2021 Annual Report
ETSU HEALTH LEADERSHIP President Brian Noland, PhD Senior Vice President for Academics and Provost Kimberly D. McCorkle, JD
SCHOLARSHIP & RESEARCH
Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Dean of Quillen College of Medicine William Block, MD, MBA Dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy Debbie C. Byrd, PharmD, MBA Dean of College of Nursing Leann Horsley, PhD, RN, CHSE, CNE Dean of College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences Don Samples, EdD Dean of College of Public Health Randy Wykoff, MD, MPH & TM
Managing Editor Melissa Nipper Graphic Designer Jeanette Jewell Contributors Kristen Early Jennifer Hill Cody Ryans Joel Spears Stephen Woodward Principal Photography Ron Campbell Matthew Carroll Larry Smith Charlie Warden
ETSU Health Snapshots. . . . . . . . . . . 2 Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Innovation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Clinical Locations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Scholarship & Research. . . . . . . . . . 44
East Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs and activities sponsored by ETSU. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Compliance Coordinator, PO Box 70271, Johnson City, TN 37614, 423-439-8544. ETSU’s policy on non-discrimination can be found at: etsu.edu/universitycounsel/compliance. ETSU is an AA/EEO employer. ETSU-HEA-57-22
LETTER FROM THE PROVOST AND SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMICS
Throughout my brief time at East Tennessee State University, the many stories of how the lives of others are being transformed by the students, faculty, staff, residents, and fellows from ETSU Health have clearly demonstrated that this institution is committed to improving the health of the people of this region. I commend each of you for the work you have done to help ETSU achieve this mission, and I thank you for the warm welcome that you have bestowed upon me since I arrived on campus last July. Across the nation, ETSU has garnered significant recognition for its work in interprofessional education. Did you know that 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of when ETSU received a major grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation? That grant funded the Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education Program, and that program built the foundation for our work in interprofessional education. So much of what defines our interdisciplinary health education efforts today can be traced back to the initiatives our students and faculty led in rural Hawkins and Johnson counties. The Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education program gave our medical, nursing, public health, and clinical and rehabilitative health sciences students the opportunity to work together in teams in those rural counties and to partner with community members on addressing health challenges affecting these counties. It quickly became a national model. Caring for rural communities remains paramount to our mission as ETSU continues to pursue other educational, research, and service initiatives within interprofessional learning. Our 2021 annual report provides a snapshot of many of these activities, including the dedication of Bishop Hall and our work at the RAM Clinic. Our presence as a major hub for interprofessional activity continues to draw students and faculty to our campus every year. It is truly an honor to be part of this campus and this community and to see the incredible work that ETSU Health is doing every day to enhance the well-being of others. Congratulations on an amazing 2021 year, and I look forward to the powerful story that 2022 will bring. Best wishes. Sincerely,
Kimberly D. McCorkle Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics
2021 Annual Report 1
ETSU HEALTH SNAPSHOTS 99th percentile of medical schools with students with plans to
participate in military service (AAMC)
QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
In the In the 98th 98th percentile percentile of medical of medical schools with schools with
graduates practicing graduates practicing (AAMC) primary care primary careOF(AAMC) QUILLEN COLLEGE MEDICINE Most of the programs in the college rank in the top 100 fastest-growing professions in the U.S. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
90% of students receive one of their
top 3 picks in residency placement,
including many highly competitive specialty programs.
QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
GATTON COLLEGE OF PHARMACY
100+ leadership opportunities and 13 student organizations The college offers multiple patient-care clinics in audiology, dental hygiene, anD speech-language pathology. COLLEGE OF CLINICAL AND REHABILITATIVE HEALTH SCIENCES
GATTON COLLEGE OF PHARMACY
⅓ + student
pharmacists are from
rural zip codes Introducing two new, in-demand academic programs:
Occupational Therapy and Orthotics and Prosthetics
COLLEGE OF CLINICAL AND REHABILITATIVE HEALTH SCIENCES
COLLEGE OF CLINICAL AND REHABILITATIVE HEALTH SCIENCES
GATTON COLLEGE OF PHARMACY
In the last three years, the college has had applications from
99% of recent were satisfied or very satisfied alumni with their overall educational experience.
35 countries and 43 states. COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
were enrolled in the five ETSU Health colleges in fall 2021.
The etsu college of nursing IS
HOME TO THE LARGEST NURSING PROGRAM
in the state of TENNESSEE
ETSU Health facilities provide in excess of
per year in uncompensated health care to the people of our region.
COLLEGE OF NURSING
7 nurse-managed practice sites provide more than
Offering a variety of graduate programs, concentrations, and certificates that are
100% ONLINE COLLEGE OF NURSING
primary care and outreach visits each year to underserved clients
250 providers across more than 25 specialties provide care at 30 clinics around the region.
COLLEGE OF NURSING
Caring for the community STUDENTS, FACULTY VOLUNTEER AT RAM CLINIC An interprofessional team of students, faculty, and staff from East Tennessee State University’s five health sciences colleges volunteered at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic in Gray November 5-7, 2021. This was the fifth year that ETSU sent a team to Gray to help deliver free medical, dental, and vision services to people of the region. The ETSU Health volunteers represented Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, Quillen College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Nursing, and College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. Throughout the weekend, the volunteers assisted with vision, dental, and medical screenings and services, including audiology screenings. They also provided health awareness and education initiatives, such as naloxone training and smoking cessation. “The community engagement is two-fold,” said Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, Director of Experiential Learning at Quillen College of Medicine and Director of Community Engagement for Interprofessional Education Programs. “We want to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of our community, but also meeting the needs of our students and the learning objectives. “The students are getting to meet the real patients, see the struggles they have and connect them with resources in the community. At the same time, they’re getting to
be part of the interprofessional team here that delivers dental, medical, and vision care and helps those patients fill those needs they have.” Nick Jarvis, a fourth-year student pharmacist, volunteered throughout the weekend as part of his rural primary care rotation. He assisted with COVID-19 vaccines and provided diabetes and cardiovascular education. Throughout his shifts, Jarvis worked alongside students from ETSU’s other health sciences colleges. “Working as an interprofessional team is great because we share our roles and talk about how some of our roles overlap, and then fill in the gaps as needed,” Jarvis said. In addition to its regular services, due to the pandemic, this year’s RAM Clinic also required all patients to be screened for COVID-19. ETSU Health students assisted with the screenings, as well as administering COVID-19 vaccines to patients. “I’m thankful that we’re able to be a part of this event,” said Dr. Emily Flores, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. “I love that we’ve been able to do it for five years. The event has adapted over time. It’s different doing it in a pandemic, but we know that the care and the service are still needed. Just because the pandemic pauses some things, your health doesn’t stop, so I’m glad that we’re able to continue these services for the gaps in our area.”
Audiology donates services, discounted hearing aids to RAM patients Audiology faculty and students from East Tennessee State University donated more than $60,000 in services and discounted hearing aid devices to patients who attended the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic that took place in Gray in November 2020. While attending the 2020 clinic, volunteers from the Doctor of Audiology program tested 40 patients for hearing aids. Of those patients, 28 were identified as persons who could benefit from hearing aids. Those individuals were invited to come, free of charge, to ETSU’s Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the Nave Center in Elizabethton in order to be fitted for hearing aids in January and February 2021.
“We were pleased to fit 49 hearing aids this year,” said Dr. Shannon Blevins Bramlette, Clinical Assistant Professor. “Through this collaborative effort between our faculty and students, we were able to donate more than $60,000 in services, including the testing, fitting and education for these hearing aids. The patients did contribute to some of the cost of the devices, but we were able to get the hearing aids at deeply discounted rates from the manufacturers and provide them at cost to the patients. “We are appreciative to be the recipient of the ETSU Foundation Grant in 2018 with the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences that allowed us to fit a total of 105 hearing aids to RAM participants since 2018,” Bramlette said. “This program has been a wonderful way to help people for whom hearing aids might be outside the realm of what is economically possible for them to afford.”
Downtown Day Center continues serving community during pandemic
HOSPITALS, CLINICS, AND HEALTH care providers’ offices pivoted to new ways of providing services to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ETSU Health College of Nursing Johnson City Downtown Day Center (JCDDC) is no exception. The nurse-led JCDDC has provided accessible, high-quality, and compassionate primary care and behavioral health services to the community throughout the pandemic without interruption.
“We have been fortunate that we have been able to keep our doors open throughout,” said Amanda Moorhouse, Family Nurse Practitioner and Interim Director of the Center. “The daily operations have been affected in that we have had to decrease the number of Day Center clients that we allow in the building due to social distancing. The clients seem to have adjusted well to the changes.” The clinic initially experienced a decline in patient numbers, but that is slowly starting to rebound. Moorhouse says telehealth has been one of the biggest modifications that
has helped the JCDDC and its clients during the pandemic. “It has been very helpful for our patients and their health that we have been able to provide telehealth visits,” she said. “Obviously, we have to be mindful of the patients in the building and the risk that they could pose to others if they are experiencing symptoms. “We really try to be understanding, also, that this pandemic has affected the mental health status of many. The pandemic has helped to increase awareness of how important mental health is while also overcoming the stigma of seeking help.”
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Combatting COVID-19 ETSU HEALTH PROVIDES TESTING, VACCINATIONS As the pandemic entered its second year, ETSU Health increased ongoing efforts on the front lines of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Throughout the summer, ETSU Health also participated in the Take a Shot on Life campaign to take the vaccine on the road to various community locations and festivals.
Continuing testing initiatives begun in 2020, the ETSU Health Community Collection Site offered convenient, drive-through COVID-19 testing to the region, providing results of molecular PCR tests within 24 hours. Led by Dr. Kevin Breuel (Quillen College of Medicine), the site aims to decrease the spread of the virus by providing fast results of the reliable “gold-standard” PCR test.
As the fall 2021 semester began, ETSU Health expanded its vaccination offerings, providing both the PfizerBioNTech and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Following its established testing presence in the Appalachian Highlands, ETSU Health also took on a key role in community vaccination efforts when Dr. Adam Welch (Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy) and Dr. Leigh Johnson (formerly of Quillen College of Medicine/Director of ETSU COVID Response) were awarded a $1.1 million sub-award contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Tennessee Department of Health to establish a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at ETSU. Beginning in March 2021, ETSU Health distributed the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine in a series of clinics that continued throughout the spring and summer, when they began offering the vaccine during new student orientations. Dozens of student, faculty and staff volunteers from ETSU’s Gatton College of Pharmacy, Quillen College of Medicine, College of Public Health, and College of Nursing volunteered hundreds of hours at the ETSU Health clinics. 6
“We are grateful to Ballad Health and First Tennessee Development District’s Take a Shot on Life for partnering with ETSU Health to allow us to offer a choice of vaccines,” said Donna Noland, Manager of ETSU Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. To further promote the vaccine on campus, in August 2021, ETSU announced the ETSU Vaccine Challenge. Through this challenge, eligible students, faculty, and staff could voluntarily complete an online entry form to be entered into a raffle to win prizes. “Getting the vaccine is the best way for us to protect ourselves and each other,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. “Throughout the pandemic, our colleges have worked together to promote and distribute the vaccine, filling a critical need in our region. I am grateful for the vision of Dr. Johnson and Dr. Welch to establish the ETSU Health Vaccine Clinic, and for the faculty, staff, students, and community partnerships that have made that vision come to WATCH VIDEO life in our community.”
Clinic recognized as ‘Promising Practice’ The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognized ETSU Health’s Baby Steps clinic as a “Promising Practice” for enhancing primary care services for children and families affected by prenatal opioid exposure. The Baby Steps Clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic at ETSU Health Pediatrics that cares for the complex needs of children from birth to 5 years who have been affected by prenatal substance exposure.
Families Free, a licensed substance abuse treatment and mental health provider. The team works closely together to provide specialized developmental screening, specific tips to try at home to encourage healthy development, referrals for additional evaluations when needed, as well as coordination of additional services and recovery supports for the family.
“The purpose of the clinic is to partner with families in recovery and ensure the best possible outcomes for children exposed to substances before birth,” said Dr. Dianna Puhr, Baby Steps Medical Director.
“The clinic serves a vital role in our community as our region has seen increasing numbers of infants affected by prenatal substance exposure,” Puhr said. “Since the early 2000s, the incidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Tennessee increased by ten-fold, far exceeding the national three-fold increase over the same time period.”
The Baby Steps team consists of a group of providers from various disciplines, including a care coordinator, audiologist, registered dietitian, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and board-certified pediatrician, as well as community partners from Tennessee Early Intervention Services and
Prenatal drug exposure can have short- and long-term effects on the growth, development, learning, and behavior of children. The clinic works to identify any needs early and provide appropriate interventions in order to support the child’s development and help the child reach his/her full potential.
Washington County students learn about gardening, nutrition
Fourth- and fifth-grade students at Washington County’s Sulphur Springs Elementary School learned about both gardening and nutrition in the fall of 2021 through a joint effort of Project EARTH of East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health and UT Extension Washington County. “Many students grow food for the first time and experience new food choices,” said Dr. Mike Stoots, Project EARTH Director of Operations and Professor of Community and Behavioral Health. “The kids certainly do seem to enjoy this project and are learning things that could improve their health for years to come.” Using the “Learn, Grow, Eat and Grow” curriculum, the “Garden in a Box” program not only teaches the agricultural skills of planting, tending and harvesting plants, but also nutrition and food preparation skills.
Christopher Honeycutt, a doctoral student in the ETSU College of Public Health, working with Project EARTH, partnered with UT Extension Washington County Agents Lucy Timbs and Adam Watson to bring the Garden in a Box program to Sulphur Springs School. Four square, raised garden beds were constructed on school grounds in August, and fall vegetables donated by Onks Greenhouse and Garden Center in Gray were planted in September. The young students participated in the growing process – from planting to harvest – of such fall crops as collard greens, cabbage and broccoli as part of their physical education class. The Garden in a Box team hopes to not only add more raised gardening beds at Sulphur Springs, but also to expand the program to other schools in the future.
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Community and service STUDENT PHARMACISTS PLAY KEY ROLE IN VACCINATION
Pharmacists have always played an important role in disease prevention, and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored their key role in vaccinations and primary care, allowing them to practice at the top of their license as the profession continues to transform. East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy was instrumental in the vaccination of the Appalachian Highlands – from the first doses administered to health care workers to ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the virus. When COVID-19 hit, one of the first ways the college served was to help organize a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at First Baptist Church in Greeneville, Tennessee, on March 6, 2021, helping administer over 500 vaccines in partnership
with local independent community pharmacies Atchley’s Drug Center, Corley’s Pharmacy, and Corley’s Pharmacy Solutions, all located in the Greeneville area. The college volunteered more than 150 hours at the Greeneville event. Dr. Emily Flores, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, said this event was both an incredible learning experience as well as a service opportunity. “Our students are getting to work alongside those really impressive pharmacists and their teams while also helping this really important public health piece that pharmacists have come to the center of right now,” said Flores, who spearheads the college’s vaccination efforts in the community. Dr. Jeff Ward, partner at Corley’s Pharmacy and a graduate of Gatton’s inaugural class, said the rural service component was a critical part of this event. “This is why I went to pharmacy school,” said Ward. “We want to help the people here.”
Dr. Alan Corley, owner of Corley’s Pharmacy and Corley’s Pharmacy Solutions, helped organize the event and praised the role community pharmacies are playing in this pandemic. “Health care is kind of like government. The closer it is to the people, the better it works and the more effective it is,” said Corley, who has been a major supporter of the college since its founding in 2005. In addition to this event, student pharmacists from Gatton College of Pharmacy assisted with the administration of more than 29,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and volunteered more than 2,500 hours in the community in 2021. The college served at ETSU Health vaccination clinics, independent pharmacies, grocery stores, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and health departments from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Hillsville, Virginia. Together, faculty and student pharmacists assisted in administering the vaccine, while students helped additionally by preparing and documenting doses of the vaccine.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, my first WATCH VIDEO thought was how can I help?” said Estefany Nunez, a student pharmacist from Brownsville, Texas. “From then on, I have been involved in COVID-19 vaccination efforts in community and independent pharmacies, with ETSU Health, and with local health departments in South Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia. My roles included drawing up vaccines, vaccinating, counseling, and assisting patients in filling out vaccine forms. “All my training in pharmacy school prepared me for this, such as utilizing interprofessional communication skills with local doctors to team up to provide low cost medical services for underserved patients or providing counseling for COVID-19 during peak crisis,” Nunez said. “Many of my patients said pharmacists were the only ones they could access easily over the phone for guidance. “The Gatton spirit of community and service would follow me wherever I was called to help.”
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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Kara Gilliam set her sights on East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine when she was a high school senior. Today, the M.D./M.P.H. candidate is not only on Quillen’s Rural Primary Care Track, she is also a student member of the ETSU Board of Trustees. “When I was growing up, my church’s youth group was relationship and service project oriented,” said Gilliam. “It taught me the value of hard work and service in fellowship with our neighbors in need. The opportunities ETSU offers for students to get involved in the community were my biggest attractor. I truly love how the curriculum is patient-centered and focuses on community service, especially in the rural primary care track.” Quillen College of Medicine’s Rural Primary Care Track (RPCT) is a four-year community-based experiential curriculum whose core goals emphasize community, rural culture, interdisciplinary team interactions, and leadership development. “The amount of clinical experience rural track students get from ETSU is unmatched,” said Gilliam. “You grow to love the communities and the classmates in your cadre. The emphases on being immersed, as well as gaining clinical experience and building relationships, are quintessential qualities that I believe should comprise a medical school curriculum.” In addition to the rural track curriculum, Gilliam is pursuing a Master of Public Health at ETSU’s College of Public Health because it gives her the ability to learn more about community health while serving the region’s communities. Part of that service involves a special research project. Together with a research partner, both of whom work in Mountain City, Gilliam is working to improve transportation access for senior citizens there. “Hopefully at the end of our project, we will have helped alleviate this as a major stressor in the community, which is what the rural program is all about,” said
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Gilliam. “Caring for patients comes above all, and patients are more than just their physical health. They have mental and emotional needs that are just as important in holistic care. These are things I’ve already learned at Quillen, and I know my education here will serve me and the community well. I aspire to leave the world better than I found it through genuine relationships, benevolent advocacy, and compassionate health care.” No stranger to advocacy, Gilliam volunteered full-time from 2016-18 as an advocate at the state capitol for preserving the integrity of student positions on higher education boards across Tennessee. In 2021, she was also chosen to serve as a student representative on ETSU’s Board of Trustees. “I’m honored to serve in this capacity as well,” said Gilliam. “While my advocacy work left a lot of loose ends that weren’t resolved, I see this opportunity (on the Board of Trustees) as my culmination in this line of work. The students’ voices matter; they’re the driving force of the university. I hope to set the example that a student trustee is fully capable as a fiduciary.” While Gilliam’s role on the board is to discuss and advocate for what’s best for the university as a whole, she said her ultimate takeaway from ETSU so far is the irreplaceable value of human connection. “I’ve been able to observe, first-hand, how physicians help patients achieve a higher standard of living by improving their mental and physical health. It is incredibly inspiring,” she concluded.
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Healthcare Simulation ETSU CELEBRATES INNOVATIVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES East Tennessee State University celebrated Healthcare Simulation Week with special recognition and events for the health care simulation professionals who work with the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) at the Mountain Home VA campus at ETSU. “Experiential learning focuses on creating innovative learning opportunities that result in a meaningful impact utilizing the most sophisticated technology available to provide a safe, yet realistic environment to develop clinical skills through health care simulation,” said Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, Senior Director of Experiential Learning. ETSU has three areas within its CEL, including the
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Simulation Laboratory, the Simulation Standardized Patient Program, and the Center for Surgical Innovation and Training in the Anatomy Laboratory at Quillen College of Medicine. “The learning laboratories focus on task training, mannequin-based simulation, and embedding learners from all five ETSU Health colleges in simulated clinical environments,” Abercrombie said.
THE SIMULATION LABORATORY The Simulation Laboratory at ETSU consists of six simulation rooms at ETSU’s Bishop Hall (Interprofessional Education and Research Center) that mimic the real-life patient care setting. “Our labs use mannequin-based simulation, which uses high-fidelity simulators,” said Andy Berry, Simulation Lab Manager. “These simulators are mannequins that physiologically respond to treatment like what would occur in real-life patients.”
The six simulation rooms are flexible spaces that can be manipulated to incorporate a multitude of scenarios and real-life teaching environments that range from outpatient examination rooms to inpatient rooms in areas such as the emergency department, intensive care unit, labor and delivery suite, and an operating theater.
SIMULATION STANDARDIZED PATIENTS The Simulation Standardized Patient (SP) program is also utilized by students from across the ETSU Health colleges to give them a safe place to practice their communication and physical exam skills. A standardized patient is a person trained to portray a realistic patient, their family member, or others to create a scenario accurately and consistently. They are trained to give feedback to the students in the patient’s voice. “Our SPs ‘become’ the patient with all its many facets,” said Perry Butler, Simulation SP Manager. “They might have the characteristics of a stroke or a burn victim, complete with props and special effects makeup. Being an SP takes a special mix of skills: teaching, acting and a love of working with students.”
THE CENTER FOR SURGICAL INNOVATION AND TRAINING The ETSU Center for Surgical Innovation and Training (CSIT) is currently under construction at the Anatomy Laboratory at ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. “Several years ago, the anatomy faculty and staff incorporated a non-traditional embalming approach (Thiel embalming) that provides a much more realistic preservation utilized for teaching a variety of procedural and physical exam skills in the curriculum,” said Robert Becker, Manager of the Gross Anatomy Lab. “As this idea continues to evolve, we are now beginning construction on the CSIT lab to provide students with the opportunity of practicing procedures on these ‘surgical donors’ to aid in their knowledge before beginning residency.”
IPER earns state, national recognition East Tennessee State University’s Interprofessional Education and Research (IPER) program earned two statewide awards recognizing its work in championing and cultivating interprofessional education and practice. The Tennessee Interprofessional Practice and Education Consortium (TIPEC) presented the People’s Choice Award and the Poster Award to ETSU for a presentation showcasing ETSU’s relationship with interprofessional teams during the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic that occurs each November in Gray. Interprofessional education is rooted in students learning and practicing team-based, collaborative care in order to improve health outcomes for patients. The award-winning poster, titled “Growing Community Engagement and Aligning Curriculum,” was presented by Dr. Emily Flores, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, Director of Community Engagement for Interprofessional Education and Research Programs at ETSU. Dr. Brian Cross, Director of Interprofessional Education at ETSU, and Dr. Alicia Williams, Assistant Director of Interprofessional Education and Research Programs, were co-authors of the poster presentation. “IPE is not new at ETSU, but it continues to grow in numbers of participants and in programming each year,” Cross said. “I am very proud of these awards our team received, which are an acknowledgment of all of the people who have been working so hard for many years to develop this program. These recognitions validate what is happening in IPE at ETSU, and I look forward to the continued growth and notoriety of our program – both on a state and national level.” In addition to the TIPEC awards, ETSU was showcased nationally at the Nexus Summit 2021, which is the national meeting for IPE sponsored by the national Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.
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MSW offered fully online East Tennessee State University received full accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education to offer its Master of Social Work (MSW) program fully online. Previously, the MSW program was offered onground on ETSU’s main campus and at distance sites in Asheville, North Carolina, and Abingdon, Virginia. While the on-ground program still will be offered on the main ETSU campus, the new, fully online program will replace the on-ground locations in Asheville and Abingdon, as well as open the program to students who live in other areas. “Most of our MSW students are working, non-traditional students, so we are consolidating our efforts to make our program more flexible and accessible to a broader range of students,” said Dr. Mary Mullins, Chair of the Department Social Work. The fully online MSW is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous classes. The synchronous classes, which require students and the professor to be online together at the same time, are held in the evenings, using a cohort model that allows them to get to know their classmates in the online format. “We’re trying to be flexible and accessible, while still delivering the same quality of programming that our students are used to,” Mullins said. “The accreditation of the fully online program that we received in March 2021 is an affirmation of that commitment.”
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Nursing implements portable simulation kits East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing has added a new tool to improve students’ abilities to hone their skills – both at home and in the classroom. To address the growing need for remote and socially distanced learning during the pandemic, the College of Nursing ordered 1,200 portable simulation kits that allow students to practice 16 different skills, such as trach care, wound care, injections, IV insertion, and nasogastric tube insertion. “This product, made by SimuMed LLC, is a skills task trainer that allows students to practice anytime, anywhere,” said Dr. Melessia Webb. “They don’t have to be in the lab setting; they can take their kits home with them.” All ETSU undergraduate nursing students enrolled in a curriculum with a lab component at the College of Nursing’s 13 sites across the state received one of the kits in spring 2021, as did the faculty members who teach the courses. The College of Nursing used course fees to pay for the kits. The kits come with a stand and various parts that allow users to practice and demonstrate their skills. All of the parts are dishwasher safe, so that users can clean and sanitize them at home. While the College of Nursing’s main priority was finding an effective and convenient alternative to in-person lab time during the pandemic, there are many other benefits of the skills trainer, even in the classroom, Webb explained. “When students are permitted to be in a classroom setting together, instead of waiting their turn in line to use one of our simulation manikins, now they each have their own skills trainer that they can bring with them and use at their individual desks,” Webb said. “They have more opportunities for repetition because they have their own kit that they can use as much as they need.”
Renovations preparing for new programs Construction began on the first floor of Charles Allen Hall, also known as Building 2 on the VA campus, to house East Tennessee State University’s first class of occupational therapy students who will begin their studies in May 2022. ETSU’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program received approval in 2021. Dr. Jeff Snodgrass and Dr. Rachel Ellis
“For so long, the program has been a concept, as we’ve worked through state, institutional, and accreditation processes,” said Dr. Rachel Ellis, Program Director. “To finally be able to see actual student names populate in that application system and to see the ongoing construction in Building 2 is exciting.” The state-of-the-art physical rehabilitative sciences hub in Building 2 is also home to ETSU’s Physical Therapy Program on the second floor. The $4 million renovation project began in August 2021 to 14,000 square feet of space on the first floor, which will house the OTD program, as well as a Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics program currently in development. Having the three physical rehabilitative sciences programs under one roof and on the same campus as the medical and pharmacy schools will create a natural interprofessional learning environment for the students. “We are rounding out the rehab offerings that are already a successful part of ETSU,” Ellis said. “It’s evident that there is a growing need for occupational therapists, and ETSU is poised to help meet that need in exciting and innovative ways with our focus on interprofessional education and immersive community-based experiences,” said Dr. Jeff Snodgrass, Chair of the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences.
Leading Voices in Public Health East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health welcomed several special guests in 2021 through its annual Leading Voices in Public Health lecture webinar series. On February 23, the college hosted the “Coronavirus: Separating Fact from Fiction Part II,” featuring Dr. Michelle D. Fiscus, who then served as Medical Director of the Tennessee Department of Health’s VaccinePreventable Diseases and Immunization Program; Dr. David Kirschke, Medical Director at Northeast Regional Health Office, Tennessee Department of Health; and Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Vice Chair of Research and Scholarship, Professor, and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine. In March, the college partnered with the ETSU Office of Equity and Inclusion to sponsor the inaugural Health, Equity and Inclusion Lecture featuring Dr. Cara V. James, President and CEO at Grantmakers in Health. Her online lecture was titled “Understanding Health Disparities and What it Takes to Achieve Health Equity.” In the year’s final Leading Voices installment in November, the college welcomed Dasho Karma Ura, President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Ura is an internationally recognized authority on Bhutan’s unique approach to Gross National Happiness, which is the philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan. It includes an index, the Gross National Happiness Index, that is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of a population.
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Strengthening the nursing workforce BALLAD CREATES THE APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDS CENTER FOR NURSING ADVANCEMENT
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Ballad Health has committed a $10 million investment to create the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement at East Tennessee State University. The Center is dedicated to bringing nursing, business, liberal arts, education, and other academic and support programs together to increase the pathway of opportunity and augment the supply of nurses and nursing support in the Appalachian Highlands. The Center will develop partnerships with other colleges and universities to advance the clinical practice of nursing, enhance interprofessional collaboration, contribute to knowledge about nursing workflow, and generate nursing scholarship and innovation.
Even prior to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the nation faced a shortage of nurses, with more than 1 million nurses expected to retire before 2030, according to a study published in Medical Care. Combining this with the historically high acuity of hospitalized patients creates a high-stress situation for practicing nurses, leading to burnout and higher turnover rates. “As the largest nursing program in the state of Tennessee and as an institution whose mission is to improve the lives of the people of our region, we are excited about the opportunity Ballad Health has created to increase this vital pipeline of nurses, while also seeking to provide support and ongoing enhancement of our existing workforce,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. The Center will focus on data and research, collaboration with key stakeholders across the region, and advocacy to promote the nursing profession. “Our nurses and their direct support teams, such as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses,
and the other allied health professionals who care directly for patients, are the heart of the health care team,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “The dynamics of the nursing profession have changed so much, becoming even more complex because of the challenges of the pandemic. We now seek to learn from our nurses what we need to do to evolve to better support the needs of our nursing teams and enhance their resilience in a very difficult environment, and partnerships with these regional institutions of higher education within the Appalachian Highlands is just the beginning of this collaborative effort to invest in healthcare workforce development.” Not only will the Center work with current nurses and nursing students, but it will also seek to attract more students to the nursing profession. The Center will partner with other institutions to develop a common pipeline for high school students to identify those with aptitudes for the sciences and help match them with employment and pathways to certification as a nursing support professional or for a nursing degree.
Wilhoit to serve as Director Dr. Kathryn Wilhoit has been named the inaugural Director of the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement. “I am excited to begin this new role and to begin the important work of the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement,” Wilhoit said. “Partnerships make our voice and efforts stronger and more meaningful.” Wilhoit brings more than 40 years of experience in clinical and research-based nursing, administration and leadership experience to this role. Most recently, she served as interim Dean of the ETSU College of Nursing from January through August 2021, and then as special assistant to the Dean of Nursing from August through December 2021. “Dr. Wilhoit has a long history of supporting the development of programs intended to increase the nursing workforce and promote professional nursing practice,” said Lisa Smithgall, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive at Ballad Health. “Across the nation and within our region, hospitals are dealing with a shortage of nurses, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue, further straining our hospitals. Under Dr. Wilhoit’s leadership, the Appalachian Highlands Center for Nursing Advancement will play a central role in helping develop local nursing talent to fulfill that shortage.”
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WATCH VIDEO 18 ETSU Health
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH
ARCHER By the time he graduated from high school, Allen Archer had already begun working. He started as a painter at an automation company that built robots and manufacturing machinery, later becoming a quality engineer in aerospace manufacturing, before changing directions to pursue a second, more personally fulfilling career. The first in his family to attend college, Archer earned his associate degree at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina before transferring to East Tennessee State University as a Midway Honors Scholar. Now a senior, he’s chosen to major in health administration to complement his interest in medicine and the skills he acquired in his earlier career. Archer says he comes from a large farming family that, historically, did not go to college and did not understand the health care system. “I’ve spent my whole life uninsured and hesitant to go to the doctor,” he said. “I’m not afraid of doctors; I’m not afraid of health care. I’m afraid of the other side – what is the cost going to be, and how can I know what to expect? That lifetime of apprehension, combined with my experience in quality improvement, pushed me toward health administration to better understand how our health care system is structured, how we got here, and how we can move forward in a positive way. “I’m going to medical school to become a physician, but I believe the intersections between health administration, public health, and medicine are where I can make the greatest impact.” Archer is already making an impact through his honors thesis research on COVID-19 statistical reporting. Under the guidance of Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of ETSU’s College
of Public Health, he has been investigating how excess mortality is identified. “We’ve been using COVID as a natural experiment to better understand how something like a pandemic impacts society beyond confirmed COVID deaths,” Archer explained. “We know X-number of people have died from COVID in the state of Tennessee, but that number doesn’t capture the full impact. Many people have indirectly died as a result of the pandemic. For example, some people never got COVID but didn’t go to the hospital for other illnesses for fear of getting the virus, or hospitals were overrun so patients couldn’t receive care for other illnesses. On top of that, there are long delays in state-level data reporting. It wasn’t until October 2021 that we actually got data for 2020 deaths. It’s hard to be proactive or respond quickly with months-long delays.” Through public data sources, like funeral homes and newspaper obituaries, Archer and Wykoff have identified excess mortality numbers very similar to state data much faster. In addition to that research, Archer is a research assistant in ETSU Health’s Institute for Integrated Behavioral Health, which provides behavioral health services to the community through collaboration with primary care providers within ETSU Health’s primary care clinics. Archer also played an integral role in coordinating ETSU Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. “I got to interact with our community in a ‘boots on the ground’ kind of way. Without a clinical license or the ability to physically put needles in arms myself, coordinating these events was the most impactful thing I could do at a time when we were all just trying to get through it.” Before graduating in May, Archer looks forward to spending two weeks in Washington, D.C., as a visiting scholar with the American Board of Family Medicine. He is excited to attend Quillen College of Medicine through the U.S. Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program, which will allow him to begin his career serving in the Air Force after he completes his medical training.
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ETSU Health increasing pediatric specialty services Dr. Hadii Mamudu
ETSU Health’s recent strategic additions within specialized fields have brought significant growth and increased accessibility to pediatric specialty services in the region.
New research center focuses on cardiovascular health
These additions bring enhanced services to ETSU Health’s clinics and to area hospitals, including for such pediatric specialties as endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, surgery, and ophthalmology. In the coming months, ETSU Health will also welcome two new neonatologists.
The East Tennessee State University College of Public Health is home to the new Center for Cardiovascular Risks Research (CCRR). This cross-disciplinary, interprofessional research center aims to reduce cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors in Central Appalachia, while addressing the health disparities and health care inequities experienced by residents of the region.
“Our commitment to serving the underserved never waivers,” said Dr. Sheri Holmes, Chief Medical Officer for ETSU Health. “We recognize that it can be financially and emotionally debilitating to have to travel hours away for your child’s care. We are working every day to see that the children of this region benefit from quality health care that is accessible right here in the Appalachian Highlands.”
CCRR is dedicated to research in cardiovascular health and related risk factors and social determinants, mentoring of students/residents/fellows, developing programs to improve cardiovascular health and reduce risks, and engage community-based and other stakeholders in research and programming. The Center will focus particularly on patient-centered care, patient-centered outcomes research, and comparative effectiveness research.
As communities experience increasing cases of children afflicted with diabetes, the addition of three pediatric endocrinologists to the region marks a significant accomplishment for ETSU Health. These specialists practice at ETSU Health’s Pediatric Subspecialties clinic alongside other such recent additions as three new gastroenterologists and a neurologist.
CCRR is currently part of Tennessee Heart Health Network, which is working to facilitate smoking cessation and hypertension control in Tennessee through a grant by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). “As this region is disproportionately burdened with cardiovascular disease and its associated health behaviors and conditions, it is vitally important to establish the infrastructure to support the research to discover the underlying causes that make nationally effective policies and programs less effective in this area,” said Dr. Hadii Mamudu, Director of the CCRR. While the CCRR is housed at ETSU’s College of Public Health, investigators from all ETSU colleges and departments are welcome to become members and engage in research that supports the mission of CCRR.
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Within the ETSU Health Surgery clinic, two new providers within the last year have committed to increasing services for pediatric patients across the region. The clinic’s new ophthalmologist accepts patients of all ages, expanding the clinic’s pediatric services for conditions such as impaired vision (amblyopia) and crossed eyes (strabismus). Meanwhile, a new reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon brought a significant advancement in the accessibility of pediatric plastic surgery to the region. He partners alongside obstetricians to prepare families for the needs of children who will be born with conditions such as a cleft palate. These additions follow two new pediatric surgeons who joined the team at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, bringing with them impressive credentials in pediatric trauma care, pediatric general surgery, and fetal surgery.
Physical Therapy Program celebrates 25th anniversary East Tennessee State University’s Physical Therapy (PT) Program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2021. To mark this milestone, two program alumni, Dr. Chuck Thigpen (’97) and Dr. Beth Reuschel (’07), returned for a continuing education presentation open to alumni and other physical therapists. The PT program also hosted a tailgating event for alumni, current students, and faculty before ETSU’s 2021 Homecoming football game. In addition, two inaugural members of ETSU’s PT Program, Dr. Bob Barnhart and Dr. Peter Panus, and a longtime PT program supporter, Dr. Alan Meade, were inducted into ETSU’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences Hall of Fame. The first cohort of physical therapy students was admitted to the program in 1996, and the first ETSU Physical Therapy graduating class received bachelor’s degrees in physical therapy in 1997. “The program quickly advanced to a master’s degree, with the first cohort of graduates with a master’s degree in 2001,” said Dr. Beatrice Owens, Program Director. “It again rapidly
progressed to a doctorate level degree. A small group of students completed a transitional program to receive their doctorate degrees in 2005 and the initial first full cohort of DPT students graduated in 2006.” Physical therapy training and education have changed and evolved over the past 25 years, and ETSU’s program has reflected those changes. While the minimum required degree to become licensed as a physical therapist 25 years ago was a bachelor’s degree, the current required degree to be eligible for becoming licensed as a physical therapist in the United States is a doctorate level degree. In most states and clinical settings, physical therapists are more autonomous practitioners now than they were 25 years ago, and the education and training received have evolved to adequately prepare graduates to meet these new demands and expectations. Along with updating and progressively advancing the entry-level PT curriculum, ETSUʼs program has added residency and fellowship options. In collaboration with the James H. Quillen VA, the program began offering a physical
therapy residency in orthopedics in 2017. Nine therapists have currently completed this residency program. In addition, a fellowship in orthopedic manual physical therapy began in 2018 in affiliation with PT Services of Elizabethton. Four therapists have currently completed this fellowship program. Over the past 25 years, more than 625 physical therapists have graduated from ETSU’s program. “Through the years, our graduates have benefited from ETSU’s emphasis on interprofessional education, which has prepared them to work in settings that provide care through medical teams,” Owens said. “It gives our students a better perspective of knowledge and skill sets available from other health care professionals in order to provide the best care possible for our patients.” As she looks toward the next 25 years, Owens said the profession will continue to the meet the demands of new technologies and diagnoses and treatment options. “We anticipate and look forward to advancing the knowledge and skill of our future PTs and adapting as the profession grows,” she said.
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HEALTH Pictured from left to right are: Dr. Don Samples, Dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences; and honorees Bob Barnhart, Peter Panus, Paul Bashea Williams, Kim Garland, Janice Dowdy, and Alan Meade.
Hall of Fame CCRHS ANNOUNCES INDUCTEES East Tennessee State University’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences honored several Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame Inductees. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 honorees were recognized at a ceremony held in 2021. The two Distinguished Alumni include: • Kim Garland – Garland received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminology from ETSU in 1998, and then returned to ETSU, where she earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2013. She currently serves as Child Protective Services director with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Among her many accomplishments throughout her career, Garland has piloted the Drug Exposed Infant Team; developed the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors policy and workgroups in East Tennessee; served as a member of a Ballad Health workgroup addressing women’s addiction, treatment and recovery; and developed and provided training for various agencies. • Paul Bashea Williams – Williams received his bachelor’s degree in social work from ETSU and was the first Black student to enter and graduate from ETSU’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program. He operates a private practice, Hearts In Mind Counseling in Maryland, working with vulnerable youth and specializing in marriage and family, couples, and individual counseling. His writing, acting, and public speaking have been featured on many national television networks and in national publications. He is the author of “Dear Future Wife: A Man’s Guide and a Women’s Reference to Healthy Relationships.”
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The four individuals inducted to the CCRHS Hall of Fame include: • Dr. Bob Barnhart – As a member of the inaugural Physical Therapy faculty at ETSU, Barnhart developed excellent relationships and laid important groundwork for ETSU Physical Therapy in the clinical community. He was the first director of Clinical Education at ETSU and a pediatric instructor and practitioner. He currently serves as chair of Physical Therapy at Concordia College. • Janice Dowdy – Dowdy earned her master’s degree in speech-language pathology at ETSU and currently serves as a speech-language pathologist at NeuroRestorative Kentucky. She is a certified brain injury specialist and has spoken at multiple traumatic brain injury conferences nationwide. She serves on the board of several charities and is executive planning director for “Our Night to Shine,” which is a free prom for young people with special needs. • Dr. Alan Meade – Meade is the director of rehabilitation services for Holston Medical Group. A statewide and national leader in the physical therapy profession, Meade has been a great ambassador for ETSU and its Physical Therapy Program. He currently serves as the president of the Tennessee chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association and has served as a proponent of the profession locally and nationally, as well as an outstanding clinical instructor for many years. • Dr. Peter Panus – Panus is a member of the inaugural Physical Therapy faculty at ETSU. He later served as adjunct faculty in Physical Therapy after he began teaching in ETSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. The author of a pharmacology textbook for physical therapy students, Panus has taught nationally and internationally and is well known for his academic work in physical therapy.
Grant to accelerate region’s behavioral health workforce Two faculty members at East Tennessee Dr. Jodi Polaha Dr. Matthew Tolliver State University’s Quillen College of Medicine received a grant to develop, implement, and evaluate a program for training and retaining a behavioral health workforce in Northeast Tennessee. Dr. Jodi Polaha, Project Director, and Dr. Matthew Tolliver, Co-Director, were awarded $1,855,118 from the Health Resources and Services Administration for their project titled “Integrated Care Appalachia: A Model Training Program to Accelerate the Behavioral Health Workforce in Northeast Tennessee.” “Integrated Care Appalachia” will work with students in three graduate training programs at ETSU: the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, the Master of Social Work program, and the MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration. Students in these programs
will be integrated into eight ETSU Health primary care clinics, and eventually, five expansion sites in the most high-need, high-demand areas. The trainees will work and learn in an evidence-based model of integrated care, which is a collaboration among health professionals to provide complete treatment to patients and improve overall well-being. Integrated care blends behavioral health services with general and specialty medical services to provide whole-person care. Integrated care is a key component of high-quality primary care, an emerging best-practice model supported by many national professional organizations and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. These students will gain valuable experiences working with vulnerable populations, particularly children, adolescents, and transitional-aged youth at risk for behavioral health disorders. Through placements at health centers and other community-based settings, trainees will gain experience working in the underserved communities where behavioral health services are most urgently needed.
National spotlight on Gatton rural initiatives A national publication featured East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy’s innovative approaches to train student pharmacists to care for rural and underserved populations. The latest issue of Academic Pharmacy NOW, the news magazine of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, addresses health disparities that can result in worse health care outcomes for rural populations and highlights ways in which pharmacy schools such as Gatton College of Pharmacy are helping to bridge the health care gaps.
“Since the inception of Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, our mission has been to develop progressive, team-oriented pharmacists who improve health care, focusing on rural and underserved communities,” said Dr. Debbie Byrd, Dean of ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. “This article highlights some key ways in which we have enhanced our curricula and forged critical partnerships that help our faculty and student pharmacists engage in our mission and serve our community." The article includes several Gatton initiatives, including a discussion of its advanced pharmacy practice
experience (APPE) program in which approximately 97% of the students completed at least one rural and/or underserved experience in 2019-20. It also discusses specific community outreach initiatives, such as Gatton College of Pharmacy’s work with Remote Area Medical (RAM), where they provide interprofessional care to underserved patients; assistance with COVID-19 vaccinations in the Appalachian Highlands; and work with the Flip the Pharmacy grant program.
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Community Health Centers receive grant The ETSU Health Community Health Centers, managed by the College of Nursing, received approximately $1.9 million in grant funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) that will help provide continued and enhanced health care services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. On April 1, 2021, HRSA awarded more than $6 billion from the American Rescue Plan to Community Health Centers nationwide. Health centers will be able to use the funds to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for vulnerable populations; deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19; and expand health centers’ operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units. HRSA-funded health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver affordable,
accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations, including high-need urban, rural and frontier communities across the country. ETSU College of Nursing has four Community Health Centers – Johnson City Community Health Center, Johnson City Downtown Day Center and two schoolbased health centers in Hancock County. “ETSU Community Health Centers play a vital role in providing essential health care to all members of our community, including underserved populations,” said Dr. Roslyn Robinson, ETSU Health CNO and College of Nursing Associate Dean of Practice and Community Partnerships. “This grant funding will allow us to continue to grow and improve our outreach after what has proven to be a very difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
New system to help diabetic patients The ETSU Health Johnson City Community Health Center (JCCHC), which is managed by the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing, has implemented a new tracking system that has been instrumental in improving the health of patients with diabetes. Since the system was put in place, the clinic has recorded a significant decrease in the percentage of patients who have uncontrolled diabetes, which is defined by hemoglobin A1C levels at 9 or higher. In November 2020, 38% of the diabetic patient population at JCCHC was uncontrolled. By April 2021, the uncontrolled population was down to 29%.
“Our goal was to get it below 35%, and this new system did just that – and even exceeded our expectations,” said Vanessa Smith, Practice Administrator. The new system, which is built into patients’ electronic medical records (EMR), gives providers a form, which includes a checklist and important medical reminders when caring for a patient with diabetes. At each visit, the form ensures that the provider can conveniently and consistently track specialized concerns related to patients with diabetes. The form includes items related to A1C levels, diabetic eye exams, foot exams, medications, and other important considerations for patients with diabetes. “The form was developed to assist our providers so that they can provide even better care to our patients,” said Dr. Kayla Norman, Clinical Director. “The providers have embraced it, and after tracking it over a six-month period, it was clear that it has fulfilled its purpose.” Smith and Norman developed and implemented the new tracking system as part of their 10-month fellowship with the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program. The program provided leadership development and required that they develop and launch a transformational health improvement initiative within their organization or community.
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ETSU Health Clinical Locations JOHNSON CITY Bucsports
1081 John Robert Bell Drive Mini-Dome #127
orthopedic sports medicine, physical therapy
Concussion Management Program (remote)
Dental Hygiene Clinic 156 S. Dossett Drive Lamb Hall Breezeway
Family Medicine Johnson City 917 W. Walnut Street
acute & chronic care, adult care, behavioral care, clinical pharmacy, newborn & pediatric care, preventative care, women’s health, including OB, addiction medicine, sports medicine
329 N. State of Franklin Road
electrotherapy, general cardiology, interventional cardiology, electrophysiology
325 N. State of Franklin Road
Internal Medicine: internal medicine, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, rheumatology OB/GYN: general OB/GYN, high risk obstetrics, minimally invasive gynecologic surgery Surgery: general surgery, hepatobiliary surgery, ophthalmology, pediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive, podiatry, trauma & critical care, vascular Pediatrics: general pediatrics, adolescent medicine, critical care, genetics, hospital medicine, infectious diseases, nephrology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric surgery, pulmonology, neonatalogy, audiology, behavioral health
Fertility, FPMRS & Urogynecology 1319 Sunset Drive, Suite 103
Gary E. Shealy Memorial ALS Clinic
325 N. State of Franklin Road
615 N. State of Franklin Road
Johnson City Community Health Center 2151 Century Lane
behavioral health, preventive and restorative dental, family medicine, newborn and pediatric care, Nurse Family Partnership, psychiatric and neurologic pharmacy and onsite pharmacy, pre-natal care, radiography, mammography and sonography, substance abuse services, women’s health
Johnson City Downtown Day Center 202 W. Fairview Avenue
behavioral health, family medicine, substance abuse services, case management, homeless social services
1 Professional Park Drive, Suite 21
Osteoporosis Center 2109 W. Market Street
408 N. State of Franklin Road, Suite 31B
endocrinology, gastroenterology, hospitalist
Building 52 Lake Drive VA Medical Center Campus
adult psychiatry, child & adolescent psychiatry, general psychiatry, individual & family therapy
St. Jude Tri-Cities Affiliate Clinic (Niswonger Children’s Hospital)
Internal Medicine Kingsport
Four Sheridan Square, Suite 200
cardiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, internal medicine, rheumatology, psychotherapy
BRISTOL Family Medicine Bristol
208 Medical Park Boulevard
acute & chronic care, adult care, behavioral care, clinical pharmacy, newborn & pediatric care, preventative care, women’s health, including OB, sports medicine
ELIZABETHTON Center for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology 1000 Jason Witten Way
audiology, comprehensive language and eating therapies, Autism spectrum disorder program, social work
1505 W. Elk Avenue, Suite 1
high-risk obstetrics, minimally invasive gynecologic surgery
1505 W. Elk Avenue, Suite 2b
general pediatrics, behavioral health
1505 W. Elk Avenue, Suite 1
general cardiology, cardiac prevention and rehabilitation, vascular cardiology, pediatric cardiology
SNEEDVILLE Hancock County Elementary School Based Health Center
400 N. State of Franklin Road
391 Court Street
University Health Center
Hancock County Middle/High School Based Health Center
neonatology, pediatric hematology, pediatric oncology, pediatric critical care
365 Stout Drive, Roy Nicks Hall, Suite 160
behavioral health, immunizations, medication management, physicals, primary care, women’s health
University School Clinic 68 Martha Culp Drive
KINGSPORT Family Medicine Kingsport 102 E. Ravine Road
acute & chronic care, adult care, behavioral care, clinical pharmacy, newborn & pediatric care, preventative care, women’s health, including OB, physical therapy, sports medicine
behavioral health, family medicine, pediatrics
2700 Main Street
behavioral health, family medicine, pediatrics
MOUNTAIN CITY Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center 1901 S. Shady Street
behavioral health, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, women’s health
Cardiology Mountain City 1901 S. Shady Street
general cardiology, cardiac prevention and rehabilitation 2021 Annual Report 25
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: COLLEGE OF CLINICAL AND REHABILITATIVE HEALTH SCIENCES
Graduate student Cory Whitfield is grateful for a mentor’s powerful impact on his journey at East Tennessee State University. Whitfield, who will graduate with his Master of Social Work in May 2022, would not have been able to attend ETSU if not for the late Dr. Angela Radford Lewis, an ETSU administrator who served as Vice Provost and Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives at ETSU before her death in 2019. Lewis paved the way for Whitfield to pursue his dreams at ETSU, and now, he hopes to pay it forward and mentor and inspire others through a career in social work. “This is my second time attending ETSU,” Whitfield said. “I initially attended ETSU in 2012, but had to leave because of finances. In 2018, the late Dr. Angela Radford Lewis provided the opportunity for me to return to ETSU, and that’s why I am here today.” Whitfield was working at a warehouse in Johnson City and looking for new opportunities. Out of the blue, Lewis sent him a text telling him she had found a way to remove the economic burdens of returning to school. “That moment has changed me and my family forever,” Whitfield said. “Returning to school basically overnight, I struggled that first semester. However, I was still able to make the Dean’s List. I broke the news to Dr. Lewis before I told anyone else. Unfortunately, Dr. Lewis passed away two months later. “My goal is and always will be to make her proud. Humbly speaking, I feel that I carry a small piece of her legacy with me. Dr. Lewis has also taught me to never be afraid to invest in people and assist them with their journey. You never know what that person will become. I hope to someday be able to help elevate someone in the same manner Dr. Lewis elevated me.”
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As a student, Whitfield has taken on a leadership role on several university, state, and, national social work organizations. He encourages his peers to get involved and share their ideas to impact change and get a “seat at the table.” Among other roles and responsibilities, he served as the National Association of Social Work-TN Board of Directors Secretary and worked to begin a local chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers. As he completes his final semester at ETSU, Whitfield plans to work toward obtaining his clinical licensure and later become involved with the legislative and policymaking process. “As social workers, we have the unique position of seeing the disparities of our clients reflect the oppression in their community,” Whitfield said. “Social workers are greatly needed in the legislative process. It is my ambition to fill that role.” Whitfield is appreciative for the courage, resilience, tenacity, and coping skills he has developed throughout his life due to the challenges he has faced and he looks forward to using those experiences to help others overcome adversity. “If you ask a group of small children what they want to be when they grow up, I doubt that many would say a social worker,” Whitfield said. “If you asked a group of high school students the same question, many probably wouldn’t say a social worker – not unless someone close to them is a social worker. This is because you don’t choose social work. Social work chooses you.”
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POLICY Members of the CARE Women’s Health Team pictured left to right are Dr. Nathan Hale, Dr. Katie Baker, Dr. Amal Khoury, Dr. Michael Smith, and Dr. Kate Beatty.
CARE Women’s Health CENTER EXPANDS EFFORTS WITH GRANT FUNDING, RESEARCH The East Tennessee State University Center for Applied Research and Evaluation in Women’s Health (CARE Women’s Health), housed in the College of Public Health, continues to grow with new grants and research to improve the health and well-being of women across their lifespan, particularly in Appalachia and the Southeast.
national leader in women’s health while bringing attention to the needs of women and families in our region, is all very exciting,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the College of Public Health. “We’re very grateful and thankful for the university and the community’s support.”
“To see us develop a center focused on women’s health at ETSU and in this region, to develop this infrastructure, and have this highly qualified team compete at this high level nationally, to successfully obtain awards that establish ETSU as a
CARE Women’s Health received a $3,192,884 research award in 2021 for a total of approximately $18 million in grant funding since 2017.
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Dr. Amal Khoury, Director of CARE Women’s Health and a professor in
the ETSU College of Public Health, said this award will expand and extend research and evaluation on priority women’s health issues at the center. “Obviously, this helps us advance the mission of the center, which is to improve the lives of women and their families in our region and beyond,” said Khoury. “We do that primarily through research and evaluation that seeks to inform policy and practice, and by ‘practice’ we mean public health programs and clinical care. We also do that by training students to become the next generation of public
health researchers, and by working in collaboration with partners across campus and the region.
faculty for CARE Women’s Health and principal investigator of the clinic studies.
“This funding will allow us to expand and extend our research in ways that will generate more robust evidence to advance population health—both within our community and nationally.”
STUDYING BIRTH OUTCOMES
COVID-19 IMPACT Throughout 2021, CARE Women’s Health continued to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on contraceptive services in health department clinics and federally qualified health centers (FQHC). Before the arrival of the pandemic, CARE Women’s Health had been working with clinical partners in South Carolina and Alabama on ongoing research related to reproductive health. In early 2020, the center planned to launch a survey to collect data from family planning clinics across both states. In July 2020, the CARE team launched a survey with COVIDspecific questions to all health department and FQHC family planning clinics in South Carolina and Alabama. In addition to the surveys, the CARE team also conducted parallel research, interviewing 45 clinic staff and providers to assess the impact of the pandemic on contraceptive services in their clinics. In February 2021, CARE Women’s health released an Issue Brief discussing their findings. “Hopefully this research will highlight the innovations and the challenges that the health care delivery side is facing, and at the same time underscore the need for policies to facilitate women’s access to care,” said Dr. Kate Beatty, core
In another research study, CARE Women’s Health director of policy and programs, Dr. Michael Smith is examining how policies affect birth outcomes across generations thanks to a $1.86 million R-01 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“ULTIMATELY, WE WANT TO FIND THE BEST WAYS TO MOVE FORWARD TO HELP MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE WHO IS BORN HAS THE BEST CHANCE THEY CAN HAVE OF ENJOYING A HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE.” — DR. MICHAEL SMITH
Smith, who is also an assistant professor in the ETSU College of Public Health, is a co-investigator on the study titled “Structural Racism and Adverse Birth Outcomes in the U.S. South: A Multigenerational Perspective.” His collaborators include Dr. Nancy Fleischer of the University of Michigan and Dr. Annie Ro of the University of California, Irvine, who are the co-principal investigators on the study.
“We are studying the ways in which the policy environment can impact the trajectory of health for the mother and child,” Smith said. “The goal is to understand how policies related to criminal justice, housing, employment and education might change birth outcomes. In other words, over the course of generations, can changing policies narrow the disparities in birth outcomes?” “Ultimately, we want to find the best ways to move forward to help make sure that everyone who is born has the best chance they can have of enjoying a healthy and productive life,” Smith said.
IMPROVING ADOLESCENT HEALTH Improving adolescent health, particularly for people living in rural and economically deprived areas, is another focus for the Center. This work, led by Drs. Nathan Hale and Sylvester Orimaye, culminated in a novel publication in the American Journal of Public Health in 2021. “We leveraged data on birth rates for all adolescents across the U.S., coupled with county-level characteristics, to examine in a unique analysis how the intersection of rurality, economic deprivation, and health professional shortages impacts adolescent birth rates across the U.S.,” said Hale, Director of Research for CARE Women’s Health and Associate Professor. “Rural communities across deprivation and health professional shortage levels showed disproportionately high adolescent birth rates,” added Orimaye. “This signals a need to expand access to services for adolescents in rural communities while examining policies that may create barriers to care.”
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Wallace earns rural health honor Dr. Rick Wallace was presented the 2021 Rural Health Professional of the Year Award by the Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHA of TN). Wallace is a Professor and Associate Director for Evidence and Outreach in the Quillen College of Medicine Library at East Tennessee State University. “The Rural Health Professional of the Year is our most prestigious award given to members who make outstanding contributions to rural health,” said Jacy Warrell, RHA of TN Executive Director. “Dr. Wallace is a steady leader of the association and we appreciate his many contributions to rural health.” Wallace was recognized for his community and grantwriting work for such efforts as Remote Area Medical clinics, which provide medical care for people in rural communities. He is president of the Tennessee Health Science Library Association and on numerous RHA of TN
committees, including the Legislative Committee and the Conference Committee, for which he spearheaded the 2021 academic poster contest. Wallace has also been an RHA of TN officer and a faculty adviser to the student Rural Health Association at ETSU. The award was presented Nov. 18, 2021, when the RHA of TN celebrated National Rural Health Day in Pigeon Forge to honor those who work every day to keep Tennesseans healthy. The RHA of TN is a nonprofit organization with more than 600 members committed to improving the health of rural Tennesseans by providing leadership through advocacy, education, and service.
Researcher co-authors study on Medicaid expansion administrative spending A number of states found ways to expand Medicaid without increasing their administrative spending, according to the results of a 10-year study published in the journal Health Affairs. Dr. Casey P. Balio of East Tennessee State University is the lead author of the study in the November 2021 issue of Health Affairs that focuses on “Hospitals, ACA Marketplace & More.” Balio, a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Rural Health Research and the Department of Health Services Management and Policy in the College of Public Health, co-authored the article with faculty of Indiana University, where she completed her doctoral degree. The team studied data from all 50 states for the period of 2007-17, which encompassed the years both before and
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after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and the main expansions in 2014. The study, which was part of Balio’s dissertation work, considered the effects of the optional Medicaid expansions that occurred after the ACA on state Medicaid administrative spending. “We found that, on average, states were able to expand without increasing per-enrollee or the percent of total spending that is administrative,” Balio said. “However, we did find differences by the potential size of expansion where those with larger potential expansions saw some significant reductions in these measures of administrative spending. “We hope that findings from this study provide context to policymakers and states who are considering expansions of their Medicaid programs in this way or others.” Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy thought and research, has been published since 1981 by Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian relief organization.
In keeping with the College of Nursing’s practice of promoting men in nursing, the Buccaneers Association of Men in Nursing (BAMN) formed in 2021 to educate and recruit male students into the field. BAMN is open to undergraduate and graduate nursing students at all ETSU campuses and practice sites. Nelson is the founding president and Terry, who has worked with similar organizations at other institutions, is faculty adviser.
Jake Terry Jr., ETSU College of Nursing Clinical Placement Coordinator, works with senior nursing student Jacob Nelson in a patient simulation lab at ETSU at Sevierville.
Men in nursing NEW STUDENT GROUP FORMED Jacob Nelson’s parents owned and operated a hardware store in his hometown of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, but rather than follow their footsteps, he felt driven to provide a different kind of service to the community. The U.S. Navy veteran and firstgeneration student is a senior pursuing a BSN at East Tennessee State University’s Sevierville campus. “I’ve always needed a job that keeps me on my feet as opposed to a desk job,” Nelson said. “Caring for patients and keeping them at the center of care is what drew me in.” Nelson is among a growing number of men entering the profession. And although nursing has been femaledominated for many years, this trend reflects historical precedent going back thousands of years. “Men dominated nursing, which started with monks, through the
mid-19th century, when men started leaving for factory jobs as the world became more industrialized,” said Jake Terry Jr., Clinical Placement Coordinator in the College of Nursing. “Then along came Florence Nightingale, who is considered the ‘mother of modern nursing,’ and part of her agenda was to promote females into that role. “Now it’s kind of switching back,” he continued. “Men are going back into the nursing field, and they’re finding stability. In the 1960s and ’70s, only 2% of nurses were male, and according to most current data, we’re up to 12%. In Tennessee, we’re at 11% – right at average.”
Terry and Nelson plan to eventually seek status for BAMN as a member chapter of the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN), which advocates for men in the profession at conferences and conventions. This would become Tennessee’s second AAMN collegiate chapter. The rewards for males in nursing, as for females, are many. The median salary for registered nurses in 2020 was $75,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And although nurses see patients and families go through the pain and difficulty of illness, injury, and death, the rewards of playing a critical role in their care are priceless. “My greatest satisfaction as a nurse is helping someone in their most dire time of need and to have someone say, ‘Thank you – you were an angel,’” Terry said. “That’s beyond words. There’s no compensation for that.”
Terry says the presence of more male nurses and greater emphasis on men’s health are helping males feel greater representation in the health care community. Efforts are underway at the local to national levels to help raise awareness and recruit more men into the profession.
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Williams serves as 2021 ASHA President Dr. A. Lynn Williams, a national leader and advocate for the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology, recently concluded her term as the 2021 president of the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association (ASHA). “The focus of my presidential year was on advocacy,” said Williams, who serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in East Tennessee State University’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. “Being ASHA president gave me a national platform to advocate for our professions in a variety of ways.” In 2021, ASHA continued its work to advocate for the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology and for individuals with speech, language, cognitive, hearing, balance, voice and feeding/swallowing impairments. As it was the second year of the pandemic, advocacy for and access to services, appropriate PPE for practicing in health care and schools, and permanent telehealth coverage for services were also critical areas of focus. During her term, Williams communicated with President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders, the public through various national media outlets, and ASHA members in order to accomplish several key goals. Some of Williams’ highlights of the year include securing telehealth coverage of speech, language, swallowing, and hearing services; making significant progress on the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act; and operationalizing the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact. Williams was committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives throughout her term, strengthening accreditation and certification standards, working with the the most diverse Board of Directors in the history of ASHA, and chairing the Board of Directors’ search committee that hired Vicki DealWilliams, ASHA’s first CEO of color. The culmination of Williams’ presidency was the 2021 ASHA Convention, held in Washington, D.C. November 18-20. This was ASHA’s first-ever hybrid convention, allowing 11,000 participants to attend in person and virtually. During the opening ceremony, Williams delivered her speech, which was attended by more than 1,500 people, with more watching remotely. “To be there in person to celebrate that we not only survived a second year of a pandemic, but we thrived, was magical,” she said. “There has never been a moment in history when there has been a greater need for communication as a human right, regardless of ability or capacity. It was an honor to serve as president of this large and complex professional association.”
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Martin chosen as delegate for ADHA Laura Martin, a senior in East Tennessee State University’s Dental Hygiene Program, was selected as the 2021 American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) District VI Delegate. As the delegate, she represented dental hygiene students from Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi at the ADHA’s National Conference. Martin is a native of Roanoke, Virginia, and transferred to ETSU specifically for the dental hygiene program, which is housed in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. “I was impressed with their curriculum and felt incredibly welcomed by the professors,” Martin said. “I also liked how involved they were as a clinic in community health, which I am highly passionate about myself. The professors are determined to help us succeed and care for us not only as students, but as individuals. They are constantly looking for new ways to improve our learning experience and have beautifully adapted to the everchanging situation of COVID-19.” Martin will graduate in May 2022.
Generation Rx earns 4th national win A student organization at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy earned its fourth national win, honored for educating the community about prescription drug misuse. The college’s American Pharmacists AssociationAcademy of Student Pharmacists Generation Rx committee was awarded the APhA-ASP National Generation Rx Chapter Achievement Award for 201920. This is the eighth year in a row that the chapter has been recognized either nationally or regionally and the fourth time the chapter has been named winner in the category. Overall, ETSU Generation Rx has earned first or second runner-up or winner seven times and is the most nationally recognized Generation Rx committee in the country. “I was beyond humbled to see ETSU win the Generation Rx National Award,” said Dawnna Metcalfe (’21), from Bluefield, Virginia, who served as the 2019-20 Generation
Rx chair. “The 2019-2020 academic year was a busy one, and it’s so nice to see all the hard work pay off! Dr. Sarah Melton has created quite the successful leadership team for Generation Rx, and it’s truly been an honor serving our community alongside her.” Melton, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, has served as advisor for the Generation Rx committee since 2011. “Our Generation Rx patient care committee members continue to be change agents throughout the Appalachian region by increasing public awareness of prescription medication misuse and working closely with community partners to actively prevent overdose deaths by education about and distribution of naloxone,” said Melton. APhA-ASP Generation Rx has now transitioned to a new name, Operation Substance Use Disorders, through a collaboration with Walmart, Inc., to expand the breadth and depth of this important initiative.
SNPhA receives national honors At the 2021 national Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) conference, East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy’s SNPhA chapter took home four national honors, including winning the National Scrapbook Competition. This year’s honorees from Gatton College of Pharmacy included: • Dr. Horace and Ethel Bynum Endowed Scholarship – Nitin Joshi (’23) • Rite Aid Endowed Scholarship – Estefany Nunez (’22) • National Scrapbook Competition – Jonathan Holan (’23) • 3rd Place, National Skills Competition – Iris Kamgue (’22) and Estefany Nunez (’22)
“This past year was tough for everyone,” said Joshi, who serves as president of ETSU SNPhA. “I am truly honored that our chapter received four national awards despite the pandemic. It shows the dedication our local ETSU SNPhA team puts into what they do, and I am truly honored that our chapter members were recognized for their hard work.” “This is a tremendous accomplishment and continues a successful track record for ETSU SNPhA,” said Dr. Debbie Byrd, Dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy. “This group competed against over 90 other chapters across the country, from much larger institutions, and demonstrated that Gatton students truly have what it takes not only to compete, but win on the national level.”
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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: COLLEGE OF NURSING
WEBER For many college graduates, the job search begins after they have completed their final exams and finally received their diploma. However, Kayla Weber found out that she landed her dream job a few months before she finished her final semester at East Tennessee State University. After she graduated with her BSN in December 2021, she began a full-time job in the main operating room at a local hospital. It was her top pick of positions. “My experience at ETSU has helped prepare me for my career in nursing by helping me form connections with others in the field of nursing,” Weber said. “I’ve been able to meet so many new people and learn so many new things during my undergraduate degree.” Weber did not always know that she wanted to become a nurse. Before coming to ETSU, the North Carolina native earned her associate degree at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. There, she discovered a love of anatomy and physiology, which brought her to the ETSU College of Nursing. At ETSU, Weber poured into her studies and also found her niche helping fellow College of Nursing students with theirs. She was an honors student, completing research and an honors thesis titled “Nursing Students’ Knowledge and Understanding of Acute Cystitis.”
“My mentor, Dr. Greta Marek, was amazing,” Weber said. “She helped me so much with the process of writing and submitting an honors thesis. I couldn't have done it without her.” Weber also served as a peer ambassador, representing the college in virtual open houses and participating in Zoom sessions with prospective students to answer their questions about the nursing program. In between her own classes and writing her thesis, she was also a sought-after peer tutor in the College of Nursing. “I have tutored students in semesters behind me, which has greatly helped in communication and forming connections with other nursing students,” she said. Completing her own nursing education during a pandemic taught Weber the importance of resilience and self-care. It was not easy, but Weber feels better prepared for the uncertainties and difficulties she could face every day on the job. “It was so frustrating to not have as much in-person experience due to the pandemic as previous cohorts, but the ETSU College of Nursing put in the effort to ensure that we were still getting the information we needed to graduate, pass the NCLEX and become registered nurses,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to still receive a nursing education amidst the hardships of this pandemic.” While she is now looking toward practicing nursing in the OR, her experience at ETSU, including her work in research and as a peer tutor, have also sparked the interest to someday continue her nursing education. “I’ve made a lot of friends while tutoring students,” Weber said. “I’ve thought about becoming a professor some day since I love to teach. It makes me happy knowing that I have helped future generations of nurses get through what has been a tough time during the pandemic.”
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Quillen welcomes largest class in its history East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine welcomed 79 medical students in the Class of 2025, the largest class in the medical school’s history, during an orientation week that culminated with a traditional, in-person White Coat Ceremony. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, which prevented in-person visits and shifted our admissions process to online interviews, we received more applications and conducted more interviews than ever before in the history of Quillen College of Medicine,” said Doug Taylor, Associate Dean for Admissions and Records at Quillen.
virtually with 365 applicants, conducting a total of 730 interviews with these individuals. The class represents 37 undergraduate institutions, with the greatest number of students coming from ETSU and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Seventy of the incoming students are Tennesseans, and four are children of Quillen alumni. Nine are veterans of the U.S. military. Eight new students are from underrepresented populations in medicine.
In 2021, Quillen announced that it would increase its class size for the first time in 10 years in order to provide additional students with the opportunity to pursue their dream of a medical education at ETSU. The boost from 72 to 79 new students represented a 9% increase.
“We have a stellar class, and it has been exciting to be able to finally gather in person and celebrate this rite of passage, which holds a very special meaning for the students,” said Dr. Bill Block, ETSU Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of the medical school.
Also in 2021, Quillen had a record 3,099 applicants – up more than 650 from the prior year’s record of 2,433. To choose the Class of 2025, the admissions committee met
College included among U.S. News ‘Best Medical Schools’ U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 “Best Medical Schools” listings ranked East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine high in several key categories that reflect the medical school’s mission to educate future physicians, especially those with an interest in primary care, to practice in underserved rural communities.
The rankings list Quillen College of Medicine: • 3rd in the nation for “Most Graduates Practicing in Underserved Areas,” with 63.5% of its graduates serving in this capacity; • 13th in the nation in “Best Family Medicine Programs” category; • 25th in the category ranking the percent of 20122014 graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas, with 9.7% of these graduates serving in this capacity; and
“Rural and primary care are at the core of what we do, and it is very satisfying to be ranked among the top schools in the country in these categories,” said Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “These rankings are an affirmation of Quillen College of Medicine’s continued commitment to its mission and our success in graduating physicians who accomplish this mission in outstanding ways in our region and across the country.”
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64th in the nation in the “Best Medical Schools: Primary Care” category. In this category, Quillen was the highest ranked public medical school in Tennessee. In addition, Quillen was listed 38th for “Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care,” with 32.8% practicing in primary care.
Pharmacy Dean awarded national honor East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy’s dean earned a national honor for her years of service to the profession of pharmacy. Dr. Debbie Byrd was presented the Anne Marie Liles Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Pharmacy Practice Section. Since 1997 Byrd has served as a member of AACP and the Pharmacy Practice Section demonstrating her commitment to the section’s mission and objectives, as well as having served as chair of the Pharmacy Practice Section. Over the past five years as Dean and Professor at Gatton College of Pharmacy, Byrd has continued to champion and allocate resources for several initiatives that support AACP Pharmacy Practice Section Objectives, like enriching the applicant pipeline, supporting pharmacists and pharmacy careers, and innovating in education and practice. A professor of Pharmacy Practice, Byrd’s practice experience includes development of new patient care services for underserved Family Medicine patients at sites including a private community hospital, rural mobile health clinic, rural private practice, and a large academic medical center. Honored as a Preceptor of Excellence, her leadership in education includes curricular redesign, faculty orientation and mentoring programs, formal resident teaching and learning program activities, and leadership in Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). Originally from Tennessee, Byrd came to ETSU in 2016 with previous administrative leadership experience at University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy. Byrd is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis followed by a Primary Care Specialty Residency at the National Institutes of Health. She is a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education Management Development Program and the AACP Academic Leadership Fellows Program.
Respiratory Therapy Program ranked among best in nation Intelligent.com ranked East Tennessee State University’s Respiratory Therapy Program 26th among the top 50 respiratory programs in the country and 28th among the best online respiratory therapy programs. There are more than 500 respiratory programs nationwide. “Respiratory therapists have always been an integral part of patient care, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, their role in health care has received more attention than perhaps ever before,” said Dr. Don Samples, Dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. “I am proud of the faculty and students who make our program notable, and I am extremely proud of the work our graduates do to save lives and improve patients’ quality of life. That is what we are all about.” Respiratory therapists provide care for patients with heart and lung problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and sleep apnea, as well as those experiencing a heart attack or suffering a stroke. They perform diagnostic tests for lung capacity, administer breathing treatments, record a patient’s progress and consult with physicians and surgeons on continuing care. ETSU’s Respiratory Therapy Program offers a bachelor of science in respiratory therapy. In addition to its 26th ranking in the best respiratory therapy programs category, Intelligent.com awarded ETSU’s program with the “Best Scholarships” accolade. ETSU’s online B.S. completion program in respiratory therapy is designed to offer students with an associate degree in respiratory therapy the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree by using more of their associate degree credit hours than normally transfer to a four-year institution. In addition to its 28th listing in the best online category, Intelligent.com noted ETSU as the “most flexible” program among the online respiratory therapy programs.
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ETSU welcomes Provost McCorkle Following an extensive national search, Kimberly D. McCorkle, J.D. was named as the new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics at East Tennessee State University. She assumed this role in July 2021, succeeding Dr. Wilsie S. Bishop.
Bishop Hall named in honor of retired administrator East Tennessee State University’s Interprofessional Education and Research Center, also known as Building 60, on the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Campus is now called “Bishop Hall” in honor of longtime administrator Dr. Wilsie S. Bishop, who retired on June 30, 2021, after 43 years of service at ETSU. The ETSU Board of Trustees approved the naming of Bishop Hall at its special called meeting on June 15, 2021. On June 18, the ETSU community gathered to celebrate Bishop’s contributions to the university with a reception that was held on the lawn of the newly named Bishop Hall. Special guests spoke about her legacy to the university, including her leadership of ETSU’s interprofessional education initiative. Bishop has been a longtime champion for interprofessional training at ETSU, going back to when the university received a $6.1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to launch our Community Partnerships for Health Professions Education Program. The naming of the Interprofessional Education and Research Center in her honor serves as a lasting tribute to her great legacy and the profound way she has transformed ETSU and the lives of its students, faculty, and staff.
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McCorkle came to ETSU from the University of West Florida, where she spent the past 19 years and most recently served as Vice Provost and Professor. She was named Interim Vice Provost in 2017 and assumed the role on a permanent basis the following year. “I am honored to join ETSU as Provost at such an important time in the university’s history,” McCorkle said. “As we move forward with our strategic visioning process, I am dedicated to supporting our outstanding faculty as we continue to focus on the mission of supporting student success while providing high quality academic programs and advancing our research contributions.” As Vice Provost at UWF, McCorkle held responsibility for academic program development and oversight, strategic planning efforts, faculty development, accreditation and institutional effectiveness, undergraduate research, student grievance processes, and compliance and policy review. In addition, she served as the university’s SACSCOC liaison and has managed all institutional accreditation efforts. She spent seven years with the UWF College of Education and Professional Studies, including three years as associate dean and another three as an assistant dean. For 15 years, McCorkle held a faculty appointment in criminal justice and legal studies, and, prior to moving to the Office of the Provost, served as Chair and Professor in the Department of Legal Studies, Public Administration, and Sport Management. Notable awards and honors presented to McCorkle include the National Science Foundation UWF ADVANCE Faculty Scholar, Escambia County Domestic Violence Coalition Outstanding Service Award, and the UWF Mary Rogers Outstanding Women’s Studies Faculty Award.
Fox earns ETSU’s highest teaching honor Dr. Sean Fox received East Tennessee State University’s 2021 Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching. As the recipient of this award, Fox was the keynote speaker at ETSU’s Dec. 11, 2021 afternoon Commencement ceremony. Fox has served as a lecturer and laboratory coordinator (microbiology) in the Department of Health Sciences, College of Public Health since June 2013. He received his B.S. in forensic sciences/molecular biology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007 and his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences – microbiology, from ETSU in 2013. Fox’s nomination for the award was initiated by two independent students who collected more than 20 letters of recommendation from previous and current students detailing their enthusiastic support. Student
letters spoke of Fox’s sincerity and enthusiasm and described him as a valuable mentor who helped to guide them both professionally and personally during difficult times.
Biomedical Science graduate programs and is committed to going outside the traditional classroom to instruct and guide students in basic science research.
One faculty member described his teaching style as “very capable but absolutely unassuming, successful but absolutely non-self-promoting, an astute observer but absolutely uncritical of others.” Fox has one of the largest teaching loads in the College of Public Health. He teaches Introduction to Microbiology Lecture and Laboratory, Human Genetics, Heath Care Simulation I, General Microbiology Lecture and Laboratory, Biomedical Techniques and Supervised Teaching. He also teaches courses for the Masters and Ph.D.
Radiologic Science Program celebrates successes
WITHIN WEEKS OF RECEIVING his diploma from East Tennessee State University’s Radiologic Science Program, May 2021 graduate Garrett Hall took and passed the national certification examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. In addition, he immediately began a full-time job as a radiologic technologist at Johnson City Medical Center. His classmate, Madison Triebel, also passed her registry exam and began a full-time job at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tennessee.
Their stories represent the collective successes of ETSU’s Radiologic Science graduates. For the past five years, the program has boasted a 100% job placement rate and a 100% pass rate on the national certification examination. “It’s great to have a job ready to go right after college, and I feel well prepared for it,” said Triebel, who received the 2021 Academic Excellence Award for the Radiologic Science Program. “There’s such a feeling of release and security in knowing that.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of radiologic technologists is projected
to grow 7% from 2019-2029, faster than the average for all occupations. “The market is flexible right now and there is a variety of positions they can take in hospitals, outpatient clinics, orthopedic offices, and more,” said Dr. Ester VerhovsekHughes, Chair of ETSU’s Department of Allied Science and interim Director for the program. “There are more jobs than there are graduates at this point. “The strength of our program is the combination of classroom learning and clinical rotations that prepare students to walk confidently into their first job as a radiographer because of their experience and training.”
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Horsley named new Dean of College of Nursing Director for the Healthcare Simulation Center (HCSC) at South Dakota State University (SDSU) College of Nursing, the state’s land grant institution with the largest and most comprehensive nursing education programs.
EAST TENNESSEE STATE University appointed Dr. Leann Horsley as Dean of the College of Nursing. She began her role on Aug. 16, 2021. Prior to coming to ETSU, Horsley served as an Assistant Dean, Associate Professor, and interim
“The ETSU College of Nursing is a leader in the state for preparing nurses, advanced practice nurses and nurse educators, and the school is also a national model in the arena of faculty practice and delivering care to underserved populations,” said ETSU Provost Kimberly D. McCorkle. “Dr. Horsley was chosen from a field of outstanding candidates and we were very impressed by her vision for the ETSU College of Nursing. I look forward to working with her as we continue the work of the college, which has been training nurses for more than 60 years.”
Spotlight on national nursing rankings East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing was included in several national rankings released in 2021.
#1 RN to BSN in Tennessee
NursingProcess.org ranked ETSU College of Nursing as the top RN to BSN program in the state of Tennessee.
The college also was included in U.S. News & World Report’s “2022 Best Graduate Schools Rankings: Nursing Schools” listing. ETSU College of Nursing ranked 90th in the nation among Best Nursing Master’s Programs and 92nd among Best DNP Programs.
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Horsley received her Ph.D. (2012) in nursing from the University of Kansas. She completed her BSN (1990), and M.S. (2005) in nursing education from the University of Oklahoma. As Assistant Dean at SDSU College of Nursing, Horsley provided the leadership and oversight of all faculty, staff, and educational experiences at the Sioux Falls campus located 55 miles south of SDSU’s main campus in Brookings. She was appointed to lead the HCSC as interim director, providing leadership for 25 facilitators in the university’s comprehensive simulation program that earned provisional accreditation through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare in 2018. She also served as Vice President for Programs for the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning's Board of Directors from 2019-2021.
Best Online Programs
EduMed.org named the college one of 2021’s best schools for online programs and courses in health care. ETSU earned top honors for distance education in the following subject areas: #17 among the Best Online MSN Programs; #23 among the Best Online DNP Programs; #23 among the Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs; and #24 among the Best Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs.
#3 PMHNP Program
The college’s online Post-Graduate Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program was ranked third in the nation by NursePractitionerOnline.com.
Melton receives state award for service Dr. Sarah Melton, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, was awarded the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. She is one of five faculty/staff recipients across Tennessee’s higher education institutions to earn the service award. Melton is a dedicated pharmacist, researcher, educator, and community member. She serves as a professor at Gatton College of Pharmacy as well as a clinical pharmacist at the Johnson City Community Health Center, East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Center for Excellence for HIV/AIDS and ETSU Health Internal Medicine. She is a board certified psychiatric and ambulatory care pharmacist and a certified trainer for naloxone education distribution in Virginia and Tennessee.
and Addiction Medicine Education. She served as board chair for One Care of Southwest Virginia for the past decade. During the past six years, Melton led legislative efforts on several successful prescription drug misuse-related bills. She also led efforts in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health to bring a Prescription Drug Misuse Education forum to 21 sites across the Commonwealth – reaching more than 4,000 prescribers and pharmacists. In addition, Melton helped write The Blueprint on Prescription Drug Abuse and Misuse Prevention, Treatment, and Control, a regional strategic planning document. Melton served on the Southwest Virginia Substance Abuse Treatment Planning Group (part of Virginia’s State Innovation Model planning grant). She developed a proposal for an innovative and ideal treatment provision for patients with chronic pain syndrome. She also led One Care’s efforts as a partner in the naloxone project REVIVE! and developed the Volunteer to Save a Life Naloxone Education and Distribution program in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Health.
In all of her roles as a health care provider, Melton has impacted patients and community members alike by seeking to improve the lives of those living with substance use disorders and reducing the prevalence of prescription drug misuse in Appalachia. Because of her experience working with the underserved in Appalachia, she has been appointed by the governors of Virginia and Tennessee to critical statewide commissions including the Virginia Taskforce on Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and the Tennessee Commission on Pain
Melton is very active in numerous community service outreach activities in the region including Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics. Over the past five years, thousands of laypersons and health care providers have been trained in naloxone rescue in the case of opioid overdose at 20 RAM events in the region. “It is such an honor for my passion and work with our students and faculty at Gatton College of Pharmacy to be recognized with the Harold Love Outstanding Service Award,” said Melton. “The service we complete is part of our mission to improve health care, focusing on rural and underserved communities.” In addition to this achievement, she also earned East Tennessee State University’s 2021 Distinguished Faculty Award in Service, the highest service honor given to an ETSU professor.
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WATCH VIDEO 42 ETSU Health
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: BILL GATTON COLLEGE OF PHARMACY
RIVERA MATOS Rochelly Rivera Matos grew up speaking Spanish as her primary language in her hometown of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. However, language has not been a significant barrier for her at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. The third-year student pharmacist has immersed herself in student organizations and helped her peers from different cultures and languages adapt to life in East Tennessee. “My best friends in pharmacy school are from different cultures,” Rivera Matos said. “One is from China, one is from Vietnam, and another friend is Filipino/Mexican. I love that because we learn from different cultures, we grow as people and as pharmacists. We understand each other because we come from places where English is not the first language and the culture is different.” Rivera Matos is a participant of Gatton College of Pharmacy’s PEER-E2 program, which stands for Promoting Engagement, Excellence, and Retention for students whose first or best language is not English. The program provides specialized tutoring, a weekly language lab, peer mentoring, monthly culture and language exchange events, and focused recruiting of linguistically diverse students. It was funded by a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation to support Gatton’s commitment to recruiting a diverse student body. “The program has helped me improve my confidence because we are a group and we are here to learn together,” she said. “They teach us how to write correctly, how to improve the way we talk and express our thoughts in English, and also how to understand different accents we hear.” Dr. Michele Williams, Academic Success Specialist at Gatton College of Pharmacy, leads the PEER-E2 program and has been an important part of Rivera Matos’s journey.
“She has been an angel to me,” said Rivera Matos. “Pharmacy school can be a tough pathway, but with good mentors and friends it is good.” Rivera Matos has known she wanted to be a pharmacist since she was a child. She majored in biology at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras campus and learned about Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy from a friend. “When they called me for an interview, I flew from Puerto Rico with my dad and we fell in love with the city, the university, and the people who work at Gatton College of Pharmacy.” Since arriving at Gatton, she has been a part of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). She is currently serving as Director of Social Media and Marketing for Gatton’s chapter of the Industrial Pharmacy Organization (IPhO) and as a Student Ambassador. Rivera Matos will be traveling back to Puerto Rico during the fall 2022 semester as an ambassador for Gatton to help recruit students who are interested in a career in pharmacy. She hopes to share with prospective students some of her experiences at Gatton, such as the opportunities she has had to serve the community. For example, she has volunteered at local Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics and helped translate for Spanish-speaking patients. “It’s rewarding to give them the service they need in a language that they can understand,” she said. As she works through her final years of pharmacy school, Rivera Matos looks forward to a career where she can help patients overcome barriers to achieve wellbeing. “I see pharmacy as more than helping; it is also about caring, empathy, and humanity,” she said. “It is about feeling what patients feel and understanding them and giving them the quality of life that they need.”
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Substance use research
NEW PROGRAM MENTORS GRADUATE STUDENTS
East Tennessee State University launched its inaugural ETSU Mentored Substance Use Research (EMSUR) training program, designed to train substance use researchers across multiple disciplines in order to improve health outcomes in Central Appalachia. Ten ETSU graduate students from multiple colleges and disciplines were selected for the inaugural cohort and were paired with a faculty mentor to train them in substance use research. Ten faculty members participated as mentors in the program, which was led by Dr. Manik Ahuja, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Management and Policy in the College of Public Health. Ahuja, a trained substance use researcher, spearheaded the EMSUR program at ETSU after he was selected as one of five faculty members from across the country to attend New York University’s Substance Abuse Research Education and Training (SARET) Visiting Development Mentor Program. SARET, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), trains future professionals in substance use disorder (SUD) research. NYU’s Visiting Mentor Development Program prepares faculty to create similar programs at their home institutions. “I came away from this program excited and prepared to begin a similar program at ETSU,” Ahuja said. “My vision was to recruit students who are new to the field and who are interested in substance use research, not necessarily those who have already had experience in this area. The goal is to train new researchers.
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We’re bringing in people who have the aptitude and the interest to make a big impact in the region because the region is burdened with some of the highest rates of substance misuse and drug related overdoses in the nation.” Ahuja partnered with ETSU’s Addiction Science Center, putting out a call for applicants early in the spring 2021 semester. He originally planned to select five students for the inaugural cohort, but the response was so overwhelming that he was able to expand to 10 students. These students were matched with faculty mentors based on their interests. In addition to doing mentored research 12 weeks, they completed a modular, web-based curriculum through NYU, which prepares them for SUD-related research careers. Ahuja designed EMSUR with a cross-disciplinary, interprofessional approach. Not only were students from multiple colleges and
disciplines selected, but many of them were paired with faculty mentors from different colleges. Madeline Standbridge is a student in ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine and College of Public Health. She is working on her MD/MPH with a concentration in health services administration and policy. She was paired with Dr. KariLynn DowlingMcClay, Assistant Professor in ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. “As a future physician, I applied to the EMSUR program to better understand ways to increase access to treatment, improve health outcomes, and better advocate for individuals who use substances,” said Standbridge. “I am most excited about the opportunity to be mentored and learn alongside such a wonderful, interprofessional group. I am looking forward to learning further about the role I can play, through interdisciplinary research, in improving health outcomes within Central Appalachia.”
Professor, grad student author article examining COVID-19 and nutrition
ETSU adds new minor in nutrition
An East Tennessee State University professor and graduate student co-authored an article addressing the ways in which COVID-19 has changed the practice of nutrition.
East Tennessee State University began offering a minor in nutrition in fall 2021 in order to meet a growing demand in the health care workforce and among its students.
Dr. Michelle Johnson
The article titled “COVID & Nutrition: How the Pandemic has Changed Practice” was co-authored by Dr. Michelle Johnson, Associate Professor and Director of the Dietetic Internship Program in ETSU’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, and Julia Barroso, a graduate student and dietetic intern in ETSU’s clinical nutrition graduate program. Their article appears in the September/October 2021 issue of Today’s Geriatric Medicine, a national publication providing news and insight for professionals in elder care. In their article, Johnson and Barroso explored the implications of COVID-19 in the field of nutrition, specifically among adults residing in long-term care, assisted living and post-acute care facilities. Their study identifies and summarizes COVID-19related effects on nutrition practice in these settings and recognizes general trends in nutrition practice that emerged and would be beneficial to encourage in the future.
“I feel it is important to shine a spotlight on the role of nutrition professionals in these settings, who despite incredible personal and professional stress, have continued to voluntarily serve our students as clinical preceptors, demonstrating the value of advancing practice, as we continue to learn more about the impact of COVID-19,” said Johnson. “This population is particularly vulnerable to experiencing malnutrition, and registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals play important roles in identifying opportunities to overcome barriers inevitable during the pandemic this first year.” The article delves into nutrition intake and weight loss among longterm care residents, tips for encouraging and increasing hydration, and the ways in which large-scale food systems challenges during COVID affected health care facilities and their budgets.
The new minor is housed in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences (CCRHS). To complete the minor, students take 18 credit hours with courses addressing topics such as community nutrition, nutrition in sports and health, communication in nutrition, and others. “Nutrition science is complementary to many medical professions, including rehabilitative sciences, allied health, speechlanguage pathology, and exercise science and kinesiology,” said Dr. Don Samples, Dean of CCRHS. Nutrition professionals work in a variety of settings where they apply scientific knowledge and skills to provide effective nutritional advice to clients in health care, athletic and community settings. In health care and community health, the interdisciplinary health care team utilizes the expertise of the nutritionist in planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition for clients to optimize health and disease prevention. Professionals with this type of expertise are in demand in the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 13% growth in the area of health educators and community health workers from 2019-2029; this growth is higher than average. Health educators and community health workers are employed in a variety of work settings, including health departments, corporate health coaching, and school nutrition programs. “Establishing a nutrition minor will allow nonnutrition majors access to developing a skill set that will complement their current career objectives and strengthen their effectiveness as health-related caregivers,” said Mary Andreae, Director of ETSU’s undergraduate Dietetics Program.
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ETSU researchers making strides in COVID-19 research Members of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity (CIIDI) at East Tennessee State University have been making strides in understanding SARS-CoV-2, recently publishing their second article describing a study examining the immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19). The article, “SARS-CoV-2 specific memory T cell epitopes identified in COVID-19-recovered subjects,” was published in Virus Research. Given that protective antibodies naturally wane over time, the virusspecific T cell memory response
is critically valuable to fight against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection and can be used to assess the duration of vaccine protection, according to Dr. Juan Zhao, Assistant Professor at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. “This study employs human samples from CIIDI’s well-established biorepository, and reveals that defined levels of SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell responses are generated in some, but not all, COVID-19recovered subjects, fostering hope for the protection of a proportion of COVID-19-exposed individuals against reinfection,” said Zhao, who is lead author on the article.
Dr. Juan Zhao is lead author on an article recently published in Virus Research.
The researchers are continuing to study aspects of the immune response in individuals who have infection-acquired immune response to COVID-19, as well as investigate patients who are experiencing COVID-19 “long haul” symptoms.
Study evaluates pharmacistprescribed contraception Dr. KariLynn DowlingMcClay, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, received an $11,998 ETSU Research Development Committee (RDC) Grant to study pharmacist-prescribed contraception (PPC) as a means of filling the gap in regional access to birth control in Appalachia and the southern U.S. “This is a nationwide issue with almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. being unplanned or ‘surprise’ pregnancies each year,” said Dr. Dowling-McClay. “If a pregnancy occurs when it is not intended, there are greater risks to mom, baby, and family. Consistent access to effective birth control methods is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies.”
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The need for consistency faces additional problems in Appalachia, according to Dowling-McClay, including: distance required to travel to clinics, lack of transportation, lack of health insurance, misinformation about reproductive health, low health literacy, distrust of medical providers, and cultural beliefs—all of which have been found to decrease access to birth control. While pointing out that the list is non-exhaustive, Dowling-McClay believes there is a way to curtail this access gap using PPC. “Pharmacist-prescribed contraception is a health care innovation that might be able to fill a gap in access to birth control for women who need it most,” she added. “It is also an opportunity for pharmacists to fulfill their duty to preserving and improving the public’s health. We want to find out if this service is feasible and wanted in the Appalachian region from the perspectives of women, pharmacists and other medical providers.” Dr. Michael G. Smith, assistant professor with ETSU College of Public Health, and Program and Policy Director for ETSU Center for Applied Research and Evaluation in Women’s Health (CARE Women’s Health), will work with Dr. Dowling-McClay on the PPC research.
Students participate in CDC mask wearing study A team of graduate students from East Tennessee State University College of Public Health placed Johnson City on the map when they conducted four months of local observations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national MASCUP! study. Under the direction of Dr. Sam Pettyjohn, Research Assistant Professor, ETSU was one of 66 locations nationwide chosen to assess mask wearing behaviors at U.S. colleges and universities as part of a larger “Mask Adherence Surveillance at Colleges and Universities,” or MASCUP!. Students collected field data gathered on and off campus. Beginning in February 2021, Pettyjohn and 11 students in the Master of Public Health program canvased ETSU and other designated locations in Johnson City where they have studied the rates of mask wearing behaviors and local adherence to CDC COVID-19 prevention guidelines, and how these rates changed over time. A total of 10 sites, five on campus and five in Johnson City, such as national retail and grocery chains or other
local businesses, were chosen for their high foot traffic and proximity, then observed unobtrusively throughout the course of approximately 3,000 total observations during the spring semester—one of the longest such studies in the national study. Students were first trained in passive observation skills, then data were collected and logged by smartphone app and placed into the CDC databank as observations were made. “Each student received CDC training on how to observe the public and quickly tell if they were not only wearing a mask but wearing it correctly, as well as how to utilize various research sampling techniques,” said Pettyjohn, noting the added value to their future vocations. “With those skills they are now equipped to complete future observational work that is up to CDC standards. They have received a concrete set of skills and experiences from which we benefit with a better sense of current public health issues and how to address those, while they walk away prepared to do this kind of work as public health professionals.” Ada Sloop, student and MASCUP! field observer, said, “This study has given me a chance to be a part of something larger than the next assignment. We are living through a chaotic time and being able to help in a little sliver of the work that public health is doing during this pandemic is rewarding.” Sloop and other team members assisted the national project team with publication and dissemination of collected information.
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Collaboration yields new research lab Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Quillen College of Medicine Department of Family Medicine, along with former ETSU Emergency Management Specialist Andrew Worley. “The lab was initially formed to focus on pandemic-related research across disciplines, but we expect to expand beyond pandemic-related research and explore other health-geography topics, such as access to health care, socio-demographic disparities, water quality and health issues, and vector disease modeling, such as tick- or mosquito-borne illnesses,” said Dr. Andrew Joyner, GADS Lab Director. “It’s the intersection of health and geography.”
An extensive collaboration among three East Tennessee State University colleges has resulted in the creation of a new research lab at the school, the ETSU Spatial Epidemiology and Medical Geography (SEMG) Lab. This partnership is part of a major interdisciplinary alliance among the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geosciences/Geoinformatics and Disaster Science (GADS) Lab, the College of Public Health
Joyner said the team examined the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic through multiple perspectives, such as spatial, temporal, public health/rural health, and epidemiology impacts, by applying different methods and skill sets. The team developed a model for tracking and disseminating information on the spread of COVID-19 and created the first publicly available Geographic Information Systems (GIS) dashboard for the Central Blue Ridge region. The SEMG Lab had its first COVID-19 research paper published in the fall of 2021 in the Journal of Appalachian Health.
ETSU adds online Graduate Certificate in Genetics and Genomics East Tennessee State University’s College of Nursing is now offering an online Graduate Certificate in Health Care Genetics and Genomics. The certification is designed to prepare students to utilize knowledge of genetics, genomics, epigenetics, pharmacogenetics, genetic testing, and genetic counseling in their practice. It will also provide knowledge of how genetic makeup and environment may contribute to the development of common inherited disorders. Genetics is the study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics. Genomics is the study of the entirety of an organism’s genes, or genomes. While the certificate program is open to any student with a bachelor’s degree and builds upon general knowledge in biology and health-related sciences, Dr. Alex Sargsyan, Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and 48 ETSU Health
Coordinator of the Health Care Genetics and Genomics Program, said, “the certificate should appeal to potential students who have interests in health-related fields such as nursing, medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, speech and communication disorders, and exercise science. “Students will learn about the latest trends in genetic testing, genetic counseling, and there will be an opportunity to have a practical experience in a clinical setting,” added Sargsyan. The Genetics and Genomics Certificate Program was designed with working professionals in mind, offering the flexibility and convenience of online coursework. Four courses include: Human Genetics and Genomics Essentials, Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics, Advanced Human Genetics and Genomics, and a Seminar and Practicum in Human Genetics and Genomics, for a total of 12 credit hours.
ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge team tops in Tennessee, nation have proven that they excel on the national stage when up against the very best pharmacy schools in the country, many of which have been around much longer than Gatton College of Pharmacy.”
The team included L-R: Dr. Kelly Covert, Morgan Thomas (’23), Gabe Thompson (’22), and Kaitlyn Phillips (’22). A team of student pharmacists at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy demonstrated state and national success in an academic competition that included more than 100 other pharmacy school teams across the country.
the pandemic, and they were the only team in Tennessee to advance to among the top eight teams in the nation. Since the college’s founding in 2005, Gatton College of Pharmacy is one of only two colleges of pharmacy in the country that has won the competition twice.
Gatton College of Pharmacy’s team competed in the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge, a “quiz bowl” format held virtually in 2021 due to
“We are extremely proud of this year’s team and all that they have accomplished,” said Dr. Debbie Byrd, Dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy. “Yet again, our student pharmacists
The team included Kaitlyn Phillips (’22), captain; Morgan Thomas (’23); and Gabe Thompson (’22). Dr. Kelly Covert, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, served as coach of the college’s team. The ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge consists of questions offered in three segments including trivia, clinical case and “Jeopardy!”style, the content of which was developed and reviewed by an expert panel of clinical pharmacy practitioners and educators. “We truly worked hard because we took pride in representing the school we love so much on the national level,” Kaitlyn Phillips said.
Sepsis study earns NIH grant East Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers are continuing a five-year partnership with a $2.1 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study trained immunity in sepsis.
organ dysfunction. Sepsis is frequently associated with immune suppression and aging. At present, no drugs are approved for the treatment of sepsis or post-sepsis immunosuppression.
Drs. David Williams (ETSU) and Ed Sherwood (Vanderbilt) have been awarded a grant by the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences. This competitive renewal grant titled “Training Innate Immunity: A New Approach to the Treatment of Sepsis” has been funded since 2016. Williams and Sherwood are co-principal investigators on the grant.
Recent data demonstrate that the innate immune system can be “trained” to respond more rapidly and effectively to pathogens. This research will elucidate the mechanisms underlying trained immunity and determine the functional importance of those mechanisms for inducing and sustaining trained immunity in leukocytes from aging healthy people and sepsis patients.
The long-term goal is to identify new approaches for the management and treatment of sepsis.
Williams is the Carroll H. Long Professor of Surgery and co-Director of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI). Sherwood is the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt Medical Center. He is also an affiliate member of the CIIDI.
The multi-year grant focuses on sepsis, which is a complex disease spectrum that includes systemic inflammatory response syndrome, shock and/or multiple
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ETSUHealth.org College of Public Health etsu.edu/cph 423-439-4243
› Bachelor of Science in Public Health– Community Health › Bachelor of Science in Health Administration › Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences–Human Health › Bachelor of Science in Microbiology › Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health › Minors in Emergency/Disaster Response Management, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Global Health and Development (includes Peace Corps Prep program), Health Administration, Health Sciences, Microbiology, Public Health, and Safety › Master of Public Health–Biostatistics, Community Health, Environmental Health, and Epidemiology › Master of Health Administration › MD/MPH dual degree programs › PharmD/MPH dual degree programs › Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)– Community Health, Epidemiology, Health Management and Policy › Graduate certificates in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Gerontology, Global Health, Health Care Management, Health Data Analytics, Public Health, and Rural Health
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› Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Leadership › Bachelor of Science in Cardiopulmonary Science › Bachelor of Science in Nutrition › Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene › Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science
› Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitative Health Sciences › Bachelor of Social Work › Minors in Allied Health, American Sign Language, Communicative Disorders, Nutrition, and Social Work › Undergraduate career certificates in Computed Tomography (CT), and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) › Master of Science in Allied Health › Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition › Master of Science in SpeechLanguage Pathology › Master of Social Work › Doctor of Audiology › Doctor of Occupational Therapy (May 2022) › Doctor of Physical Therapy › Graduate certificates in Clinical Addiction Counseling Studies and Sport Nutrition
Gatton College of Pharmacy etsu.edu/pharmacy 423-439-6338
› Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Studies › PharmD › PharmD/MPH dual degree program › PharmD/MBA dual degree program
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MD Program PhD Program MD/MPH dual degree program MD/MBA dual degree program
College of Nursing etsu.edu/nursing 423-439-4578
› Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) › Accelerated BSN (bachelor’s degree in another field) › ETSU-Holston Valley Medical Center Accelerated BSN (Kingsport cohort)
› LPN to BSN (for licensed practical nurses) › RN to BSN (for diploma or associate degree nurses) › AAS/BSN Dual Degree › Certificate in Health Care Genetics and Genomics › Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing › Post-Master’s Certificate Program in Nursing Administration and Nursing Education › RN-MSN (bachelor’s degree in another field and RN license) › Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)– Adult Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Executive Leadership, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner › Post-DNP Certificate in Executive Leadership › Post-Graduate APRN Certificate Program in Adult Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner › ETSU-Tennessee Technological University (TTU) DNP Program – Adult Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Executive Leadership, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner › PhD › BSN-PhD › DNP-PhD
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