Category Archives: Medicine

Brody offers glimpse of life in medical school

Since her childhood, Melenis Lopez has dreamed of becoming a physician who heals patients in underserved communities and makes an impact on every life she encounters along the way.

Thanks to her experience in the Summer Program for Future Doctors (SPFD), the edges of Lopez’s dream are now more defined.

Lopez and the rest of the 2018 SPFD cohort, made up of students who show interest, potential and promise for careers in medicine, went through an intensive, nearly two-month program at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, highlighted by course work, team building and hands-on medical school experiences.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors experience course work and class discussions that mirror the first year of medical school.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors experience course work and class discussions that mirror the first year of medical school. (Photos by Rhett Butler)

“The SPFD program is designed for minorities or disadvantaged students, which is what essentially caught my eye,” said Lopez, a senior majoring in public health studies at ECU. “Through this program, I wanted to learn more about medical school and further my understanding of Brody’s mission.”

Brody’s purpose is to increase the supply of primary-care physicians for the state, improve the health status of eastern North Carolinians and enhance the access of minority and disadvantaged students to a medical education. The SPFD acts as that mission in action.

“SPFD serves as a pipeline program, bringing together promising prospective students from across the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Richard Ray, director of the SPFD. “While all aspiring medical students are encouraged to apply, the program is particularly interested in students from groups underrepresented in medicine, students from disadvantaged backgrounds and non-traditional students.”

Participants in the Summer Program for Future Doctors enjoy each other’s company at the program’s culminating banquet.

Participants in the Summer Program for Future Doctors enjoy each other’s company at the program’s culminating banquet.

The program focuses on these populations to introduce opportunity and access, but also to be mindful of the patient cross-section that stands to benefit from Brody’s graduates.

“The goal, as it is for the Brody School of Medicine,” Ray said, “is to have a very diverse class that is representative of the patient population that Brody graduates will serve.”

During SPFD, students are immersed in what compares to the life of a first-year medical student based on academic rigor and pace. The students are given the chance to clearly demonstrate their academic readiness for the rigorous curriculum of the preclinical years of medical school and to hone their interpersonal skills and overall professionalism vital to successful medical students and doctors.

Those tests of fortitude and resilience were welcome challenges for Lopez, a first-generation college student, ECU Access Scholar and ECU Ambassador who wants to practice family medicine in areas with shortages of health care professionals and for patients with limited access and ability to afford care.

“It was eye-opening witnessing the tremendous amount of rigorous material that medical students have to conquer in such a short time span,” she said. “Overall, I learned that medical school is for the brave and the tough; however, it is not impossible.”

It takes a team of Brody faculty, staff and students to introduce the SPFD participants to an accurate view of medical school.

“A collaborative group of Brody faculty donate their time for lectures and lab demonstrations,” said Courtney Horns, director of Brody’s Office of Medical Education. “Current medical students work as TAs to assist the SPFD student with their courses, studying, test reviews and any support the student might need.”

The Office of Admissions also provides sessions to help students complete medical school applications as well as practice interview sessions. Eastern Area Health Education Center provides a clinical-skills session where students meet trained standardized patients and give the patients a diagnosis based on their discovery, among other services the participants gain exposure through.

The SPFD program isn’t all course work and clinical experiences; the students participate in team-building exercises and other activities to motivate and challenge them.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors participate in team-building exercises at the Student Recreation Center.

Students in the Summer Program for Future Doctors participate in team-building exercises at the Student Recreation Center.

“I also try to add as much fun and excitement into the program as possible, seeing as the students are spending their summer break taking 8 a.m. classes every day for seven weeks,” Horns said. “I want these students to leave this program and either be excited they will be attending Brody in the fall, or they want Brody as their No. 1 pick for medical school when they start the medical application process.”

Since the program began in 1987, SPFD has tallied some notable statistics and success stories, including from recent cohorts.

Brody’s incoming first-year class has 12 students who attended SPFD as non-matriculating students. Thirteen of the 23 non-matriculating students in the 2017 SPFD are now in medical school; several of the others will be applying for the first time this cycle. Seventeen of the 27 non-matriculating students who attended the 2016 SPFD are now in medical school.

“Considering the fact that Brody had nearly 1,100 applications for 86 places this year,” Ray said, “SPFD greatly increases a student’s odds of gaining admission to medical school.”

Lopez’s sights are set on that path as well, now that her SPFD experience cemented her belief that medical school is the right fit for her.

“If there’s one thing this program did, it reassured me that dedicating my life to medicine would make me the happiest person on earth,” she said. “The SPFD program is definitely one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Through my experience, I learned how to get through tough times, ways to maximally utilize resources and most importantly, that I have to tools to be successful.”

 

-by Spaine Stephens, University Communications

Brody administrator named fellow in newest class of emerging women leaders

A dean at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine has been awarded an international fellowship that recognizes her potential for executive leadership in academic medicine.

Dr. Leigh Patterson, associate dean for faculty development at Brody, has been named a 2018–19 Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine®(ELAM®) fellow.

Dr. Leigh Patterson

Dr. Leigh Patterson (Contributed photo)

The ELAM program is a year-long, part-time fellowship for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry, public health and pharmacy. The program hones the professional and personal skills required to lead and manage in today’s health care environment, with emphasis on the unique challenges facing women in leadership positions.

“To have Brody’s first ELAM fellow in many years is a testament to Dr. Patterson’s excellent reputation and vital experiences that make her stand out as a leader,” said Brody’s dean, Dr. Mark Stacy, who nominated Patterson for the fellowship. “She is committed to her development as a leader and to helping the Brody School of Medicine support its faculty and reach its full potential in all mission areas.”

The highly competitive ELAM program was developed for senior women faculty at the associate or full professor level who demonstrate the greatest potential for assuming executive leadership positions at academic health centers within the next five years.

The program is organized around three curricular threads: organizational perspectives and knowledge (a mini-executive MBA); emerging issues in leadership and academic health administration; and personal and professional development. Patterson will complete assessments and assignments online and attend sessions at designated locations around the country, including ELAM’s home institution, the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.

One requirement of the fellowship is to conduct an Institutional Action Project, developed in collaboration with the fellow’s dean or other senior official. These action projects are designed to address an institutional or departmental need or priority.

“We are extremely excited to see the impact these women will have on their institutions as they work through the ELAM curriculum and develop their action projects,” said Dr. Nancy D. Spector, executive director of ELAM. “The projects the fellows conduct not only help them understand the challenges facing academic health centers and the skills a leader must possess to address these challenges, but also often result in concrete changes at their institutions.”

Patterson has served in a variety of leadership roles, including associate dean, residency program director, chair of Brody’s Executive Curriculum Committee, leader for the school’s recent curriculum transformation work and administrator in faculty development. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Her interests include exploring ways to preserve and optimize medical education and better defining faculty roles and titles.

“I want to grow the Office of Faculty Development here, and I believe this opportunity will help me,” Patterson said. “Many faculty affairs deans around the country have participated in this fellowship and attribute their successes in leading programs and initiatives to the lessons they learned there.”

Patterson is part of the 24th class of ELAM fellows, composed of 60 women from 53 institutions around the world. She joins two women leaders from Duke University to round out North Carolina’s 2018 contingent. Nearly 1,000 ELAM alumnae hold leadership positions in academic health centers.

 

-by Spaine Stephens, University Communications

ECU Physicians nurse practitioner earns dermatology certification

A nurse practitioner with ECU Physicians has earned a certification in dermatology.

Erin McGillicuddy Hurd has been awarded the Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner (DCNP) designation by the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board (DNCB) – a certification held by only two others in the state and 270 individuals nationwide. While many nurse practitioners and physician assistants work in specialized fields, only a small percentage of them are board-certified in their specialty.

Erin McGillicuddy Hurd

Erin McGillicuddy Hurd (Contributed photo)

For the past four years, Hurd has worked in ECU Physicians’ dermatology clinic, seeing patients from across eastern North Carolina.

The Greenville native holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Wake Forest University, a bachelor’s in nursing from ECU’s College of Nursing and a master’s from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Erin has been an incredible addition to ECU Dermatology,” said ECU dermatologist Dr. William Burke. “Her compassionate care as well as her tremendous increase in knowledge of dermatology has been a welcome help in meeting the high demand for dermatologic patient care in eastern North Carolina.”

“I want my patients here at ECU to know that I was trained by the most amazing teachers North Carolina has to offer,” said Hurd. “I want to truly show what an amazing program ECU Dermatology is, and me passing the certification test is just a testament to that. I am ecstatic to be a part of this prestigious group.”

Hurd and her colleagues see patients at ECU’s Moye Medical Center, 517 Moye Blvd. in Greenville. Appointments can be made by calling 252-744-3109.

 

-Contact: Kelly Rogers Dilda, Health Sciences Communications, rogerske@ecu.edu, 252-744-2232

Eastern AHEC, ECU and Camp Lejeune partner on new military-civilian cardiac conference

More than 250 military and civilian health professionals came together for a new educational conference entitled Premature Cardiac Death in Eastern North Carolina on May 8 at Camp Lejeune.

Held at Camp Lejeune, the first Premature Cardiac Death in Eastern North Carolina conference brought together more than 250 military and civilian health professionals. (Photos by Jackie Drake)

Held at Camp Lejeune, the first Premature Cardiac Death in Eastern North Carolina conference brought together more than 250 military and civilian health professionals. (Photos by Jackie Drake)

This collaboration allowed physicians, nurses, first responders and others to share and discuss best practices for prevention, intervention and emergency response for cardiac events and cardiovascular disease. The conference was jointly provided by Eastern Area Health Education Center Department of Nursing and Allied Health Education, the Office of Continuing Medical Education and the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, in partnership with Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.

Dr. D. Lynn Morris, chief of interventional cardiology at the East Carolina Heart Institute and professor of cardiovascular sciences at the Brody School of Medicine, spoke at the conference at Camp Lejeune.

Dr. D. Lynn Morris, chief of interventional cardiology at the East Carolina Heart Institute and professor of cardiovascular sciences at the Brody School of Medicine, spoke at the conference at Camp Lejeune.

The program was a success, according to Dr. Mary Wilson, assistant director for nursing education at Eastern AHEC. “Participants were able to gain a deeper understanding of the various types of cardiovascular disease that impact many in our region, current treatment guidelines and research findings,” Wilson said. “Overall, the conference provided an opportunity to learn about the unique health care needs of eastern North Carolina and facilitate joint efforts to coordinate patient care for both military and civilian populations.”

More than 18,000 people in North Carolina died from heart disease in 2016, according to the State Center for Health Statistics. A number of counties in the east, such as Lenoir and Jones, have cardiovascular disease death rates above that of the state. This issue also affects military personnel.

“Events like this allow us to learn from one another,” said Capt. James Hancock, commanding officer of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, during opening remarks. “We each bring something unique, different capabilities to the table, and today we have an opportunity to share those talents and education. The future of health care in eastern North Carolina depends on us working side-by-side.”

Mildred Carraway, director of continuing medical, pharmacy and dental education at Eastern AHEC, shakes hands with Capt. James Hancock, commanding officer of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.

Mildred Carraway, director of continuing medical, pharmacy and dental education at Eastern AHEC, shakes hands with Capt. James Hancock, commanding officer of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.

“I was really excited about collaborating with the military health care system,” said Dr. J. Paul Mounsey, chief of electrophysiology at the East Carolina Heart Institute. “I enjoyed interacting with the military physicians. We got a lot of positive feedback and the participants asked great questions. There was a good exchange of ideas. There is huge potential for the future in our goal of improving health care in eastern North Carolina.”

Upcoming continuing education and professional development events from Eastern AHEC include a Military Women’s Health Symposium on Sept. 19 and a Cardiovascular Symposium on Dec. 6. For more information, visit www.easternahec.net.

 

-by Jackie Drake, Eastern AHEC

Clinton’s lead surgeon returns to Brody for lecture

The chest surgeon who led the team that once operated on former President Bill Clinton gave a lecture at the East Carolina Heart Institute on April 25.

The surgeon, Dr. Joshua Sonett, graduated with honors from East Carolina University’s medical school in 1988. He is chief of general thoracic surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, professor of surgical oncology at CUMC, and the director of the The Price Family Center for Comprehensive Chest Care and the Lung and Esophageal Center.

Dr. Joshua Sonett gives a lecture titled “Thymectomy in Myasthenia Gravis: Surgical Evolution and Proof in Benign and Malignant Disease” at the East Carolina Heart Institute on April 25.

Dr. Joshua Sonett gives a lecture titled “Thymectomy in Myasthenia Gravis: Surgical Evolution and Proof in Benign and Malignant Disease” at the East Carolina Heart Institute on April 25. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

In the 2005 surgery on Clinton, Sonett and his colleagues removed scar tissue that built up following Clinton’s quadruple bypass operation earlier that year.

“That was a privilege to get to know and treat President Clinton, and it was just like every other patient, believe it or not,” Sonett said. “I like going to my patients’ bedside and chatting about things, getting to know them as a person, and it was the same with Clinton. He did talk about the Middle East maybe more than other patients,” he added with a chuckle.

The importance of getting to know his patients was instilled in him at Brody. Sonett recalled having to write pages of patients’ social histories as a medical student.

“It was just as important to get to know them as it was to know their health needs,” he said.

Now, he loves being close with his patients.

Sonett’s lecture was part of the Brody School of Medicine’s cardiovascular sciences grand rounds, which are weekly topic-and case-based presentations by members of the faculty providing up-to-date knowledge about timely issues in medicine. In it, he described his involvement in a 10-year study on a disease called myasthenia gravis that can make it hard for people to breathe and walk around.

Brody School of Medicine’s cardiovascular sciences faculty attend Dr. Joshua Sonett’s lecture on April 25.

Brody School of Medicine’s cardiovascular sciences faculty attend Dr. Joshua Sonett’s lecture on April 25.

“Surgeons for years had been taking out the thymus, although it wasn’t clear if that surgery improved the patients’ lives,” Sonett said. “This study definitively proved that the surgery helped. That’s one of the highlights of my career that I was involved in that.”

Although Sonett now works for a different medical school, he said he is thankful for his education from Brody.

“There are so many good med schools around the country, and I think I was blessed to come to ECU. It was a very young med school at the time…it was a great learning environment. There’s no limits to what you can do here, graduating from here.”

 

Related: Clinton’s lead surgeon is ECU medical school graduate 

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Dr. Emmanuel Zervos named to Raab Professorship

Mary Raab presented Emmanuel Zervos with the Raab Professorship of Adult Oncology at a celebration Thursday. (Photos by Candace Darden)

Mary Raab presented Emmanuel Zervos with the Raab Professorship of Adult Oncology at a celebration Thursday. (Photos by Candace Darden)

After years of preparation, an endowed professorship through the East Carolina University Medical & Health Sciences Foundation was conferred on its first recipient Thursday at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville.

Dr. Emmanuel Zervos was named the inaugural Raab Professor of Adult Oncology. Zervos is a surgical oncologist at the Brody School of Medicine, the vice chair of academic affairs for ECU’s Department of Surgery, and chief of surgical oncology at Vidant Medical Center. Dr. Zervos has dedicated his career to the study and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The professorship is named for Drs. Mary and Spencer Raab, who played a pivotal role in establishing the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center and remain iconic figures in the fight against cancer for patients in eastern North Carolina. Mary Raab joined the ECU oncology department in 1977, eventually becoming the first female chief of medical staff at what is now Vidant Medical Center. Spencer Raab led the first Division of Hematology/Oncology until his death from cancer in 1993. The Raab professorship was established that same year, but was not awarded to anyone until this week.

“We’ve been waiting for the right time and this is absolutely the right time, because of Dr. Zervos,” Mary Raab said. “He truly exemplifies the individual we wanted to fulfil the professorship in many ways through his dedication to patient care, his teaching, his mentoring and his research.”

Emmanuel Zervos accepts the Raab Professorship at a celebration at the East Carolina Heart Institute Thursday. 

Emmanuel Zervos accepts the Raab Professorship at a celebration at the East Carolina Heart Institute Thursday.

Being named to a professorship is both an honor to the named holder of the appointment and also an enduring tribute to the donor who establishes it. The Raab Professorship is conferred upon a Brody School of Medicine faculty member who works closely with and has both adult clinical and research duties associated with the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. Appointments are made by the Dean of the Brody School of Medicine in consultation with the director of the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center and the chair of the department of oncology. Professors are appointed to a five-year term with the ability to renew the professorship for one or more successive terms.

Recognizing the continued contributions of senior-level faculty as well as providing funds to push the frontiers of their scholarship are key functions of the endowed positions. The funds can propel research, extend outreach and support future faculty achievements.

Zervos said he was surprised to be named to the professorship but was “extremely humble and grateful to the Raab family.”

“It’s a singular honor for any academic,” he added.

Zervos said he has no plans on how he will use his professorship funds yet, but hopes it will help enhance the educational mission of the cancer program as well as the facilitation of patient care.

Endowed professorships are also crucial for recruiting and retaining the highest-quality faculty, Mary Raab said, thus ensuring ECU has the best minds that in turn attract the best students. It’s also a way to acknowledge the years of effort that she and Spencer Raab put in to advance cancer treatments in North Carolina.

“I hope that people will recognize my and Spencer’s contributions over the years,and I just want people to know that where we are today depends on what so many other people did in the past,” she said. “I hope it will be a reminder to everybody that the hard work paid off and we can continue to build on what we have and hopefully in the future have more professorships.”

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

Dean emeritus receives medal for contributions to medical profession

Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean emeritus of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, was recently honored in New York City for his contributions to the medical profession and for his achievements in academic leadership.

Cunningham was awarded the 2018 Jacobi Medallion on March 15 from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Cunningham, who served as dean at Brody from 2008 to 2016, completed his residency in surgery at Mount Sinai. He said he was humbled to receive the award, which ties him back to the roots of a strong foundation for his career in service, responsibility and medical expertise.

Dr. Paul R. G. Cunningham, dean emeritus of the Brody School of Medicine, was awarded the 2018 Jacobi Medallion for excellence in the medical profession from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. (Contributed photo)

Dr. Paul R. G. Cunningham, dean emeritus of the Brody School of Medicine, was awarded the 2018 Jacobi Medallion for excellence in the medical profession from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. (Contributed photo)

“The only way I’ve assimilated this is by making the analogous connection between the story of the prodigal son, and this welcome by the vaunted institution on 5th Avenue,” he said.

While the return to New York was nostalgic for Cunningham, faculty at Mount Sinai voiced admiration for his game-changing contributions to the field of medicine and to education.

“Dr. Paul Cunningham represents the very best of our profession,” said Dr. Reena Karani, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and curricular affairs at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. “He dedicated his professional life to serving the most vulnerable in North Carolina and remains committed to equity and social justice in medicine.”

Karani “re-introduced” Cunningham to Mount Sinai, getting to know him in a professional setting and witnessing his encompassing knowledge and passion for medicine as well as his penchant for leadership.

“He listens carefully, acknowledges strengths, seeks a shared understanding of issues and promotes collaborative problem solving,” she said.

A surgeon by training, Cunningham was named Brody’s fifth dean in 2008. Previously an ECU trauma surgeon and educator, Cunningham as dean led the school in its devotion to producing primary care physicians for the state, increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities in medical education and improving the health status of the citizens of eastern North Carolina. He recently completed a stint as president of the North Carolina Medical Society.

His time at ECU, he said, melded with his experience at Mount Sinai to be the best of both worlds, with much of his career achievement happening at ECU.

“Greenville and the Brody School of Medicine have commonalities with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai,” he said, “and at the same time, we are worlds apart. I am clearly a product of both environments, but the greatest demonstration of any competency that I may have had has been in this place, ‘down here.’”

The Jacobi Medallion has been awarded by the Mount Sinai Alumni since 1952 for distinguished achievement in the field of medicine or extraordinary service to the hospital, the Icahn School of Medicine or to the Alumni Association.

Cunningham was one of nine 2018 Jacobi Medallion recipients.

He expressed his appreciation to Mount Sinai, and said its faculty encouraged him to press beyond his comfort zone and his own vision for himself and his potential.

“I achieved much more than I could have imagined when I thought that I wanted to be a surgeon at age 16,” Cunningham said. “Life comes at you with different opportunities at different times, and keeping and cultivating a sense of wonder can really open up exhilarating experiences.”

 

-by Spaine Stephens, University Communications

Kickoff event set for regional program to provide better health data at lower cost

Representatives for dozens of not-for-profit hospitals and county health departments will be on hand March 6 for the kickoff of a regional program aiming to provide its participants with better health data at a lower cost.

The Office of Health Access in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, working with the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation in Cary, secured a $320,000 award from The Duke Endowment last year to help establish a standardized regional community health needs assessment process in eastern North Carolina.

To date, 23 hospitals and health departments representing 32 different counties have agreed to take part in the Eastern N.C. Regional CHNA program, which will help to streamline both the data collection and reporting aspects of the health needs assessments they must conduct.

Hospitals are currently required by the Internal Revenue Service to conduct these assessments every three years, while the state Division of Public Health requires local health departments to conduct essentially the same assessments every four years.

The new program, which standardizes the methodology and synchronizes the assessment process, will enable the participating entities to conduct the surveys on the same three-year cycles.

“It’s going to deliver better data and more consistent data, data that can be compared and contrasted across county lines. Never before have we really been able to do that,” said Al Delia, director of Brody’s Office of Health Access. “And in terms of the cost, the economy of scale and the centralizing of the process will save money overall and most of the counties and hospitals will see quite a significant cost savings.”

Tuesday’s kickoff event will also serve as the announcement of the private company that was awarded the contract to assist with the data collection, analysis and writing of the county-level reports.

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6 in the conference room of the Eastern AHEC building, located at 2600 W. Arlington Blvd. in Greenville.

Kickoff Agenda

 

-Contact: Rob Spahr, ECU Health Sciences Communications, spahrr18@ecu.edu, 252-744-2482

Dr. Jennifer Arnold of ‘The Little Couple’ encourages ECU students to think big

The star of TLC Network’s, “The Little Couple,” Dr. Jennifer Arnold, was the keynote speaker for East Carolina University’s 2018 North Carolina Civility summit on Saturday, Feb. 17. She encouraged students to adopt her personal motto, “think big,” to achieve life’s goals.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold was the keynote speaker for ECU’s 2018 NC Civility Summit.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold was the keynote speaker for ECU’s 2018 NC Civility Summit. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The purpose of the Civility Summit is to create constructive dialogue to find solutions to address real-world challenges and face significant societal issues. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in sessions to discuss topics that included Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and climate change.

Born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, which results in short stature and skeletal abnormalities, Arnold endured 30 surgeries as a child. Those experiences in the hospital and the influence of her childhood surgeon led her to dream of one day becoming a physician.

“I wanted to give back to other kids so they could have a healthy, happy life,” said Arnold.

She is now a physician and was named director of the Simulation Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2017. She was previously the director of the Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital. During her conversation with students in Mendenhall Student Center, Arnold discussed the difficulty she faced when applying to medical school because people couldn’t see beyond her disability to notice her abilities.

According to Arnold, she attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University because it was the only program she encountered where the instructors did not doubt what she could do based on her size.

Arnold is neonatologist and stars in the TLC Network’s docu-drama, “The Little Couple.”

Arnold is neonatologist and stars in the TLC Network’s docu-drama, “The Little Couple.”

She pointed out the importance of the profession being more inclusive for people with disabilities and that .02 percent of people who graduate from medical school have a disability. She hopes to raise awareness for more inclusion in the medical profession. She knew becoming a trauma surgeon was unlikely due to her size. She joked that she chose her field, neonatology, because the patients were always smaller than her.

“It is possible to become a doctor but we have to focus on areas that promotes our strengths,” said Arnold. “My small hands made it easier for me to do some of the procedures,” she said.

“The Little Couple” follows Arnold, her husband and two children as they navigate life as little people in a world designed for people of average size. The show has been on for 10 seasons and has captured the couple’s early years of marriage and now, their most recent adventure in becoming parents and Arnold’s successful battle with cancer.

“When a great opportunity comes your way – even though it may be scary or hard – sometimes you have to try for it,” said Arnold.

The Civility Summit was open to ECU community members and included a closing session with Arnold to wrap up the day’s discussions.

“It was great; I loved it; super inspirational. I want to go to med school too,” said ECU senior Cristina Derespinis of Arnold’s presentation. “Events like this are important for awareness of things that are going on in our community and around the world. With the diverse people in our world, it’s important to get information from different perspectives,” she said.

Jon Cockerham, a junior studying political science and communications, is a committee member for the 2018 event. He said the Civility Summit allows students to exercise having civil dialogue around controversial topics with people who have differing views.

“What we’re seeing more of now is toxic dialogue, with people yelling at each other instead of sitting and listening to what the other person is saying and actually hearing them,” said Cockerham. “So, today is all about having that civil dialogue where you may disagree with the person but you’re still talking about the issue.”

 

-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services

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