With Community Health Screenings, It’s Best to Stick to the Basics

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on With Community Health Screenings, It’s Best to Stick to the Basics
Nov 142013

Sometimes, the simple stuff works best.

This is true when it comes to the valuable practice of churches, nonprofits and community groups hosting health screenings. The advice? Keep it simple. Stick to the straightforward medical tests that change behaviors, and avoid more complicated screenings that lead to additional invasive procedures.

It’s common practice for churches and other community groups to host health screenings. These events help raise awareness for common health issues and often provide basic screenings at little to no cost. This type of community action is built around the promotion of good health habits. But, as recent news stories have covered, some advanced screenings should be left to doctors.

In some cases, tests are offered by for-profit companies and come with an advertising pitch for additional services. Doctors warn patients and community groups to always consider the source with these sorts of tests. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians maintains a list of tests to avoid. One potential problem is test  results showing things that – though abnormal – are completely benign. When an incorrect diagnosis is delivered, patients are then subjected to more invasive tests that can be more harmful. It takes the eye of a trained physician to tell the difference.

Dr. Jason Foltz, clinic director of family medicine at ECU, says people at community events should seek tests that focus on improved outcomes – tests such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index, glucose and cholesterol screenings. Proponents of these community screening events say that while doctors can preach to patients about the need to exercise or quit smoking, it sometimes takes the reality check of a positive test result to motivate a person to make a change.

These tests can also serve as guideposts for patients working on managing an existing condition. Just last week, the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU hosted the 12th annual Winning with Diabetes conference. At this event, guests received blood pressure, vascular and kidney screenings.

In most cases, tests such as these are only the first steps in establishing a plan for better health, Foltz says. If anything alarming comes up during one of these simple screenings, you should visit your doctor so he or she can get you started on a program to correct the issue.

Follow ECU Health Sciences on Twitter to learn about future health screenings.


Brody School of Medicine tops in producing family physicians for third consecutive year

 Brody School of Medicine  Comments Off on Brody School of Medicine tops in producing family physicians for third consecutive year
May 282013

Accepting the award May 3 (from left to right): Dr. Kari Kirian, clinical instructor; Dr. Lars Larsen, vice chair of educational development; Dr. Jeff Cain, American Academy of Family Physicians president; Dr. Chris Duffrin, assistant professor; and Dr. Lauren Whetstone, assistant professor. (Contributed Photo)

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has received a Top Ten Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians for contributing to the pipeline of family physicians.

With 20.9 percent of graduates choosing family medicine residencies, the Brody School of Medicine earned the top spot among the 12 schools that received 2013 Top Ten Awards. This is the third consecutive year that the Brody School of Medicine has earned the Top Ten distinction.

Representatives from ECU accepted the award in Baltimore, Md., earlier this month.

“The Brody School of Medicine has a strong tradition of continuing to work diligently toward its founding legislative missions of an emphasis on primary care training, training underrepresented minorities, and improving the health care of those in eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Ken Steinweg, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine.

“This particular award is national recognition in one of those areas, our No. 1 standing in promoting primary care—in particular family medicine—as a medical profession among medical students.”

The medical school’s success in rankings over the last decade has helped attract promising family-medicine-track students who are enthusiastic about the campus and the faculty. The Brody School of Medicine focuses on recruiting and teaching the students but also on having a faculty of professional examples for the future physicians to learn from.

“They know that’s what we’re about,” Steinweg said. “They’re surrounded by good role models and beautiful facilities.”

The Brody School of Medicine has held fast to the top rankings consistently because of the support of the administration and efforts of other medical school faculty and staff, he added.

“We have a tradition of doing this,” Steinweg said. “All in all, it’s an initiative of the whole medical school.”

At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of primary care physicians, adding to the pool of family physicians is vital to the health of America, said AAFP President Dr. Jeff Cain. “Family physicians are the foundation of primary care,” Cain said. “Theirs is the only specialty in which all physicians are trained to provide primary care. The expertise of family physicians becomes even more important to people who have serious and chronic health conditions.”

Research shows that family physicians are the source of care for close to six out of 10 patients with anxiety, depression, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

This year’s Top Ten recognition was expanded to 12 schools out of the nation’s 126 allopathic medical schools to accommodate the growth in the number of geographically separated medical school campuses across the country.