Nov 112013
Pirate Nurse Network kickoff

ECU and Vidant nurses attended an inaugural meeting for the Pirate Nurse Network in September.

East Carolina University’s College of Nursing has partnered with Vidant Medical Center to launch its first alumni network in eastern North Carolina.

A member-driven support organization, the Pirate Nurse Network will offer educational opportunities, social and professional networking for ECU nursing graduates who work at Vidant in Greenville. Already 140 alumni have joined, and members say they are looking forward to continued growth and activities in the coming months. 

“The College of Nursing is very proud of its alumni and wants to stay connected with them,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of nursing. “It is our desire that networks of Pirate nurses can be established throughout our state and beyond as a strategy to support fellow ECU nurses and a way for them to stay in close contact with our college.”

Many ECU graduates serve as clinical preceptors for students, and the network is one way to show appreciation for their service to the college, Brown said.

Mark Alexander, director of development and major gifts in the College of Nursing, is working closely with liaisons at Vidant to facilitate network events. 

“Keeping our alumni connected will allow us to do a better job of spreading awareness on all of the great things that we are accomplishing in nursing education as well as raise awareness for areas of need and support,” Alexander said. “When working as a team, there is not a more dedicated group of people than nurses, especially Pirate Nurses.”

Two inaugural meetings were held at Vidant in September. New members toured ECU’s state-of-the-art nursing simulation labs on Oct. 17.   

“Pirate nurses can now access an organized support system within our hospital as they share their Pirate pride and engage in educational, community service and recreational activities with nurse colleagues,” said Jessica Griffin, who serves as network liaison where she is a staff nurse in the special care nursery of the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant. Griffin also was president of the class of 2001 in the ECU College of Nursing.

Griffin worked with Dr. Linda Hofler, the medical center’s senior vice president-nurse executive, and Cathy Jackson Bunch (BSN ’94), staff development assistant in rehabilitation services and MSN student, to set up the network.

Initially, interested members were invited to complete a survey on how the network should function and activities that they would be willing to engage in with other alumni. Responses included a desire for monthly educational and professional networking events, opportunities for community service, mentorship and, in the future, scholarships. Nurses who are enrolled wear a “Pirate Nurse” badge reel on their uniforms, officials said.

Vidant Medical Center is one of four academic medical centers in the state and serves as the teaching hospital for ECU. The hospital is a tertiary referral center and provides acute, intermediate, rehabilitation and outpatient health services to more than 1.4 million people in 29 counties, according to its website.

Any Vidant employee and alumni of the ECU College of Nursing may contact or for more information on Pirate Nurse Network. 



Nov 052013

nurse anesthesia pinIf you recently had a pain-free surgery, you might have a Pirate nurse anesthetist to thank. 

The College of Nursing will honor the 10th anniversary of the nurse anesthesia concentration in the MSN program during East Carolina University’s homecoming. Dean Sylvia Brown, Dr. Maura McAuliffe, director of the nurse anesthesia concentration, and Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor for health sciences, will welcome guests at a reception on Nov. 8.

More than 100 students have graduated from the ECU nurse anesthesia program since the first class was admitted in 2003. All have passed the National Certification Examination and are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). Of those, 85 percent practice in North Carolina and 58 percent practice in eastern North Carolina, McAuliffe said. 

CRNAs provide anesthetics to patients in a variety of practice settings and for every type of surgery or procedure.

ECU’s program was created through a partnership between ECU, Vidant Health and East Carolina Anesthesia Associates to help alleviate a shortage of certified registered nurse anesthetists in eastern North Carolina and to provide specialty training for nurses close to home.

The campus-based program requires full-time study for 28 consecutive months involving 50-60 hours of clinical and didactic education each week. Nurse anesthetist students take rigorous basic science classes with ECU medical and physical therapy students, followed by applied science courses in anesthesia. They also take nursing core courses with other graduate nursing students. Throughout the program, the students learn to integrate classroom and procedural knowledge into clinical practice in the state-of-the-art simulation lab in the ECU College of Nursing.

Students accepted into the program must be registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minimum of one year of intensive care unit experience.

Students receive most of their clinical instruction at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, but also work at Vidant SurgiCenter in Greenville, Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie and Vidant Pain Management Center. Students are supervised one-on-one by a credentialed CRNA or anesthesiologist as they administer anesthesia. By graduation, the Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists have an average of 800 cases, logging from 1,900 to 2,400 hours delivering anesthesia, McAuliffe said.

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Research, preventative diabetes care go hand in hand at ECU

 Brody School of Medicine, College of Nursing  Comments Off on Research, preventative diabetes care go hand in hand at ECU
Nov 012013

In the United States, nearly 26 million children and adults have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. And the American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

North Carolina exceeds the national average in the prevalence of diabetes, and East Carolina University scientists are recognized as international leaders in the study of metabolic diseases.

Research at the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute encompasses several fields including bariatric surgery, insulin signaling, glucose transport, bioenergetics, exercise physiology, pediatric healthy weight programs, polyunsaturated fatty acids, cardiac arrhythmia, and many other areas.

The core research philosophy of the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute is an integrative, interdisciplinary approach. Major discoveries by ECU researchers include: type 2 diabetes, previously thought to be incurable, can be reversed within several weeks to months after bariatric surgery; and, insulin resistance in muscle, a precondition that leads to diabetes, is caused by elevated production of hydrogen peroxide produced by mitochondria.

But the research goes hand in hand with preventative care. Now in its 12th year, the annual Winning with Diabetes Conference is a one-day community program for people with diabetes, friends, families and health care providers that feature speakers, screenings and demonstrations.

It will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The morning will feature speakers on neuropathy, kidney disease and effective self-management, while the afternoon will offer screenings and cooking demonstrations. One of the featured speakers is Dr. Robert Tanenberg, medical director of the diabetes and obesity institute and professor of medicine at ECU, and medical director of Vidant Medical Center’s inpatient diabetes program. 

Those attending will get:

•          Expert advice from doctors, nurses and nutritionists

•          Foot, blood pressure, kidney and vascular screenings

•          Cooking demonstrations        

Spots are filling fast. Register by calling Kristen Brooks at 252-847-8265. Fee is $25 per person and $20 for each additional person. The program is made possible by the ECU Brody School of Medicine, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Pitt County Health Department.

American Diabetes Month is observed each November by the American Diabetes Association to bring attention to diabetes and those impacted by the disease.