ECU CONnection Newsletter – March 2023

The Message From The Dean

Fellow Pirates,

A new season is upon us. Pollen is coloring our cars, birds are franticly preparing for their next migration and the chill in the air is lifting with the hope of summer days ahead.

Here at the College of Nursing (CON), we also have our eyes on the changing seasons of our students’ lives. In the past two weeks, acceptance letters were sent to a cohort of prospective Pirate Nurses who will begin their journey with us in the fall. Soon, our grads-to-be will take photographs on the main campus mall and here in front of our building in caps and gowns that are being fitted in-between clinical rotations and exams in preparation for commencement.

These new seasons in the life of the College are all very, very welcome!

This does not mean we are done with the semester. Classes continue, as does research: on March 16, a number of faculty and students from the College participated in Collaborative Nurse Research Day at the East Carolina Heart Institute. Scholarly work from faculty and students of the CON, particularly from our undergraduates, is truly inspiring, and aligns with the rigor that is expected of one of the most highly regarded nursing schools in the nation. I am very proud of our Pirate Nurse students.

I am also excited to announce that we have formalized a leadership structure for the CONs Hall of Fame (HoF). The newly inaugurated HoF Board members, comprised of distinguished Pirate Nurses, will systematize the nomination and election of future HoF inductees. By creating a Board, we have transformed the CON HoF into an organization that leans on the institutional knowledge and professional consideration of seasoned alumni. This is an important step forward in recognizing those who laid the foundations of the College.

I join you in acknowledging and celebrating Women’s History Month. As our profession has been anchored by women for so many generations, it would be nearly impossible to single out examples of excellence from our history, I do want to take the opportunity to spotlight a woman from the College who is making history as we speak. Dr. Kim Larson, a pillar of research, student engagement, and scholarship was selected as the first Fulbright Scholar Award recipient in the College’s six-decade history. She will spend the fall in Poland working with Polish nursing colleagues to identify ways to educate nursing professionals in Europe, and across the world, about ways to support the health care needs of refugees from the war in Ukraine. Dr. Larson – you are doing important work here at home and across the globe, and I am proud to call you a colleague and friend.

If it isn’t already obvious, I am awed and inspired every day I walk into the build here on the Health Sciences Campus. Be proud of being a member of Pirate Nurse Nation.

Here’s to the promise of Spring.

Dean Bim

Faculty Spotlight

Congratulations to Susan Lally, from the baccalaureate education department, who recently passed the Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse certification exam. To become certified, she had to complete continuing education in holistic nursing and integrate holistic principles into her practice as an advanced practice nurse.

Holistic Nursing is defined by the American Holistic Nurses’ Association as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as its goal” (American Holistic Nurses’ Association, 1998). Holistic nurses focus on the healing process rather than curing disease. As a holistic nurse, Lally incorporates complimentary and integrative practices. Holistic nursing focuses on the interconnectedness of mind, body, spirit, relationships, the environment, culture, and energy. 

"As a holistic nurse, it is important to foster my own self-care and self-reflection and foster a healing presence,” Lally said. 


Dr. Mark Hand’s "Improving LGBTQ+ health equity via nursing education” was published in the January 2023 edition of the journal Teaching and Learning in Nursing. His leadership in making the delivery of health care more equitable - and ensuring our students are equally leaders in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - is a credit to Pirate Nursing.

Congratulations, Dr. Hand!

Congratulations to Dean Akintade for being part of a team of acute care nurse practitioners who published “Textbook for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: Evidence-Based Standards of Practice.”

The writing team finished the writing a little over a year ago and it was published this month.

The Dean contributed to Chapter 10 (GI) and wrote the Surgical Abdomen/Acute Abdominal Pain, Appendicitis, Acute Cholecystitis, Cholangitis, Peritonitis, Intussusception, Bowel Infarction, Bowel Obstruction, Bowel Perforation, Diverticulitis, Anorectal Disorders, Rectal Abscess, and Anal Fissure sections. He also contributed to Chapter 15 (Musculoskeletal Disorders) and wrote the Rhabdomyolysis section

Dr. Madeline Fernandez

Dr. Madeline Fernandez secured the Spring 2023 Creative Cloud Stipend which provides a faculty member the opportunity to learn about Creative Cloud products and integrate the software into their course to promote digital literacy and Universal Design for Learning into the curriculum. The use of these tools can improve student engagement by giving students creative methods to share knowledge.

This project was made possible via an Adobe-funded grant. The support provides training in Adobe Spark and Rush and other Adobe tools. Grantees are expected to use an Adobe product to develop a new learning objective, or enrich an existing one, and then provide examples of how the technology benefitted students.


Dr. Madeline Fernandez and nursing clinical instructor Claudia Kitchin represented the College of Nursing at a recruitment event in Greene Central High School as part of Rich Klindworth's dissertation focusing on recruiting Latino students by going to the school and giving admissions information in Spanish and English to parents and high school and middle school students and showing them that at ECU we care about Latino students and there are Latino faculty here to mentor them.

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Eastern AHEC sponsored Collaborative Nurse Research Day at the East Carolina Heart Institute March 16 as nurses from East Carolina University and ECU Health shared their research on topics from LGBTQ+ patient care and facilitating care for HIV+ patients in the South to support for new grad nurse practitioners.

Dr. Cheryl Jones from UNC School of Nursing spoke about the challenges facing the nursing workforce in NC. CON professor Dr. Linda Bolin moderated a discussion with Dean Bim Akintade and ECU Health nurse executive Dr. Daphne Brewington which was followed by select researchers presenting poster presentations about current research.

Staff Spotlight

Julianne and Matthew Szymanksi hold Baby H. Baby H was adopted last semester while Julianne was in nursing school.

Julianne and Matthew Szymanski were surprised by a last-minute opportunity to adopt a child, just before the holiday season and as the fall 2022 semester was winding down. The labor and delivery nurse, and nurse-midwifery student, immediately said yes and began to put her life and home in order to welcome their new family member.

CON technology specialist John Smoot's wife had stored a significant quantity of breast milk for their daughter who was unable to use it. John asked Dr. Becky Bagley if she knew where they could donate the frozen milk and as Szymanski's instructor, knew that the breastmilk would go to good use if given to the Szymanskis. Read more to learn how the milk was delivered from Greenville to Raleigh in time for the baby's arrival.

Read More Here


We are very excited to welcome Whitney Houston and Nancy Dunlap to the Advanced Nursing Practice and Education department. From Dr. Robin Corbett - "It is wonderful to have them join us. Please stop by or send her an email to welcome them to the CON Family."

Student Spotlight

Teresa Hupp presented at the 37th Annual Southern Nursing Research Society Conference in Orlando, FL with her research mentor Dr. Kim Larson.

Teresa Hupp, a third-generation nurse, is set to graduate in May 2023 with a BS in Nursing, a Hispanic Studies minor and will be honored with the Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award, which recognizes “excellence in academic achievement at ECU, service to the university and community, and strong leadership qualities.”

The Wake Forest native is very active in campus life, participating in Rotaract Club, Zeta Tau Alpha, Panhellenic Association (Current Executive Vice President), Phi Kappa Phi, ECU Honors College and EC Scholars. She participated in intramural sports leagues including extreme dodgeball, soccer and basketball and her EC Scholar basketball team won the 2022 coed intramural 5-on-5 championship.

During Hupp’s time at the College of Nursing, she assisted Dr. Kim Larson’s research into palliative care for Latinos with advanced forms of cancer. Using her Spanish skills, she surveyed more than 50 Latino adults about their beliefs regarding advance care planning and cancer symptom management. As a research team member she synthesized the literature; collected and analyzed data; and co-authored two publications. In addition to working with Latino patients in North Carolina, Teresa travelled to Guatemala in 2022 where Dr. Larson said Hupp was “a valuable resource to students with less clinical experience and knowledge of the culture.” In Guatemala she led training and education activities that improved water quality for local families and at a nutrition rehabilitation center she assisted with teaching child feeding practices, bathing and playful stimulation.

In the Wright award nomination, Dr. Larson said “in my 16 years as an ECU nursing faculty, I have never known a nursing student who has excelled equally in the academic, leadership, and community engagement spheres as Teresa has. She will be a highly competent nurse, with a nursing lens that sees beyond the walls of a hospital and considers societal impact on the health of marginalized people.”

The College of Nursing is proud to have Teresa as a representative of Pirate Nurse Nation.


Carlee Silver is a Pirate through and through. She is a Pitt County native and will graduate as a Pirate Nurse at the end of the year. Her instructors are very proud of the student she is and the nurse that she will become. Here is Carlee in her own words:

“My latest update is that I am officially a third semester nursing student. That means I will graduate in December 2023, which is approaching so fast! I intended to graduate in May 2024 since I finished high school in 2020, but I am a semester ahead. The last three years have flown by and it is crazy to think I am almost done. This semester I am in a Medical-Surgical clinical at ECU Health in the Cardiac Intermediate Unit (CIU) and the psychiatric unit at CarolinaEast hospital in New Bern. On the first day of orientation in the CIU at ECU Health, I got to experience my first code blue & my teacher had to start CPR on a patient. That was a huge experience for me as a nursing student- seeing my first code blue and how it operates when there is a code. It was definitely scary, but super interesting and luckily, the patient survived. My second week of clinical, I got to do my first blood draw. I am excited to see how much I will grow in this semester & clinical experience, and I am looking forward to the semester ahead.”

The instructor Carlee mentions is Sara Bailey a Clinical Education Partner who works for ECU Health and takes two 3rd semester medical-surgery students in the fall and spring. Pirate Nurse Nation is proud and fortunate to have them.

Sara is not only an excellent clinical instructor for our undergraduate students, but also a Nursing Education student in our graduate program. Dr. Shannon Powell said of Sara – “she is one of our outstanding MSN nursing education students. I was so excited when I saw Dr. Kidd’s email recognizing her as the faculty person in the story with Carlee.”

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Some things are just meant to be.

From Dr. Linda Bolin: It is with great pleasure that I announce Catherine Taylor has successfully defended her dissertation entitled, “Acute Care Nurses’ Knowledge on In-Hospital Strokes and Predictors of Knowledge.” Please join me in congratulating Dr. Catherine L. Taylor on this accomplishment. Her journey began as an Honors College Early Assurance student. From her BSN to her PhD, her dedication to research has led to this dissertation which will enhance recognition of strokes by all nurses in acute care settings.

Help us to congratulate Dr. Taylor on successfully defending her dissertation and thank her parents for sending along this classic photo.

Three of the rising stars from the College of Nursing were selected to represent the Beta Nu chapter at Sigma Theta Tau’s biennial convention in San Antonio in November. Sigma Theta Tau is the nursing profession’s international honors society.

Savannah Blalock is a senior in East Carolina University’s BSN program with intentions to continue her education in the BSN to PhD program with a concentration in health systems leaderships. During her undergraduate career, she has been an active community member on and off ECU’s campus, including representing the College of Nursing in the Student Government Association, leading families to view campus for the first time as a Pirate Navigator, developing her administrative skills as an Administrative Intern at Captive Aire Systems. As an undergraduate honors student she developed a study titled, "Palliative care providers and administrators’ perspectives on integrating social determinants of health to provide community-based palliative care.” She secured grant funding through East Carolina University’s Research and Creativity Award.

Karmen Harris is a graduate student in East Carolina University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program. She is a certified SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) & has served her community as a death investigator for several years. She is extremely passionate about victim advocacy and forensic nursing, focusing on the assessment and treatment of victims of trauma and abuse. Her recent national presentations include, “Reducing Violence of Native American Indigenous Women and Girls: Improving Health Outcomes through Nursing Science” and “Case Series: Murdered Native and Indigenous Elderly Women.”

Dr. Catherine Taylor recently defended her doctoral dissertation “Acute care nurses’ knowledge on in-hospital strokes and predictors of knowledge.” As a freshman, she was admitted into the Honors College in the Early Assurance program which granted her acceptance to both the Baccalaureate program as well as the PhD in Nursing program. Upon completing her BSN, she pursued a position at Wake Medical Center in the neurosurgical intensive care unit, while completing her graduate coursework. During her time as an ICU nurse, she identified a gap in knowledge amongst acute care nurses working outside of a stroke-specific unit, which led to her dissertation.

Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Phyllis Horns

A significant figure in the history of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences education at East Carolina University retired last week from an exemplary run as a teacher, leader and representative of the values of Pirate Nurse nation.Vice Chancellor Dr. Phyllis Horns, originally from Wilson County, graduated as a Pirate Nurse in 1969. Her education path lead from Chapel Hill to Rochester, NY and through Birmingham until she returned to Greenville in 1988 to serve as a professor and chair of the Parent-Child Nursing Department.

Horns served as Dean of the School of Nursing from 1990-2006, Interim Dean of the Brody School of Medicine and Interim Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences Division from 2001-2002 and again in 2006 until her permanent appointment in 2009.

Horns served as Vice Chancellor of the Health Sciences Division at East Carolina University from 2009 - July 2018, and during her tenure was the only nurse in the nation to serve as Vice Chancellor of a Health Sciences Division.During her tenure as Vice Chancellor, she led the expansion of the Division of Health Sciences to include the School of Dental Medicine and its eight community service-learning centers across the state, the East Carolina Heart Institute, the Health Sciences Student Center, and the Family Medicine and Monk Geriatric Centers building.

Under Horn’s leadership, the nursing school became a college and launched the doctoral program in nursing, MSN options in Nurse Midwifery, Nurse Anesthesia, Nursing Education and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and doubled enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The CON piloted the first Blackboard course offered at East Carolina University and became a national leader in technology integration through simulation and on-line programming.Pirate Nurse Nation and the advances in medicine in eastern North Carolina owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Horns.

Thank you, Dr. Horns.

In Memoriam – Dorothy Lee Daniels Williams


Thompson Hollingsworth Forbes

Congratulations to Dr. Thompson Forbes on his appointment to the Pitt County Board of Health by the Pitt County Board of Commissioners. He will extend his nursing leadership and spirit of service from the East Carolina University Health Sciences Campus across Pitt County starting with his first Board meeting this evening.


Swank-Divine Trust

The ECU College of Nursing is one of several recipients of the Swank-Divine Trust set up by Mary Ruth Divine, who died March 5, 2021. The College will receive more than $100,000 in scholarship funding annually, set aside for Adult/Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists graduate students and undergraduate nursing students.

Mary Ruth Devine graduated from St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, achieving a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work. She began her career working for the City of Rocky Mount; the Children’s Home Society, Caswell Center in Kinston, and the State of North Carolina’s Division of Mental Health, Development Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

Divine was neither an ECU alumna nor a prior donor, but her vision of improved nursing services for the elderly drove her philanthropy. Future ECU College of Nursing students will be positively impacted by her generosity and foresight.

Growing the Future of Clinical Nurse Specialists Scholarship

The second gift, the Growing the Future of Clinical Nurse Specialists Scholarship, was recently established by the state affiliate of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. The organization voted to start a scholarship for Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) students in North Carolina to support the nursing profession’s pipeline.

The generosity of private and organizational donors helps to make nursing education affordable for Pirate Nurses, which in turn helps to alleviate rural health care disparities. We value the trust that our donors have in the quality of the nursing education provided by East Carolina University.