Thoughts about a Wall

6th floor wall_cropped CHS faculty Great WallA few weeks ago I had the privilege of traveling to China. The group I traveled with included a faculty representative from each of the College of Health Science disciplines (Social Work, Nursing, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy), and 4 gentlemen who work at the Show Hope Foundation. The major purpose of the trip was for the Belmont CHS faculty to see the Show Hope operations in China and to explore possible ways our students could learn and serve there as a part of Show Hope, whether through short term mission trips or longer term clinical and field experiences.

When I tell people I went to China, most people are curious if we got to visit the Great Wall. We did! We were able to spend a day in Beijing before traveling back to the states, and we visited the wall from outside that city. It was, of course, an amazing experience to be able to climb part of it and walk along it. To think of how that structure was built before modernized tools, and how it still stands firmly today (at least in the place we visited) is really a testament to human capability. I am so glad I got to experience this, what a privilege! You can see all of our CHS disciplines represented in this picture from the Great Wall, at noon on a very hot summer day!

But I want to tell you also about another wall in China, a wall on the 6th floor of Maria’s Big House of Hope (MBHOH) in Luoyang, China. MBHOH is one of the care centers operated by Show Hope, and where we spent the majority of our time in China. MBHOH is home to 156 children with special medical needs, and also home to the nursing and operations staff. It is a place where a lot of beautiful things happen. (You can take a virtual tour and learn more about it here

On this 6th floor wall, painted sky blue, there are a lot of clouds. Every time a team comes to Show Hope, they pick a cloud and sign the wall, leaving encouragement and a record of their stay. You can see our cloud here, a rendering of the Belmont tower with the theme of our 125th anniversary: Belief in Something Greater. I love this theme for our university’s celebration, and I also love it as representing what I saw happening in China, and what I was reminded about in terms of my own calling. I do have a belief in something greater, and part of this belief is that we are called to be a part of people’s lives and stories in ways that bring healing and mercy and that seek justice. For people at Show Hope, a big part of this calling is providing medical and support services to children in China, and providing adoption aid and post adoption support for families in the US. For me, part of this calling involves continuing work in child welfare and with kids who have experienced trauma. For others, it means providing health care services or tutoring immigrants in English so that they can access education and employment opportunities. Really, there are so many ways we can entwine our stories with others, and it was refreshing for me to be reminded of this recently. If it has been awhile since you have thought about your own calling and work in the world, I invite you to take a look at your own (metaphorical) wall and see what is written on it in this season of your life.

Pharmacy Student Chosen as Walmart Scholar

AACP2015-1Sara Thompson, a fourth year Pharmacy student at Belmont University, was recently chosen as a Walmart Scholar by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).   The program recognizes select students and their faculty mentors in an effort to strengthen the recipient’s skills and commitment to a career in academic pharmacy.   Dr. Edgar Diaz-Cruz, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy, serves as Thompson’s mentor.

In speaking of Thompson, Dr. Diaz-Cruz said, “It is refreshing to see such maturity , determination, and passion for academic pharmacy and patient education in a pharmacy student.”  Thompson is interested in medical Spanish and health disparities as experienced in the Hispanic community.  After pharmacy school, she plans to pursue a residency with a teaching certificate program and has a career goal to join academia as a faculty member in pharmacy practice.

The Scholar program provides scholarships to student-faculty pairs to attend the AACP annual meeting and Teachers Seminar which was recently held in National Harbor, Maryland.

DNP Student Teaches Healthcare in Haiti as Frist Global Health Fellow

Quigley1When doctorate of nursing practice student Jennifer Quigley realized she would be the first Belmont recipient of the Frist Global Health Fellowship, she said she was eager to use her passion for global health to implement a plan for teaching health care providers in Cap-Haitien, Haiti a modern method of natural family planning. Her trip was born of a partnership between Belmont’s College of Health Sciences and Nursing and the organization Hope Through Healing Hands, which was founded by Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D.

Although the goal of the trip was to assist the Haitian people, Quigley was quick to say the trip was life-changing for her, as well. “I learned so much more from the Haitian people than they learned from me. I have never seen a more joyous people, full of life and love, and each was eager to show me love. Though they did not have much, I never went hungry, and I always had water. They joyfully give, even if they have so little to start with,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to deliver a baby, with only one other nurse, no drugs and not sterile equipment — only a clean room and the two of us. It was an experience I will hold with me for the rest of my life.”

Quigley’s fellowship focused on educating medical practitioners about the Standard Days Method (SDM), developed by Georgetown University in Washington D.C., which uses knowledge and awareness of the fertility cycle to allow women and couples to time and space pregnancies and has been tested to be 95 percent accurate when used correctly. Quigley spent her summer training the health care providers in the knowledge and skills to not only understand the method, but also the tools to instruct, guide and counsel patients in this method to plan pregnancies.

The Hope Through Healing Hands team knows the far-reaching impact that this kind of sustainable program can have on developing countries like Haiti. Women who have access to family planning education and resources are less likely to die in child birth, have healthier children and space their children farther apart, which allows for a more stable family structure. For a couple to be able to communicate and decide what size family is appropriate for them is an important piece in decreasing disparities in the developing countries. “This can lead to improving the economic status of entire communities. The capacity is truly incredible, which is why we’re so excited about seeing the results of Jennifer’s study,” said Executive Director of Hope Through Healing Hands Jenny Dyer.

JenniferQuigleyQuigley had originally planned to recruit and teach 31 providers, but after completing the course with those original providers and finding an overwhelming positive response, she continued to provide training to those she could while she was there. By the end of her trip, she had completed the course for close to 200 physicians, nurses and community health workers throughout the northern part of the country. Many stated the visual tool and simple rules of the method make it desirable for their population, of which almost 50 percent are unable to read or write. Preliminary results show much improvement in the knowledge of fertility, family planning and how to effectively space pregnancies. Formal data analysis is still in progress and should be completed in report form by the middle of September. 

Quigley says her Catholic background makes up a lot of the driving force behind her global health outreach and mission work. “My Christian faith tells me that my life is not about me; it is about sharing my gifts that were given to me by God with others, so that they may have more opportunities to do the same,” she said. “Increasing education and awareness for modern methods of natural family planning is something written on my heart that I have a calling to share. I use those engrained nursing skills along with my Christian faith as a foundation to decrease disparities around the globe.”

Quigley was recently featured in an article in the Diocese of Nashville, where she speaks on how she was able to appeal to Catholic, Protestant and non-religious audiences and clinics because of the way she approaches the issue. The main thing she wanted to convey is that natural family planning can be a positive alternative for women and their husbands to figure out how many children they want and can afford to care for.

Quigley said she is thankful for the Christian environment that Belmont provides to guide and direct her individual passion. “The faculty and Dean Taylor at the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing have seen my passion for nursing, global health and natural family planning and provided me the knowledge, direction and opportunities to grow my passion into a doctorate level research project that will open the door to so many more wonderful opportunities,” she said.

After graduating, Quigley hopes to use this project as groundwork to further her career in the research of natural family planning in a global health setting, in order to decrease or eliminate maternal and infant disparities related to unhealthy timing and spacing of pregnancies across the world.

Read more about Quigley’s trip on her blog.

Pharmacy Faculty and Staff Present at Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Meeting

AACP-2015-2Sixteen Belmont faculty and staff members attended and contributed to the 2015 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) joint meeting with the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada, recently held in National Harbor, Maryland.

Due to changes in the pharmacy market and pharmacy practice act and the number of new schools, this year’s conference, attended by approximately 2,000 people, was particularly active. Continue reading

Pharmacy Student Society Officers Attend National Meeting

2015-ASHP-Summer-Meeting-300x300Destin Lenz and Kelsie Graham, third year Belmont pharmacy students, recently attended the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 2015 Summer Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Lenz and Graham serve as president and vice president, respectively, in Belmont’s Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP).

This year’s meeting had the highest attendance of any in nearly a decade, consisting of four content-targeted conferences including the Ambulatory Care Conference, Informatics Institute, Medication Safety Collaboration and Pharmacy, Practice and Policy.

The duo participated in a student leadership development workshop focused on leadership opportunities in pharmacy practice and attended a session entitled, “A Student’s Guide to Provider Status,” where updates on the latest developments in provider status legislation were discussed.  In addition, they attended poster presentations, a session exclusively for students entitled, “Career and Life Success,” and a number of educational seminars on a variety of topics.

For more information, click here.

Occupational Therapy Alumnus and Husband Help Soldiers, Veterans Through ‘REBOOT Combat Recovery’

REBOOT-groupAlumni Jenny and Evan Owens may not have ever gone through basic training, much less served in combat, but the couple has still developed a passion for ministering to soldiers and their families. In fact, helping soldiers overcome the spiritual wounds of war has become this couple’s mission and led to them founding REBOOT Combat Recovery in 2011.

Jenny received her B.A. from Belmont in 2005 followed by a doctorate in occupational therapy, also from Belmont, in 2007. After graduating, she worked in neuro-rehabilitation at Vanderbilt and then with patients suffering traumatic brain injuries at the Warrior Resiliency and Recovery Center at Fort Campbell’s Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. Continue reading

Social Work Student Explores Land, Life Lessons at Pine Ridge

Sanders-225x300Rising senior social work major Rebecca Sanders trekked many miles and asked many difficult questions during Professor Dr. Andy Watt’s Maymester program as she and her team learned the history of the western U.S.’s land and people.

The trip began May 12 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where Sanders met with tribal elders and local artists to hear their stories and visit important, local sites. The next stop was the Crow Reservation in Montana to learn about the Battle of Little Big Horn and Crow culture. Soon after, the group traveled to Yellowstone National Park to participate in the park’s Wolf and Bear Exploration and Cody, Wyoming for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The trip concluded May 29 in Keystone, South Dakota with stops at Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Sylvan Lake and Badlands National Park. Continue reading

Pharmacy Teams Travels to Honduras

Pharmacy-300x300A group of faculty members and a student from Belmont’s College of Pharmacy recently traveled to Honduras as part of the Baptist Medical Dental Mission. Drs. Adam Pace, Leela Kodali, and Emily Russell, a fourth-year student, joined a team of 20 medical professionals for the medical missions trip.

The team set up a medical clinic, dentistry clinic, and pharmacy in a schoolhouse in San Fernando, a rural community in the state of Yoro. Together, they saw more than 1100 patients, dispensed 5300 prescriptions, pulled 240 teeth for 101 patients and distributed 325 eyeglasses. Additionally, the trip included church services and personal evangelism at the medical stations, bringing more than 130 people to Christ. Continue reading

Cultural humility, and remembering history

Welcome Dr. Sabrina Sullenberger, Chair of the Social Work Department at Belmont University, as she begins blogging here from time to time.

Earlier this summer I had the privilege of co-leading a student immersion trip to several destinations in the US West, including the Lakota reservation in Pine Ridge, SD and the Crow reservation near Hardin, MT.   While on the reservations, especially at Pine Ridge, I was confronted with the reality that I had not a clue about the lived experience of people there.  What I knew of native history and culture prior to the trip was limited almost exclusively to books and the occasional documentary.  As such, I was keenly aware of my lack of cultural knowledge and cultural competence (both of which are important concepts in social work) and so I was initially hesitant about how to connect with community members.

And then I remembered something: more important than cultural competence (which some would say can never be achieved) is the practice of cultural humility.   For me, cultural humility means reminding myself that in their community, I am a learner and they are the experts in their own lives. While I have a lot of textbook and research knowledge about systemic barriers and structural causes of poverty, they know, and daily experience, what that looks like in Pine Ridge. I do not.   Having cultural humility also means that I have to examine my own presumptions and prejudices about what could make things “better”, and—harder still– examine the ways that I am complicit in systems that are oppressive to others. Needless to say: I engaged in a lot of introspection on this trip, and it still continues, especially in light of the shootings and other violence in Charleston.  I want to be a part of reconciling relationships in my own community, in the beautiful diversity that is Nashville, and cultural humility is as important here as it is in Pine Ridge.

I will sign off my inaugural blog post with a quote shared by author Sue Monk Kidd in the end notes of The Invention of Wings.  When I read it I thought it was a good encapsulation of the idea of what a commitment to cultural humility can result in.  A professor once told her “History is not just facts and events.  History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” I believe that, by practicing cultural humility, we can more astutely see and feelpine ridge at red cloud the pain, as well as the beauty and strength, of others.

College of Pharmacy partners with Aegis Sciences to launch Fellowship Program

Aegis Sciences Corporation, in partnership with Belmont, recently announced the launch of a pharmacy fellowship program. The fellows will complete an intensive two-year postgraduate training program focused on drug information, evidence-based practice, teaching and research. The Clinical Scientist fellows selected for the 2015-2017 program are Kate Claussen, Pharm.D., and Amber Watson, Pharm.D.

Claussen, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Lipscomb and previously interned and completed a pharmacy rotation at Aegis. Watson, of Hardy, Arkansas, received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Tennessee and completed a pharmacy rotation at Aegis. Continue reading