ECU CONnection Newsletter – December 2022

The Message From The Dean

Pirate Nurse Nation,

As we enter a season of celebration, I hope you will join me in taking time to celebrate all the successes of the past year. For many, the end of the semester means a well-deserved break after months of hard work, for others the end of the semester signals graduation and transition to a new phase in their personal and professional lives. For the faculty and staff here at the College, we are able to reset and prepare for a new season of learning and growth.

This year has allowed us to return the College to a sense of pre-pandemic normality. Masks have given way to smiles and distance education is solely for online courses. Our faculty are thrilled to be in the classroom again and enthusiastic about the ability to get out of the classroom to conduct and present their research and scholarly work. Our faculty have won awards for writing, been invited to serve on regional and national committees, and have been recognized for teaching excellence and innovation. It has been a gift to become their colleague and I look forward to many years watching this incredible team shape the future of health care in North Carolina.

It is often said that the staff make an organization run day-to-day and are the true heroes. This is especially the case here at the College of Nursing than any other organization I have been a part of. Our staff members recruit new students, advise them on the best trajectory for their education, make sure the faculty get paid and are supported, and the Information Technology team are always there to make our technology work.

This year we admitted 489 students into baccalaureate and graduate programs, and graduated 556 as entry to practice nurses, nurse practitioners, PhDs and DNPs. Our students continue to attain exceptional national examination results and I am most proud to say that 4 out of 5 of our graduates stay in North Carolina to practice. We couldn’t be more proud of our students – they make Pirate Nurse Nation the most vibrant and respected collection of nurses in the world.

Our graduating students now become ALUMNI!

During the holiday break, please spend time with family and friends, to recharge in advance for the coming semester. For our new grads, please prepare for your licensure exams in the coming weeks, the nursing profession is relying on your success on the exams. We wish you the best of luck in the New Year.

Happy Holidays,

Dean Bim



Stephanie Hart

Dr. Stephanie Hart, a fixed term faculty member in the baccalaureate education department and a May 2022 graduate of the College of Nursing PhD program, has been selected as one of two Duke National Clinician Scholars Program scholars for the 2023-2025 cohort.

Duke University is one of six sites across the nation that provides training for physicians and post-doctoral nurses to become change agents driving policy-relevant research and partnerships to improve health and health care. The goal of the NCSP is to cultivate health equity, eliminate health disparities, invent new models of care, and achieve higher quality health care at a lower cost by training nurse and physician – which all support the College of Nursing’s mission to improve rural health care in North Carolina.

“I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to engage with other scholars in the NCSP network but also with Granville-Vance Public Health – it was a perfect match for me,” Dr. Hart said.

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Perry who was selected for the 2023 North Carolina Nursing Association Leadership Academy. Dr. Perry is an ECU Nursing and now serves as full-time faculty in our Adult-Gerontology and Family Nurse Practitioner programs.

Dr. Michelle Skipper said of Dr. Perry “she brings many diverse talents that will be strengthened with participation in NCNA's Leadership Academy. She is a seasoned nurse practitioner, whose primary care skills in Federally Qualified Health Centers give her a unique perspective about the barriers and concerns specific to rural healthcare in eastern North Carolina. She is a world traveler and fluent Spanish-speaker which aids her in the types of patients she can communicate with and care for. She has excelled in her newest role as an educator, teaching students in nursing leadership, health assessment and clinical rotations, including the effects of our political climate in North Carolina in all courses.”

Courtney Caiola, an assistant professor of nursing and researcher focusing on women and HIV, is studying how health care providers can best communicate with women living with HIV in rural settings, particularly for those without reliable access to high-speed internet connectivity.

“If (patients) are engaged in care and taking medications, they often live long, healthy lives. But the issue is that regionally, the epidemic has shifted from more urban areas to more rural areas, and specifically the south,” Caiola said.

Her current study is broken into three distinct phases. First researchers will interview a small cohort of women living with HIV to determine what their challenges are to engaging in care and sticking to a treatment regimen. This initial feedback will inform surveys that will be given to larger groups of women, which is the stage Caiola and her team are at. The third phase will see focus groups held in rural communities to evaluate the effectiveness of planned messaging to women who might be on the fence about seeking treatment or who need a little extra encouragement to keep on track with taking medications and following health promoting behaviors.

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Dr. Jan Tillman

At the beginning of December, Dr. Jan Tillman presented at the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty (NONPF) in Bethesda. For the past two years she has co-chaired the Curriculum Leadership Committee (CLC), which is comprised of approximately 30 faculty from universities across the US.

The CLC has been working over the past 3-4 years to fine-tune the guiding principles for NP education by collaborating with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing on revising AACN Essentials (2019-2020). From 2021-2023 the committee’s focus was, and will be, to finalize the NONPF NP Role Core Competencies and sub-competencies, which will guide curriculum for nurse practitioner programs across the nation so that an NP graduating from any accredited NP program is ready to practice as a novice NP upon graduation. The competencies are written to strategically align with the new American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials. ECU’s accrediting agency uses the Essentials and Competencies as they review the NP program during accreditation (which is coming up soon for the CON).

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Two of the College of Nursing’s best were selected as members of the 2022 cohort of Treasured Pirates for their exceptional service to the university and Pirate Nation.

Heidi Parker, the executive assistant in the College of Nursing, was nominated for going “above and beyond her work requirements to accommodate others and the needs of the

Dr. Mark Hand winning the "Ugly Sweater" competition

Dr. Mark Hand winning the “Ugly Sweater” competition


Members of the East Carolina Association of Nursing Students collected and donated food to the United Community Ministries on Nov. 18, in time for Thanksgiving. Olivia Dardis, Margaret Hinson, Brett Huffman, Precious Omyeabo, Shayne Rowe, and Lylian Treece are 4th-semester students who will graduate in December. They completed their their Community Health Clinical Rotations in Nash County at different locations including school health, occupational health, at a cancer center and cardiac rehab.

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On Friday, I experienced my first East Carolina University #Pirate graduation and it was amazing! I was so proud to celebrate the hard work of the graduating students along with the guidance and support of the faculty and staff. Parents and family members were excited and the moment was unforgettable. On behalf of the leadership, faculty and staff of the East Carolina University College of Nursing, I would like to congratulate our #PirateGrads for a job well done, welcome to #PirateNation!!!

Historically, the East Carolina University College of Nursing graduates have their degrees conferred last. Can you guess why?!?


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Alumni Spotlight

Caroline Lanier

Caroline Lanier graduated from Lenoir Community College in 2016 with her ADN. As a RIBN student, she went on to graduate with her BSN from ECU in 2017. She started working as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at UNC Lenoir Healthcare in August of 2016. In the Emergency Department, she developed her passion for teaching through precepting students from various nursing programs.

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In a week full of great happenings (looking at you, graduates) the good news keeps rolling in. Two of our alumni have been selected as part of ECU’s 40 under Forty Class of 2023.

Dr. Chelsea Passwater (BSN ‘11, MSN ’17, DNP ’21) is currently a faculty member here at the College and Elizabeth Seawell (BSN ’08, MSN ’13) is a nurse leader at ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville.

Both of our Pirate Nurse awardees will be honored with the rest of their class at the 40 Under Forty Leadership Awards Banquet on April 22.

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Melissa (BSN ’95) and Martin Anderson of Greenville are the latest to join in support of Dean Akintade’s first financial priority, faculty support. The Andersons have established a faculty support endowment in memory of Melissa’s mom, Blanche Kammer Monroe (BA ’62; MFA ’89), and in honor of Martin’s mom, Frankie Martin Carstarphen Anderson (BA ’63). The Martins have also generously provided a gift to the endowment’s support fund to kickstart its immediate impact to be used by the dean.

The inaugural dinner to honor CON Faculty Support donors was held Dec. 1. Left to right are Bridget Frazier Rogers (BSN ’77) and Tom Rogers of Pine Knoll Shores, CON Dean Bim Akintade, Elizabeth Maxwell, Susan Sidbury Blake (BSN ’78) and Dr. Chris Blake of Wilmington. Faculty Support Donors not pictured are Dr. Deitra Lowdermilk (BSN ’68) and Ed Lowdermilk of Chapel Hill and Ms. Patricia Morris (BA ’81; BSN ’85) of Henrico, Va.