Dec 052014
 

Anne DickersonAs 10,000 baby boomers per day enter the over-65 age bracket, the concern for older drivers’ safety and independence is greater now than ever. Adults 65 and older make up more than 16 percent of all licensed drivers nationwide, and it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will be 70 or older by 2040.

The American Occupational Therapy Association works with several other organizations to raise awareness about the safety of older drivers through their Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, held annually during the first week of December.

In conjunction with this week, the association has created a series of educational podcasts that focus on empowering older drivers and their families. Dr. Anne Dickerson, professor in ECU’s Department of Occupational Therapy, was interviewed for one of the podcasts, which deals with driving fitness evaluations – ranging from self-assessments to comprehensive driving evaluations from an occupational therapy driving rehabilitation specialist.

“Most older adults are safe to drive,” Dickerson said. “But this is all about promoting conversations.” Dickerson added that ECU is exploring ways of providing services that would facilitate older people going back to driving after recovering from heart attacks or strokes, for example.

“Just as we plan for our financial futures, we need to plan for our transportation futures as we age,” says Elin Schold Davis, project coordinator of AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Initiative. “Respecting the physical, cognitive, and sensory changes that come with age may require adjustments in driving patterns, vehicle equipment, or a skills refresher, but do not have to mean giving up the keys and living in isolation without access to transportation.”

The podcasts can be found at http://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx.

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Nov 252014
 
Beta Nu is one of only two chapters globally to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards.

Beta Nu is one of only two chapters globally to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards.

Like a traditional honor society, Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing requires incoming members to meet certain academic and professional achievement requirements. But the organization, which celebrated its 40th anniversary with a banquet Nov. 13, does much more than recognize scholarly excellence.

The group is one of only two of Sigma Theta Tau’s 500 global chapters to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards. Sigma Theta Tau bestows the honor on chapters that successfully recruit and retain members, generate publicity and programming, support scholarly activities, provide leadership development and foster international collaboration.

Beta Nu chapter is housed in the ECU College of Nursing and has more than 500 active members — including undergraduate students, graduate students and nurse leaders who work to advance the profession through scholarship, leadership and a variety of service projects.

“Beta Nu has been the most influential nursing organization in my career,” said College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. “It allowed me to engage with nurse leaders nationally and internationally and refine my own personal leadership skills.”

Brown, a past president, said that providing leadership opportunities for career growth is one of Beta Nu’s greatest contributions. Several of the College of Nursing’s senior faculty members were founding or early members, and ECU’s Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis Horns was a charter member.

Former President Dr. Lou Everett explained that Beta Nu consistently sends students and faculty to research and leadership academies organized through Sigma Theta Tau and its partners. Over the past 40 years, she said, members have served in numerous official capacities at regional and national levels.

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Krupa speaks as part of a panel of past presidents at Beta Nu’s 40th anniversary banquet Nov. 13.

“It was truly through Beta Nu Chapter that many of our faculty began to see the contributions that the College of Nursing made to a global society and the world at large,” said Everett, the college’s assistant to the dean for the undergraduate program. “We became mentors to other chapters in our state and continued more involvement on an international level by serving on the ballot for various positions.”

Many members routinely attend Sigma Theta Tau’s biennial convention, where they can network with 2,000 other attendees, hear plenary speakers and present their work through oral and poster presentations.

“You meet the people who write the textbooks and research articles,” past Beta Nu president and an ECU clinical assistant professor of nursing, said of the conference. “You’re kind of in awe that you’re in the presence of all these people who are so important in the profession. You bring back that enthusiasm and you share that with a few other people who get excited and want to get involved.”

Beta Nu also stands out for its record of giving back to the profession. It provides grants to support members’ research, and has given $11,000 in student scholarships since 2005. The organization also co-sponsors Collaborative Nursing Research Day, a joint venture between Beta Nu, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Eastern Area Health Education Consortium. The event provides a venue for continuing education and gives nurses an opportunity to showcase their research and creative projects.

The community at large is another beneficiary of Beta Nu’s outreach. Scout Out Nursing Day, held biannually at the College of Nursing, has introduced more than 500 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the profession since its inception in 2007.

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Current Beta Nu president Roberson, left, with charter member Horns at the anniversary banquet.

Asked what Beta Nu’s future holds, President Dr. Donna Roberson said the group is working to be member focused, with a global perspective. This direction matches that of Beta Nu’s parent organization, which has 135,000 members in 85 countries. Sigma Theta Tau’s president, Hester Klopper of South Africa, has issued a call for chapters to “serve locally, transform regionally, lead globally.”

“I see us having a wider base of influence beyond our community and having an international impact,” said Roberson, an associate professor of nursing.

Existing international projects include providing nursing student scholarships and mentorship to the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti. Beta Nu also makes donations to a clean water initiative that has provided water filters to more than 70 families in Guatemala since 2008.

At the group’s 40th anniversary banquet, a panel of past presidents shared Beta Nu memories, including Everett, Krupa, Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Pam Reis, and Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Gina Woody. Reis highlighted the many opportunities for mentorship that the organization provides.

“I was thinking about when I was inducted in 1991… I never realized I would become president, but I had such wonderful mentors,” Reis said. “You all have meant the world to me.”

Woody reflected on Beta Nu’s impact and succinctly summed up the group’s sentiments.

“I feel as if Beta Nu has provided numerous opportunities for our students as well as members and the community,” she said. “I think we should be very proud of our chapter.”

Nov 062014
 
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Colleen K. Davis, DMD candidate 2018, has received a four-year scholarship from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) to attend the ECU School of Dental Medicine.

The National Health Service Corps, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides financial, professional and educational resources to medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health care providers who bring their skills to areas of the United States with limited access to health care.

Davis entered the ECU School of Dental Medicine in August. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in Southern Studies. She completed two years of post-baccalaureate studies at Western Carolina University (WCU). While at WCU, she worked as a Career Graduate Fellow in the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education. She also served as an advanced science and math learning consultant at Southwestern Community College’s Learning Assistance Center.

“I applied to the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program because I was drawn to its mission of enhancing access to care. I believe that all communities need resources to help maintain oral health, and I want to provide those resources directly as a dental professional,” said Davis. “It is an honor to belong to the national network of health care providers who have been assisted by the program, and I consider it a privilege to represent the NHSC at the School of Dental Medicine.”

Davis grew up in Sylva, N.C., in Jackson County about 45 miles west of Asheville. Her father, Dr. Joe Davis, had a distinguished career as a public health dentist. Upon his retirement, he served as a chief dentist at the Jackson County public health clinic until its closing in the 2014. Sylva and many other communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains are considered health professional shortage areas.

“My hope is to complete a DMD at East Carolina and return to the Sylva area as a primary care dentist,” said Davis.

In June 2014, the ECU School of Dental Medicine opened a community service learning center in Sylva, where fourth-year students, post-doctoral residents, and faculty dentists help meet the oral health needs of Jackson and surrounding counties. Davis hopes to begin serving Sylva patients while completing a rotation at the dental center during her fourth-year.

National Health Service Corps scholarships provide tuition, fees, other educational costs and a living stipend, tax-free, for as many as 4 years in exchange for an equal number of years (2-year minimum) service at an approved facility in a high-need underserved area.

 

Oct 232014
 

If there’s a common characteristic among attendees at the annual East Carolina University College of Nursing scholarship dinner, it’s a passion for helping others. The event brings together private donors who make the academic scholarships possible with the outstanding nursing students who receive their awards.

This year’s recipients were recognized at a ceremony held this fall at the Greenville Hilton Hotel. One hundred and four students received scholarships totaling $220,070 for the 2014-2015 academic year.

College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown thanked donors at the event for enabling students to pursue their dreams of becoming nurses or continuing their education.

“Please know your gifts make a huge difference in our students’ ability to study and meet the demands of the nursing curriculum,” she said.

Charles with 2014 Heather A. Purtee Nursing Scholarship recipient Amy Smith and CON Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown

Charles with 2014 Heather A. Purtee Nursing Scholarship recipient Amy Smith and CON Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown

Many of the scholarships awarded were created to memorialize individuals who have or had exceptional dedication to the field of nursing. The evening event represents a heartwarming opportunity for donors to meet the students who benefit from their financial gifts.

The Voice of the Pirates, Jeff Charles, and his wife, Debby make it a priority to attend the event each year. They created the Heather A. Purtee Nursing Scholarship, a fund named for their daughter who died in a car accident in 1992 while an ECU nursing student.

Charles explained that attending the event is a way to honor his daughter’s life and preserve her memory while at the same time seeing the students who receive the scholarship.

“The College of Nursing was very dear to (Heather),” he said. “We try to award the scholarship to someone who needs financial help. That’s been gratifying to us, that we’re helping these kids.”

To make a donation to a nursing scholarship, contact Major Gifts Officer Mark Alexander at alexanderma@ecu.edu or 252-744-2324.

Oct 162014
 

East Carolina University’s Medical & Health Sciences Foundation leadership is taking steps to better align their efforts with the aims of the overall health sciences enterprise.

Strategic planning for the foundation kicked off with a retreat in New Bern on Sept. 26-27. Though the university and the ECU Foundation have produced strategic plans with great success, this is the first time the Medical & Health Sciences Foundation has taken on such a project.

“Over the last two years, the (Medical & Health Sciences Foundation) board has become more engaged than ever before,” said Marcy W. Romary, interim president of the foundation. “We want to take the board to the next level by considering how we can be helpful and better engaged with the division.”

She added, “There’s also great competition for dollars today – in the community, in the state and in general. We need to respond to that.”

A preliminary draft of vision, mission, key objectives and strategies for the foundation is scheduled for presentation and revision in October. Carol Mabe, a member of the ECU Board of Trustees, is leading the planning process.