Physical Therapy Students, Faculty Volunteer at Music City Skate Jam

Students from the Belmont University School of Physical Therapy recently volunteered at the inaugural Music City Skate Jam. Multi-platinum singer/songwriter Kip Moore combined his love for music and skateboarding when he teamed up with international skateboarding champion Tony Hawk in downtown Nashville for the charity event.

The day began early in the morning as the students, along with faculty members Drs. Pat Sells and Mike Voight from the School of Physical Therapy, turned Nashville’s Hall of Fame Park into a music venue with an enormous half pipe for the celebrity skate board performers. The free concert and skating exposition, held at Music City Walk of Fame Park, served as a fundraiser to aid hurricane relief. It also brought awareness to both both Moore’s and Hawk’s foundations, which aim to build skate parks for kids in inner cities. Fans who donated were treated to a day of fun-filled events including performances by Jordan Davis, Dee Jay Silver and Moore himself, along with a thrilling skate demo by Tony Hawk.

Physical Therapy Faculty Volunteer at Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament

Belmont University School of Physical Therapy Faculty Members Drs. Pat Sells, Danny Smith and Mike Voight recently volunteered for the 2017 Music Row Ladies Golf Tournament. The event was presented by Keith Urban and sponsored by ASCAP, City National Bank and Tim McGraw.

This long-running charity event has raised more than two million dollars for United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee in its three-decade history. Voight said, “It is fun to participate in an event that we can see fruits of the fund raising efforts. The funds raised help to build wheel chair ramps that physical therapy students go out and volunteer to build.” The 30th annual tournament took place on Monday, August 21 at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin, Tennessee.

Occupational Therapy Students Provide Modified Cars to Local Children to Enhance Mobility

Belmont’s School of Occupational Therapy partnered with Vanderbilt’s Summer Academy for GoBabyGo, an interdisciplinary collaboration and nationwide program with local chapters that work to provide modified toy cars to young children living with physical, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, spina bifida or cerebral palsy. Serving as much more than toys, these cars provide an opportunity for children to move and explore their surroundings in news ways. GoBabyGo fills a significant need by providing low-cost, adaptive, ride-on toys for children.

In the Music City chapter of GoBabyGo, occupational therapy (OT) students from Belmont University and high school students attending Vanderbilt’s Summer Academy worked together to modify toy cars for eight children with diagnoses including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries. Each OT student led and worked alongside a small group of high schoolers to assess the specific postural needs of each child and make recommendations for adaptations to the car. Most of the children have physical limitations (unable to sit up without support, limited arm movement/strength, low vision, etc.) that make it difficult to operate the car as it is manufactured. Extra support and modifications like 5-point harnesses, side-railings, bilateral head supports, built up steering wheels and moving the ignition to an accessible location allow for independent use.

Once recommendations were suggested, students made the modifications during their 3-week program alongside engineers at Vanderbilt. At the end of the program, all the parties (the children and their families, OT students, high school students and instructors) presented the modified cars to the children at Belmont University. It was a memorable day filled with smiles, tears and lots of pictures.

River is pictured in his new car, complete with his favorite character–Mickey Mouse!

River, a participant who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, required a 5-point harness across his chest to support him while sitting up, a built-up steering wheel to assist with reach, a constructed backboard and the rewriting of the ignition from a gas pedal to an easily accessible button. In time and with practice, River will be able to drive himself around his house and neighborhood, exploring and learning about his surroundings and making friends independently–all opportunities he’s never had before.

President of Belmont’s Occupational Therapy Student Association and OT student Cara Miller said the opportunity to work with River and his family was an incredible experience. “As an occupational therapy student, I’m very interested in working with individuals needing adaptive equipment like wheelchairs, prosthetics or other mobility devices to promote their ability to do the things that are important to them,” she said. “I was so impressed with how quickly the high school students were able to notice things like River leaning to one side and make suggestions that would enhance his ability to sit upright. They were so intuitive and sensitive to all the children and their families that were a part of this program. This opportunity only reinforced my desire to work within this field of occupational therapy, and I can’t wait for the next GoBabyGo build in October.”

College of Pharmacy Hosts Second Annual Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association Meeting

On Saturday, September 9, the College of Pharmacy hosted the annual Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association Meeting annual event in Frist Lecture Hall in partnership with the Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association (TOPA). TOPA is a local organization created by a group of local pharmacists.Their purpose is to “promote collaborative learning and foster networking opportunities with pharmacists across Tennessee and surrounding states” and “provide educational and networking resources that promote the optimization and delivery of pharmaceutical services for patients living with cancer in the Volunteer State and across the southeast region.“

Nearly 50 pharmacists attended the event, as well as 10 corporate sponsors. Attendees came from across Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky. Eleven presentations were given by oncology pharmacists on topics including new oncology drugs, transitioning patients from inpatient to outpatient care and new legislation related to oncology, among others.

Belmont University College of Pharmacy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education. For more information on upcoming Continuing Education opportunities, click here.

Top 5! Belmont University Lands Near Top of Annual U.S. News Rankings of Southern Colleges

US News Top 5 Banner

University scores accolades for innovation, teaching, veteran support and more

For the ninth consecutive year, Belmont University has again achieved a Top 10 regional ranking with today’s release of U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of America’s Best Colleges, this year ranking at an impressive No. 5 and remaining the highest ranked university in Tennessee in this category. Moreover, Belmont won the praise of its peers as it was included on a number of additional U.S. News lists that rate institutions on areas critical to student opportunities and success.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “These rankings provide benchmarks that are helpful to us as we work to provide programs that equip our students to go out and make a positive impact in the world. While it is rewarding to see Belmont reach a higher ranking overall, it is especially gratifying to be recognized by our peers for excelling in areas that promote strong outcomes for our students. As a student-centered university, this is at the heart of what we aim to achieve.”

In the publication released today, Belmont is lauded for the tenth year in a row for its commitment to “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities,” landing second on the “Most Innovative Schools” in the South list. Belmont earned acclaim in the following categories as well:

    • Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching (No. 4 in the South): The strong commitment to undergraduate teaching ranking is determined via a survey of peer institutions, who cite their fellow institutions who best reflect that quality.
    • Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 3 in the South): To be included, institutions must be ranked in the top half of their overall category, be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program with 20 or more veterans/active service members enrolled.
    • Best Value (one of only 64 institutions recognized in the South): The listing takes into account a school’s academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.
    • Internships (one of only 20 institutions recognized in the nation): Schools in this category encourage students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to work in the real world through closely supervised internships or practicums.
    • Learning Communities (one of only 18 institutions recognized in the nation): In these communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.
    • Service-Learning (one of only 23 institutions recognized in the nation): Required volunteer work in the community is an instructional strategy in these programs—what’s learned in the field bolsters what happens in class and vice versa.
    • Study Abroad (one of only 44 institutions recognized in the nation): Programs must involve substantial academic work abroad and considerable interaction with local culture

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “This has been an extraordinary fall for Belmont. We started the fall semester Belmont by announcing a record-breaking enrollment number for the 17th consecutive year – reaching a total of 8,080 students on campus. These students remind us every day that they are drawn to Belmont by the diversity and academic strength of our programs as well as by the intentional commitment to student success, as highlighted in the U.S. News rankings. I’m particularly proud of this incoming undergraduate class which brings, on average, the highest entering scores on the ACT (average 26.4) in the past four years. As an institution, we are committed to continue to do our best to fulfill the Belmont mission of providing an academically challenging education that will enable our students to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.”

The U.S. News analysis places Belmont in a premier position among the 135 public and private institutions included in the South region, an area that covers Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Lumos Scholar Shares Her Experiences in Africa

Karah Waters standing with two Tanzanians

Lumos Scholar and recent Belmont  graduate Karah Waters is currently using her Nursing degree from the College of Health Sciences and Nursing to study healthcare in Tanzania.

Waters is currently interning and working as a nurse at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, a program that will last nine weeks. Her tenth and final week in Tanzania will be spent at the Kidodi Village Rural Healthcare Clinic.

She wrote, “I’ve also observed how different the lifestyles of the people are here and how that affects their health either positively or negatively and how it correlates with what I’ve seen in the hospital… I am in love with all of the people here and the various cultures are SO rich in Tanzania. I’ve learned so much!”

Waters is a recipient of the Lumos Award, coordinated through the Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education department (ISGE).  The purpose of the award is to  transform the lives of young adults by enabling them to embark on a self-designed international working adventure. Recipients explore, engage and immerse themselves in local communities for a minimum of eight weeks in order to deepen their understanding of an issue, project or idea that impassions them.” Lumos Award recipients are expected to “travel with purpose.”

PT’s Dr. Christi Williams and Her Therapy Dog, Layla, Spend the Summer with Community Children

Children huddle around Layla at Monroe Caroll Jr Children's Hospital

Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Christi Williams spent the summer spreading joy throughout the community with her certified therapy dog, Layla. A 7-year old yellow Labrador Retriever, Layla has been volunteering for the past two years as a certified therapy dog through Pet Partners, a local nonprofit organization. Williams and Layla visit many locations on a volunteer basis, including Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks, to spread smiles to patients and health care providers.

This summer Layla volunteered with Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic’s Constraint Camp, a camp that focuses on promoting use of the involved upper extremities by casting the uninvolved side. While there, Layla eased the children’s fears and encouraged them to try new and often challenging tasks. They worked on their gross motor skills alongside Layla by petting and brushing her and finding special stickers inside the zippered pocket of her vest. Gathering stickers from her pocket allowed the children to work on these motor skills, while also proudly displaying proof of the day’s therapist — their favorite yellow lab.

Though Layla loves all her time at camp, Williams said one of her highlights is playing fetch with the children and her favorite pink tennis ball. A very challenging task for the kids as it requires skill to grasp, hold and release the ball, they are determined to play alongside Layla. “She is always patiently waiting for them to throw it her way!” Williams said.

One of Layla's many walks throughout the facility.

One of Layla’s many walks throughout the facility.

Children also enjoy taking Layla for a ‘walk’ throughout the facility where a small leash is attached to Layla’s harness for the kids to hold. Despite the physical challenge this can present, they are eager to participate. A physical therapist herself, Williams loves to work with Layla in the rehabilitation setting. “There’s nothing like watching self-doubt immediately turn into pure confidence when Layla’s ‘leash’ is placed in these children’s hands. Their faces change and they no longer think about it as a challenge. They just do it–and with such confidence!”

Layla and Williams also spent time this summer at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital’s Dog Days of Summer “Paw-ty” where Layla, and other certified therapy dogs, joined children in games, activities and more. Children watched the dogs do tricks on stage and received some takeaways, too —  a dog stuffed animal and a paw print stamp of the therapy dogs who participated.

Layla then traveled to Camp TALK, a camp for children with speech deficits, where she taught children about therapy animals. The kids practiced talking to and giving commands to Layla including “sit,” “lay down,” “shake hands” and “high five.” Layla also showed off her catch skills and played hide-and-seek with the kids.

Layla and some children from Monroe Carrell Jr Children's Hospital“For these children, Layla’s presence creates an environment where they are no longer anxious to try new things or speak in front of their peers,” Williams said. “Having Layla in the room shifts the children’s focus from their disability to simply having fun with the dog!”

Visiting with patients and helping children during their rehabilitation is a big part of what Layla does as a certified therapy dog, but she often has the greatest impact on the health care providers who are working alongside their patients. At the Center for Women’s Health, Layla’s “job” is to visit with the nurses and physicians, providing a necessary break during the day.

“This visit tends to be one of Layla’s favorite stops because these nurses spoil her rotten,” Williams said. “She knows exactly who has treats for her and which drawer or cabinet they are stashed in. Being a health-care provider can be very stressful at times, and Layla provides that much-needed mental break!”

Photos courtesy of Vanderbilt Pediatric Rehabilitation at One Hundred Oaks and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

Dr. Christian Williams Named Director of Belmont University’s New Public Health Program

Christian Williams Head ShotBelmont University recently named Christian L. Williams, DrPH, MPH as Assistant Professor and Director of its new Bachelors of Science in Public Health, a program recently created that seeks to address the critical topic of community well-being. Prior to coming to Belmont, Dr. Williams served as the Public Health Competency Coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Health where she was responsible for workforce development and training, served as the program director for the Commissioner’s Fellowship in Public Health and coordinated all student internships.

In her new role, Dr. Williams will oversee Belmont’s new public health program, educating the University’s first cohort of public health majors. A dynamic field of study and practice credited with saving millions of lives, public health focuses on improving the health of communities and populations by working to develop the conditions and behaviors that contribute to better health for all.

Williams said she has always been interested in the partnership between academia and public health practice, so the opportunity to lead Belmont’s new program was an exciting one. “This role allows me to prepare the future public health workforce and still engage public health practice through research, collaborative projects and opportunities for students.”

Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Nursing Dr. Cathy Taylor said, “We’re fortunate to have Dr. Williams join us in this leadership role with such an exciting new program. The BSPH is a perfect choice for students with a broad interest in population health, health policy or other health-related fields. Graduates will be able to enter the workforce directly or choose to pursue graduate study in a variety of disciplines, and we’re delighted to welcome our first cohort of students this fall.”

Dr. Williams received her DrPH in community and behavioral health from the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. Her research interests include workforce development, quality improvement, linkages between academia and practice and public health systems and services.

Physical Therapy and Biology Faculty Collaborate to Publish Study in Teaching Journal

Over the past three years, Belmont’s Department of Biology and School of Physical Therapy have worked together to allow undergraduate anatomy students the opportunity to experience a cadaver-based learning environment. Through this collaborative effort, hundreds of undergraduate students have had the opportunity to participate in this interactive experience.

Additionally, undergraduate anatomy faculty have embraced the opportunity to engage with graduate faculty to improve their teaching skills in a gross anatomy laboratory. This collaborative initiative began to generate learning opportunities for undergraduate anatomy students in the cadaver-based gross anatomy lab. By the end, however, this interdisciplinary work ended with meaningful experiences for all participants.

Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Chris Barton and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Christi Williams documented the interdisciplinary nature of their collaboration, as well as the increased learning outcomes reported by the undergraduate anatomy students, so other institutions can replicate the process.

Their article, “Graduate and Undergraduate Faculty Collaboration Utilizing Peer Observation to Enhance Educational Opportunities for Students and Faculty: A Case Example,” was recently accepted for publication in The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, where Barton and Williams are co-first authors on the study. Dr. John Halle, professor of physical therapy and Dr. Lori McGrew, professor of biology, are additional authors on the accepted manuscript.

Belmont Adds ACE Resource Guide

The Gordon E. Inman Health Sciences building on a spring day with tulips in front of the building.

As part of a grant recently provided by Tennessee and administered through the Department of Children’s Services Building Strong Brains Initiative, Belmont’s College of Health Sciences and Nursing has developed a resource library to promote the understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for health care professionals. The library is part of Belmont’s Educating Trauma Information Professionals project.

Principal investigators Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Nursing Dr. Cathy Taylor and Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Sabrina Sullenberger collaborated with Bunch Library faculty to develop the ACE Resource Guide. The guide provides access to the valuable library of materials collected to support professions that work alongside children and families during sensitive periods of development and beyond. The ACE Resource Guide is available to all Belmont students and faculty and can be accessed here.