ECU CONnection Newsletter – February 2023

The Message From The Dean

Dr Akintade Bimbola

Pirate Nurse Nation,

February is set aside for remembrances and reflections on the successes and challenges that define Black history in America. Eastern North Carolina, and the CON, have a huge role in that history. From Frances Hopkins, a Pitt Country resident and nurse who worked tirelessly to found Saint Frances Hospital for Colored People in Greenville in 1924, to the CON’s first Black faculty member, Black nurses in the region have blazed trails for the current generation of nurses at the bedside and in classrooms here on the Health Sciences Campus.

Many others have followed in their footsteps – nurses who integrated universities and hospitals, and names that may only be remembered by proud families. These include women and men who made it possible for me to emerge as Dean of one of the best colleges of nursing in the nation.

We’ve had success, certainly, but we’re not where we need to be. Diversity among nurses at the bedside, and particularly in community college and university classrooms do not adequately represent the American public they serve. At the CON, we are moving in the right direction.

Next month the inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Michael Jones, will join the CON. Dr. Jones will work with the leadership, faculty and staff to build a more inclusive CON community. This will include working with faculty during curriculum revision, supporting faculty, staff and student recruitment, and positively impacting student support programs. Research shows that patients experience better health outcomes when the members of their care teams represent the complexity of America’s racial, gender and linguistic make up. In short, we all do better when we are part of the solution. Dr. Jones will help the CON achieve a more equitable, and representative, nursing future.

I want to thank every member of the College of Nursing – faculty, staff, students, and alumni – for being a part of our shared mission to achieve these goals. I see a dedication to our mission every day in meetings with faculty and staff, in talking with students in the halls, and sharing time with our alumni.

One of the main reasons I signed on to be Dean of Pirate Nurse Nation is that I saw, but more importantly felt, that we get it here: the world can, and will be, a better and more just place!

All the best,

Dean Bim

Black History Month Celebration

On Feb. 2, the College of Nursing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee hosted a screening of the film ”The Dixie Three: A Story On Civil Rights in Nursing” to kick off the College’s observation of Black History Month. The film tells the story of three Black nurses who defied segregation-era restrictions on their eating lunch in a white’s only cafeteria at the hospital they worked at in Hampton, Virginia.

The screening was followed by panel discussion with the director of the film and other nursing professionals Phat Le, RN; Latasha Williams, RN and MSN Clinical Nursing Science student; Denetra Hampton, RN and filmmaker of “The Dixie Three”; and Dr. Frances Eason.


Six ECU College of Nursing faculty members attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Doctoral Education Conference Jan. 18-20 in Coronado, California. Drs. Shannon Powell and Alex Hodges were recognized as first-place award winners in the Evidence Based Practice and Quality category for their poster entitled ‘Sharing Your Passion Within a PhD, DNP Collaboration’. Drs. Jan Tillman and Michelle Skipper gave invited podium presentations on Universal Design for Learning and Healthcare Emergency and Disaster Preparedness respectively.

In attendance were Drs. Megan Dillon, Alex Hodges, Shannon Powell, Pam Reis, Michelle Skipper and Jan Tillman.

Dean Akintade has published, with colleagues from the universities of Maryland and Miami and private industry, a paper titled “Intentional diversity in academia: Recruiting, admitting, enrolling, and retaining underrepresented students in nursing programs.”

From the paper’s abstract, the paper summarizes “nationwide undergraduate nursing enrollment trends and discuss strategies to improve recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and retention of nursing students who belong to underrepresented groups.”

Full text of the article is available here

The College of Nursing was well-represented this year for the national Give Kids a Smile event, sponsored by the American Dental Association Foundation and locally by Eastern Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. Nursing students joined with Brody School of Medicine and the ECU School of Dental Medicine to support volunteer work to provide dental services to children in need from eastern North Carolina.

“We served 24 children and dental treatment valued at $15,576 was provided free of charge,” said Karen Yarbrough, clinical assistant professor of nursing. “While these numbers are impressive, they cannot replace the smiles on the faces of those children and families as they visited our table and treasure chest. This is what being a Pirate Nurse is all about.”


On Feb. 2, members of the College of Nursing got a jump start on recognition of the risks that heart disease has for women and a reaffirmation of our dedication to reduce the toll that heart disease has on eastern North Carolina.

Wearing Red is important as recognition of the risks: cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, specifically new moms; disproportionately affects women of color; and heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer - COMBINED.

More importantly we need to act. What can we do to stop this often-preventable epidemic? Awareness is key, as is being advocates for patients under our care, but also quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating cleanly and managing blood pressure.

Heart disease is the cause 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year. That number is unacceptable because we have the power of prevention which will help save lives from cardiovascular disease.

John Batson joined the College of Nursing in January as the Accounting Technician in the Business Office. John brings a lot of talent, extensive experience, and a fresh perspective to this position. He has been a member of the Pirate Nation for seven years, serving roles in the Registrar’s Office and the Department of Public Health. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology, and currently is a student of ECU’s Master’s of Business Administration program with an anticipated graduation date of May 2024.

John will manage the day-to-day operations of the unit operating budgets and overseeing the student and graduate payroll/employment process. Additionally, he will have oversight of the purchasing and ProCard actions for the unit. John’s remarkable skills will be a powerful addition to our team. 

Laketa Parker joined the College of Nursing in January and is working in the Baccalaureate Education Department. Laketa comes to the CON from ECU Health and is working on her bachelors degree through ECU.

Student Spotlight


Lamp of Learning

New undergraduate students were welcomed into the nursing profession during the Lamp of Learning ceremony at the East Carolina Heart Institute Jan. 26. Dr. Akintade spoke to the 119 traditional BSN students and 22 Accelerated BSN students about the importance of the Lamp of Learning pin and ECU Nursing pin as symbols of the proud tradition the students were made a part of.

Particularly poignant was Dr. Annette Peery reading the names of the new students as this is her last Lamp of Learning ceremony due to her pending retirement. Thank you, Dr. Peery, for making this a special ceremony.

East Carolina University Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students participated in an educational initiative to address health disparities related to substance use disorder treatment at the College of Nursing January 23.

ECU College of Nursing Department of Advanced Nursing Practice and Education faculty champions Dr. Brittany Baker and Dr. Chandra Speight, and student champions Dorrie Edgeston-Jones and Jacob Talkington, joined Mountain Area Health Education Center staff to facilitate an interactive session on diversity, equity, and inclusion in substance use treatment titled “Intersections: Promoting Equity in the Management of Substance Use Disorders.”

Post-master's DNP student Sara Noe served as a student champion in the planning stages of the event, sharing her expertise as a nurse practitioner with years of experience in treating individuals experiencing substance use disorder.

During this four-hour session, FNP and AGPCNP students heard from state experts in equitable substance use disorder care and participated in interactive sessions to explore the intersectionality of equity, diversity, inclusion and the clinical consequences of care that does not incorporate these essential variables. Candid discussion, self-reflection and case study analysis helped students and faculty explore how to operationalize and institutionalize equity in substance use disorder care.

“Focused education on diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to our efforts to reduce health care disparities related to substance use disorder treatment,” Speight said. "This education provided students and faculty a forum to consider and address how individual and institutional biases negatively impact substance use-related care access and outcomes."

The initiative was supported by a grant from the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse for integrating opioid use disorder education into advanced practice nurse curricula.

“This education is part of our ongoing effort to ensure our graduates are leaders in addressing the opioid epidemic in the communities we serve," said Dr. Michelle Skipper, ECU College of Nursing FNP and AGPCNP concentration director.

Holistic Health Organization educate students about the healing properties plants

The Holistic Health Organization, H2O, is a student organization that promotes holism through nursing practice, education, promoting self-care and assisting the community holistically. We offer a chance for students to learn the skills that encompass holistic care and touch on all aspects of health - physical, emotional and spiritual.

Throughout each semester we have several opportunities for students to get engaged. We have offered pet therapy during exams and the beginning of the semester. Most recently, we held a pet therapy event to promote interprofessional collaboration with the medical students and nursing students. We have had speakers present on environmental health, meditation, yoga and the health benefits of cacao.

We are also very excited about a big project in the works to start a medical garden on Health Sciences Campus that will educate students about the healing properties plants.

Dr. Phyllis Hornes pose with Tamika Bernard during a social event at the College of Nursing. The text is a reminder for students to fill out the general scholarship application form.

Alumni Spotlight

Spotlight:Capt. Jonathan Jeffries (’16) is in the military and was in town briefly with his family and paid a visit to the College. Dean Akintade went to lunch with Jeffries and got to know his family. Jeffries specializes in critical care and trains healthcare professionals in high fidelity simulation. He shared his experience during the program and his goals of being an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist.

We value the many ways that Pirate Nurses make in impact on health care. We hope to have many more of our alumni return to campus to reconnect with friends and faculty and share their professional experiences with our current students.

Learn More


Preceptor of the year

Preceptors of the Year. Each year, the East Carolina University College of Nursing honors the practicing clinicians who take on preceptees without compensation. The 2022 cohort of Preceptors of the Year have guided, taught and held ECU’s future Pirate nurses to the high standards required of nursing graduates. This year’s preceptors range from recent graduates who have taken the initiative to show nursing students the practical aspects of the profession to an oncology nurse with three decades of experience who is using her final days as a nursing leader to mold and mentor the next generation of North Carolina’s health care team.

The preceptor volunteers spend many hours with ECU nursing students, demonstrating the technical skills necessary to care for the ill and injured, but just as importantly, serving as a role model, coach and cheerleader. Nursing is a profession of the head and heart, as much the hands, and the preceptors who take ECU nursing students on are among the first to show their preceptees why the nursing profession is unique among health care professionals.The 2022 Preceptors of the Year represent hundreds of nursing professionals across the state whose quiet dedication to the nursing profession ensures the nationally recognized quality of the education that the ECU College of Nursing provides.

Read More Here
2023 Nursing 5K advertisement

2023 Nursing 5K advertisement