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 http://www.ecu.edu/pa/.




Oct 012013

Each day in North Carolina, accidental falls account for 531 emergency room visits, 69 hospitalizations and two to three deaths. As you may imagine, nearly 90 percent of these falls involve the elderly. Causes include taking more than four prescriptions and accompanying side effects, physical deconditioning, poor balance, dehydration and failure to properly adjust someone’s home to the changing needs that come with age.

But, for Dr. Jane Painter-Patton, professor of occupational therapy who leads ECU’s Fall Risk Assessment Clinic, there is a seemingly counterintuitive cause that she pays particular attention to. According to Painter-Patton, seniors who have anxiety about the possibility of a fall are actually more likely to experience one.

It is a vicious cycle.

“When people are more afraid of falling, they are more sedentary,” says Painter-Patton. “But we know that weakens their muscles and makes falls much more likely when they do get up to walk around. We try to address that with our patients and make sure that they know that the best way to prevent falls is actually safely increasing activity.”

Questions about anxiety and depression are part of the screening process at the clinic, which has been operating on ECU’s campus for more than five years. Painter-Patton and her team, which includes a geriatrician, geriatric pharmacist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker, and nurses send patients home with a set of recommendations to improve both their mental and physical health. But, she says, old habits die hard.

“You’ve got someone who is 80-years-old and has never really exercised; it’s hard to get them to start,” she said. “But we start with simple range of motion activities (like Tai Chi) to get them moving, which we know improves their mood.”

So, while accidental falls remain a concern for the elderly, ECU is helping seniors realize that a proactive approach is the surest way to reduce risks. 

Other fall prevention strategies used by ECU’s occupational therapy department include incorporating Matter of Balance, an evidence-based fear of falling education program; the American Arthritis Tai Chi program and Free for Falls educational program for those with multiple sclerosis; and volunteer opportunities for ECU occupational and physical therapy students to assist with Eastern N.C. Falls Prevention Coalition activities. For example, ECU students helped screen almost 300 older adults for their risk of falls at the annual Falls Prevention Exposition held at the Greenville Convention Center during National Falls Prevention Week.

Jul 262013

Amini03Dr. Debbie Amini, assistant professor and certified hand therapist, recently contributed to an article, “Summer Parties Made Easy” in the August/September issue of Living with Arthritis.   

From the article:  Setting up, grilling, time on your feet—it’s enough to make you shy away from hosting a cookout altogether. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting! We asked certified hand therapist Debbie Amini, EdD, OTR/L,CHT, from the department of occupational therapy at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, for tips to help your party go smoothly. Here’s how to sidestep joint pain and fatigue while enjoying everything a barbecue has to offer—food, friends and fun!  Read the full article is HERE.

Jul 152013
Pat Frede achievement July 2013

Front row: Petty Officer Palaganas, Chief Avila, Senior Chief Fortier, Senior Chief Frede, Master Chief Davis, and Petty Officer DeStefano Back Row: Petty Officer Lu, Chief Rankin, Petty Officer Miller, Petty Officer Curko, Senior Chief Ramnytz, Lieutenant Commander Prevatte, and Petty Officers Sanchez and Espos. Pictured with the awardees are their mentors (back row) who coached them, drilled them, and supported them through the process.

U.S. Navy veteran and reservist Pat Frede recently earned new certification while deployed to Africa. 

Frede, who leads fundraising for East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences, hopes to return to ECU in time for Homecoming, she said. She was deployed in December and has been in Africa since March while attached to the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Frede recently was one of six sailors with the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command who earned the designation of Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. Each sailor had to complete a rigorous series of personnel qualification standards and demonstrate proficiency in expeditionary and combat skills by passing a written examination and a final qualification oral board.

Frede’s unit has been working to establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civilians. The group advises and assists local populations with their needs, ranging from establishing community watch programs to teaching villagers about protection of natural resources.

This is Frede’s second deployment in three years. She was in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

There, as part of her mission, Frede was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams who worked to develop relationships of trust and mutual respect with Afghan women, who generally aren’t allowed to have contact with men outside their families.

She also taught a course on the teams’ relevance in counterinsurgency and stability operations. She earned a presidential unit citation for the work in Helmand province.


Jul 092013

k dewald

Kelly Dewald is a graduate student currently pursuing her master’s degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling at East Carolina University.  She describes why she chose this field and what it’s like to be a pirate at ECU!

What made you choose substance abuse and clinical counseling as your career?

I have always been interested in the ways that people can experience similar events yet use different coping strategies (including maladaptive ones) to deal with those events. I find that helping people deal with roots of their issues will lead to greater success in their desired abstinence. I also had opportunity to gain experience in a research setting with alcohol use and wanted to continue my education in the same field at the graduate level. I love gaining the knowledge and experience to one day help others. I see this as a way of giving back and helping people find ways to be happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Tell me more about being a rehabilitation counseling/substance abuse counseling student at East Carolina University.

You will definitely stay busy and active while being in the program. I feel that this program not only gives you the tools of becoming a counselor but also I have learned a lot about myself and have grown as a person from the experiences and classes I have taken. I have really felt supported by my cohort as well as the faculty in my program, which I think really helped with my success here. There is definitely a “we are all in this together mentality” here which I found beneficial. The mix of experiential as well as regular classes really gives you a taste of the field.

What would you tell a prospective student about ECU?

Do not get too stressed out about the application process!  Just apply, be yourself and it will all work out. This is a wonderful program but just make sure this is the right fit for you.

Kelly received her BS in Psychology from Florida State University where she also gained three years of research experience working in an alcohol studies lab within the Department of Psychology. Her goals are to work with dual-diagnosis clients as well as the offender and involuntary commitment populations with hopes of working both in the clinical and research settings.

For more information about the MS in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling degree, contact Dr. Shari Sias at siass@ecu.edu.