Jul 312012
 

We must preserve the past to learn from it.

That’s exactly why Laupus Library is home to The History Collections, which focus on materials relevant to the history of health care. Collections include historical materials from medicine, nursing, the allied health sciences, dentistry, pharmacology, public health and domestic health.

Materials dating from the sixteenth century into the twenty-first century are already part of this growing collection. Primary care practices in eastern North Carolina are a focus of the History Collections.

Although print is the primary format, the collection includes audio and video formats, microforms, electronic resources, photographs, artifacts, regalia, and manuscripts. The collection includes items as varied as 19th century microscopes to a book that reproduces an Egyptian surgical papyrus. 

Students often view these collections as part of a required undergraduate English class project where they research their planned major. For example, students planning to become dermatologists often focus their project on The Stereoscopic Skin Collection. This collection is like an atlas for skin diseases, mapped out by physicians before us. If you view the collection, be warned that some photos contain graphic content.

We’ve also received questions about these collections from as far away as Texas, showing that medical history – particularly some of the more gruesome photos – is of great interest to many people.

Given that it’s summer and a lot of us are spending time outdoors and in the sun, be sure to take extra care of your skin. You don’t want to end up with any of the conditions documented in our Skin Collection cards.

 

 –Dr. Dorothy A. Spencer, Laupus Library

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Jul 272012
 

Avoid fats, but not the good kind.
Get enough dairy. Go vegan.
Try the Atkins diet. Eat less saturated fat.
Drink more coffee. Drink less.

Sound familiar? This diet information overload is enough to make your head spin.

New research comes out every day about what we should and shouldn’t be consuming. And often, study results conflict, making it difficult for the average health-conscious consumer to decide what’s for lunch.

As an example, Harvard University researchers recently released a study linking a low-carb diet with higher risk of heart disease. According to a News & Observer article, the 16-year study found a diet low in carbohydrates could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke over the long term. Does this mean we should gorge ourselves on pasta and biscuits to boost our carb intake? Not likely.

Although not immediately clear from the headline, the relationship between heart risk and diet is not actually linked to carbs. It’s linked to increased protein intake. Those who ate fewer carbs tended to substitute those calories with protein. What kind of protein, exactly? Were the subjects eating grilled chicken and tofu or steak and bacon every day? We don’t know, but the saturated fat and cholesterol content would make a difference on heart health.

The ability to make healthy choices has become difficult for many reasons, one of which includes sweeping assumptions based on too little information. There is no magic bullet to cure our health woes, but we can all make healthier choices based on common sense. Increase intake of whole grains over processed foods, fruits and vegetables over junk food, water over sugary drinks.

Long-term health research, such as the study conducted by Harvard, is certainly important as we seek to curb the growing challenge of diabetes, heart disease and obesity in our country. These studies also help us uncover trends to research more thoroughly.

Despite valid findings, the medical community and news media should try to be more discerning in how we talk about this information. Consumers should think carefully before interpreting these messages. And physicians, nurses and dieticians must be a voice of clarity and reason.

Jul 242012
 

When the US Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012, it ruled that most of the ACA’s provisions are constitutional and therefore may be implemented.

One provision is the extension of insurance coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans by 2014.  Insurance companies will want a healthier population, and to have a healthier population, more primary care providers will need to be hired—30,000 by 2015 according to the experts.

Where will all these primary care providers come from?  There is already a shortage of doctors, and few expect much increase in the number in the coming years.

To help fill this looming health care gap, the ACA includes another provision—a provision recognizing physician assistants as primary care providers.  And this is good news for the health care industry.

PAs can be trained in a shorter period of time compared to physicians.  Their education is less expensive.  What limits the speed of training doctors are the residencies they must complete and the cost of their education.  Also, all PAs are trained as generalists.  They are ready for front-line primary care.

The Affordable Care Act also creates a new Prevention and Public Health Fund that will be used to boost the supply of primary care providers.  $32 million from this fund will be used to support the development of more than 600 new physician assistants. 

Additionally, PA students will be eligible for increased financial support though the National Health Service Corp’s scholarship and loan repayment programs, while PA educators will be eligible for increased funding support through the Public Health Service Act’s Title VII Health Professions Program.

The ECU Department of Physician Assistant Studies has been educating students to become a strong primary care workforce since 1997.  As part of its mission, the PA program prepares physician assistant graduates to enhance the access to primary medical care for the citizens of rural and medically underserved eastern North Carolina and beyond.

Julie Daniel-Yount, MHS, PA-C
Clinical Assistant Professor

Clinical Education Coordinator

Jul 202012
 

You may have noticed that some of your nurses now have Doctor on their name tag. This isn’t a typo or mistake. In fact, the standard education for a clinical, advanced practice nurse is changing. Instead of earning a master’s degree, many advance practice nurses (nurse practitioners, for example) will earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree or the DNP.

A  Doctor of Nursing Practice degree represents a nurse who has completed rigorous, graduate-level education with a clinical practice focus.  DNPs work as nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. You may find DNPs working as primary care providers in clinics and hospitals.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is similar to the degrees that pharmacists, optometrists, audiologists  and physical therapists now earn. The degree symbolizes a professional, healthcare provider who has completed the highest level of education for their field and has substantial experience treating patients in a clinical specialty.

Be sure to look for DNPs the next time you go for a check-up or a sick visit and know that you are receiving exceptional care!

Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, CNE
Dean, ECU College of Nursing

Jul 182012
 

If someone asked you to imagine a woman struggling to overcome bulimia or anorexia, your mind would likely conjure an image of a high school teen or college student.

 But, according to new research from the UNC-Chapel Hill, disordered eating affects women of all ages – not just adolescents. The problem is even scarier than one might guess. Some of the most concerning stats reported by the News & Observer include:

  • Among women age 50 and older, 62 percent had frequent concerns about their shape, a few times a week or more.
  • Four out of five indicated their body image played the most important role in their self-perception.
  • A full 71 percent were trying to lose weight.

  “This study is consistent with others indicating that disordered eating may span the lifetime for some women,” noted Dr. Irma Coral, Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Medicine.

 Although we often talk about the detrimental effects of a nation plagued by obesity, a lifetime of disordered eating is also a step in the wrong direction. Skinny does not necessarily equal “healthy.” Health consequences of disordering eating include heart and gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and tooth decay (as purging can erode enamel on teeth).

 “Unfortunately, disordered eating habits in conjunction with weight-related body image concerns tend to only perpetuate problems with weight and self-perception. Working with a mental health provider can help women to focus on healthy eating and separate self-worth from weight,” added Dr. Brandon Kyle, Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Medicine.

 Plastic surgery and airbrushed magazine pages often make it hard to discern what a normal person should look like. Expectations of our bodies are skewed, and it’s clearly a problem – even for mothers and grandmothers.

 This study is a reminder to families, peers and health care providers that numbers on a scale do not determine a person’s physical well-being. A positive body image, healthy diet (different from “on a diet”) and regular physical activity are always good measure.

 If you are concerned that a patient or loved one may be struggling with disordered eating habits, remember that a professional psychological evaluation can assist in establishing a diagnosis and in developing a treatment plan for girls and women of a variety of ages.  Such services are available locally at the ECU Physicians Health Psychology Service within the ECU Department of Psychiatric Medicine.

For more information on eating disorders, visit: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

–Dr. Irma Corral, Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatric Medicine

 –Dr. Brandon Kyle, Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatric Medicine