Medical students flourish with family support

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on Medical students flourish with family support
Aug 312012

Classes have begun for the Brody Class of 2016. Eighty new students have entered the Brody School of Medicine to fulfill their dream of becoming a physician. New medical students experience a wide range of emotions in the first weeks of their medical education: excitement, fear, trepidation, etc. The experience is unique for each student. However, one commonality amongst all students is their need for a strong and effective support system. The rigorous schedule and volumes of information to be mastered by first year medical students can be more easily traversed if they have a network of family members and close friends that understand the demands and expectations they face and offer some life-balance opportunities and a listening ear in times of need.

To prepare families for this life-changing transition, BSOM holds a family orientation at the conclusion of the first week of the academic year. This special orientation is designed to inform family members of the many facets of Brody life. The school’s educational leaders, including the Dean of the BSOM, begin the orientation by explaining the curriculum: the schedule, the course topics, dates for block testing, etc., in which each student will participate. By visualizing the challenges that lie ahead for the student, family members and others in the student’s support network are better equipped to provide an understanding and nurturing environment outside of the classroom. Parents, spouses and friends also learn about the broad array of student support services offered at BSOM, including individual academic counseling, student organizations, health care services, and recreational opportunities. Brody’s Better Half, made up of the spouses of current students, offers sessions for students and their spouses to extend additional family support and networking. Together, BSOM strives to balance academic achievement with fulfilling and meaningful lives outside of the classroom.

The culmination of the orientation week is the White Coat Ceremony. At this ceremony, new students are welcomed to the BSOM family. Senior educators don the students with their very first white coat, a long-standing symbol worn by medical professionals that creates a psychological contract for both the compassionate care and scientific proficiency that will be expected of them from this moment forward. For this event, the Brody Auditorium was full – of upper-class students, family members, faculty and staff – all of whom will now create the web that surrounds our 80 new students and supports their growth and development to become tomorrow’s physicians.

We celebrate all of our students, families and spouses as the Class of 2016 embarks upon this journey. The BSOM family will be with you every step of the way.

Elizabeth (Libby) G. Baxley, MD
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs


Put your best voice forward!

 College of Allied Health Sciences  Comments Off on Put your best voice forward!
Aug 282012

For the Baby Boomer generation, there is no such thing as growing old gracefully.  The quest to look younger, feel younger, act younger—and even sound younger–is the ultimate goal. 

Does the voice really change with age?  Research shows that older peoples’ voices often develop breathiness, weakness and loss of range or quality, which can sometimes be perceived as an “old” voice.

The voice can change for a variety of reasons.  Vocal cords are muscles.  In women, the change in hormones around menopause will affect their structure, making them heavier. This will cause the pitch they produce to drop.

For both men and women, there are other changes – first, respiratory volume decreases with age and this affects the vocal cords. Decreased volume and speed of airflow usually means a lower pitch for both genders.  The more erratic the airflow, the more “hoarse” a person can sound, too. 

Also, the vocal folds themselves can change as we age.  The muscle can show signs of atrophy which means the vocal cords cannot move their entire range of motion. This produces a more monotone sound and often some air in the voice which we call breathiness.  This can decrease the volume (loudness) with which one speaks. 

So, is there anything people can do to sound “younger”?  Keep using your voice!  The voice does respond to use and exercise so if you are someone who loves to sing in church, keep doing it, even if it doesn’t sound like it used to.  Try to read aloud at a comfortable loud level each day for about 5 minutes to “exercise” the muscles of voice and respiration.  Exercise, stay healthy, and get good sleep!  The voice is responsive to our overall well-being, so the stronger you feel, the better your voice will respond. 

Generally, as people age, sounding younger isn’t as important as sounding clear.  Voice is a very complex task and it requires coordination of many body functions.  However, “poor voice quality” is not a normal change in aging and anyone having difficulty with their voice or believing that their voice is not sounding “normal” should consult with a speech-language pathologist with experience in voice disorders or an otolaryngologist (ENT) with experience in voice disorders.  Here at ECU, the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic is able to do voice evaluations and if needed, refer patients to an ENT.

Dr. Kathy Cox, Associate Professor
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Nursing Job Opportunities Increase

 College of Nursing  Comments Off on Nursing Job Opportunities Increase
Aug 242012

The Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28 and this historic decision puts nursing programs in an interesting position.  Even in a time of budget shortfalls, ECU College of Nursing is looking to the future with optimism and a sense of opportunity.

HealtheCareers’ second quarter Healthcare Jobs Snapshot confirms the opportunities that exist in the nursing profession. The number of job openings for nurse practitioners increased 16% and the number of vacancies for Registered Nurses increased 40% during the second quarter.

Today, nurse practitioners have prescription writing authority in all states and provide valuable patient care services in roles such as family, adult, women’s health, pediatrics, psych/mental health, and nurse-midwifery. Nurse practitioners will provide healthcare to many of the 30 million people who gain coverage under the new law.

Registered Nurses are needed to fill positions vacated by retiring nurses. One caveat with the increased need for nurses is that vacancies occur in advanced positions and hospitals are seeking seasoned nurses to fill these openings. As seasoned nurses accept advanced positions, new nurses will see openings in entry-level positions.

Yes, budgets are tight and nursing programs are feeling the economic impact, but nursing programs must continue to seek ways to expand offerings to meet the needs created by the Affordable Care Act.

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

New exhibit illustrates timeless importance of community dentistry

 Laupus Library, School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on New exhibit illustrates timeless importance of community dentistry
Aug 172012

In celebration of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s soon-to-be-opened Ross Hall, Laupus Library will host an exhibit on the history of dental medicine as told through the stories of two rural dentists looking to preserve a piece of history.

One practiced dentistry until age 92. The other established the first dental practice in Kitty Hawk.

Elevating Practices: The Lifework of Two Rural Dentists” is a unique display of dental medicine artifacts available for viewing on the 4th floor of Laupus Library beginning August 15.

The exhibit tells a story that ECU’s future dental graduates hope to perpetuate with their own careers: Dentistry is not just about fixing teeth; it’s an opportunity to improve overall health for rural and underserved patients across the state.

The historic dental instruments, supplies and equipment on display were originally owned and used by Samuel B. Milford, DDS (1864-1956) in his practice in Poolesville, Maryland. An active dentist until the very end of his life, he extracted three teeth for a Poolesville resident just three weeks before his death on June 10, 1956 at the age of 92.

Dr. Roger W.R. Sears, DDS of Moyock, NC purchased Dr. Milford’s collection of dental items in the 1950s and displayed them at his dental practice in Kitty Hawk – the town’s very first dental practice – until he retired in 2007. In 2011, Dr. Sears gave his collection of dental artifacts to The Country Doctor Museum.

The doctors’ tools – now artifacts – show us just how far dental technology has progressed in the past century. But while the tools have changed, the need remains for dedicated community dentists similar to Drs. Milford and Sears.

Among the items to be exhibited are Dr. Milford’s examination chair (ca. 1900), dental cabinet and various dental instruments. The artifacts have been temporarily housed at Laupus Library for identification and conservation. ECU graduate students Whitney Petrey and Emily Powell have worked to organize, document and conserve the Sears dentistry collection.

For additional information on this exhibit, go to  For additional information on the items in the Sears collection, visit the Digital Collections at East Carolina University

–Dr. Dorothy A. Spencer, Director of Laupus Library

Aug 102012

Both professions play important, specialized roles and, in many situations, both are called in to help patients in their recovery.

The focus for both physical and occupational therapists is helping their patients regain lost function and improve the quality of their lives whether it be at home, at school, at work or in their leisure activities.   However, the therapeutic activities that physical and occupational therapists emphasize to achieve these outcomes differ.

Let’s use an example of a gentleman, Mr. Smith, who has sustained a stroke and is being seen by both a physical therapist and an occupational therapist in an inpatient rehabilitation setting.

As a result of the stroke, Mr. Smith is having difficulty performing a number of daily activities.  If he needs a wheelchair to move around, the physical therapist will help Mr. Smith select an appropriate wheelchair and teach him how to use it.  During physical therapy, Mr. Smith will learn how to maneuver around the bed and transfer to different surfaces such as getting in and out of a chair or car and getting up and down from the floor.  The physical therapist will also work with Mr. Smith to help him regain the ability to walk including managing obstacles such as curbs, ramps and stairs using assistive devices as necessary.

During occupational therapy sessions, Mr. Smith will learn how to perform common daily tasks such as bathing, shaving, toileting, and dressing.  If Mr. Smith requires assistance during his meals, the occupational therapist will provide adaptive utensils to help him with feeding.  Occupational therapy places emphasis on using the smaller muscles of the hands and fingers and will work with Mr. Smith to regain control of these fine motor movements for activities such as dialing a telephone or buttoning his shirt.  The occupational therapist will also work with Mr. Smith if he needs help with running a household including cooking, cleaning and paying bills.

It would not be uncommon to see an occupational therapist assisting Mr. Smith to walk, or to see a physical therapist helping Mr. Smith to put on his shirt in this inpatient setting.  However, the occupational and physical therapists are typically doing these activities so Mr. Smith is ready to move on to other activities that are more specific to their respective professions.

Sue Leach, PT, Ph.D., NCS
Assistant Professor