ECU CONnection Newsletter – June 2023

The Message From The Dean


I hope this message finds you in the warmth and abundance of the summer season, and you have adventures with family and gatherings with friends.

Emerti faculty in the College of Nursing lobby.

While much of the University has slowed for the summer, teaching continues apace here at the College – as should be expected from a university with a robust distance education pedigree. Our work in the classroom (in-person and virtual) is central to the mission of the College of Nursing.

Teaching is what we do – but research and making new connections is what keeps our teaching fresh and our faculty at the leading edge of our profession.

I am also very thankful for opportunities for our faculty and staff to work on their research, scholarship, and professional development. Our faculty have traveled to Poland, been called to serve at the state and national levels, published books and journal articles, and given lectures and presentations. The summer changes our pace, a bit, but it doesn’t stop our relentless progress.

I am also pleased to report that these past few weeks of summer have given us breathing room to work on the implementation of the Essentials curriculum guidelines from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The Essentials were released in 2021 and give all accredited nursing education institutions a pathway for better preparation of practice-ready nurses. The changes we are making will allow us to educate the next generation of nurses to meet the evolving demands of our profession. The past few years have exposed the strengths and challenges for nursing, and nursing education, which I see as a wonderful opportunity to chart our revised curriculum so that our students can continue to lead the delivery of high-quality health care for residents of North Carolina and beyond.

Whether a student, faculty, staff, alumni or supporter of Pirate Nursing, you have a lot to be proud of. Now is the time to hit the beach, visit with loved ones and work those summer jobs – before you know it, we’ll all be back on campus.

Have a safe and enjoyable rest of your summer,

Dean Bim


Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Nancy Dias

Dr. Nancy Dias, with Meme Keelen, was part of one of 10 teams to participate in the ECU Office of Licensing and Commercialization and Patient Safety Technology Challenge for the Health Innovation Pitch Program. Their proposal, Hope, is an initiative to develop web-based interactive interventions for bereaved individuals and their families. Dias intends to use AI technology to develop varied personas to personalize resources for individuals while giving them an opportunity to connect with their providers, as needed. Self-health assessments follow the concept of self-care and self-management so bereaved individuals have grief and adaptation resources to use when and where it is convenient for them. Dias said the goal is to give them ‘hope’ as they journey their “new normal”.

Dias was also selected for the 2023 BRIDGES Academic Leadership program. The BRIDGES program is:

An inclusive professional development program dedicated to supporting cisgender or transgender women and nonbinary colleagues in higher education who seek to gain or strengthen their academic leadership capabilities, and/or individuals who demonstrate a commitment to supporting women and gender issues and equity in the academy. It is designed to help participants identify, understand, and build their leadership roles in the academy. Through an intensive program, participants will:

- develop insights into leadership, with a particular focus on the special skills and attributes unique to leadership roles
- acquire an understanding of the many facets of colleges and universities
- build strategic negotiation skills, and
- create a program of personal and professional development to benefit themselves and their institutions.


Dr. Mitzi Pestaner

After nearly a decade as director of the College of Nursing’s Early Assurance Program, Dr. Kim Larson will step down and July 1, 2023, Dr. Mitzi Pestaner will become the new director.

In 2014, Dr. Kim Larson proposed an Early Assurance Program (EAP) in Nursing for undergraduate students already admitted to ECU’s Honors College. This program offered the highest achieving nursing students with an interest in nursing research a stream-lined pathway from BSN to PhD.

The need for early career nurse scientists was evident: 1,000 of qualified nursing applicants in the U.S. were denied entry into schools of nursing schools due to nursing faculty shortages.

“A research career takes years to become established,” Larson said. “There was an urgent need to educate younger nurses with PhDs who can become faculty and nurse scientists and the rest of the College’s faculty agreed.”

Each year, three incoming Honors College students who have had exposure to research and an interest in nursing are selected by a committee of nursing faculty. Selected students work one-on-one with a nursing faculty mentor conducting research in a wide range of nursing science priorities, such as symptom management, health disparities and global health. These diverse and broad research experiences are vital to the development of an early career nurse scientist.

This program is an opportunity to integrate nursing research with clinical practice. Following graduation from the baccalaureate program, students begin graduate school in combination with a hospital-based graduate nurse residency program. In graduate school, students work as a research assistant, and practice nursing in their chosen clinical area. They are enrolled full-time in graduate school and receive health insurance and tuition remission. In the practice arena, research projects are designed to identify and address critical patient needs. One example of a research project was: The Patient Perspective of Music Therapy in a Neuro-Intensive Care Unit to Reduce Pain and Anxiety. Another project examined: Women’s Acceptance of Nitrous Oxide to Reduce Pain During Labor and Delivery.

The following faculty members were selected to leadership roles within the College and assumed their roles starting June 1 and for those who were in leadership positions, their successors were named.

Nursing Science Department:
- Linda P. Bolin, PhD, RN, ANP, BCB, FAHA – Assistant Director, PhD Program

Advanced Nursing Practice and Education Department:
- Jan Tillman, DNP, MSN, RN, FNP-BC – Assistant Department Chair, DNP and Oversee DNP Core
- Julie M. Linder, DNP, RN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN-K – Assistant Department Chair, MSN and Oversee MSN Core
- Chelsea Passwater DNP, APRN, AGCNS-BC, OCN – CNS Concentration Director
- Alison Swift PhD, MSN, RN, CNE – Interim Nursing Education Concentration Director

Baccalaureate Education Department:
- Misty Brown MSN, RN – Assistant Department Chair

We are proud of the leadership advancements here in the College and thankful for our new leaders’ willingness to assume roles of greater responsibility.

Learn More
Dr. Brittany Baker

Dr. Brittany Baker will assume the role of Assistant Director in the Office of Program Evaluation beginning July 1. Dr. Baker brings her skills to the position that will facilitate the already considerable work done by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation task force, of which she has been a member. Dr. Baker will primarily be responsible for the accreditation over the next 18 months and will lead the task force. She will join Laura Yan and Dr. Donna Roberson in other Program Evaluation activities including reporting, student learning assessment, and more.

Dr. Deby Tyndall will be leaving the CON this summer. Dr. Tyndall has been a great colleague, researcher, and Assistant Director for Program Evaluation. Under her leadership, we are ahead of schedule in preparing materials for our CCNE visit in fall of 2024. She has been a strong Beta Nu member and was present in Las Vegas when we accepted a chapter key award.

Pharmacology textbook

Dr. Amy Jnah, Clinical Associate Professor and director of the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner concentration, has published the textbook “Fetal and Neonatal Pharmacology for the Advanced Practice Nurse” with Dr. Christopher McPherson, pharmacist and associate professor with the Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Jnah said the text is important for nursing education because “never in the history of neonatal nursing (or midwifery, or other NP specialties), has a 3P [pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, and physical assessment] pharmacology textbook geared to the needs of nursing students been available. This textbook truly is the very first pharmacology resource created for graduate nursing students.”

The text is capable of supporting 3P education needs within multiple NP domains including neonatal, clinical nurse specialist, midwifery, pediatric and nurse anesthesia. This book is written by nurses, pharmacists, and physicians, for the benefit of nurses who are aspiring to advance their careers.

Dr. Mark Hand

The College of Nursing’s own Dr. Mark Hand is running to be the treasurer of the National League for Nursing. The College’s institutional membership gives all faculty membership in the NLN and accompanying voting rights. We hope all faculty members, and Pirate Nurse alumni who are NLN members, will vote in the election, which is open through August 8.

Click the button below for videos of the candidates and a link to the polling.

NLN Website


Join us in welcoming Angelia Warner as the Administrative Support Associate for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here at the College of Nursing on Monday, June 5.

Over the past 25 years, Angelia has performed a wide range of advanced administrative and clerical support functions and enjoys assisting others in any way that she can. She is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. Angelia has been a member of the North Carolina Association of Educational Office Professionals since 2012.

Angelia is a native of Bleckley County, Georgia and currently lives in Wayne County. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters and friends, decorating, crafting, and traveling.


CON students at the School of Dental Medicine

Some of our first semester clinical Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner students attended an interprofessional education session at Ross Hall, home to East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, coordinated by Dr. Michelle Skipper from the CON and Dr. Taneet Ghuman from the SoDM.

“The lecture given by Dr. David MacPherson was an amazing way for these new clinical students to understand the connection between oral and physical health,” Dr. Skipper said.

It’s always a pleasure to be able to work with our partners on the Health Sciences campus – at the dental and medical schools, and with the Allied Health Sciences student and faculty – to make sure our students are prepared to enter the workforce in their new roles with skills and experiences that will make them valuable additions to the health care teams they will join.

Chelsea Bostelman

Chelsea Bostelman, a recent Clinical Nurse Specialist graduate, published a paper titled “Exploring Clinical Nurse Specialist Impact in Primary Health Care: Exemplars From a Student’s Clinical Practice” about the role of the CNS in primary care settings. Bostelman’s student experiences that she used to illustrate the findings in her paper came as she completed her clinical rotations in a military hospital in Germany where she was stationed as a military spouse. Bostelman’s co-authors for this paper were Dr. Chelsea Passwater, the CON’s concentration director for the CNS program, and Dr. Michael Urton, from Duke University Hospital.

Read The Paper Here
ECU students, faculty and administration meet with Sen. Gale Adcock in Raleigh.

Each year several East Carolina University graduate students are selected to participate in Graduate Education Day at the General Assembly in Raleigh, which highlights that value that graduate education has on the state. This year, the College of Nursing’s recent PhD graduate Dr. Angela Ciuca, was one of two ECU students selected to represent Pirate Nation (along with the Chancellor and Provost) – meeting with state legislators and staffers, sharing their research and learning about the legislative process.

On May 23, the ECU contingent met with Pitt County’s Representative Dr. Tim Reeder, an ECU Emergency Department Physician on the health and education committees; and Senator Kandie Smith, former mayor of Greenville and city councilwoman, who is on the education committee. They also met with a Pirate Nurse alum, Sen. Gale Adcock, from Wake County, who is on the health and health appropriations committees.

Thanks to everyone at the General Assembly for the warm welcome and successful day for sharing the good work that graduate students and educators are doing across North Carolina.

Alumni Spotlight

CON alumna Meghan Boop at King's College in London

Meghan Boop, a Brinkley-Lane Scholar and 2016 CON alumna, is currently a master of science candidate in bioethics at King's College London. Meghan gave us an update on her nursing career and continuing education since graduating. Needless to say we are tremendously proud of her and her work.

In her own words:

Since graduating, I have embarked on a fulfilling nursing career specializing in pediatric care. Over the past seven years, I have dedicated myself to providing compassionate and comprehensive nursing care to children and have obtained my certification in pediatric nursing (CPN), further enhancing my knowledge and expertise in this field.

In my most recent role, I served as a clinical care nurse and case manager for medically complex tracheostomy-dependent children. This position allowed me to work closely with patients and their families, navigating the challenges and intricacies of their care inside and outside the hospital. Additionally, I had the privilege of serving as a summer camp nurse and volunteer board member for Camp Trach Me Away, where I witnessed the resilience and strength of these amazing children firsthand.

Expanding my horizons, I am currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Bioethics at King's College London in their esteemed Department of Global Health and Social Medicine with a top merit scholarship. My decision to move abroad for school has been a pivotal aspect of my education as I've had the opportunity to engage with students and professors of all different professional and cultural backgrounds. This has expanded my intellectual capacity, broadened my worldview, and equipped me with invaluable skills for a globally interconnected world. The exposure to diverse perspectives, academic disciplines, and cultures has not only enriched my educational experience but has also contributed to my personal growth, fostering empathy, adaptability, and a deep appreciation for the complexities of our global society.

My academic journey has fueled my passion for exploring the intersection of ethics, policy, and social justice within the healthcare system. I firmly believe that addressing ethical dilemmas and promoting equitable access to care are vital for creating a just and compassionate society. I also hold a strong interest in ethical decision-making for the care of pediatric patients. For my Master's dissertation, I am investigating how triage decisions are made in the outpatient setting for pediatric patients, with a specific focus on the Trilogy Ventilator recall from 2021. I aim to shed light on the ethical considerations and challenges faced by pediatric providers surrounding such decisions. By examining this crucial issue, I hope to contribute to the ongoing discourse in triage ethics, pandemic preparedness, and pediatric healthcare.

I am grateful for the solid foundation and invaluable experiences that the ECU College of Nursing provided me, which have shaped my career trajectory and nurtured my commitment to making a positive impact. It is my sincere hope that my endeavors and research will not only bring pride to the College but also serve as a testament to the exceptional education and opportunities it offers.


Dr. Wanda Lancaster lecturing.

Last month was National Mental Health Awareness Month and some of our faculty, preceptors and alumni weighed in on how the College of Nursing is working to get mental health practitioners into the field to help alleviate the stressors that result from the nation's behavioral health crisis.

Recent reports suggest that the nation’s mental health is suffering even greater post-pandemic, with adults reporting record rates of depression and anxiety, and young adults reporting significant behavioral health disorders.

Accessibility to competent services remains challenging as the mental health workforce is overwhelmed.

East Carolina University’s College of Nursing is working hard to be part of the solution by training and graduating psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners — health care professionals trained and equipped to evaluate and treat mental health conditions — to help fill the widening gap between those in need and those who can help.

Read More

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of hosting Pirate Nursing emeriti during a luncheon that brought together those who paved the way for the College’s current successes with current faculty and staff.

Following the luncheon, Dean Bim Akintade lauded the former faculty members for their dedication to Pirate Nurse Nation.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants who built our solid foundation, and made it possible for us to continue to meet our mission and vision,” Akintade said. “It was such a great opportunity to hear them reminisce on their time here. It was also heartwarming to see the lifelong bonds they have formed and to hear of their unwavering love and support for the College.”

Hall of Fame

Nominations for the 2024 ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame board members are now open, through November 15.

Anyone can nominate an alumna/alumnus to be on the Board. Those nominated will be voted on by the HOF Board of Directors.

Nomination procedures are available at the HOF website.

Nominate here