Feb 062013
 

“Culture” is all around us—even at the Brody School of Medicine. People may not think of culture as an everyday part of academia or work life here at Brody, but our beliefs and behaviors are ever-present, daily influencing our environment. One of the goals of the BSOM Office of Diversity Affairs (ODA) is to bring a consciousness to our cultures by celebrating diversity, promoting awareness, and valuing differences through programming, activities, and ongoing projects.

One of the ongoing projects of the BSOM Office of Diversity Affairs is the Faces of Brody. The ODA sponsors the Faces of Brody project to promote diversity awareness, inclusion, and appreciation of differences among our BSOM community. Each month,  we feature students, staff, faculty, and administrators (picture and diversity bio) on the first-floor North hall bulletin board. The diversity bio enables participants to express why they feel diversity is important at BSOM, what diversity means to them, interesting facts about themselves, and highlights of their diversity identity.

Another means for promoting cultural awareness is through educational programming such as Diversity Week. Annually, the Diversity Representative of the second year medical class collaborates with ODA to organize a week of daily programs on topics such as race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation/sexual identity. This year, Diversity Week is Feb. 11-14 and includes a panel of students representing various religions on Monday, a gender-and-healthcare talk on Tuesday, an LGBT health presentation from ECU’s Resource Office Director on Wednesday, and a multi-generational panel of African American physicians on Thursday. Diversity Week will end with performances from Dark Water Rising, an award-winning contemporary Native American group, and Bourbon Rebellion, a group comprised of members from BSOM, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at Tipsy Teapot in downtown Greenville.

These are just a few efforts of the Office of Diversity Affairs. To learn more about diversity and our programs visit us online at http://www.ecu.edu/bsomdiversityaffairs/ or email me at arringtonc@ecu.edu.

 Chanel Arrington

Diversity Coordinator

Brody School of Medicine Office of Diversity Affairs

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Feb 012013
 

You often hear about it–a senior driver mistakenly hits the gas pedal instead of the brake.  The tragic 2003 Santa Monica farmer’s market accident left 10 people dead and 63 injured after an 86 year old man accidently accelerated instead of braking. He unfortunately had previous accidents and there were reports that people had witnessed unsafe driving by him.

The reality is that most older adult drivers are safe drivers!  As one ages, older adults know that their reactions are slowed, their eyesight is less acute in the dark, so they accommodate by not driving at night and slowing their speeds.

Some older drivers may be aware of their failing ability, but still be reluctant to give up driving completely. For them, it’s another humiliating reminder of their growing inability to take care of themselves and manage the tasks of daily life.  Just imagine having to give up your license!  How do you get to the store, pharmacy, doctor, hairdresser or church?  So, it is understandable that no one wants to give up their driving before they have to. 

But how do we know when the time has come?  How do you know when a parent, grandparent or senior loved one is no longer safe behind the wheel?

There are the obvious physical signs–decreased vision, impaired hearing, slowed motor reflexes, memory problems.  There are red flags behind the wheel–sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, braking or accelerating suddenly without reason, frequent “close calls”, dents and scrapes on the car, or increased traffic tickets or “warnings” by law enforcement officers. 

The important thing is to remember that aging does not automatically equal total loss of driving ability.  It is not about age, but function.  At any age, someone may have a physical or cognitive issue that makes him or her a medically-at-risk driver. 

A research program, ROADI (Research for the Older Driver Initiative), in the ECU Department of Occupational Therapy focuses on older drivers retaining their freedom and independence while keeping them safe on the road.  ROADI has several research projects that are investigating the most effective and efficient methods of driving evaluation and intervention.  The program includes state of the art evaluation tools such as an interactive driving simulator that can challenge any type of driver in the safety of the clinic, a “Vision Coach” that evaluates visual field and processing speed, as well other tools to measure an individual’s cognitive, physical, sensory, and perceptual skills.  The ROADI team is active in several studies and welcome older adults to come get a free assessment of their driving knowledge and skills!

Dr. Anne Dickerson
Project Director and Occupational Therapy Professor