Aug 292014
 

Dr. Patricia Crane has been named associate dean for research and creative activities, East Carolina University College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown said in an announcement to faculty and staff recently. Crane also serves as the Richard R. Eakin Distinguished Professor of Nursing.

Crane came to ECU from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she served as a professor of adult health nursing since 2001 and as the chair of the Department of Adult Health Nursing from 2009-2012. She is the immediate past president of the Southern Nursing Research Society.

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“Dr. Crane is a highly regarded scientist who brings an extensive background in research into this position,” Brown said. “We look forward to her leadership as we work to emphasize scholarly activity in the college.”

Crane’s research interests focus on adult health care issues, including topics such as fatigue following heart attack, biological markers associated with recovery after a heart attack, and depression. She has received awards such as the 2007 Nurse Researcher of the Year from the North Carolina Nurses Association and the Research Excellence Award from UNCG. She has received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Crane assumes the position as Dr. Martha Engelke returns to a faculty position to continue her research and teaching roles. Engelke joined the College of Nursing faculty in 1979 and has served as associate dean for research and creative activities since 2001. She was the first Richard R. Eakin Distinguished Professor of Nursing and has held that distinction since 2009.

“Dr. Engelke not only has been the college’s ‘champion’ for research,” Brown said, “she has been a stellar role model as she pursued her own research agenda with great success and supported research endeavors across the college.”

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Aug 112014
 

East Carolina University College of Nursing graduates who work at CarolinaEast Medical Center have a new way to stay connected with their alma mater. The college and the medical facility have partnered to launch the Pirate Nurse Network at CarolinaEast Medical Center.

The Pirate Nurse Network is a member-driven support organization designed to provide educational opportunities and networking for ECU nursing graduates. The New Bern alumni group is eastern North Carolina’s second such network; the college and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville announced the first Pirate Nurse Network in November 2013. 14-308 PirateNurseNetwork_CEMC-circle

“The College of Nursing is very proud of its alumni,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of nursing. “We intend for these networks to support graduates’ careers while also keeping them connected to the college and to each other.”

Dr. Alta Andrews, director for community partnerships and practice at the College of Nursing, said that when the Pirate Nurse Network held its inaugural meeting at CarolinaEast this spring, attendees immediately sensed their common bonds.

“There were people who work in that agency that really didn’t know each other at all, who came to school in different decades.” Andrews said. “But the energy, the excitement, and just the warm feeling in that room was phenomenal.”

Andrews worked with Dr. Lou Everett, assistant to the dean for the undergraduate program, and other college staff to establish the network. Collaborators at CarolinaEast included Rosanne Leahy (BSN ‘78), vice president and chief nursing officer, and Beth Paul (BSN ’07, MSN ‘14), an intensive care nurse.

Paul remarked on the same sense of community that Andrews noted about the group. Many CarolinaEast Medical Center nursing staff members help educate ECU students by serving as clinical preceptors, but this is another way for alumni to get involved.

“We all have that Pirate spirit within us,” Paul said. “This is a great opportunity for us to give back to the college and get involved with it again.”

Already 30 alumni have joined, and members say they are looking forward to continued growth. The group is planning to offer social networking events in addition to professional development activities. Members also have expressed interest in community service opportunities, which is a wonderful way for nurses to get to know one another as well as their community, Leahy said.

“It’s a nice way for nurses to grow together, to professionally develop together, and to establish a network of support for one another,” Leahy said.

CarolinaEast is a 350-bed facility with inpatient and outpatient services in addition to units dedicated to heart, critical, intensive, women’s, pediatric, orthopedic, surgical and cancer care.

For information about joining or creating a Pirate Nurse Network, contact Elizabeth Willy at willye14@ecu.edu or 252-744-6424.

Jul 082014
 

East Carolina University’s College of Nursing continues to produce the most registered nurses in North Carolina and its graduates pass the state nursing exam at a rate above the state average, according to data in a report prepared for the UNC Board of Governors.

The annual tracking report, received by the board at its June 20 meeting, said that 95 percent of the 273 graduates of ECU’s bachelor of science in nursing program who took the state exam in 2013 passed it.

The average state exam passing rate of all 12 UNC system campuses with nursing programs was 90 percent that year. The passing rate of all nursing programs in North Carolina, including those at private colleges and universities, was 85 percent in 2013, the report said.

Enrollment in all UNC nursing programs soared by 31 percent in the past five years, rising from 2,985 in 2009 to 4,212 in 2013, according to the report. Three UNC campuses launched nursing programs in recent years.

With more students in the pipeline, the UNC campuses with nursing programs are graduating 20 percent more RNs now than five years ago, the report said.

But despite the rise in nursing school enrollment, 3,500 nursing jobs remain unfilled across the state, the report said in citing March 2014 employment data.

Across the UNC system, enrollment in master’s degree programs grew from 1,471 to 1,637, or 11 percent, between 2009 and 2013. The number studying for doctoral degrees rose from 119 to 157, or 32 percent, in that time period, according to the report, which is based on data submitted by each campus.

At ECU, enrollment in master’s degree programs grew from 486 to 547 in that five-year period, while enrollment in doctoral programs grew from 31 to 49 in that period, the report said.

The Board of Governors has encouraged growth in enrollment in nursing programs since 2004 when, in conjunction with the N.C. Institute of Medicine, it created the UNC Committee on the Future of Nursing. The committee concluded that graduating more nurses was critical to improving access to health care.

More recently, the Board of Governors green-lighted new master’s and doctoral programs to increase the supply of nurses specially trained to take on more of the health care workload. An example is the doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP) created in 2013 at ECU and five other campuses.

Sylvia Brown, dean of ECU’s College of Nursing, said the DNP program will produce graduates critical to improving health care in the region. She said the program “will help to achieve our mission of improving the health of citizens through the preparation of expert practitioners who deliver primary care in rural areas of the state and assume leadership roles to advance health care delivery.”

The DNP prepares nurses for direct clinical practice and for executive roles in areas that support clinical practice, such as administration, organizational leadership, academics and health policy.

East Carolina’s DNP program coursework is totally online, and clinical practice sites include primary care clinics, hospitals, and public health care agencies. Students are required to attend skills sessions at the College of Nursing several times a year.

Twenty-one students were accepted to the first DNP class in fall 2013. More than half were from eastern North Carolina.

Jun 202014
 

Labor and delivery nurses care for women during one of life’s most transformative events. For Dorothy “Dot” Marshall Cummings, who guided hundreds of women through childbirth during her career, working with new mothers and babies was more than a job. It was her passion.

Cummings worked as a labor and delivery nurse for nearly four decades in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. A mother of six, she was known among colleagues for her eagerness to teach new moms how to care for their babies and for her commitment to mentoring young nurses.

Cummings, second from right in the front row, in her nursing class photo.

Cummings, second from right in the front row, in her nursing class photo.

“She adored children,” said her daughter, Sue Collier (BSN ’81, MSN ’91), who explained that even as she approached the end of her life at age 84, her mom drew others to her with the same engaging personality that so many of her patients loved.

To honor her mother’s lifelong commitment to nursing, Collier created the Dorothy Marshall Cummings Nursing Honors Scholarship. The new award will support full-time students who are enrolled in both the East Carolina University College of Nursing and the ECU Honors College. Students considered for the scholarship must, like Cummings, have an interest in maternal and child health care.

The award is one of two College of Nursing honors scholarships established this year. ECU alumni James and Selba Morris Harris of Alpharetta, Georgia, recently established the James and Selba Harris Honors Scholarship. That scholarship honors Selba Harris (BSN ’64), who graduated as part of the College of Nursing’s first class.

“It is the generosity of alumni like these that helps make the dream of becoming a nurse possible for our students,” said College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. “We are so appreciative of their willingness to give back to their alma mater.”

It’s fitting that a nursing honors scholarship is named after Cummings, who embodied nursing’s motto of “service” long past retirement and years after learning she had Alzheimer’s disease. As a long-term resident at Golden LivingCenter in Greenville, she endeared herself to staff and other residents with her concern for the well being of others.

“If there was a resident who was upset across the room, she would try to get to them and comfort them,” said Tracy Taft, who cared for Cummings as an aide at Golden Living Center. “She still tried to help, even it was just holding your hand. That was her heart, that was the kind of person Dot was.”

Cummings’ love for nursing was so great that it inspired others to pursue it as a profession. Witnessing her dedication to helping others inspired Taft to go back to school and become a registered nurse.

“I knew she was a nurse and I wanted to give my life to helping take care of people, even if it wasn’t her,” she said.

Sue Collier

Sue Collier

Collier herself was inspired by her mother to become a nurse, dreaming of entering the profession from the time she was a little girl. Today the ECU College of Nursing graduate serves as a performance improvement specialist for patient-family engagement with the NC Quality Center at the North Carolina Hospital Association.

The scholarship is a way of building the future of the profession that has been so important to both Collier and her mother.

“A scholarship like this can be the difference between someone not finishing the program or not going to school and becoming a future nurse,” she said, urging others with the means to join her giving efforts.

And the fact that the scholarship honors a wonderful woman at the same time? It doesn’t get much better than that for Collier.

“I think the greatest way to remember someone is to help someone else,” she said.

If you are interested in contributing to this scholarship or setting up your own, please contact Mark Alexander at alexanderma@ecu.edu or 252-744-2324.

Jun 032014
 
ECU ROTC cadet Teddy Protonentis

ECU ROTC cadet Teddy Protonentis holds the flag during a Veterans Day ceremony on campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

East Carolina University’s graduate programs in nursing and business rank among the nation’s best in online education for veterans, according to a listing released May 20 by U.S. News & World Report.

The ECU College of Nursing ranked second in the country for masters of nursing programs. The online Master of Business Administration program in the ECU College of Business ranked 15 in the nation.

Now in its second year, U.S. News ranked bachelor’s programs and online master’s programs in business, computer information technology, education, engineering and nursing to help veterans and service members identify high-quality online degree programs to pursue college or advanced degrees under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“Veterans and active-duty service members face unique challenges as students, from transitioning between bases and grappling with deployment to balancing work and family life upon return,” said Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, noting the programs’ flexibility.

ECU’s College of Nursing offers seven online options in the master’s of science nursing program: adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and nurse midwifery.

Students have previously completed undergraduate education in nursing and often have extensive clinical experience. Online coursework is augmented by periodic campus visits for hands-on training and education that is overseen by experienced faculty and community-based preceptors close to the students’ home.

“Our online graduate programs offer the flexibility that veterans and active-duty service members need,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, College of Nursing dean. “We’re proud that this flexibility gives those who have served our country access to a first-class nursing education.”

During the 2012-2013 academic year, 45 military veterans and active service members were enrolled in the College of Nursing’s online nursing programs.

The online program in ECU’s College of Business is the largest online MBA program in the UNC system. This spring, there were 21 graduate students and 92 undergraduate students identified as veterans who were enrolled in the College of Business.

“Ties between business institutions and the military are crucial to developing leaders who make a difference in their communities,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business. “The College of Business is proud to enable members of the military to earn their business degrees online, providing new tools and knowledge that prepare them for their next chapter of life. In turn, veterans bring a level of leadership and maturity to our program, enhancing discussions and adding value for their fellow students.”

ECU’s bachelor’s programs ranked 52 in the listing.

ECU, geographically, sits in the center of the third most concentrated military corridor in the country. Craven, Cumberland, Onslow and Wayne counties are home to six major military installations – the biggest are Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune – with approximately 125,000 veterans living in the four counties or a neighboring county.

ECU’s Student Veterans Services provides a seamless transition for veterans – both academically and socially – by helping them become fully integrated into the ECU community, said Trish Goltermann, assistant director of Student Veteran Services. “Our office helps ensure that student veterans are successful in their academic pursuits, adjust to the campus environment, and eventually, transition to civilian employment,” she said.

To be ranked by U.S. News, an online degree program had to report participation in four key programs that offer educational benefits to people with military service, such as the GI Bill and membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium. The programs also had to be included in the U.S. News 2014 Best Online Programs rankings released earlier this year. Those programs were measured on criteria including affordability, faculty credentials, student services and reputation, according to U.S. News.

The complete listing can be viewed at http://www.usnews.com.