Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Career Tips: Keep Your Head Out of the Sand!

Maybe you are reading this post because you are a HealthStudies student or alumni looking for your first job. Or maybe you are completing your degree as part of a job transition. Maybe you are a member of the TWU community just stopping by. It’s possible you found this via a link or Internet search. However you ended up here, I hope you will find something helpful in today’s post as you navigate the often shifting paths of your career journey.

Today’s post is inspired by an article I came across via my LinkedIn feed called, “The Worst Career Blunder You Can Make” by Kathy Caprino. This article resonated with me for a variety of reasons.  She summarizes the worst blunder as, “I’m staying just where I am; I don’t need to make any changes.”  I think most of us have a tendency to resist change.  It feels easier, more comfortable just to stay where we are. However, if we actively resist change by – as she says – “burying our heads in the sand,” we are not only doing a disservice to ourselves, but possibly putting our jobs and/or careers at risk.

In her article, Ms. Caprino discusses five ways to avoid this problem.  One thing she recommends is to stretch your skills and abilities. I think that this is essential. Not only does it help avoid the worst career blunder, but it will help you become more successful on your own career path. We see more and more companies reorganize and then ask people to take over additional roles instead of filling them. Additionally, in many organizations the old career ladder no longer exists. If employees want to progress in their careers, oftentimes they will need to move into different areas. Sometimes these areas are closely related and other times it is a bigger transition. No matter which scenario you find yourself in, it will be easier if you are already stretching your skills, abilities, and knowledge.

How can you do this? As I work for a university, obviously obtaining a degree is one way. But there are plenty of other ways to broaden your experience. You can volunteer for a committee at work and learn from your more experienced committee members. If there are no committees at work, you can also volunteer at a local nonprofit and let them know that you are happy to donate your time and energy for the opportunity to add some new skills.  You can take a continuing education class to learn a new software program. You can join an organization like Toastmasters International to polish your public speaking skills and get hands-on experience with leadership. You can go to the library and borrow some books in areas that want to know more about.

For her third suggestion, Ms. Caprino suggests that you “identify exactly what your employer wants from you.”  She also discusses the importance of keeping professional relationships positive (4) and making a change if you are not happy with your work situation (5).  All of these suggestions ring true to me.  For all of these, I would add that it is important to be self-aware and regularly take time to reevaluate your life and career goals.  What I mean by being self-aware is knowing your strengths and areas that need improvement as well as knowing where your interests lie.

It may sound a bit overwhelming, but there are many resources available to you. If you are a TWU student or alum, you may want to visit TWU Career Services.  They can provide career counseling and assessments to assist you.  They also provide services for the general community.  If you aren’t a TWU student or alum, you might want to check the university where you received your degree. More and more universities offer career services to their alumni for free.

Additionally, many public libraries offer a variety of free resources for job seekers and career transitionists (my word). A couple of my favorite books are What Color is Your Parachute and Career Renegade. There are also a number of books with self-evaluation and self-interest assessments.  Ask your librarian for help in locating these and any other resources you might be interested in. They are an excellent source of information.

My last suggestion is to consider a life or career coach. A number of university career centers and company HR departments are now employing coaches.  Disclaimer – I am currently working on my coaching certification. However, I have also used a career coach when I wanted to make a shift in my job situation and I found it to be extremely helpful. Obviously, it had such an impact that later I decided to pursue certification as well. A coach can serve as your creative partner to help you figure out what your interests and strengths are as well as bringing a different perspective to the table.

The key point I took away from Ms. Carpino’s article was that it is up to me and you as individuals to manage our careers.  So if you want to make sure your career path stays on track and have a fulfilling enjoyable job then keep your head out of the sand and actively look for ways to channel the change that makes up your life.

Additional online career and life resources:

Work in Progress 

Life After College 

Zen Habits


Work Happy Now! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Academic Leadership: Lunch, Literature, and Listening (AL3) - February 24th

Friday, February 24th was the first Spring session of AL3, hosted by TWU Provost, Dr. Robert Neely. The focus for this semester's discussions is The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring. This book has been high on the reading list of many academics lately, and I heard it mentioned multiple times at both the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning and the recent Educause Learning Initiative conference. In addition, a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted a daylong conference on teaching and learning at Harvard University, which featured one of the book's authors, Clayton M. Christensen:

In The Innovative University, Christensen and Eyring use the comparison of DNA to address the multiplicity of decisions, cultures, and adopted practices that go into the makeup of different universities and colleges. Parts 1 and 2 of the book were covered for this first discussion, and these parts focus on laying out the history of the two schools used for comparison - Harvard University and BYU-Idaho. Case histories of both schools are intertwined throughout these first few chapters with short charts at the end of each chapter highlighting the different decisions and practices adopted at each university, along with some comments on the pros and cons that result from their integration into the school's policies and culture. Both of these schools evolved differently over time due to different internal and external demands. 

The overall premise of the book is an examination of disruptive innovation in the higher education environment. During the discussion on Friday, several different disruptive innovations were considered. The advent and growth of online education, the rising prominence of for-profit and community colleges, recent and forthcoming legislative cuts, and a growing move to redefine how college credits are awarded were some of the ideas considered. Out of these ideas came the question, just how much trouble is higher education in? All of us seemed to agree that there are quite a few challenges facing higher education, and in addition to the disruptive innovations already considered, the problems of less international students choosing the U.S. as a higher education destination and the lack of career paths and employment potential after college for many graduates were also brought up. Another focus of conversation was what has been called "the Carnegie ladder", a particular idea that appears to have sidetracked many colleges and universities. While the Carnegie classification scheme was originally intended as a way to simply differentiate between the goals of schools, over the years it has become looked upon as a ladder for schools to climb, with each trying to move "up" to a classification that is closer to the research universities envisioned as the "top" of the ladder.

So, here are some of the ongoing questions to ponder throughout the continuing discussion over the semester: 
  • What are reasons for optimism?
  • What are suitable strategies for change in higher education?
  • What are TWU's advantages?
I found this discussion to be extremely interesting! The book is easy to engage with and full of information that I had never even really thought about. For example, I had no idea why tenure was started or the original role that SATs played. The impact that Harvard's "DNA" has had on higher education as a whole was fairly stunning!

This first meeting of the semester was well attended with upwards of 30 people representing various departments and positions here at TWU. Upcoming meetings, which are all on Fridays at noon in Stoddard 308, will be on these dates:
  • February 24 – Parts 1: Reframing the Higher Educational Crisis and Part 2: The Great American University
  • March 9 – Part 3: Ripe for Disruption
  • April 20 – Part 4: A New Kind of University
  • May 4 – Part 5: Genetic Reengineering
However, for those who would like to keep the conversation going between now and then, please feel free to post comments and ideas here! What did you think of the ideas that we talked about on Friday? 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest Post: Making Time for Health in a Hectic World

It’s no secret that today’s world presents numerous challenges to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When you add to that the pressures to be a successful student and outstanding employee, things get even tougher. Is it possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle while balancing work and school? Of course it is! You just have to be creative.

Stand up
If you’re going to be spending time online, whether writing a paper, studying or socializing, try creating a standing work station. If you have a laptop, you can place it on a raised counter. If you have a PC, try raising the height of a desk, or creating a stack with those big textbooks.  At work, it never hurts to ask if your boss will allow you to get creative with your work station. You can also take your phone calls standing up if at all possible.

Take a walk
Rather than emailing a co-worker a few steps away, walk over to their desk to speak with them. You get the benefit of exercise and human contact, which we so often forget about these days. If your office set up allows for it, take some lunchtime laps and walk around the inside or outside of your building. Try parking farther away when the weather is nice outside.

Take your breaks
Students should take 15 minute breaks for every 45 minutes they study. Use those 15 minutes to stand up and stretch or fit in another walk. Fifteen minutes is even enough time to squeeze in a quick workout. Try this- 10 push-ups, 10 crunches, 10 squats, 10 jumping jacks. Repeat the sequence five times. If you’re at work, be sure to take the breaks you’ve earned. You can use the time to walk, stretch or enjoy a healthy snack.

Plan ahead for healthy lunches
Select a variety of greens from the grocery store and make it a point to alternate them throughout the week in salads. Alternate your salad toppings to add variety and different vitamins and minerals each day. Buy a variety of protein to alternate each day as well. Roast vegetables in the evening to pack for the next day- asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, squash. The possibilities are endless and you can use the money you save on buying lunch to treat yourself to a movie or rock climbing over the weekend.

Pack healthy snacks
Take some time over the weekend to prepare healthy snacks for your work week. Pick up fruits and vegetables that can easily be chopped and divided into small containers- celery, cucumbers, baby carrots, bell peppers, berries, apples, grapes. Portion them out and pack a condiment of choice for dipping- mustard, hummus, tahini. Nuts and seeds make great portable snacks as well. You can carry all of the containers in with you on Monday so you don’t even have to think about it the rest of the week.

Take control of the treats
As both a student and an employee, it can be hard to avoid unhealthy food at social functions without feeling left out. If your office is celebrating, offer to bring something you feel good about eating. If you’re attending a special event, make the healthiest choice possible and don’t forget to enjoy the company as much as the food!

 Do you have any creative ideas for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while balancing work and school?

This post contributed by Casey Conway.

Casey Conway is a TWU graduate student. She has a passion for health education and disease prevention, and enjoys every opportunity to incorporate healthy living strategies into her daily life. Casey holds a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations from the University of North Texas and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. She currently assists national and international nonprofit associations with event planning, communications and membership administration. She also is a freelance writer and editor. Casey holds a personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, yoga and reading. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Faculty Publication by Dr. Katie Crosslin and Dr. Kristin Wiginton

Congratulations to Dr. Katie Crosslin and Dr. Kristin Wiginton whose article "Sex Differences in Disease Severity Among Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus" was recently published in the journal Gender Medicine (Vol. 8, No. 6, 2011)! See the abstract of their study below:
Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a prototypical autoimmune disease, often results in comorbidities from exposure to medications as well as from chronic inflammation. Identification of gender-based differences in comorbidities and disease severity may assist health practitioners in providing optimum care for those living with SLE.
Objective: The purpose of this study, which utilized hospital discharge data collected during a 7-year period to garner a large SLE patient sample, was to determine the effect of gender on SLE comorbidities and disease severity.
Methods: Patients were hospitalized in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan statistical area between 1999 and 2005 and had a diagnosis of SLE. The sample consisted of 14,829 patients with SLE, 10% of which were male. ANOVAs were conducted to test for differences between males and females for disease severity, age, length of stay in the hospital, total hospital charges, and number of autoimmune diseases. Disease severity was measured with the SLE comorbidity index, which weights 14 conditions in SLE. We identified the top 30 comorbidities as well as the odds of experiencing the secondary illnesses by gender.
Results: Male patients had significantly greater disease severity compared with female patients. Additionally, female patients had more autoimmune diagnoses compared with male patients. Male patients were more likely to have cardiovascular and renal comorbidities compared with female patients. Female patients had significantly greater odds of diagnoses of urinary tract infection, hypothyroidism, depression, esophageal reflux, asthma, and fibromyalgia.
Conclusions: Although the prevalence of SLE among males is rare, male patients have the potential for greater disease severity and are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular and renal disease. Gender differences in disease severity should be further evaluated, but with the added recommendation to develop an index with conditions more indicative of active SLE. (Gend Med. 2011;8:365–371) 
The article is available online in full text through the TWU Libraries.

Dr. Kristin Wiginton is an Associate Professor with the Department of Health Studies.

Dr. Katie Crosslin is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Health Studies. Her research interests include violence prevention, acculturation in Hispanics and effects on health, medically underserved populations, and chronic diseases/quality of life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creating A Heart-Healthy Diet

We have all probably been inundated with information that our country is becoming dangerously obese, meaning that individuals are carrying around 20% or more heavier than their ideal weight. Even more distressing is the fact that this has begun to affect not only adults, but also children, some of whom are very young. Here are some startling statistics:
Carrying all that extra weight is hard on our bodies, and it is especially hard on our hearts. In a previous post we discussed ways to incorporate heart-healthy exercise into our daily life, so the other area that we need to look at is that of our eating habits. There has been no shortage of documentaries lately showing the harmful effects that food can have on our bodies overall (for example, Forks Over Knives and Fat Sick & Nearly Dead). However, it is not really necessary to go to extremes (such as an all juice diet!) to make dietary changes that can benefit your health. (Also, please note that you should always consult with your doctor before making any kind of extreme dietary changes!) 

So, what are some easier ways that we can incorporate healthy eating into our everyday lives? Most of the information out there seems to agree on a few similar foods that are heart-healthy:
  • Salmon or other oily fish: these contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help with blood pressure and prevent blood clotting. (If you are concerned about the type of salmon to purchase, sockeye salmon are still generally raised in lakes and not on farms.) Canned salmon is fine, as are other oily types of fish such as mackerel, sardines, and tuna.
  •  Avocados: these contain healthy, monounsaturated fat that is, in reasonable amounts, actually very good for your system.
  • Olive oil: this is also full of monounsaturated fats. When choosing an olive oil it is good to look for one in a dark bottle, and to try to store your olive oil in a cupboard away from the light, since exposure to light can cause oxidation, which leaches some of the healthy benefits from the oil.
  • Nuts: high on this list are almonds and walnuts, and nuts are also full of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Oatmeal: this grain is a wonderful source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Usually steel cut oats are recommended as the best, but regular oatmeal has good qualities to it, as well.
These are just a few of the most commonly cited foods that can be incorporated into your diet to help fight heart disease. For more information and ideas on foods, here are a few articles that I found helpful: 
So, now that we have a food list all we need are some recipe ideas! Do you have a heart-healthy recipe to share? We would love to have you share your heart-healthy recipes with us! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Showcase on...Caroline Roffidal-Blanco, doctoral student

Caroline Roffidal-Blanco
Health Studies doctoral student
Caroline Roffidal-Blanco, TWU Health Studies doctoral student and the Registered Dietitian for Metro Health’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant was awarded the 2011 San Antonio Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award by the San Antonio Dietetic Association.  Caroline has successfully coordinated the Healthy Schools Initiative in collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program and serves as one of the registered dietitians for the ¡Por Vida! healthy restaurants program.  She has helped to coordinate the San Antonio Food Policy Council, and programs that provide increased access to healthy food options through farmers’ markets, corner stores, and at community events throughout the city.  Caroline was also nominated for the 2011 Texas State Young Dietitian of the Year award.

Healthy School Initiative highlights:

Por Vida Healthy Restaurants:  www.PorVidaSA.com

For more information on the TWU Health Studies doctoral program, please visit our website.

You can also read about doctoral student Lona Sandon's recent scholarship achievement here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ways to Incorporate Heart Healthy Exercise Into Your Life

Since the health focus for  this month is on our hearts, I thought it would be a good idea to check into some ways that we can incorporate exercise into our lives that will specifically help strengthen our heart and help protect it from disease. WebMD had some good information on this topic: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/exercise-healthy-heart. I like the part about exercising for 20 to 30 minutes! Since we all have busy schedules, it seems like this amount of time might be something that could actually fit into our lives every other day! Page 3 of this article also had some information on exercise that you can do while - believe it or not - sitting. Here are some of their examples:
  • Ankle pumping. Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.
  • Knee straightening. Raise your foot to fully straighten your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
  • Shoulder shrugs. Keeping your back straight, lift your shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders down and back in a smooth circular motion.
  • Arm circles. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides (about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small circles.
If you, like me, spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, then these are some small exercises that can be used to keep the blood moving through the body.

One of my problems is getting into a regular exercise routine. So, there are also some suggestions in this article for how to stick with your exercise program. The two best suggestions I found were to find something to do that is actually fun, and to schedule the exercise into your daily routine. I am a very schedule driven person (if it is on my calendar it will get done) and I do tend to gravitate towards doing things I actually enjoy...who doesn't?!? So, I have decided that I really enjoy walking. I'm not a jogger or runner, but I will walk for hours on end if given the opportunity. One of my exercise goals for myself is to try to get in at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking 6 days a week. One way that I can do this is to spend part of my lunch breaks a few days a week taking a walk. Another way is to treat myself after work to a walk in my favorite park. I can schedule these walks into my days and they are something that I know I enjoy, so I feel like I have a better chance of keeping up with this routine.

Googling "heart healthy exercise" will get you tons of good tips and ideas from reputable sites. At heart.com, they give the good advice that if you just can't fit in larger amounts of time to exercise, even shorter 5 to 10 minute periods of exercise throughout your day will still have good benefits (http://www.heart.com/10-heart-healthy-exercise-tips.html). They also mention that even moderate intensity exercise, like Pilates and yoga (and walking), is good and that you don't necessarily need a gym or fancy equipment to get in some exercise that will benefit your heart.

What ideas do you have for incorporating heart healthy exercise into your life? We would love to have you share them in your comments!

TWU Go Red for Women Update

Texas Woman's University's first Go Red for Women campaign was a success thanks to the many students, staff, and faculty who participated in the lunch screening of "Just a Little Heart Attack" and heart healthy panel discussion on February 1st and by wearing red on February 3rd.

We look forward to Going Red again next year!

TWU Goes Red for Women

Graduate School - Contest Winners!

Nutrition and Food Sciences

Student Records

Student Health Services


Conference Services

Fitness and Recreation

College of Professional Education

Health Studies