Author Archives: David Jones

SALUTES AND SMILES: School of Dental Medicine’s CSLC–Sylva hosts inaugural ECU Smiles for Veterans event

For Lloyd Holland, walking into the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine’s community service learning center in Sylva, N.C., felt like coming home all over again.

Holland and about 40 other veterans from seven western North Carolina counties received dental care from students, residents and faculty from the School of Dental Medicine during the inaugural ECU Smiles for Veterans event on Thursday, Nov. 15.

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Dental Students Don White Coats

The ECU School of Dental Medicine bestowed clinical white coats upon 51 students in the Class of 2021 during a ceremony on the evening of Nov. 8. The event signaled that these second-year students are ready to apply their intensive course work and clinical knowledge to patient care in the clinics of Ledyard E. Ross Hall.

“From this point on, you will be held to a higher standard—that of doctor of dental medicine and a member of the dental profession,” said Greg Chadwick, dean of the dental school. “The white coat symbolizes the most important relationship of your professional life—the relationship between patient and doctor.”

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ECU dental school earns national honor for innovation

The national organization representing all U.S. and Canadian dental schools announced last week that a 2019 award for innovation will go to the School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University. It is the first national honor to recognize the university for its breakthrough approach to providing practical experience for future dentists through rural service-learning centers across North Carolina.

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First-year student receives four-year scholarship to ECU dental school

Greenville, NC (October 31, 2018)—Jonelle Romero, a first-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has received a four-year scholarship to the ECU School of Dental Medicine from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NHSC provides financial, professional and educational resources to primary care medical, dental, and behavioral health care professionals, who bring their skills to areas of the United States with limited access to health care.

Jonelle Romero, a first year dental student, has received a four-year scholarship to dental school from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

Jonelle Romero, a first year dental student, has received a four-year scholarship to dental school from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

The scholarship covers tuition, fees, and other relevant educational expenses and a monthly stipend for living expenses. The program finances the education of selected students, who will reciprocate by serving in health professional shortage areas upon graduation and licensure. For every year a student is awarded the scholarship, they commit to a year of service—with a two-year service minimum.

A native of New York, Ms. Romero grew up in Greenville. She graduated from East Carolina University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in public health studies. As an undergraduate, she co-founded Pirate After School Scholars tutoring program, and she volunteered for Making Pitt Fit Community Garden. She is a first-generation college graduate in her family.

Since entering dental school in August, Ms. Romero has been active in the Student Research Group, the Student National Dental Association, Public Health Club, and the American Student Dental Association. “Diligence, hard work, and being scholarly pays off when the reward is receiving a scholarship to fulfill your dream,” she said.

“We are extremely pleased for Jonelle and for the dental school that she was selected to receive the NHSC four-year scholarship,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, the school’s vice dean and associate dean for Student Affairs. “Her commitment to our school’s mission is evident already. We look forward to watching her grow as a dental care provider.”

Ms. Romero’s long-term goal is to practice general dentistry in rural areas of North Carolina. “Eventually, I envision myself joining or creating outreach initiatives to strengthen communities in our state. I also hope to continue mentoring pre-dental students and volunteering at free dental clinics,” she added.

During her fourth year of dental school, Ms. Romero and her classmates will complete three 9-week rotations at the school’s Community Service Learning Centers located in eight rural communities across North Carolina—a unique opportunity to deliver care and learn about population health challenges in different parts of the state.

Kernersville native, ECU dental student, receives 2018 Dental Trade Alliance Foundation Scholarship

Greenville, N.C. (October 31, 2018)—Jiwon Lim, a third-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has been selected to receive a 2018 Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation Scholarship for $5,000 to help defray educational expenses.

The DTA is an association of companies that provide dental equipment, supplies, materials and services to dentists and other oral care professionals. The DTA Foundation functions to broaden awareness of oral health’s impact on overall health and increase access to oral health care. 

Third-year student Jiwon Lim received a 2018 Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation Scholarship.

Third-year student Jiwon Lim received a 2018 Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) Foundation Scholarship.

The DTA Foundation awards scholarships to rising third- and fourth-year dental students who have demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry and have an established commitment to community service.

A native of Kernersville, N.C., Ms. Lim graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2014 with a double major in biology and music. She is president of the ECU School of Dental Medicine Student Chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry. She has also served on the executive boards of the school’s Student Chapters of the American Association of Women Dentists and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry. 

Ms. Lim was selected for the 2018-2019 J. Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellowship Program sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, through which she and ECU Brody School of Medicine student Niki Winters are expanding an interprofessional medical-dental free clinic for homeless and uninsured patients. The clinic was launched last year by another dental-medical team of ECU Schweitzer Fellows.

“I’m so grateful to be chosen as a recipient of the DTA Foundation Scholarship,” said Ms. Lim. “Serving the community is a passion of mine, and for the DTA Foundation to recognize my efforts is such an honor. It would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my family, classmates, faculty, and staff.”

“Jiwon is to be commended on receiving this award,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, the dental school’s vice dean and associate dean for Student Affairs. “Her selection by the DTA Foundation recognizes her academic achievements as well as her commitment to promoting the mission of the ECU School of Dental Medicine.”

After graduation from dental school, Ms. Lim plans to join a residency program to gain advanced training in general dentistry or in an area of specialized dentistry.

During her fourth year of dental school, Ms. Lim and her classmates will complete three 9-week rotations at the school’s Community Service Learning Centers located in eight rural communities across North Carolina—a unique opportunity to deliver care and learn about population health challenges in different parts of the state.

CSLC-Robeson County is honored by Southeastern Health

The ECU School of Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County was honored among Robeson County organizations and individuals for efforts to improve the health of the region during Southeastern Health’s 2018 Regional Community Health Awards night on October 23 on the campus of Robeson Community College.

Honorees were selected out of 38 nominees in the categories of business, community education and emergency support, faith-based, government, health care providers, individual impact, in-house heroes and lifetime achievement.

The faculty, staff, students, and residents of the dental school’s Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County were recognized by Southeastern Health for their efforts to improve the health of the region.

The faculty, staff, students, and residents of the dental school’s Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County were recognized by Southeastern Health for their efforts to improve the health of the region.

The Community Service Learning Center (CSLC)-Robeson County, located at 600 Country Club Road in Lumberton, N.C., was chosen from a field of four health care providers in the county. The awards were presented by Southeastern Health’s executive leadership team.

The CSLC-Robeson County, which opened in January 2015 and has served over 3,800 patients, is one of ECU’s eight dental centers in rural and underserved communities across North Carolina. The centers provide hands-on training for fourth-year dental students and residents while offering dentistry at a reduced cost to children and adults. Each center includes ECU faculty dentists, dental and business staff, students, and residents.

“The majority of our staff grew up in Robeson County,” said Craig Slotke, DDS, the center’s faculty director, “so they are really engaged in the community and want to see a healthier population.”

The center often participates in community outreach. Recent projects include the Smithfield Packing Health Fair, Mohr House (assistant living) Health Fair, Give Kids a Smile free dental event, Fairgrove Middle School Career Day, Lewis Chapel Middle School Career Day, Tiny Tots Daycare (Dental Health Month), and Boys and Girls Club Career Day.

The center also provides consultation, evaluation, and treatment for patients of Southeastern Health’s Gibson Cancer Center located nearby.

“I am so very pleased and honored that the ECU School of Dental Medicine and particularly our facility in Robeson County was recognized for our service,” said Dr. Slotke. “After thirty-four years in private practice, I can truly say that providing care to the underserved in this community has been some of the most fulfilling years of my professional life. I have had the pleasure of working with a wonderful and committed team to educate and treat patients while training the next generation of dentists to have a commitment to serve.”

Craig Slotke, DDS, faculty director of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County (at right), accepted an award on behalf of his dental team from Joseph Roberts Jr., MD, vice president of Southeastern Health, during Southeastern Health’s 2018 Regional Community Health Awards night on October 23 in Lumberton, N.C.

Craig Slotke, DDS, faculty director of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Community Service Learning Center-Robeson County (at right), accepted an award on behalf of his dental team from Joseph Roberts Jr., MD, vice president of Southeastern Health, during Southeastern Health’s 2018 Regional Community Health Awards night on October 23 in Lumberton, N.C.

Mr. William “Bill” Smith, Robeson County’s director of Public Health for over 30 years, was honored with Southeastern Health’s Lifetime Commitment Award. He said, “The effort I’m most proud of is one of the other winners—the ECU learning center. We were not the top pick for a location and I appreciate them going out on a limb to come here. They are doing exactly what we wanted, bringing more dentists to the area and making our kids want to be dentists. So, it’s everything that I wanted.”

Greg Chadwick, DDS, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine, said, “We are extremely proud of Dr. Slotke and his staff, students, and residents for their efforts in improving oral health in and around Robeson County and for the partnerships they have developed to help North Carolinians live healthier lives. They and our other CSLCs are on the forefront of ECU’s model of regional transformation.”

First-Year Students Gain Research Experience

First-year students Wesley Shaw, Colby Godwin, Branden Sumner, and Jonathan Nowlin participated in the school’s 2018 Summer Scholars Research Program, which pairs beginning students with research faculty and projects for three months prior to dental school.

Thus far, the students have presented their research at the ECU Medical Student Research Day and at the dental school’s Celebration of Research and Scholarship in August.

First-year students (left to right) Wesley Shaw, Colby Godwin, Branden Sumner, and Jonathan Nowlin participated in the school’s 2018 Summer Scholars Research Program.

First-year students (left to right) Wesley Shaw, Colby Godwin, Branden Sumner, and Jonathan Nowlin participated in the school’s 2018 Summer Scholars Research Program.

Wesley Shaw presented “Understanding the Effects of Arrabidaea chica extract on Inflammatory Signaling Pathways” by W. Godwin, W. Shaw, M. A. Foglio, and R. Murata. Wesley will represent the school at the American Association of Dental Research meeting in 2020.

Colby Godwin presented “Cytokine Profile of Human Gingival Fibroblasts Following Exposure to Lipopolysaccharide and Zymosan Present in Cell Wall of Microorganisms,” by W. Shaw, W. Godwin, C. Gay, and R. Murata. Colby will represent the school at the Hinman Student Research Symposium in 2019.

Branden Sumner presented “Influence of Maternal Diet and Physical Activity on Dental Maturity and Caries Occurrence in Offspring,” by B. Sumner, T. Windley, J. L. Current, A. Kordis, and L May.

Jonathan Nowlin presented “Qualitative Analysis of Attitudes and Barriers to Oral Health Care as Perceived by Psychiatric Patients and Dental Providers,” by J. Nowlin, J.G.L. Lee, P. Averett, V. Ananda, J Benjamin, and W. Wright. Jonathan will represent the school at the “SCADA” student research competition at the American Association of Dental Research meeting in 2020.

Akeadra Bell is Named President-Elect of the Student National Dental Association

Greenville, NC, September 18, 2018—Akeadra Bell, third-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has been named president-elect of the national Student National Dental Association (SNDA) 2018-2019.

The SNDA was established over 40 years ago to promote, aid and support the academic and social environment of minority students. In her new role, Ms. Bell will be responsible for learning the operations, policies and programs in preparation to become SNDA national president next year.

Akeadra Bell

Akeadra Bell

Ms. Bell, who is from Elizabeth City, N.C., earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Elizabeth City State University. She has served as vice president and then president the ECU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association. She has also served in leadership roles with the National SNDA Executive Board Corporate Roundtable, American Student Dental Association Pre-Dental Committee, ECU School of Dental Medicine Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Student Academy of American Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Educational Association and the dental school’s Class of 2020. She has been an academic tutor for other dental students since 2017.

Ms. Bell was recently selected to receive the J. Bradley Wilson Schweitzer Fellowship 2018-2019, through which she and classmate, Briana Hudson, will co-direct the HIV S.M.A.R.T. program to provide dental treatment and oral health education for HIV patients in Greenville, N.C.

“To be able to serve and lead the SNDA, which has been so instrumental in my development as a student and a dentist, is truly a dream come true,” Bell said.

“Akeadra is to be commended for her leadership at our school and now at the national level of the SNDA,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, the dental school’s vice dean and associate dean for Student Affairs. “She will be a strong advocate for students across the country. We’re proud of her academic achievements, demonstrated leadership, and potential for making a significant contribution to dentistry and to the lives of the patients she treats.”

During her fourth year of dental school, Ms. Bell and her classmates will gain hands-on experience treating patients during their rotations at the school’s eight community service learning centers in rural areas across North Carolina.

After graduation from dental school, Ms. Bell hopes to complete a one-year general practice residency to gain further experience serving patients and then return to dental education in the future.

Schweitzer Fellows establish holistic clinic for homeless patients

ECU School of Dental Medicine student Kiersten Bethea and Brody School of Medicine student Samantha Forlenza broke new ground in 2017-2018 as the first interdisciplinary dental-medical team to be awarded an NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a year-long leadership program for graduate health professional students to learn how to address health disparities in vulnerable communities.

Schweitzer Fellows Kiersten Bethea (at right) and Samantha Forlenza developed a clinic that combined dental and medical services for the homeless.

Schweitzer Fellows Kiersten Bethea (at right) and Samantha Forlenza developed a clinic that combined dental and medical services for the homeless.

With sponsorship from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the Fellows developed a clinic that combined dental and medical services for the homeless.

Studies demonstrate that many dental conditions, such as infections, are strongly correlated with systemic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Unfortunately, for many people dental care is either not an option or is low on the priority list,” Bethea said. Now in her fourth year of dental school, Bethea is passionate about increasing access to oral health care and educating the public about the connection between oral health and overall health.

Forlenza’s undergraduate degree in public health and nutrition sparked her interest in interdisciplinary care. When she volunteered at the Greenville Homeless Shelter Clinic, she noticed the long wait times that patients experienced before receiving dental care at the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center, a local safety net provider which serves patients on a sliding scale fee.

The students believed they might be able to care for some of the patients on the Bernstein Center’s waiting list. Thus, the idea for their Schweitzer project was born. The pair launched the Holistic Interprofessional Program (HIP), a free clinic providing emergency dental care, diabetes testing, and nutrition counseling for homeless people in the Greenville area.

HIP was housed in the School of Dental Medicine’s Emergency Care Clinic in Ross Hall once a week from August 2017 through March 2018 and integrated into the fourth-year dental school curriculum. Patients were referred to the program by local free clinics. Dental students provided oral health care for patients while medical students provided diabetes testing and nutrition counseling.

In total, the program provided 43 patients with free services worth nearly $8,700, with part of the funds coming from the School of Dental Medicine’s Patient Care Fund.

“With two different specialties, we wanted to deliver care in a way that would be comfortable for the patients and provide cross education between specialties,” said Bethea. “The medical students observed the dental students interviewing patients and performing initial assessments, and the medical students modeled diabetes testing and motivational interviewing concerning diet.”

“Interprofessional collaboration translates into improved health care delivery,” said Dr. Kimberley Gise, director of the dental school’s emergency clinic and an academic mentor on the project. “HIP is a special project that has improved the coordination and communication between dental, medical, and social work healthcare professionals. This collaboration has been a safety net for our homeless, uninsured and underinsured community members and has improved access to care and health equity.

Dr. Tom Irons, ECU associate vice chancellor for regional health services, also served as an academic mentor for HIP.

“It’s very exciting that dental and medical students are working together to provide quality health care services for those in most need and for everyone,” he said. “Interprofessional education must be our vision for the future in order to meet the needs of a population with complex medical conditions.”

Also advising Bethea and Forlenza were site mentors Dr. Robert Doherty, dental director of the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center, and Maudia Ahmed, a social worker at Access East/Health Assist.

“The project needed a care manager to communicate and follow up with patients from local shelter clinics,” said Forlenza. “Maudia Ahmed and AccessEast stepped up to this challenge and integrated HIP as another site in their organization. Ms. Ahmed’s communication between the dental school and the patients was the glue that made the project work.”

The students also gained help from two Greenville churches, whose members provided patients with transportation to the dental school from area shelters and shelter clinics.

Although Bethea and Forlenza’s project ended in April, Barbara Heffner, director of the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, announced in mid-July the list of 2018-2019 Schweitzer Fellows. Among them is another ECU dental/medical team that will continue the HIP program.

Dental student Jiwon Lim and medical student Niki Winters are planning to expand the Holistic Interprofessional Program (HIP) next year byaccepting patients from Vidant Medical Center’s minor emergency department as well as from local shelters and shelter clinics. Patients will be referred to the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center for continued medical and dental needs.

“I came into medical school positive I would go into primary care, and those thoughts have not changed, but what has changed for me is the importance of partnering with a dentist later on in my practice,” Forlenza said. “The crossover between oral health and medical preventive care is unavoidable. No matter what specialty you go into, oral health impacts patients’ overall health.”

Briana Hudson receives scholarship from the Old North State Dental Society

Greenville, NC, July 19, 2018—Briana Hudson, third-year student at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, has received a scholarship from the Old North State Dental Society (ONSDS).

Ms. Hudson, who is from Raleigh, N.C., earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been active in the school’s Dental Student Government and will serve as the organization’s president in 2018-2019.

Briana Hudson ’20 received a scholarship from the Old North State Dental Society. Dean Greg Chadwick and Vice Dean Maggie Wilson presented the scholarship to Briana

Briana Hudson ’20 received a scholarship from the Old North State Dental Society. Dean Greg Chadwick and Vice Dean Maggie Wilson presented the scholarship to Briana

She has served as the event and networking chairperson for the ECU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association. She has also been selected to become a Fellow of the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program and in the coming year will join other Fellows from ECU and across the state in service projects that address the state’s chronic health issues.

“I am delighted to be our school’s recipient of the Old North State Dental Society Scholarship. The Society has lightened my financial burden, allowing me to focus more on the most important aspect of dental school, which is learning. Their generosity has inspired me to help others and to continue to give back to my community,” said Ms. Hudson. “I hope to one day be able to help students achieve their goals, just as the ONSDS has helped me.”

“Briana is very deserving of the Old North State Dental Society Scholarship, which recognizes her strong academic achievements, demonstrated leadership skills and potential for making a significant contribution to dentistry and to the lives of the patients she treats,” said Dr. Margaret Wilson, the dental school’s vice dean and associate dean for Student Affairs.

During her fourth-year of dental school, Ms. Hudson and her classmates will gain hands-on experience treating patients during their rotations at the school’s eight community service learning centers in rural areas across North Carolina. She plans to remain in North Carolina after graduation and continue to provide dental care for the underserved.

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