General Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘General Health and Safety’

Transition After High School Post 4 – Clery Act


Guest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“Safety doesn’t happen by accident”

When talking with your teen about making the transition to college, we often focus on the positive, as it is definitely an amazing life changing event.  You want your teen to successfully adapt in making more responsible choices, while remaining safe and protected inside the walls of a college campus.  However, there is a very important topic that often gets missed in that crucial time before they start classes.  That is the subject of campus crimes and security.   I am not writing this to send you running to lock your teen in their room, ensuring their safety by never letting them out and feeding them through the door!   This post is meant to open the dialogue between you and your teen about personal safety.

College campuses were once thought of as “Ivory Towers”, protected from the dangerous individuals and violent acts of the rest of the world.  It is the hope that every student has an affirmative college experience, but we know from numerous stories and statistics that is not always the case. So how can you find out about the safety of the college campuses your teen is looking at? Its actually easier then you think, but that was not always the case. It is important to respect the history and personal tragedy that allows us to access this information so readily today. Read full post »

The Impact of Implicit Bias


Think about the encounters you have with strangers every day. When you stop by the grocery store and notice people in the check out line, what comes to mind? Does the young parent with multiple very small children bring up any emotions or thoughts? What do you think of the food items being purchased by the person who is underweight or overweight? How do you react when a group of teens with darkly dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos is standing in the doorway? Now consider a group of clean-cut teens? Everyone has biases: those subconscious perceptions of people around us. They shape our actions and judgements. But, biases are often incorrect. They are generalizations about a group based on our cultural norms or expectations, but may have no actual basis in reality. For example, the parent with multiple young children in the check out line may be a nanny not a single parent. The clean-cut teens in the doorway may be waiting for a peer who is stealing alcohol while the pierced and tattooed teens are trying to advocate for ending childhood hunger. Read full post »

Transition after high school Post 3 – College Health Services


college studentGuest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

In the part of this series, I will go into a little further into the details of visiting a campus and what you need to have ready from a health standpoint. If you and your teen are still finding yourself stuck on where to even start looking to apply, you can refer back to the previous post.

Now that you and your teen have decided on what campuses to visit (great job by the way, that can be the toughest part!), it is time to discuss what is often the most exciting part for your teen…the tour. A campus tour is a great way to become familiar with the institution, not only for the physical elements, but also for the health resources offered. It is important for your teen to have a support system on campus of caring professionals that can offer assistance if needed. Read full post »

Music and brain power


African American teen plays an acoustic guitar.

African American teen plays an acoustic guitar.

I was a musician from junior high through college. My athletic abilities left much to be desired, but as a 4th grader, an astute music teacher assigned me to the cello. This instrument became the fuel that drove me to push past my shyness, embrace being on stage, and forge friendships that I still have to this day.  Learning to read music was a similar experience to learning a second language: frustrating at times, challenging, but so rewarding when I was able to put it into practice and result in something that was easily understandable to another human being. Read full post »

Safe Sun Exposure


beachSave Your Skin: Savvy Sunning

By: Guest Author Hannah Smith RN, BSN, CPN DNP-PNP student

Sunny days in Seattle are a treat! When the rays come out, so do we, looking for a bit of warmth while we can. It is easy for me to justify staying in the sun on my back porch, at Greenlake, or Golden Gardens as long as possible to soak up the rays. I am definitely guilty of being in the sun through the warmest park of the day, because as you know, it may be cloudy tomorrow!

Did you put a sunhat on your child or beach umbrella over them when they were younger? Strong work! Those physical barriers are very effective in preventing skin damage. Skin is delicate and vulnerable to UV rays.

Teens need to protect their skin as it’s the only skin they get for their entire life. Everything you do to reduce UV exposure can help to prevent a type of skin cancer called melanoma from developing later in life. That may seem like a long ways off to a teen, but melanoma is not just a cancer in older people, it can appear as early as your 20s. Melanoma is dangerous, and can spread to other parts of your body.

Besides cancer, excess sun exposure will also prematurely age skin with wrinkles and brown spots. The savvy sunning habits that you and your teen create now can help to save their skin in the future.

I don’t want parents or teens to be scared of the sun because it is a wonderful resource that this earth has. It can help lift your mood, synthesize vitamin D, and synchronize your biorhythms. As with most things, moderation is key. I just want parents and teens to learn how to enjoy the sunshine safely. Here are some tips:

Sunscreen Selection

  • Use a sunscreen that covers both UVA & UVB rays.
  • Use a SPF of at least 45.
  • Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out doors for better absorption.
  • Apply at least 1 oz. of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Even if it is waterproof sweating and touching your skin will rub it off.

UV Exposure

  • Use sunscreen year round on exposed skin. Even on cloudy days UV rays come through the clouds. Higher temperatures so not equal higher UV rays.
  • Check your local UV index at


  • Avoid the most intense sun between 10am-4pm by sitting in the shade, using a hat, or wearing a light over-up.
  • Buy some stylish sunglasses and use them!
  • Avoid tanning beds. Even ONE session increases your risk of melanoma by 20%.

Be educated, and go enjoy the sun!

Break Dancing and Seattle Youth


Break dancing Massive MonkeesWe’d like to highlight positive opportunities for teens so in this post, guest blogger Dr. Alok Patel writes about his experiences with the amazing break dancing crew, Massive Monkees.

Getting a teenager to focus is a daunting, nearly impossible task, for any professional. Smart phones, social media, and hormone-driven behaviors often corner the market for a high-schooler’s attention span. Nonetheless, the resurgence of a throwback dance-style, with a blend of mentorship, is turning heads in South Seattle. Teenagers, all over, are discovering themselves in breakdancing, or ‘breaking’ – the show stealing, acrobatic, immersive art, that can be seen anywhere from 80’s movies, to commercials, to music videos.

The rhythmic movements captivate adolescents and world-renowned bboy crew, the Massive Monkees, alongside Arts Corps, are parlaying the fascination into the nation’s first dance-based youth leadership program, right here in Seattle. Read full post »

Implicit bias


Students Sitting on StepsMedia coverage of numerous events involving police shootings of innocent African Americans has spurred the nation to consider the biases we hold. Every person holds assumptions. Simply living in a set culture, individuals take on behaviors and associations that are prevelant in the society. Sometimes these associations are helpful and sometimes they are not.

Examples that call out our implicit bias are showing up all over social media. I recently saw a social media post that described showing 3 cartoon pictures of 10 year old boys to a group of school kids. One cartoon pictured an overweight boy, one was thin with glasses, and the last was able bodied and dressed in trendy clothing. The school children labeled the boys. The overweight one they called ‘lazy,’ the thin boy was the ‘nerd’ or ‘smart’ and the final boy was ‘popular.’ The next day, there was a post that took loved ones and dressed them like they were homeless and placed them on the street. Their own family members walked right by and didn’t acknowledge their existence. These were spouses, siblings, best friends who were ignored because their look was changed and they were placed in a different context. Read full post »

Social Media, Shaming, and How To Respond When Teens Make Mistakes


iStock_000015335905_DoubleRecently, Monica Lewinsky gave a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame” that has become a viral sensation with millions of views.  In the talk, Lewinsky boldly shares her experiences around the exposure of her affair with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and the fallout of that scandal, which was fueled by the rapid spread of information (and misinformation) on the Internet.  She also points out that when the affair began, she was just 22 years old–an age that experts say is still part of adolescence.  Yet the public shaming for her mistake (which she says she “regrets deeply”) has been carried throughout all parts of her adult life.  Teens and young adults will make mistakes–how can we help them learn from them, rather than be defined by them?

Read full post »

Whole Nutrition in Schools


eating strawberryThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement on food in schools emphasizing a “whole nutrition” approach to food that is consumed in school.  This could include breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks.  The writers point out that there have already been changes in school lunches to make cafeteria food more nutritious, but lunches that students bring to school might not meet healthy standards.  Having healthy, nutritious meals throughout the school day is essential for concentration in class and performance in sports and gym class.  How can parents help teens eat healthy at school?

Read full post »

Hazing and teens


safety in numbersLast fall, just as I went on maternity leave, there was an incident involving hazing on the East Coast that received quite a bit of media attention. It involved a group of teens from a local New Jersey high school football team and occurred at the time of homecoming. The teens allegedly held down other teens and touched or groped them in a sexually explicit way. One teen was also kicked. In the news article that covered the incident, the responses from adults in the community varied widely. One mother reported: “No one was hurt, no one died — I don’t understand why they’re being punished.” Her comment made me consider the question: “Is hazing ever okay?” Read full post »