All posts by Guest Writer

#Ilooklikeananesthesiologist

PHOTO CAPTION: #Ilooklikeananesthesiologist (starting at one o’clock and moving clockwise: CJ Swanson, Christine Sherman, Ilona Parks, Sarah Nie, Maxine Lee, Julie Joseph, Pam Zollinger)

Four female surgeons in full gowns and masks, peering over an operating table graced the cover of the April 3 New Yorker and inspired female surgeons across the world to tweet photos of the same using the hashtag: #Ilooklikeasurgeon. Surgery persists as a male-dominated field with women making up 19% of all surgeons in the U.S. Not so in the case in anesthesiology where women are closing the gender gap in terms of sheer representation. These physicians specialize in perioperative care, development of an anesthetic plan, and the administration of anesthetics. Seven female anesthesiologists from Anesthesiology Consultants of Virginia (ACV) recreated this tableau, not as a political statement but rather a symbol of their diversity, celebrating their American, Indian-Canadian, Jamaican, Asian, and Polish backgrounds. They belong to a practice where women comprise 27% of the group. Many of the reasons they all chose anesthesiology are strikingly similar:  a love of clinical procedures, the excitement of working in acute care, and the benefit of being in a field that affords work and life balance.
While earning her undergraduate degree at W&L, Dr. Christine Sherman volunteered at Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington where she was first introduced to the work of anesthesiologists. Drs. Julie Joseph and Ilona Parks noted that they decided to go into the field because they noticed the anesthesiologists were the happiest people in the operating rooms. Parks began her medical career as a neuro-monitoring technician. Dr. Sarah Nie was inspired by her grandmother who was a physician in China.
None of these doctors feel the need to be in the spotlight. Dr. Maxine Lee likens her position to that of a bass player in a band. She is in the background, but still plays a crucial role on the surgical team.
Sherman states, “We take people as close to death as they’d ever be and then we bring them back, and they rarely realize this.”
They are the last people patients are with before a procedure and often the first ones they see when waking up; it’s intensive patient care that goes largely unseen.
The rewards for these doctors are many, and several cited their practice, ACV, as a source of satisfaction. Unpaid vacations and time off are negotiated at the yearly scheduling session, allowing each partner flexibility. Sherman chooses to spend a month at the beach with her family each summer, Parks travels the world, and Dr. Pam Zollinger has renovated a home, paints and participates in community work. She chose ACV because it’s a practice in which physician anesthesiologists provide direct patient care (as opposed to the increasingly common nurse supervision model). Lee is the immediate past president of the Virginia Society of Anesthesiologists and has strongly advocated for physician led anesthesia care. The doctors also cite the challenge of using communication skills to establish trust with patients in just a short amount of time, and they enjoy the fact that when they are done with their work day, they don’t take it home with them.
Like in any profession, these women face obstacles, especially in their dual roles as physician and mother. For Joseph, returning to work after having her babies was a challenge. She was determined to breastfeed, but had no dedicated place to pump and found the whole process of running back to the OR to be exhausting and stressful. Sherman has promised to advocate for better conditions for Nie, who just delivered her first baby and plans to return to work and continue breastfeeding.  “I am going to make sure she gets 25 minute breaks!” says Sherman.  Balancing family and work can be another challenge, and Sherman notes that she has purposely avoided taking on leadership positions at the hospital so that she can focus on raising her three children when she isn’t at work.
The respect these women have for each other is tremendous. Baby showers and social gatherings strengthen their friendships when they aren’t in their scrubs. Group e-mail communication allows them to support one other. When a family emergency comes up, a back-up plan is merely a text away. If you find yourself on an operating table in any Carilion facility in the Roanoke Valley, you may be lucky enough to have one of these accomplished doctors looking over you.

Written by Kate Ericsson

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Money

Millions of people have embraced the convenience of managing their finances online. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge into this digital land, you may wonder how it works, if it’s safe, and why it could be better than traditional methods. Even if you’re savvy online, these five tips could help make it a little easier to manage your money while you’re away from your local branch or your home.

Sign up for online banking. Check in on your accounts from the comfort of your couch, the convenience of your office chair, or when you’re miles away from home. Online banking gives you around-the-clock access and is a great way to monitor activity, check balances, and make transfers, as well as providing other useful features that you perhaps thought had to be done in person at a branch. Contact your financial institution for instructions on how to sign up. 

Get electronic statements. Let’s face it—account statements from your financial institution clutter up your countertop and eventually end up in the shred pile. Stop the cycle and sign up to receive them by email instead. That way, you can opt to look them over and move on, or print them out yourself. Plus, it’s faster than waiting on the mail, and you’re helping the environment by reducing waste.

Enroll in online bill pay. Never forget to pay a bill on time again with online bill pay. This can especially come in handy when you’re away from home. You can schedule automatic payments at the same time each month from any account.

Set up digital wallets. This is a feature on your phone, tablet, or smart watch that allows you to enter your credit, debit, and reward card information to make payments at eligible vendors. Payments are made by hovering your device over the payment terminal, then entering a code or using fingerprint recognition to confirm. It’s more secure than carrying your cards and can be shut down if your device is lost.

Notify your financial institution. Before you hit the road, hit up your financial institution to let them know your plans, including your destination and travel dates. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds, and doing this helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services while you’re out of town or the country.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Earth Girl Wellness: Snack Smarter

It is quite tempting to think you are doing yourself a favor when you grab a box of 100­ calorie snack packs. Cookies, crackers, and chocolatey sweets all promise fulfillment in a little snack pack! Before reaching for the supposed convenience in a bag, consider what those 100 calories might actually mean to your health.

Whereas 100 calories seems entirely reasonable when it comes to noshing on a little something, the consequences to your body’s satiety (full feeling) response isn’t what you might expect. Your body expects to receive nutrients that are actually usable whenever food or drink crosses your lips. Many 100­ calorie packs are full of nothing but empty calories. Follow the logic here:

  1. You eat your 100 calorie treat.
  2. Your body doesn’t register any of the nutrition it needs.
  3. Your body says “whoa, where’s my food?”
  4. You grab a second 100­ calorie pack or other calorie filled food to make yourself feel nourished and full. Suddenly, your 100 calories has become 200 calories (or more!) and you still might not feel satisfied.

It would be far superior to snack on 200 calories of real, life­-giving food. Consider healthy options such as air­-popped popcorn, carrot sticks with hummus, or a small nut butter sandwich. Gulp it down with some clean, refreshing water and your body feels satisfied because it can register true, desirable nutrients.

Now, self ­discipline is a wonderful thing! If you are truly able to slowly savor a pack of 100 calorie cookies as your last treat before bed, by all means, indulge! Take care to savor your snack. Tasting each bite, noticing each swallow, and taking a moment to feel the “love” of your indulgence. Some 100 calorie packs can have health benefits, so reach for a pack of almonds or trail mix (without the sweet add ins such as chocolate chips) instead. To save money, create your own 100 calorie packs each week so you have them ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Think about dried fruit, some turkey and cheese, or whole wheat crackers. Your checkbook will thank you as well since most 100 calorie packs are charging for the packaging, not so much the snack!

Earth Girl loves a great snack, but she recommends you choose proper nutrition with life providing calories versus a snack in a pack that has been marketed to trick you into thinking you are doing yourself a favor. Carry on your adventure and snack wisely!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

The 10,000 Steps Goal

Fitness trackers abound these days along with pages of advice encouraging us to walk 10,000 steps. We faithfully don our wristbands and watches hoping to achieve the magical distance of five miles per day. But have you ever stopped to think about why we need those steps? Are 10,000 steps necessary or is it an arbitrary number conjured up to make us obsessive compulsive about walking the last 103 steps needed to reach 10,000 before getting into bed?

Let’s go back a few decades, to say, the 1970’s. If you were alive (and if you weren’t, use your imagination), think of all the things you did throughout the day that involved taking steps. To open the garage door, you had to get out of your car, walk to the garage door, open it, walk back to your car, pull in, then walk back and close the garage door before entering your house. Hmm…maybe 50 steps involved? In order to change the channel on the television (which only had 4 channels to begin with), you had to walk to the TV, change the channel, then walk back to the couch. Another 20 steps. To fill a prescription, you had to get out of your car, walk into the pharmacy, wait for the prescription to be filled (during which time you probably walked around the store because they didn’t have convenient chairs to sit in while you waited), get your prescription, and walk back to your car. Log another 150 steps, at least. We were naturally walking roughly five miles just to accomplish the tasks needed for daily living.

Now, welcome to the 21st century. We use the drive thru at coffee shops for our daily cup of joe. We use riding lawn mowers to cut our grass. We use an elevator to take us up two flights of stairs! These “activities” require no steps. We simply do not have to walk like we used to. We have to schedule time and add “taking steps” to our daily agenda.

Five miles, or 10,000 steps, is a sweet spot for health. When comparing the population at large, individuals that average 10,000 steps per day tend to be healthier than individuals that walk less. You can, however, stop short of berating yourself if you are a few steps shy of your daily goal. Some days your sneakers will pound the pavement with more than 10,000 steps. Some days your shoes will have a little less wear. Look at the bigger picture and see how your steps average out for a week. Remember, life does allow a day or two of leisure on occasion.

Earth Girl’s recommendation is to keep your fitness trackers on, your shoes tied, and your ambition ready to tackle every step of your day!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

The Art of Avoiding the Scam

As technology evolves to secure our identities, so has scammers’ creativity and resourcefulness to steal it. While we may think we’re savvy enough to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, the reality is that we’re all susceptible to the threat. Secure yourself with these helpful tips.

Don’t give out personal information unless you’ve initiated contact. Scammers will contact you by phone, mail, and even email requesting personal information. Never give out that information unless you’ve initiated contact or know exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Avoid logging on to personal accounts on public computers. This can make your information accessible to the next person who uses it. Additionally, accessing your checking account via public Wi-Fi puts your information at risk. Only use your personal computer on a private, trusted Wi-Fi signal to access any information that people could use to do you harm.

Create strong passwords. Make it something challenging for others to guess by interchanging E with 3, switching between upper and lowercase, and adding special characters. For example, if you wanted to make your password “animal”, a better alternative might be @N!mA1. That’s much harder to guess and still easy to remember.

Check your credit report annually to look for any discrepancies. The three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

Secure your debit and credit cards. You can sign up for digital wallets, which help add a layer of security to your debit and credit cards by encrypting the card information. You can also sign up for purchase alerts where you’re notified via phone and/or email if a certain parameter, such as a dollar amount on a transaction, is hit. It’s also a good idea to let your financial institution know if you’ll be traveling to prevent your card from becoming locked due to unfamiliar transactions.

Being proactive and staying on top of your credit and finances goes a long way toward protecting yourself from scammers; however, if you find you’re already a victim, visit https://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack to learn what your next steps should be.

 

Article provided by Member One

Focus: Chocolate or Checkbooks?

Typically, the short month of February is a blur due to our focus for the perfect Valentine’s Day plans. Whether or not we are in a relationship, we succumb to the pressure of buying or planning something for someone we know. Doused in reds and pinks, we forget to realize that this is a capitalist holiday which causes us to empty our wallets on a dime.

In a relationship, both parties should love one another, and celebrate that love when it is felt. It should not be feasted upon by some day on a calendar that claims that waxy chocolates and overly priced dinner reservations will portray a perfect relationship. The US News Forum reports that annual spending for the holiday is approaching $19 billion dollars. Most of the money is typically spent between candy, flowers, and eating out. As the second biggest “Hallmark Holiday,” it is not surprising that greeting cards follow. If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t need the stigma of the day to remind you of why you are in a relationship with someone.

Single people? They are targeting you too. You don’t need that “singles mixer” that is dragging every person you could find on Tinder out of their house, only for the venue to serve you overpriced drinks. It’s unfair to push yourself into a toxic or ill-fitting relationship to meet a “standard.” It’s easy to think that you are alone at this time of year, but think about how buying and receiving affects us as everyday consumers. Buying and receiving things makes us feel better, makes us feel like we ARE more when we HAVE more. Just think, you are saving money, saving calories, and keeping out the clutter of oversized teddy bears.

Moral of the story is, a cheaper restaurant is still as good as any restaurant. Netflix and RedBox are a lot less expensive than movie tickets, and it is just another day.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Go Red and Be Healthy

February is also known as National Heart Health Month. It’s a hard truth, but heart disease is not picky, so men and women are both at risk. About 1 in 4 deaths are linked to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. With that in mind, we’d like to take some time to discuss a few ways to eat and exercise in order to achieve a better lifestyle.

Track what you put into your body. Add color to your plate and make sure to get two servings of fruits and vegetables, but avoid the extra salt and sugar that is sometimes present in canned fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are a better option when faced with multiple choices. Fish and poultry products should be your first choices due to the omega 3 fatty acids within them, prepared without the skin and leaning towards salmon and trout when preparing fish. When wanting red meat, always check for the leaner cuts. Skim and 1% dairy products get you a step closer to a fat-free and low-fat diet. Sugary drinks are extremely bad for you, and you should ultimately try to cut them from your diet. You really want to rid yourself of saturated and trans fats, in order to replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Paying attention to serving sizes or cooking meals at home will help  keep you from overeating and not paying attention to your calorie intake.

push-ups-888024_1280Walking, stair climbing, swimming, and biking are all ways to increase heart health.
A good week of activity should typically include 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days a week. Of course, it is very important to speak to your doctor to create a routine that is safe and right for your body, health, and age.

Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, so if you can’t make each workout when you first start out, you’ll get there! Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Visit www.heart.org for more tips.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson