ECU CONnection Newsletter – October 2023

A Message From The Dean


What a month it’s been.

We’ve had significant changes in leadership, which will help propel us into the next generation of nursing education and training. Dr. Shannon Powell has assumed responsibility as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Susan Kidd, a fixture in pirate nursing for nearly two decades, spent her last day in this role on Oct. 31 – we thank her for her unwavering support and wish her well in her upcoming retirement and future endeavors next. Dr. Jeanne Martin has been named interim head of baccalaureate education and will start in this role Nov. 1.

Our students are putting in really solid work – in the classrooms, simulation and practice laboratories here in the building, in virtual learning spaces, in the hospital and community clinical placements, and representing the CON at conferences across the country. This is the busiest time of the semester, when reading, writing and research all start to crescendo. Keep working hard Pirates, and we’ll get to the end of the semester in fine shape.

Just last weekend, I participated in my second ECU Homecoming. While the football game didn’t end as we hoped it might, the fellowship with our current students, faculty, Hall of Famers, alumni, and friends made the weekend one to remember. I want to thank everyone who made the trip to Greenville and spent time with us during the Homecoming Parade.

The Thanksgiving break will be here soon and we can all spend some well-deserved time with family and friends. To our students – keep your heads in the game and ask for help if you need it, you are not allowed to suffer in silence! To our faculty – keep doing what you are doing, your support of each other, and mentorship/role modeling of our students continues to make this the best nursing school in the nation.

Best regards,


Dean Bim


Dr. Shannon Powell

After a thorough national search which yielded several qualified candidates, Dr. Shannon Powell, who most recently served as the interim Chair for the Department of Advanced Nursing Practice and Education, was selected to be the next Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and started in the position this week.

Powell has been a registered nurse in North Carolina for more than 20 years and began working at the CON as a clinical instructor teaching in the pre-licensure traditional program. Throughout her years at the CON, she has worked as a faculty member in all three departments including Baccalaureate Education, Department of Nursing Science, and she currently works in the Advanced Practice Nursing and Education department.

Please help us congratulate Dr. Powell on her selection and wish her well on her new leadership position.

Dr. Susan Kidd receives flowers during a recognition of her time at the College of Nursing.

Dr. Susan Kidd, a significant presence in our undergraduate program for many years, will retire Oct. 31. She embodies immeasurable institutional knowledge and has accomplished great outcomes for our students and the communities they now serve.

In 1989, Dr. Kidd started her academic career as a Nursing Instructor in the Associate Degree in Nursing Program at Wilson Community College. She joined the ECU College of Nursing as a Clinical Assistant Professor in 2006 as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Baccalaureate Education. She served in this role until 2015, when she was promoted to be the director of the Accelerated Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing Option. She was named Chair of the Baccalaureate Education Department and has served in that role since 2019.

Dr. Kidd has led significant programmatic growth in Baccalaureate Education - the largest producer of entry into practice nursing graduates for any school or college in the state. More impressive than the size of the program is the outcomes – average NCLEX examination pass rate of 97.3% over the last 10 years, versus the national average is 79.9%. She facilitated the growth of programs designed to meet the need for increasing the number of baccalaureate-educated nurses in eastern North Carolina and across the state.

“Dr. Kidd’s service on behalf of the nursing profession and the State of North Carolina has been noteworthy,” said Dr. Bim Akintade. “Please join me in celebrating and warmly thanking Dr. Kidd for her time, leadership, sacrifices, and many years of excellence and dedicated service. Her soft-spoken words and approachable personality will be missed on our campus.”

Gantt and Haberstroh

Earlier this month a letter written by a nurse from Ohio, who had taken her own life, went viral on social media platforms. The letter, found on the nurse’s computer by her parents after her death, was addressed to whom she considered her abuser – the American health care system.

It is timely that our own Dr. Laura Gantt, and Dr. Amanda Haberstroh from Laupus Health Sciences Library at ECU, published a literature review, “Nurses’ self-care strategies: A mapping review” in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, a journal from Sigma Theta Tau, the international nursing honors society. Gantt and Haberstroh’s review of thirty-five articles about nursing self-care strategies aimed to understand how the nursing and medical profession views nurse self-care. From the article: “the problems that nurses experience, such as exhaustion and burnout, are assumed to be because of a lack of self-care rather than work-related factors like inadequate staffing, increased workloads, and institutional problems.”

Gantt and Haberstroh’s discussion of their findings continues with the specific reminder to the nursing and wider medical professions: “What needs to be kept in mind, however, is that providing strategies for self-care at work are only useful if nurses value and have the opportunity to make use of them. What is needed is fewer non-research opinion articles and more self-care research for nurses by nurses on what works over the short and long term during and away from work.”

The incredible stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic showed the world how valuable nurses are to the stability of our health care system. Finding ways to ensure the health and welfare of nurses in clinics and hospitals across North Carolina is critical. Thank you Drs. Gantt and Haberstroh for your leadership.

Read the article
Dr. Mark Hand

Dr. Mark Hand continues to prove his dedication to the nursing profession.

He was recently announced as the incoming treasurer of the National League for Nursing, one of the country’s premiere advocacy organizations for nursing education.

Hand, the past president of the North Carolina League for Nursing, also served on NLN’s Board of Governors from 2019-2022 and was announced last month as the Education Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Nurses Association.

Thank you, Dr. Hand, for representing Pirate Nurse Nation on the national stage.

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CON honors student Ryan Edwards

Dr. Liz Mizelle, a professor of nursing, is no stranger to the violence of climate change. Her hometown of Windsor, North Carolina, sits about three feet above sea level and has experienced two 1,000-year flooding events in recent years. Her house was nearly flooded during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Farm worker safety has been a research passion for Mizelle for years, since before she started her doctoral program at ECU.

“If you compare farmworkers to other workers, they’re 35 times more likely to die from heat, and Latinos in agriculture are three times more likely than other non-Latinos,” Mizelle said. “There are a lot of factors, but North Carolina is very hot and humid and they work very long hours.”

Mizelle’s current study focused on row crops, the tall ones commonly grown by North Carolina farmers: tobacco and sweet corn, both of which still require manual labor instead of machines. Sweet corn, the kind that we find on backyard picnic plates, make up about only 1% of corn harvests in the U.S. and must be picked by hand and tobacco leaves are stripped from stalks by hand, too.

For the past few years Mizelle has enlisted Honors College students, who are required to participate in an honors research project prior to graduation, to test farmers’ hydration levels and study heat loads on farmland. But this year Ryan Edwards, one of her research students, aimed for extra credit by planting a full acre of sweet corn on his family’s farm to use as a dirt and plants laboratory.

Read more about Mizelle's research

Dr. Michael Jones, clinical associate professor and associate dean for Culture, Engagement and Professional Development, has been selected as one of two recipients of American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s annual Faculty Scholars Grant program for his project titled “Recruitment of Middle School African American Males to the Nursing Profession”.

The $25,000 grant will help fund efforts to reduce the tremendous gaps in representation of Black men in nursing. Earlier this year Visible magazine reported that of 4.2 million registered nurses in the U.S., less than 10 percent are black, 6 percent are male and the number of Black men in nursing is so small that “there’s no way to count it”.

“I would like to thank Drs. Lesha Rouse, Donna Roberson, Mark Hand, Elizabeth Mizelle and Mitzi Pestaner for helping me to pull this project together,” Jones said.

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The College of Nursing’s blood pressure screening table was a huge success on Saturday morning at the AHA Heart Walk on ECU’s main campus in Greenville.

Dr. Linda Bolin was particularly complimentary of first semester students Alia Throckmorton and Logan Joyner due to their communication and teaching skills during their interactions with community members who joined the Heart Walk. They shared vital information to those interested in learning more about AHA’s Essential Eight – handouts reviewing 8 key measures for improving cardiovascular health. Teaching and mentoring are key aspects of the nursing profession, with the goal of achieving improvements in public health.

Alia and Logan also engaged with pre-nursing majors who stopped by the table and talked to them about nursing school.

“It was nice to see how they, as beginning nursing students, were already mentoring those coming along next,” Bolin said.

Beta Nu, ECU College of Nursing's chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing profession's international honor society, sponsored a team for the walk.

Madiha Abdelhakim with friends in Spain

Being innovative and visionary means thinking ahead to find solutions to problems you will likely face in the future. One future Pirate Nurse, Madiha Abdulhakim, did just that by applying for, and receiving, a U.S. Department of State scholarship to spend time in Spain improving her Spanish language and cultural awareness skills.

North Carolina’s sizable Hispanic population is forecast to increase in the coming years and members of our medical community will need to be able to communicate with their patients.

Madiha is an example of why Pirate Nurses are so well regarded in the nursing profession – they identify problems and solve them.

Read more about Madiha's journey
ECU nursing students in Pink Hill.

Lauren Clark, Austin Barrus, Samuel Jones, Jacy Matthias and Angela Drellack from our Accelerated BSN Community and Leadership group, recently prepared a resource pamphlet for the Pink Hill Community and delivered them to the Pink Hill Wellness & Education Center.

Lauren, Austin, Samuel, Jacy and Angela embody the Pirate spirit of service. Well done.

Contrary to popular opinion, Pirates have a way of making things better wherever they go.

A group of Misti Phillips’ 4th-semester nursing students - Sydney Harton, McKenzie Krout, Shalyn Davis, Nicky Vargas and Mo Anderson – are precepting in Community Health, in Wake County. They collected clothes, jackets, shoes, snacks, luggage and other essential items which were donated to The Women's Center in Raleigh.

Well done, Pirates!

As we build nursing workforce development initiatives to address the nursing shortage in eastern North Carolina, our partnerships with ECU Health and Eastern AHEC are thriving.

Brooke Roane, staff nurse on Medical Oncology at ECU Health, is completing the last requirement of the North Carolina Board of Nursing-approved curriculum to serve as a Clinical Instructor next semester on her unit. She is pictured below with her assigned mentor, Kelli Jones, clinical assistant professor from East Carolina University's College of Nursing and Riley Veazey, a nursing student.

Culture, Engagement and Professional Development

Midwifery students practice labor and delivery techniques.

A federal grant will provide East Carolina University’s midwifery program just under $4 million over four years to support students and preceptors, which program directors at ECU say is a game changer, continuing the innovation of rural health care in North Carolina.

Dr. Becky Bagley, the College of Nursing’s midwifery program director, said ECU was one of only eight of the 46 accredited nurse-midwife programs across the country selected for grant support from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Three main goals of the college’s plan to implement the funding support are fairly straightforward: increase the number of certified nurse-midwives and diversify the maternal and perinatal health workforce; expand maternal health training and enhance the college’s curriculum; and strengthen community-based training partnerships.

According to HRSA figures, rural and underserved areas, like much of North Carolina, see higher maternal mortality, at just under 30 deaths per 100,000 live births, than the rest of the nation at just over 18 per 100,000 live births. Half of counties across the United States lack OB-GYNs and more than half don’t have nurse-midwives.

A significant aspect of the grant is strengthening community-based training partnerships, which translates to paying preceptors to be extensions of the education process in clinics and practices across the state. ECU midwifery students are required to spend 800 hours in a clinical setting before graduation learning the hands-on skills necessary to be an effective health care provider. Currently preceptors are paid a nominal amount, which is a recognition of the importance of their contributions, but Bagley said most serve as preceptors as a service to the future of their profession.

Learn more about the grant

The College of Nursing (CON) was a proud sponsor of the 3rd Annual DNPs of Color Conference in Washington, DC October 19-22. DNPs of Color is a nonprofit nursing organization with a mission to increase diversity in doctoral studies, clinical practice and nursing leadership.

Dr. Brittany Baker, clinical assistant professor, attended the conference on behalf of the CON and had the opportunity to engage with “Game Changers & Trailblazers” across the country. Highlights of the conference included panel discussions on topics of Black men’s mental health, clinical practice to academic transition and perspectives of providers who are breast cancer survivors. The conference provided opportunities for continuing education, networking and scholarly collaboration.

“The DNPs of Color Conference is hands down one of the best conferences I have ever attended,” Baker said. “The organizers and attendees created an environment that cultivated growth, genuine connection and nursing advancement. I eagerly await next year’s conference and hope additional CON faculty and students will join me.”


Casey Spear receives and award for teaching excellence.

Casey Spear, a two-time Pirate Nurse who graduated with a BSN in 2000 and an MSN in community health nursing in 2004, was recently announced as one of 24 finalists from across the state for the North Carolina Center for Advancement of Teaching Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year award.

Spear grew up in the small town of Creswell. After graduating from the ECU CON she worked as a public health nurse at MTW District Health Department and a school nurse for Tyrrell County Schools. After the birth of their first child, she and her husband moved to Edenton where she served as a school nurse in Edenton-Chowan Schools.

Spear started working as a Health Science Teacher at John A. Holmes in Edenton in August of 2017 after working as a School Health Nurse consultant for NC Department of Health and Human Services. She teaches Health Science I, Health Science II, Gerontology, Nursing Fundamentals and Pharmacy Technician.

“The ECU CON provided me with a willingness to always want to serve other people. I fell in love with gaining knowledge that would allow me to help those in need,” Spear said. “I learned discipline and hard work were both essential to being successful. One of my instructors while receiving my Masters taught me that even in times of hardship you must remain focused on your goals and work to attain them.”

While at the ECU CON, Spear was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau. She serves as a model for how to champion health care delivery in rural areas of the state.

Gene Tranbarger

With great sadness that we honor the memory of a towering figure in the history of American nursing.

Dr. Russell Eugene “Gene” Tranbarger passed away at home Oct. 13, 2023. He taught nursing administration and leadership in the MSN program at the CON from 1991 to 2003. He was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2013.

He began his career as an operating room nurse, served eight years in the U.S. Army, which included teaching nursing during the Vietnam War, worked as a nursing administrator at three hospitals in North Carolina and later taught at the UNC Greensboro and East Carolina University. He retired in 2003.

“Dr. Tranbarger was a great role model and strong advocate for men in nursing. He was a trailblazer in nursing having served in numerous leadership roles at the local and national level,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, former dean of the College of Nursing.
In 2011, Tranbarger was selected for induction into the North Carolina Nurses Association Hall of Fame. The following year he was inducted as a member of the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame.

“Gene was most known for his work in the National Assembly of Men in Nursing. He Lived in Greensboro many years and was the Nursing Chief Executive officer at Moses Cone Hospital,” said Dr. Frances Eason, ECU nursing professor. “He obtained his Doctorate from NC State University and he and Terry moved to Robersonville and lived in a beautiful colonial house. In 2007 he co-authored a book about Men in Nursing and in 2008 he received the Luther Chrisman Award for his distinguish work for the Man’s Assembly in Nursing and his book. Upon retirement he and Terry traveled until her death. Since then, he has adopted a family and they took care of Gene until his death.”

Tranbarger’s legacy will live on through our faculty and students and the compassionate care they will deliver across North Carolina for years to come.

Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame nomination images

The ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame Board of Directors is soliciting nominations for the next group of inductees to the Hall of Fame. Nominators can be nurses, other healthcare professionals, members of health care organizations, current Hall of Fame members or any person who wants to recognize lasting excellence in Pirate Nursing.

The Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments of exemplary Pirate Nursing graduates and faculty members. Induction into the Hall of Fame is a way for the College of Nursing to publicly acknowledge and express thanks to our alumni and to our present or former faculty members who have reflected great credit upon our college. Membership in the Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors bestowed by the ECU College of Nursing.

Criteria for inclusion in the College of Nursing Hall of Fame:

- Have a history of exceptional accomplishments in nursing practice, education, research and/or administration
- Be a College of Nursing alumni and/or be a present or former College of Nursing faculty member
- Have practiced as a registered nurse for a minimum of ten years

Details about the nomination process are available here

Nominate here


At the end of September, 140 scholarship donors and recipients met at the College of Nursing for our largest ever, by 60 attendees, Donor-Scholarship Reception. Donors give for a myriad of reasons, but joy was the overwhelming emotion of the evening. Undergraduate nursing student Arianna Staten, the great niece of Laura Marie Leary Elliot (’66), the first Black graduate of ECU, and Keosha Ingram, graduate midwifery student, both spoke at the reception about the importance of scholarships for future Pirate Nurses.

Next year’s event will be held at the East Carolina Heart Institute on Thursday, Sept. 26th because the reception has outgrown our current space.

If you have questions about the many ways endowments can be created for the College of Nursing, please call, Elizabeth Maxwell, Director of Development, 919.330.6603.

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