Apr 302013
 

kenwidmerApril is Counseling Awareness Month, a time when all counselors make an effort to help the public better understand their profession, the work they do, and the contributions they make to the communities they serve.

Ken Widmer, a student in the online substance abuse graduate certificate program, tells why he chose this field.

My name is Ken Widmer and I live in Wasilla, Alaska. I have a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling, but only worked in this field for a few years. I enjoyed the work, but I was young and looking for something more exciting.  I chose to become a firefighter for the Anchorage Fire Department where I worked for 31 years, before I was forced to retire because of a debilitating injury.

I have always had a desire to help people, which is one of the reasons I chose to be a firefighter and why I am currently enrolled in the substance abuse certificate program at ECU. Working as a firefighter, I had firsthand experience with the homeless, alcoholics and drug abusers in Anchorage. Over the years, I came to the realization that they were not that different from what society considers “normal people.” Many were quite intelligent and had skills that would provide them with all those things necessary to be a member in good standing in society except:  a few bad decisions, genetic factors, being born in the wrong place, a predisposition toward addiction, coming from a dysfunctional family, etc.

My plan is to return to work to see if I can help people like this make changes that will improve the quality of their life. The classes that I have taken through ECU have taught me that there is no simple solution to substance abuse, but I feel that whatever difference I can make will be worth the effort.

In my life time I have dealt with many people whose job it is to help the sick, the drug addicted and the mentally ill. Some are great while others make you wonder why they are in this line of work. My advice to those that are planning to enter this field is to go to an AA meeting or a NA meeting, volunteer with the homeless. Instead of passing the street person, stop and talk to them. If after doing this, you do not feel empathy for them, then, in my opinion, you have chosen the wrong field.

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Apr 262013
 

Random acts of kindness go a long way toward putting a smile on someone’s face and reshaping a not-so-great day into a special memory that impacts not just the recipient but everyone that person comes in contact with that day.

Next week, imagine how many people you can touch by taking a moment to thank a nurse for a job well-done. First, you will bring a smile to the nurse. Then, the nurse will unknowingly share that smile with patients and colleagues throughout the day and those people will pass the gesture along to the people they interact with. In a busy clinic or hospital, your simple “thank you” to a nurse will touch hundreds of people.

We celebrate National Nurse’s Week in early May to coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Just as Nightingale tirelessly cared for soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856), our nurses care for all types of patients—some are very sick and others are generally healthy.

Make plans to surprise a nurse with a random act of kindness during Nurse’s Week and know that your thoughtful expression will not only make the nurse’s day, but you will share kindness with many people who may need a boost. You will never know it, but your actions may help a patient overcome a frightening diagnosis or help a young family cope with grief. What a terrific way to say thank you and honor our nurses!

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

Apr 182013
 

Anyone who’s ever fired up Firefox is familiar with YouTube, Vimeo and other free – and often entertaining – sources of streaming videos. We know those sites are great for sneezing pandas and keyboard-typing cats, but what if you’re looking for an instructional video on an important topic in your area of research?

ECU libraries subscribe to a number of authoritative video sources that cover a huge variety of educational topics, including the health sciences. The sources below are particularly useful to our Division of Health Sciences community:

Laupus Library provides access to all of these video streaming services both on and off-campus; Health Sciences community members need only enter their PirateID. So, just like YouTube, members of the Health Sciences community can watch from their couches.

And because many of the links are sharable, it’s easy for students and faculty to link to the actual videos from within BlackBoard or a class website, making the learning experience more interactive. These videos are another example of how Laupus Library – and the entire ECU campus – continues adopting forward-thinking learning tools that meet our students where they already are: online.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to access and use these videos, please Contact Us at Laupus for more information.

–Beth Ketterman
Laupus Library

Apr 122013
 
Sam Sears accepts the O. Max Gardner Award from UNC Board of Governors Chair Peter D. Hans  during an April 12 announcement at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Dr. Samuel F. Sears accepts the O. Max Gardner Award from UNC Board of Governors Chair Peter Hans. Sears will be featured on UNC-TV’s “N.C. Now” airing at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 15.  (Photo by ECU Photographer Jay Clark)

An East Carolina University professor has received the highest faculty honor bestowed by the University of North Carolina for his work to improve quality of life in heart patients.

The UNC Board of Governors named Dr. Samuel F. Sears, director of the doctoral program in health psychology, as the winner of the 2013 O. Max Gardner Award.

The honor pays tribute to one faculty member within the UNC system who, during the current academic year, made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race. Sears accepted the award at the Board of Governors’ monthly meeting at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke on April 12.

After a video on Sears and his work at ECU was shown to the board, UNC Board of Governors Chair Peter Hans called Sears to the podium saying, “You richly deserve this award.”

Sears received a standing ovation from the 150 people in attendance, including his parents, wife and sons, fellow ECU faculty members and Chancellor Steve Ballard.

“I have referred to this award as the academic Heisman for North Carolina,” Sears said. “The recognition…allows me to magnify the challenges of the future. Universities like ours have to respond.”

Sears is the world’s leading expert on the psychological implications for patients living with life-saving heart devices. The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can deliver a shock as strong as a mule’s kick when it detects potentially life-threatening heart arrhythmias. Sears works with patients to alleviate fear and anxiety in anticipation of shocks and to improve their overall quality of life.

He serves as a psychologist, patient advocate, researcher, and professor. His goals are to provide the latest information on coping strategies and to prepare tomorrow’s health psychologists to reach more patients.

The O. Max Gardner Award was created through the will of Oliver Max Gardner, the late senator, lieutenant governor and governor of North Carolina. It is the only award for which all faculty members at the 16 university-system institutions are eligible. The 2013 award carries a $20,000 cash prize.

Sears is the eighth ECU professor to earn the O. Max Gardner and only the second psychologist to win since the award’s creation in 1949. Most recently, he joins Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood, Jr., who won in 2004 for cardiothoracic surgery, and Dr. Walter J. Pories, who was named the winner for biochemistry in 2001.

Other past ECU professors awarded the O. Max Gardner Award are William E. Laupus, 1989, medicine; Edgar Loessin, 1986, theater; Stanley R. Riggs, 1983, geology; Francis Speight, 1975, art; and Ovid Williams Pierce, 1973, literature.

A profile of Sears will air Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. on UNC-TV’s “N.C. Now.”

Apr 122013
 

IMG_1674[1]aOTs are part of a vitally important profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

Meaghan Johnson, on an adaptive tricycle, is a second year ECU OT student. She describes why she decided to pursue occupational therapy.

I was first introduced to OT a few years ago when I was a teacher assistant in a pre-kindergarten special needs classroom. While there, I was able to observe the school OT as she worked with a few of our students within the classroom setting. But, it was when I observed a private OT session for a student that I was babysitting that I was really drawn to OT and knew it was the perfect career for me. The students’ OT had me sit in the room during the therapy session and explained all the things that she was doing and why she was doing them. She then explained activities and techniques that could be implemented in the classroom based on school related concerns that I mentioned. Her ideas resonated with me; I was able to immediately see how occupations can be used as a means to improve quality of life. I began researching more about the field- the more I learned, the more excited I became to start pursuing OT as a career.

 Tell me about being an OT student at East Carolina University.

I am a second year student in the OT program at ECU with only a few more weeks of classes remaining.  After completing the spring semester, I will begin two 3-month fieldwork experiences—one at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh and the other at Duke Hospital in Durham.  Although my time as a classroom student is coming to an end, I can look back at my time and see how much I have learned and grown from my experiences in this program. 

 There are 25 students in the OT program; we all have every class together except for labs where the class is split in half. Needless to say, we have grown very close to one another. Our program focuses on teaching us the fundamental skills we need to be competent therapists in whatever environment or setting we choose. Our curriculum is a balance of theory, assessments, and treatment techniques and how to implement these to address participation in daily life activities such as dressing, feeding, social participation and leisure activities. Our professors encourage us and want us all to succeed, not only in the classroom but out in the field as well. 

 We are all members of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA).  Through this organization we have had the opportunity to volunteer at events and programs like the Special Olympics and the Autism Society and participate in walks to raise money for ALS and Autism. We have also learned from educational events- like CarFit and non-violent crisis prevention.  These community activities have helped us to advocate for occupational therapy as well as expand our professional knowledge and develop new interests.