, the message about the importance of office ergonomics often goes unheard. In fact, many small-business owners and their employees are sitting in pain, according to a new study released by Staples and Steelcase. The study shows that 88 percent of small-business owners say office chairs impact employee productivity, yet 13 percent say their chair is so uncomfortable it prevents them from doing their job to the best of their ability.

On average, employees spend 5.3 hours per day sitting, which means the chair is the foundation of a healthy office environment. Because the average office chair is 7.2 years old, the integrity of the chair’s support and functionality might be jeopardized due to its age. Furthermore, the chair may no longer be a good fit for the employee’s needs as the body can change over time.

When investing in a new office chair, ergonomics should be just as important as appearance. Seat height should be adjustable so the worker can have his or her feet flat on the floor and bent arms even at the height of the desk. Beyond an adjustable seat height, stylish office chairs from Steelcase also feature adjustable lower-back support for the lumbar and adjustable arm rests for personalized comfort. The chairs allow the worker to sit in contact with the backrest at all times, allowing for even pressure on both the lower and upper back.

In addition to a quality office chair, monitor placement is a key part of ergonomic office design. The height and distance of the monitor should feel comfortable at all times. The monitor should be directly in front of the worker about an arm's length away, recommends MayoClinic.org. This distance generally measure 18 to 28 inches, with the top of the screen slightly below eye level.

Keyboard and mouse position is another concern. The wrists should be kept in a straight, natural position when typing as much as possible, which is why many people choose to use an ergonomic keyboard that is designed for such positioning. The location of the mouse should be within easy reach and also should keep the wrist straight when in use.

In addition to having an ergonomic office environment, it’s important for workers to be aware of their body and health throughout the day. Ergonomic experts agree that taking short breaks for standing and walking throughout the day will increase blood flow and relieve tension. When typing, sit up straight rather than hunching over. Finally, the screen’s light should never cause eye strain; adjust the settings or purchase an anti-glare monitor screen to help. Try to give eyes and wrists a break at least once an hour by looking away from the screen and resting your hands.

A few simple steps will ensure the office is not only a place of productivity, but one of health as well. Start with the chair and expand from there so all workers can feel their best while on the clock.

Categories: Lifestyle

Hidden holiday hazard? Don't let foot pain dampen holiday spirits

Community Cares - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Americans spend just shy of 274 hours a year on shopping – or 45 minutes per day – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. It’s probably safe to say a good chunk of that time occurs during the holiday season. While much shopping takes place online, many people still head to stores, and those folks will be logging a lot of hours on their feet.

“The National Retail Federation predicts that total holiday spending will be close to $32 billion this year,” says Dr. Frank Spinosa, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Shoppers should also spend a few dollars – and some time – caring for their feet. Our 2014 foot health survey indicates that just 25 percent of Americans regularly take care of their feet, but many holiday activities, such as shopping, preparing large meals or even dancing require extra time on your feet.”

Don’t let foot pain slow you down during the holidays when you can least afford it. To keep your feet healthy and pain-free this holiday season, the APMA offers these tips:

* Wear the right shoes for the task. If you’ll be walking through the entire mall, leave the high heels at home. Instead, wear a comfortable walking or athletic shoe with good arch support and a padded sole. Save your heels for dancing, but don’t wear ones that are so high you risk a fall. Heels 3 inches or higher increase your risk of ankle injury, so look for shoes with a modest heel of 2 inches or less.

* Take breaks when doing tasks that require you to be on your feet for extended periods of time. At the mall, find a spot to sit with a cup of coffee for a few minutes. At home, sit down between meal prep tasks if possible.

* Stretch your feet. Raise, point and curl your toes for five seconds on each foot and repeat 10 times to avoid toe-cramping. Sit down, cup your heel and gently rotate your ankle five times to loosen and relax ankle joints.

* At the end of a long day of shopping, decorating or cooking, treat yourself to a foot massage. It’s a great way to relieve tension, promote circulation and refresh the skin. Add in a soothing lotion to maximize the relaxation.

* Elevate your legs to reduce swelling. Prop up your feet while sitting in your office chair, and at the end of the day lie down and prop your feet above the level of your heart.

Talk to a podiatrist about persistent foot pain. They are specially trained to care for the feet and lower limbs. You can find a podiatrist at www.apma.org.

Categories: Lifestyle

5 ways to show your kids how to give back this holiday season and year round

Community Cares - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Any time is a great time for families to talk to their children about giving back and helping those who are less fortunate. Whether you're celebrating a holiday, special occasion, or still haven’t figured out your 2015 resolution, make giving back part of the conversation - from making financial donations to volunteering time and energy, giving can be easy and enjoyable.

As parents who want your children to be well-rounded, caring citizens, leading by example is important. Getting involved in a giving-back project as a family can help your kids learn good values. Here are some great projects your family can take on together:

1. Organize a food drive – The winter months can be tough on food pantries. If your children are involved in a club or organization, help them organize a food drive with their peers. You can even ask your neighbors to get involved. Have your children draft a letter that will inform the neighbors about what you’re doing, when you’ll be picking up food, and what kinds of food are most needed by the pantry. Be sure to encourage your children to thank everyone who donates food.

2. Volunteer – There are so many ways your children can put their efforts toward volunteering. For older children who are able to shovel snow, rake leaves or mow lawns, have them connect with a neighbor or family friend who is housebound or on vacation. Younger children can help with keeping the community clean, too. Head out to a park to pick up litter and recycle cans and plastic bottles. Or connect with a nursing home and ask if there is a resident who would like a weekly visit; maybe they would enjoy a chance to play board or card games with your children.

3. Make giving relatable, measureable and meaningful – Explain to your children the benefits of donating money to highly reputable organizations (check Charity Navigator ratings to ensure your dollars will be responsibly managed) that help others in need, especially organizations that help children. For example, Vitamin Angels helps support children who don’t have the opportunity to eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods their bodies need.

An estimated 190 million children under the age of 5 suffer from vitamin-A deficiency, which can lead to weakened immune systems, childhood blindness and even death. With Vitamin Angels, a $.25 donation can help provide a child in need the vitamin A he or she requires to help prevent vitamin-A deficiency for one year. One quarter, one child. An easy contribution from your child’s piggy bank or make a donation yourself to show your children how together, the entire family can make a difference. Visit give.vitaminangels.org to learn more about the organization and how far a donation will go toward helping other children.

4. Get crafty – Let your children’s talents turn into something good for others. For example, they can create holiday cards to be delivered to service members while they are overseas and away from their friends and family. The same kinds of cards can also be sent to patients who need some cheering up while in the hospital. If your children knit or sew, have them make blankets, scarves, hats and mittens for people who might need some warmer clothing.

5. Clean out the closet – Before or after a big gift-giving holiday, cleaning the house and eliminating some of the toys is a high priority. Ask your children to go through the clothes they’ve outgrown and the toys they no longer play with. They can fill a box with the items they no longer need and you can help them donate everything to an organization that will put them to good use.

Giving back to the community as a family can bring you closer together and provide a platform to reinforce positive moral values during a season so often focused on materialism (or materialistic wants). So give these ideas a try now and year round and see what good things your family – especially your children – can accomplish.

Categories: Lifestyle

Learn how you can help your retirement plan in just 30 minutes

Community Cares - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - When is the last time you checked in on your retirement plan? A month? A year? Can you even remember? If you can’t, you’re not alone. Many people find the idea of reviewing their retirement plan intimidating, so they put it off. You can’t avoid reviewing your plan forever, though, and there are some real benefits to doing so right now.

“Many people put off looking at their retirement plan because they think they don’t have the time or the expertise to do it effectively,” says Sandra Cullen, a Boston-based wealth management advisor with financial services company TIAA-CREF. “But there are some simple ways you can have a real, positive effect on your retirement plan without spending more than half an hour.”

So if you’re ready to revisit your retirement plan and see just how easy it is to enact positive change, give these ideas a try:

1. Take 10 minutes to visualize what your retirement looks like

Before you focus on the numbers, start with the dreams. What does retirement look like to you? Do you plan to travel the world or stay close to home so you can focus on hobbies and family? Statistically, retired households spend about 80 percent of what they did during their working years, but your retirement plans could affect that figure.

The TIAA-CREF Retirement Calculator can help you determine what retirement looks like for you. You can use the calculator to:

* Track your retirement savings.

* Determine how much money you may need now to generate an adequate paycheck later.

* Determine how long it will take you to reach your goal.

You can also adjust the calculator’s retirement date and/or amount until you find the figure that works for you.

2. Spend 5 minutes paying attention to the little things

If the calculator shows you’re not where you need to be in your retirement preparations, consider saving a little more each month. Even the smallest increase in your contribution can have a big impact when compounded with interest.

For example, by adding just $25 more a week to your contribution, you could earn an additional $46,000 in retirement savings over 20 years at 6 percent return.

3. Consider which IRA is right for you for five minutes

Traditional IRA or Roth IRA? They both have their benefits, but which is right for you? You can contribute $5,500 to your IRA annually, $6,500 if you’re 50 or older. Traditional IRAs are taxed when the money is withdrawn, while Roth donations are not tax deductible when you contribute. And, Roth IRAs have income limitations.

Still not sure which IRA is right for you? The online TIAA-CREF calculator can help you compare one with the other.

4. Analyze your risk tolerance for 10 minutes

Every investor has their own risk tolerance and understanding yours is important when you’re trying to determine what investment plans are right for you. While investing aggressively could lead to higher returns in the long run, some investors don’t want to deal with the ups and downs along the way. On the other hand, a more conservative approach ensures your money will grow; that growth, however, may not keep pace with inflation.

Many investors opt for a mix of both, and TIAA-CREF’s Asset Allocation Evaluator tool can help you determine the right portfolio for you, based on your risk tolerance and financial needs.

By spending just 30 minutes and completing each of these steps, you can have a better understanding of where your retirement plan stands and what you can do to improve it. And this process has probably raised a few questions as well. To get your questions answered and find the information you need, it’s best to meet with a professional financial advisor. Your advisor can help you use the 30 minutes that you spend thinking about retirement to create the financial foundation for the 30 years you may enjoy in retirement.

Editor’s note: The example is based on a hypothetical rate of return and does not reflect the returns of any specific investment product. It may not be used to predict or project investment performance. Charges and expenses that would be associated with an actual investment are not reflected. Withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and a federal penalty may apply prior to age 59 1/2.

Categories: Lifestyle

5 questions you should ask your pharmacist

Community Cares - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - A visit to the pharmacy can be about more than just picking up prescriptions or supplies for the medicine cabinet. It can actually be an important, and convenient, time to ask your pharmacist key questions that could impact your health.

Dr. Andria Fetterman, a faculty member in South University Savannah’s School of Pharmacy, encourages people to use their pharmacist as a resource for information about everything from prescription medication to lifestyle changes. Fetterman says there are five key questions you should frequently ask your pharmacist.

What can I expect from this medication?

Fetterman says whether you’re picking up an over-the-counter remedy or a prescription, you should feel free to ask your pharmacist what to expect from the medication.

“Many medications have potential side effects that you should be aware of before you take them,” advises Fetterman. “It may be something as mild as a little stomach discomfort or drowsiness, but knowing what to expect will help you handle any potential side effects. Also, knowing what to expect could keep you from blaming any new, unrelated symptoms on your medication.”

You should also ask how long it will take for your medication to make you feel better. Fetterman says most antibiotics should have you feeling better in three to five days, but an anti-depressant may need to be in your system for three weeks before you begin to feel its effects. If a prescription medicine doesn’t seem to be working in the proper time frame, you should let your doctor know. Remember that sudden discontinuation of some medications, without proper professional advice, can be costly to your health.

How long should I take an over the counter medication before I call my doctor?

Over-the-counter medicines can provide relief for a number of ailments, but sometimes you need to see a doctor either for a prescription or a correct diagnosis of your symptoms. Fetterman says your pharmacist can help guide you when you’re not sure if it is time to see a doctor.

“A pharmacist can give you advice on how quickly you should see symptom relief with an over-the-counter medication,” says Fetterman. “Many times, people will treat themselves too long with over-the-counter medicine or will switch from one product to another looking for relief, and many times don’t go to a physician when they need to.”

How do I manage my condition?

“When someone leaves the doctor’s office after a diagnosis, they may be scared or shell-shocked,” Fetterman explains. “There may be questions about medication or daily management that they didn’t think to ask. That’s where a pharmacist can help.”

Fetterman uses Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure as examples. “A pharmacist can counsel you about weight loss, healthy eating and ways to promote cardiovascular activity. With proper disease management, some patients can actually reduce or eliminate their need for prescription medication altogether.”

Do these medicines mix?

Fetterman says it is important to ask a pharmacist about whether any new medication will mix well with other things you are already taking.

“Dietary supplements, herbal supplements and over-the-counter medicines can interact or interfere with prescription medications. When you are having a prescription filled, your pharmacist should ask you about all other medications that you’re taking. If you’re on prescription medication, check with the pharmacist before beginning any new over-the-counter supplements or medication to make sure it is safe.”

What should I do about my persistent, minor symptoms?

Fetterman says you should never hesitate to ask a pharmacist about a persistent, minor symptom that might be bothering you.

“If you’re having a non-specific or persistent symptom that you think is minor, you should still ask your pharmacist about it,” says Fetterman. “A pharmacist can recommend an over-the-counter medicine that may relieve symptoms, but can also advise you to see a doctor about your symptom rather than ignoring it.

“A pharmacist can be a great source of health information. All you have to do is ask.”

Categories: Lifestyle

Top 5 reasons people donate to charity

Community Cares - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - In our current economy, when many live paycheck to paycheck, why do so many choose to give some of it away to charity? The fact is helping others is part of what makes us human. It doesn’t matter the age or background of the donor – it feels good to make a difference, and that starts by donating to a worthy cause close to your heart. But making a difference isn’t the only reason for donating. There are additional drivers for giving that go beyond funding a particular cause, and understanding these reasons will help you get the most out of your annual donations this year.

Emotional satisfaction and recognition
Donating to a nonprofit feels good and can impact a person’s emotional well-being. In a world so focused on materialism, it can be a positive experience to spend money to help a cause rather than simply making another personal purchase. In fact, scientific research cited in the Wall Street Journal shows that people are actually hard-wired with the desire to give and nurture, which is likely why so many people want to make a difference through philanthropic efforts. Getting a thank-you email or phone call of gratitude after a donation can really add to the joyful experience of giving, especially during the holiday season when others might not be as fortunate as you are.

Help the local community
Many donors want their gift to make a difference that they can see, which means donating to an organization that will help on a local level. This might mean giving to a small, local charity or a larger nonprofit that guarantees donations stay in the community. When people give to The Salvation Army, all donations remain in the communities where they originate, so donors feel good about helping others nearby, plus they feel more closely tied to the local area. Bottom line: you are helping your neighbors.

To maximize money’s impact
When individuals donate their hard-earned money, they want to know the majority of it is going directly to help the cause. Donors will research different charities to ensure their money is making the biggest impact possible. For example, 82 cents of every dollar donated to The Salvation Army goes directly to support community service programs, far exceeding the Better Business Bureau’s guideline of 65 percent. Through the public’s generosity in 2013, the Salvation Army served more than 30 million Americans in need – almost one person every second of every day.

Personal tax benefits
While typically not the main driver of giving, no one will argue against the tax benefits of making a nonprofit donation. Tax laws allow donors to write off charitable contributions if they are made by the end of the tax year. That means there’s still plenty of time to make a donation before the end of 2014 and reap the tax benefits while helping others in the process.

To learn more
Donating can open the doors to learning more about a charity’s mission, culture and philosophy. Many people then feel motivated to make an even greater difference through additional actions like volunteering or becoming an ambassador. One simple way to volunteer during the holidays is to become a bell ringer for a few hours with The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. Volunteers include individuals, groups and families who bring their children with for their first volunteer experience. During the holidays, it’s a great way to embrace the true meaning of the season.

What’s your reason for donating to charity this year? Visit http://redkettlereason.org to tweet why giving is important to you and to make a donation to The Salvation Army.

Categories: Lifestyle

Stay on the road this season with these winter car care tips

Automotive - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Preparing your car for harsh winter temperatures before they strike is a great way to ensure your vehicle will be able to handle the year’s coldest months. Both new and old cars need maintenance during this season. Following the car care tips below will help to keep your vehicle running at its peak from now until spring.

* Check the tires. Snow, sleet and slippery roads mean you will rely on your tires during the winter more than any other time of the year – so make sure they are up to the task. Check your tires for correct cold weather air pressure and have them rotated. Inspect the condition of your tire’s tread. This can be achieved by performing a simple test, place a penny on its edge in the tread groove with Abraham Lincoln upside down. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire treads are worn down and you should replace your tires. This same test should be done in several tread grooves across the tire.

* Clean your fuel injector. When the temperature reaches its lowest, you want to know your engine will still operate efficiently. Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer is the most concentrated fuel injector cleaner on the market. Using it in your vehicle can improve your car’s fuel efficiency, power, throttle response and emissions. It also helps your car start quickly, idle smoothly and operate in winter’s coldest weather.

* Check your fluid levels. Check your brake, coolant, power steering, transmission fluids and windshield washer fluid levels regularly during the winter months. Clear visibility is imperative during the winter months, and windshield fluid can be heavily used. It is a good idea to have a bottle in your trunk to ensure safe driving conditions.

* Clean the air filter. The winter season sees the roadways littered with debris that can get caught in your vehicle’s air filter. The air filter can be easily inspected and cleaned or replaced it if necessary. Doing so will help your car run more efficiently and may even prevent larger problems from occurring in the future.

* Prepare a winter survival kit. Even the best planning can’t prevent a winter accident. If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, a winter survival kit could be invaluable. Your kit should include an ice scraper, de-icing liquid, hand warmers, a granola bar or two, bottled water and cat litter, which can provide traction for your tires if you get stuck. It is also a good idea to store your phone in the glove box or center console when driving. This way, if you do spin out, you’ll be able to find your phone afterward.

* Take your vehicle in for a tune-up. Some winter car maintenance tasks may be outside of your expertise, so it is a good idea to bring your car in for a winter check-up. Your regularly scheduled oil change is the perfect opportunity for your mechanic to do a more detailed inspection of your vehicle. Come prepared with any questions or concerns so your mechanic knows what to look for.

The winter driving season can be nerve-wracking, but if you apply the tips above, you can rest assured that your vehicle is prepared for whatever the season throws at you. To learn more about Royal Purple’s Max-Atomizer, visit RoyalPurple.com.

Categories: Lifestyle

Continuing education provides competitive edge for job-hunters

Education - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - More Americans than ever are going back to school, continuing their education to add skills and credentials to their work portfolio. For many, keeping their expertise current with continuing education gives them the edge in a competitive job market.

Continuing education is not the same as going back to school to complete an unfinished degree, notes Dr. Marianne Greenfield, program chair at Argosy University, Atlanta.

“Continuing education generally refers to any type of post-secondary education for the purpose of keeping current with changes in a particular field of study or for preparation to obtain a certification,” she says. “Some professions require that you earn continuing-education credits in order to maintain a license. The goal of continuing education is to offer adults who already possess a college or university degree further opportunity for learning without having to enroll in a degree program.”

“Now more than ever, it’s important for employees and professionals to keep up with all the latest skills and relevant knowledge necessary to compete in today’s workforce,” says Dr. George Spagnola, chair of the College of Education at Argosy University, Sarasota. “While a traditional education is necessary in today’s workforce, it is also a cornerstone upon which one can build a better future through continuing education.”

Greenfield agrees.

“As more people obtain academic degrees, candidates whose skills and knowledge are current and relevant in the workplace will have the greater advantage,” she says. “Continuing education is especially important in areas such as human resources, engineering, technology, finance and health care, where rapid advances occur, leading to constantly evolving practices.”

Many professions require candidates to have certifications and licenses to qualify for employment opportunities, so continuing education is important for job-seekers and professionals in those fields.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to continue your education.

“Advances in technology have made continuing education more accessible,” says Spagnola. “You can pursue continuing education online, at a physical location or in a combination of both. Technology can help you continue your education and advance your professional knowledge while working and raising a family.”

Given the number of people raising families and working, that flexibility of education can be key to achieving success. Look for an institution or provider that can meet your educational needs while still allowing you to meet your personal and professional obligations.

“Seek out a student-centered institution that meets your needs both academically and non-academically,” says Spagnola.

“Although many course providers cater to those seeking continuing education, it is important to find an accredited institution to ensure your efforts yield results,” says Greenfield. “Look for programs that offer you access to and learning from quality instructors with real-life experience in the specific field of study. Make sure that the program you are considering is compatible with any requirements you will face for licensure.”

And while educational costs are always a concern, many people can find financial assistance in the form of tuition-assistance programs offered through their employers.

“Tuition-assistance programs are of huge benefit to employees and the company,” says Spagnola. “As an employee, you receive financial assistance for your education. Your employer, in turn, gets an employee who is advancing their knowledge and skills and applying them to the organization.”

“The benefits far outweigh the expense and many private sector employers will pay for or reimburse the expense if a compelling case is made for the added competitive advantage for the organization,” agrees Greenfield. “And if your employer isn’t able to assist you with the costs, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of qualifying continuing-education expenses on your federal tax return. If you pay the expense on behalf of a spouse or a dependent child, you can also claim the deduction.”

For more information about Argosy University, visit argosy.edu.

Categories: Lifestyle

Continuing education provides competitive edge for job-hunters

Business/Careers - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - More Americans than ever are going back to school, continuing their education to add skills and credentials to their work portfolio. For many, keeping their expertise current with continuing education gives them the edge in a competitive job market.

Continuing education is not the same as going back to school to complete an unfinished degree, notes Dr. Marianne Greenfield, program chair at Argosy University, Atlanta.

“Continuing education generally refers to any type of post-secondary education for the purpose of keeping current with changes in a particular field of study or for preparation to obtain a certification,” she says. “Some professions require that you earn continuing-education credits in order to maintain a license. The goal of continuing education is to offer adults who already possess a college or university degree further opportunity for learning without having to enroll in a degree program.”

“Now more than ever, it’s important for employees and professionals to keep up with all the latest skills and relevant knowledge necessary to compete in today’s workforce,” says Dr. George Spagnola, chair of the College of Education at Argosy University, Sarasota. “While a traditional education is necessary in today’s workforce, it is also a cornerstone upon which one can build a better future through continuing education.”

Greenfield agrees.

“As more people obtain academic degrees, candidates whose skills and knowledge are current and relevant in the workplace will have the greater advantage,” she says. “Continuing education is especially important in areas such as human resources, engineering, technology, finance and health care, where rapid advances occur, leading to constantly evolving practices.”

Many professions require candidates to have certifications and licenses to qualify for employment opportunities, so continuing education is important for job-seekers and professionals in those fields.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to continue your education.

“Advances in technology have made continuing education more accessible,” says Spagnola. “You can pursue continuing education online, at a physical location or in a combination of both. Technology can help you continue your education and advance your professional knowledge while working and raising a family.”

Given the number of people raising families and working, that flexibility of education can be key to achieving success. Look for an institution or provider that can meet your educational needs while still allowing you to meet your personal and professional obligations.

“Seek out a student-centered institution that meets your needs both academically and non-academically,” says Spagnola.

“Although many course providers cater to those seeking continuing education, it is important to find an accredited institution to ensure your efforts yield results,” says Greenfield. “Look for programs that offer you access to and learning from quality instructors with real-life experience in the specific field of study. Make sure that the program you are considering is compatible with any requirements you will face for licensure.”

And while educational costs are always a concern, many people can find financial assistance in the form of tuition-assistance programs offered through their employers.

“Tuition-assistance programs are of huge benefit to employees and the company,” says Spagnola. “As an employee, you receive financial assistance for your education. Your employer, in turn, gets an employee who is advancing their knowledge and skills and applying them to the organization.”

“The benefits far outweigh the expense and many private sector employers will pay for or reimburse the expense if a compelling case is made for the added competitive advantage for the organization,” agrees Greenfield. “And if your employer isn’t able to assist you with the costs, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of qualifying continuing-education expenses on your federal tax return. If you pay the expense on behalf of a spouse or a dependent child, you can also claim the deduction.”

For more information about Argosy University, visit argosy.edu.

Categories: Lifestyle

Head of the class: How to get accepted to the school of your choice

Education - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - With tuitions at an all-time high, the cost of college and the increasingly competitive job market have become major considerations for aspiring college students and their parents. Students are not only focusing on where they can get in, but where they can get the best education that will set them up for a desirable career. The most challenging part of the journey to success is oftentimes the first step – gaining admissions.

Where it was once considered common practice to only apply to three or four colleges, today’s students apply to 10-15. So how should today’s students tackle the daunting college admissions process?

There is a lot that aspiring college students and parents can do to prepare, according to Dr. Katherine Cohen, LinkedIn Higher Ed expert and Founder and CEO of IvyWise. As one of the nation’s top college admissions consultants, Dr. Cohen offers tips on maximizing college preparation, including leveraging your network, to get you onto the path towards acceptance into college, and ultimately your dream job:

Make the most of your college prep – start early, be prepared, and stay organized: The key is to start early and think ahead. Take the most rigorous courses available at your high school, particularly in the field of your intended major or in something that might interest you. If you think you might be interested in going into social work, take a psychology class. The same applies to extracurricular activities, select a few that are of interest and engage deeply. Admissions teams consider fit as well, and want to attract students who they feel will thrive and contribute to the campus community.   Perhaps the most important way to prepare is by doing careful and extensive research. A college should be a great fit for your career aspirations, as well as your academic, social, and financial goals. Don’t limit yourself to just a short list of name recognition universities.

Leverage available resources: There are a number of new online resources available to help guide you and your family as you tackle the college decision-making process. LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network, offers a range of new higher education tools that provide aspiring students and young professionals with the opportunity to make informed decisions on which universities, majors and skills will help them achieve personal and professional success in years ahead.

* University Rankings helps students identify and rank universities that are launching graduates into their desirable jobs in key industries, based on career outcomes of alumni from the more than 332 million LinkedIn members. Say you are interested in Advertising; did you realize that the University of Pennsylvania is one of the top schools for you?

* Decision Boards is a great new tool that helps prospective students organize their school search in one place. It also helps students make well informed decisions by enabling friends, family, alumni, and current students to provide advice and insight on a school that might interest you.

* University Finder helps students achieve their career goals by easily identifying schools that meet their interests based on desired area of study, companies of interest and preferred location.

Connecting, connecting, connecting is king: Even though students don’t have decades of professional experience, they can still develop strong relationships with their network of teachers, family friends and coaches – to help provide insight into suggested schools, how to tackle college applications and to provide recommendations.

Don’t forget to also connect with admissions officers, they hold the keys. Introduce yourself at college fairs, on college visits, and request their contact information in order to establish a line of communication. Ask meaningful questions but don’t bombard them – you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Use connections to seek out internships or volunteer opportunities to get hands-on experiences in a particular field. Students can achieve this by connecting with others on LinkedIn, and exploring possible connections through the LinkedIn University pages. Tap into the resources available to develop meaningful and influential relationships that can help you make an informed college decision.

Finding, applying, and gaining admission to the best fit college for you is an incredible challenge, particularly as it pertains to your job prospects and career path once you graduate. However, by following these tips and using the online resources available, you’ll not only find the best college for your academic and career goals – you’ll get in, too.

For more information, visit LinkedIn University pages: www.linkedin.com/edu/.

Categories: Lifestyle

Head of the class: How to get accepted to the school of your choice

Community Cares - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - With tuitions at an all-time high, the cost of college and the increasingly competitive job market have become major considerations for aspiring college students and their parents. Students are not only focusing on where they can get in, but where they can get the best education that will set them up for a desirable career. The most challenging part of the journey to success is oftentimes the first step – gaining admissions.

Where it was once considered common practice to only apply to three or four colleges, today’s students apply to 10-15. So how should today’s students tackle the daunting college admissions process?

There is a lot that aspiring college students and parents can do to prepare, according to Dr. Katherine Cohen, LinkedIn Higher Ed expert and Founder and CEO of IvyWise. As one of the nation’s top college admissions consultants, Dr. Cohen offers tips on maximizing college preparation, including leveraging your network, to get you onto the path towards acceptance into college, and ultimately your dream job:

Make the most of your college prep – start early, be prepared, and stay organized: The key is to start early and think ahead. Take the most rigorous courses available at your high school, particularly in the field of your intended major or in something that might interest you. If you think you might be interested in going into social work, take a psychology class. The same applies to extracurricular activities, select a few that are of interest and engage deeply. Admissions teams consider fit as well, and want to attract students who they feel will thrive and contribute to the campus community.   Perhaps the most important way to prepare is by doing careful and extensive research. A college should be a great fit for your career aspirations, as well as your academic, social, and financial goals. Don’t limit yourself to just a short list of name recognition universities.

Leverage available resources: There are a number of new online resources available to help guide you and your family as you tackle the college decision-making process. LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network, offers a range of new higher education tools that provide aspiring students and young professionals with the opportunity to make informed decisions on which universities, majors and skills will help them achieve personal and professional success in years ahead.

* University Rankings helps students identify and rank universities that are launching graduates into their desirable jobs in key industries, based on career outcomes of alumni from the more than 332 million LinkedIn members. Say you are interested in Advertising; did you realize that the University of Pennsylvania is one of the top schools for you?

* Decision Boards is a great new tool that helps prospective students organize their school search in one place. It also helps students make well informed decisions by enabling friends, family, alumni, and current students to provide advice and insight on a school that might interest you.

* University Finder helps students achieve their career goals by easily identifying schools that meet their interests based on desired area of study, companies of interest and preferred location.

Connecting, connecting, connecting is king: Even though students don’t have decades of professional experience, they can still develop strong relationships with their network of teachers, family friends and coaches – to help provide insight into suggested schools, how to tackle college applications and to provide recommendations.

Don’t forget to also connect with admissions officers, they hold the keys. Introduce yourself at college fairs, on college visits, and request their contact information in order to establish a line of communication. Ask meaningful questions but don’t bombard them – you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Use connections to seek out internships or volunteer opportunities to get hands-on experiences in a particular field. Students can achieve this by connecting with others on LinkedIn, and exploring possible connections through the LinkedIn University pages. Tap into the resources available to develop meaningful and influential relationships that can help you make an informed college decision.

Finding, applying, and gaining admission to the best fit college for you is an incredible challenge, particularly as it pertains to your job prospects and career path once you graduate. However, by following these tips and using the online resources available, you’ll not only find the best college for your academic and career goals – you’ll get in, too.

For more information, visit LinkedIn University pages: www.linkedin.com/edu/.

Categories: Lifestyle

Ask the Pharmacist: Exercise tips your heart will love

Community Cares - Tue, 12/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - A regular exercise routine is an important component of heart health, yet less than one-third of Americans get the minimum 30 minutes of daily exercise five days a week, as recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). Nationally, as many as 250,000 deaths annually are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity.

While exercise is important for everyone, regular aerobic activity can be critical to ensuring healthier outcomes for cardiovascular patients. Even a little exercise goes a long way.

“Just 5-10 minutes of daily running, even at very slow speeds, can significantly lower the risk of mortality among cardiovascular patients,” says Ed Dannemiller, a specialist pharmacist in the Express Scripts Cardiovascular Therapeutic Resource Center. “Simply getting the recommended minimum amount of exercise can help reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke by 30-40 percent.”

Ed and his team counsel heart patients about the benefits of regular exercise in addition to following the medication regimen and other lifestyle changes.

Regular exercise has many other benefits for your heart as well, including: strengthening the heart muscle, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, gaining better control of one’s blood sugar and maintaining bone strength. Exercise can also help heart patients lose weight and lead more active lives without chest pain.

If you are considering starting an exercise regime, keep these precautions in mind to minimize your risks and prevent an adverse reaction.

* If you recently had a heart surgery or procedure, experience chest pain or shortness of breath, recently had a heart attack, or have diabetes you should consult a physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

* If you are on beta blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs and calcium channel blockers, you may have a reduced heart rate and may experience lower gains in heart rates when exercising. Medications such as the decongestant pseudoephedrine, anti-depressants, and thyroid medications can increase exercise heart rate. It is important to know the right aerobic heart rate target to prevent overtraining or under-training your heart if you are on any of these medications.

* If you are a cardiovascular patient, high-intensity exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and heavy lifting may not be recommended for you, so it’s a good idea to first speak with your physician.

* You may also need to avoid certain everyday activities that can overly affect the heart rate, such as raking, shoveling and mowing.

* Walking, swimming and light jogging are good beginning exercises if you have a cardiovascular condition.

But what if you’re already on a work-out schedule? Then keep these useful tips in mind:

* Maintain a steady pace and rest between workouts.

* Do not exercise outdoors in extremely humid, hot or cold temperatures. Extreme temps can make breathing difficult and cause chest pain. Try mall-walking instead.

* In cold weather, cover your nose and mouth when exercising outside.

* Stay hydrated by drinking water, even when you’re not feeling thirsty and especially on hot days.

* Avoid overly cold/hot showers or sauna baths after exercise.

* Avoid exercising in hilly areas because it may cause your heart to work too hard. Closely monitor your heart rate with your target rate in mind.

* Stop exercising if you experience pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or excessive fatigue. Consult your physician.

* Stop the activity in the event of a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Check your pulse after 15 minutes of rest and consult your physician if the rate is still higher than 100-120 beats per minute.

A regular exercise routine, along with adherence to the medication regimen, can put you on the path toward better health. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

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