ECU professor serves on vehicle technology panel

East Carolina University occupational therapy professor Dr. Anne Dickerson was one of ten experts on a panel that reviewed vehicle technologies for benefits in promoting capacity, confidence and convenience for drivers as they age.

Dickerson is the director of Research for the Older Adult Driver Initiative at ECU. She has been researching functional performance of older adults since the early 1990s. When the American Occupational Therapy Association identified older adult drivers as an emerging practice area in 2003, she began to focus on the functional performance of driving and has become one of the leading occupational therapy researchers in this growing area.

She has an occupational therapy degree from Temple University, a master’s degree in allied health education/health administration from Texas State University and a doctorate in
developmental psychology from Florida International University.

Other panel participants included practitioners and researchers with expertise in geriatric medicine, kinesiology, human factors and occupational therapy.

The study was conducted by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab.  For more information about the study, visit For details on the panel, visit


Toriello named chair of Dept. of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies

Paul Toriello

Dr. Paul Toriello has been named the new chair of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies at East Carolina University effective Aug. 1.

In the addictions and rehabilitation field since 1991, Toriello has worked as a paraprofessional, case manager and clinician. He also spent several years as the training director and then clinical director of a 108-bed residential facility serving adolescents with behavior disorders and substance abuse issues.

Toriello joined ECU in 2005 after four years at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. He has directed the PhD program in rehabilitation counseling and administration since 2009, and has served as the College of Allied Health Sciences’ interim assistant dean for research grants since 2011. In the role of principal investigator, Toriello conceived and started an addictions treatment clinic in 2007, and developed it into a state-licensed substance abuse intensive outpatient program.

He has participated in more than $5 million in projects funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. Department of Defense and other agencies. He is president-elect of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association.

Toriello earned his Doctor of Rehabilitation, specializing in substance related disorders, from the Rehabilitation Institute, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He received a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in rehabilitation counseling from Wright State University. He is a board-licensed clinical addictions specialist and a board-certified rehabilitation counselor and clinical supervisor.

Toriello replaces Dr. Lloyd Goodwin, who served as interim department chair for several years on two separate occasions.

Goodwin facilitated the new department name change to reflect its expanded emphasis; combined two graduate degree programs to improve their visibility and reflect current and future practice; and initiated the application for a new national accreditation to broaden student recruitment and employment markets for graduates, according to Dr. Stephen Thomas, dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences.


PA Studies names new chair

Dr. Alan F. Gindoff was named chair and program director of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in the College of Allied Health Sciences.

Gindoff was previously on the faculty at the School of PA Studies at the University of Florida. He completed his PA training at Wake Forest University. He holds a bachelor’s in zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University, a master of physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska and a doctor of health science degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Gindoff’s academic and research interests include glomerulonephritis and migraine headaches. In the academic arena he is particularly interested in mentoring and remediation. As a result of the latter interest, in 2004 Dr. Gindoff established an academic support program at the University of Florida which has had positive outcomes for dozens of PA students. His past clinical experience has been in urgent care, family practice, emergency medicine, pediatrics and student health.


ECU to offer new master of science program

The Department of Health Services and Information Management has received the official notification from the UNC Board of Governors to establish the master of science in health informatics and information management program starting in fall 2013.

The MS in HIIM program is designed to prepare health informaticians and information managers who will work to lead, develop and implement clear and effective health information strategies within and across health care organizations.

The establishment of the MS in HIIM program is a direct response to the emerging strong workforce needs from the field as well as the vision of the national association, American Health Information Management Association, to transform health information management to a graduate level education by 2016.

The program at ECU is the second such program approved within the UNC constituent institutions. The program will be offered both on campus and via distance education.


ECU faculty guest edit issue of occupational therapy journal

Dr. Jane Painter, professor, and Dr. Sharon Elliott, adjunct faculty, were guest editors and coordinators of the Special Issue on Occupational Therapy Opportunities in Fall Prevention in the March-April American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Other College of Allied Health Sciences faculty and graduate students who assisted include:  Dr. Leonard Trujillo, associate professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy; Dr. Leslie Allison, assistant professor, Department of Physical Therapy; and Dr. Andrada Ivanescu, assistant professor, Department of Biostatistics.

Past graduate occupational therapy students who assisted in data collection for the Fear of Falling article include Puneet Dhingra, MS, OTR/L, Justin Daughtery, MS, OTR/L, and Kira Cogdill, MS, OTR/L.

Published in the issue were:

Peterson, E. W., Finlayson, M., Elliott, S. J., Painter, J. A., & Clemson L. (2012).  Unprecedented Opportunities in Fall Prevention for Occupational Therapy Practitioners.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 127-130.

Schepens, S., Sen, A., Painter, J. A., & Murphy, S. L. (2012). Relationship between fall-related efficacy and activity engagement in community-dwelling older adults: A meta-analytic review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 137–148.

Leland, N. E., Elliott, S. J., O’Malley, L., & Murphy, S. L. (2012). Occupational therapy in fall prevention: Current evidence and future directions. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 149–160.

Elliott, S. J., Ivanescu, A., Leland, N. E., Fogo, J., Painter, J. A., & Trujillo, L. G. (2012). Feasibility of interdisciplinary community-based fall risk screening. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 161–168.

Painter, J. A., Allison, L., Dhingra, P., Daughtery, J., Cogdill, K., & Trujillo, L. G. (2012). Fear of falling and its relationship with anxiety, depression, and activity engagement among community-dwelling older adults. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, 169–176.


Allied health’s role in health care reform focus of article

An article by College of Allied Health Sciences dean Dr. Stephen W. Thomas with co-editors Dr. Lee McLean, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Alisa Debnam, Council for Allied Health in N.C., “The Role of Allied Health in Health Care Reform,” was published in the September/October 2011 edition of the North Carolina Medical Journal.

The article is available at


Health Sciences debuts ECU Health Beat

Dr. Phyllis Horns

East Carolina University Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis N. Horns has announced the launch of a new blog called ECU Health Beat.

According to Horns’ initial post, the blog will share news from the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the College of Nursing, the School of Dental Medicine and the Laupus Library.

“We hope the citizens and leaders of the state visit ECU Health Beat to learn about better health, our work in the state, our cutting edge research, and the fine faculty and health professionals we get to work beside,” Horns said in the blog.

Access ECU Health Beat at


Allied Health Professions Week supplement features Heather Ramsdell

Research by Heather Ramsdell, right, professor in ECU's College of Allied Health Sciences, was featured in a News and Observer special section on Health Professions Appreciation Week.

By Kit Roberson

The ECU College of Allied Health Sciences is celebrating Allied Health Professions Week Nov. 6 – 12.

Allied health professionals constitute 60 percent of all health care providers and work in both the public and private sector.  Clinical lab scientists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, health information managers, speech-language pathologists, physician assistants and some 80 other professional disciplines perform assessment, provide essential services, support physicians, nurses and dentists and profoundly influence the quality of health care provided across North Carolina and the country.

In celebration of health care workers who provide highly skilled, safe and quality care, The News & Observer partnered with The Council for Allied Health in North Carolina to produce a special section, Celebrating Allied Health Professions Appreciation Week that was included in the Sunday, Nov. 6 newspaper.  The supplement includes an article (p. 5) on Heather Ramsdell’s research on language development.

Ramsdell is assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

As North Carolina’s first and only college of allied health sciences, East Carolina University is the largest provider of allied health professionals in the state.  Approximately 800 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in the school’s seven departments. They are led by more than 75 full-time faculty.



Schulman awarded Ph.D.

Kathleen Schulman, interim chair of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, completed her Ph.D. requirements at Capella University in August. Her degree is in education with a specialization in instructional design for online learning.

Her dissertation is entitled, “A Qualitative Case Study of Instructional Support for Web-Based Simulated Laboratory Exercises in Online college Chemistry Laboratory Courses.”