Maintaining good oral health among holiday treats doesn’t have to be tricky

 School of Dental Medicine  Comments Off on Maintaining good oral health among holiday treats doesn’t have to be tricky
Oct 292013
Cotterill, Christopher (Passport Photo)

Christopher A. Cotterill, DMD, assistant clinical professor in the ECU School of Dental Medicine

In the last few days of October, Halloween is only a few days away with Thanksgiving following soon after and generally marking the beginning of the holiday season.

This festive time of year is wonderful for allowing enjoyment of traditions and socializing with friends and family. However, this often involves increased intake of candy, confections, and other treats that normally would not be consumed in such quantity or frequency.

Maintaining good oral health along with these dietary changes is important for people of all ages, but it is especially important for children.

This is one reason that a year ago the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the Ad Council instituted the Partnership for Oral Health. This campaign,, was designed to raise awareness of oral health in children, parents, and caregivers.

As exemplified by its web address, one of the keys to good oral health is maintaining good oral hygiene through brushing children’s teeth for 2 minutes 2 times a day.

Other good oral health practices include:

  • Brushing teeth after meals, especially at night, and not having snacks or sweetened beverages between brushing and bedtime.
  • Supervising a child’s brushing and flossing until they are old enough to do a good job on their own. When children develop this ability can vary slightly, but for most children it’s around age 8.
  • Using dental floss to clean between teeth at least once a day, every day as soon as any of the adjacent teeth begin to touch each other. Use of floss is important for the removal of plaque and food between the teeth where the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach. If traditional use of dental floss wrapped around fingers is found to be too difficult for the child, parent, or caregiver, then the use of disposable flossers or other flossing aids can help make this easier.
  • Delivering topical fluoride to the teeth through toothpaste, rinse, or fluoridated water can help strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to the acidic attack that is involved in the tooth decay process.
  • Seeing a dentist regularly. The AAPD recommends that all children have a dental home.  Properly establishing a dental home means that all children should see a dentist by one year of age and on a regular basis for the rest of their lives, similar to recommendations for wellness checks with pediatricians. This is important because dentists can detect small problems before they become bigger and start to cause pain. 

These and other recommendations can be found on the AAPD’s website at:

-Christopher A. Cotterill, DMD, assistant clinical professor

ECU School of Dental Medicine

Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics



All-time high applicant, enrollment trend hits Brody School of Medicine

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on All-time high applicant, enrollment trend hits Brody School of Medicine
Oct 252013

ECU’s Brody School of Medicine is following a national trend of all-time high applications and enrollment as seen in data released today by the Association of American Medical Colleges.  

In 2013, Brody had 884 applicants, which is more than the school has had in 10 years (with the exception of 2010), according to Dr. James G. Peden, Jr., associate dean for admissions at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine.

That’s more than 11 applicants for each of the 80 available seats for the entering class at Brody, which only considers applicants who are legal residents of North Carolina, Peden said.

Across the nation, the total number of applicants to medical school grew by 6.1 percent to 48,014, surpassing the previous record set in 1996. First-time applicants, another important indicator of interest in medicine, increased by 5.8 percent to 35,727. The number of students enrolled in their first year of medical school exceeded 20,000 for the first time, a 2.8 percent increase over 2012.

As a result, Brody officials share a national concern about a limited number of residency training slots in the face of a growing number of medical school graduates, Peden said.

“At a time when the nation faces a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by the end of the decade and millions are gaining access to health insurance, we are very glad that more students than ever want to become physicians. However, unless Congress lifts the 16-year-old cap on federal support for residency training, we will still face a shortfall of physicians across dozens of specialties,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. “Students are doing their part by applying to medical school in record numbers. Medical schools are doing their part by expanding enrollment. Now Congress needs to do its part and act without delay to expand residency training to ensure that everyone who needs a doctor has access to one.”

The overall growth in medical student enrollment can be attributed, in part, to the creation of new medical schools as well as existing schools’ efforts to expand their class sizes after the AAMC, in 2006, called for a 30 percent increase in enrollment to avert future doctor shortages. Brody expanded its class size from 78 to 80 students in 2012.

As in past years, the total number of men and women applying to and enrolling in the nation’s medical schools is fairly equally split, with male enrollees accounting for approximately 53 percent and female enrollees accounting for 47 percent of the 2013 class. At Brody, 41 students or 51 percent are male, and 39 students or 49 percent are female. Of those, 43 or 54 percent are Caucasian and 37 or 46 percent are non-Caucasian.

The overall quality of this year’s application pool remained strong, with nearly three-quarters of applicants reporting research experience and two-thirds reporting voluntary community service. This year’s applicants reported an average undergraduate GPA of 3.54 and a combined median MCAT score of 29. Brody was above the national average with undergraduate GPA at 3.7 and the average graduate GPA at 3.8. The average MCAT for the entering class at Brody was 29.5 (total of three numerical sections).

For more information on Brody’s student body, go to


The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians.

Nursing welcomes visiting scholar from Finland, awards announced

 College of Nursing  Comments Off on Nursing welcomes visiting scholar from Finland, awards announced
Oct 182013

East Carolina University’s Beta Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society of nursing, welcomes two distinguished speakers at the chapter’s induction ceremony Oct. 18.

The special guests are Dr. Kim Crickmore Osborne, vice president of operations and care navigation at Vidant Medical Center, and Dr. Maj-Helen Nyback from Novia University of Applied Sciences in Vasa, Finland. Nyback recently joined the chapter and will be formally inducted today. Her research interests include cultural competence and developing new learning environments in nursing.

ECU’s Beta Nu Chapter recently received notification of two awards. The Showcase of Regional Excellence Award recognizes chapters in each region for achievements in four call-for-action areas: Creating your Legacy, Engaging in Collaboration, Responding to Vulnerable Populations and Embracing Technology. Beta Nu is being honored for Creating your Legacy by Region 13 Coordinator Jayne Lutz.

On the international level, ECU’s chapter has received its 11th Chapter Key Award. The award was established in 1991 to honor chapters that exemplify activities in membership recruitment and retention, leadership and professional development, collaboration across local, regional and international areas, and in publicity and programming.  Beta Nu Chapter is one of only two chapters in the world to receive 11 awards. Beta Nu Chapter President Pam Reis will receive the award at Sigma Theta Tau International’s  42nd Biennial Convention in Indianapolis in November.

ECU PA students celebrate National Physician Assistant Week

 College of Allied Health Sciences, uncategorized  Comments Off on ECU PA students celebrate National Physician Assistant Week
Oct 142013

From Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, students in the East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program celebrated National Physician Assistant Week by honoring their professors and giving back to their community.


The ECU Physician Assistant Studies program class of 2015. (photo by Michelle Messer Photography)

Events included a faculty appreciation ice cream social Thursday afternoon, held in the East Carolina University Heart Center. PA students recognized the program’s faculty for their dedication to preparing the students for careers as physician assistants.

The students continued their celebration of PA week by decorating pumpkins with the children at The Little Willie Center. The center, a facility located on Fifth Street that provides after school tutoring and mentoring services hosted the students Friday afternoon.

“Being a PA student is an awesome yet challenging experience,” said Caitlyn Fulp, a member of the class of 2015, “It can be difficult to look past the quizzes, exams, assignments, and labs that pile on top of balancing family, friends, gym, chores, and grocery shopping. Spending time with the kids at the after school program helped me do just that! Laughing, painting pumpkins, and coloring pictures of Minnie Mouse were just what I needed to recharge and get some perspective. I am excited to participate in more opportunities like this in the future.”

The East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program, which graduated its first class in 1999, currently has 102 enrolled students.  The program operates on a 27 month curriculum and is one of only seven PA programs in North Carolina. In 2003, the program transitioned to a master-level program with all graduates since 2005 earning Master of Science degrees in PA studies.

To learn more about the Physician Assistant Studies program at ECU visit




Telepsychiatry: ECU’s innovative answer to North Carolina’s mental health shortage

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on Telepsychiatry: ECU’s innovative answer to North Carolina’s mental health shortage
Oct 112013

A void in mental health providers now qualifies 58 of North Carolina’s 100 counties as Health Professional Shortage Areas, according to federal guidelines. The effects of this shortage are far-reaching:

For patients, there are long lines and limited access to psychiatric counsel.

For the (mostly rural) hospitals navigating these at-risk patients – usually through their emergency departments, due to lack of local mental health facilities – the shortage means a less efficient, more expensive business to manage.

For ECU, a school dedicated to increasing health care access across our state, this shortage signaled something else. An opportunity to make a difference.

Telepsychiatry uses real time, two-way interactive video and audio connections to connect patients with physicians located remotely. The Brody School of Medicine’s innovative approach to telepsychiatry has already begun increasing delivery of care and decreasing costs for some of eastern North Carolina’s most vulnerable hospitals.

Beginning in January, up to 80 more hospitals across the state will benefit from our telepsychiatry model, thanks to the General Assembly’s recent measure to expand the program to underserved hospitals statewide. This announcement, made official by Gov. Pat McCrory’s visit to our campus, is big – for both North Carolina and ECU – for many reasons.   

Why we need it: The percentage of people admitted to hospital emergency departments in North Carolina with mental health issues is nearly double the national average – and that doesn’t even include substance abuse-related cases. Again, more than half of our state’s counties lack sufficient mental health resources (in fact, a majority of the state’s hospitals lack access to a full time psychiatrist). In a nutshell: as long as North Carolina’s growing demand for mental health services far exceeds supply, wait times and costs will continue to soar as efficiency and quality of care plummet.

How ECU’s telepsychiatry program works: An emergency department nurse rolls a camera, monitor and audio equipment into the room of a patient experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. They are quickly connected with a remote intake specialist and psychiatrist who assess the patient’s mental state and recommend treatment to the hospital physicians.

How it’s working now: Telepsychiatry stands as a shining example of Brody’s innovative approach to solving North Carolina’s health care access problem. Founded in 1992, ECU’s telepsychiatry program is one of the longest running clinical telemedicine operations in the world.

The network currently serves 14 hospitals in eastern North Carolina. And it’s producing results: cutting the length of inpatient stays in half, dropping 30-day recidivism rates and reducing involuntary commitments to inpatient psychiatric facilities.

Worthy of expansion: The recent state appropriation of $4 million over the next two years will help expand the state’s telepsychiatry network to up to 80 hospitals statewide. When the expansion takes effect in January, we expect these great results to continue. Patients, hospitals and their communities will all benefit – and ECU will remain hard at work to continue pairing North Carolina’s health needs with innovative solutions.