OT Students, Faculty Sing to Benefit Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee

students singing next to a poster for the benefit concertOccupational therapy graduate students Roya Rezadoost and Madeleine Ruff sang a Spice Girls song at a recent benefit concert for the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. The concert was hosted by Dr. Natalie Michaels, associate professor of occupational therapy. She also partook in the festivities by performing original songs as well as hits from Whitney Houston and Pat Benatar.

Other musicians present included Jim Martin who sang some soft country, including Glen Campbell and songs he’d written, and Rick Michaels, who sang a song by Billy Currington.

Dr. Folds Receives Grant for Behavioral Health Internship Program

Leslie Folds HeadshotAssociate Professor in the School of Nursing Dr. Leslie Folds recently received funding from the Tennessee Hospital Association and the National Student Nurses’ Association for a grant she submitted. The $16,000 grant will fund a Behavioral Health Internship Program for undergraduate nursing students next summer.

The project will aim to address current shortages of behavioral health nurses by exposing students to behavioral health settings with various patient populations and units. In partnership with Belmont’s colleagues at TriStar Health, students will complete 248 hours of hands-on, dynamic clinical rotations among multiple areas of mental health care at TriStar Centennial Medical Center-Parthenon Pavilion and TriStar Skyline Madison.

Folds will begin planning recruitment and enrollment with students beginning the program summer 2018.

College of Pharmacy Names Dr. David Gregory as New Dean

David Gregory Head Shot

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Dr. David Gregory, current associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been named as the new dean of Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy. Gregory will succeed founding dean Dr. Phil Johnston, who was recently promoted to a new position as Belmont’s vice provost for academic affairs. Gregory, a native of Nashville, will begin his new position on Belmont’s campus Feb. 1.

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “As the founding dean of Belmont Pharmacy, Dr. Phil Johnston brought tremendous success and professionalism to the college throughout his decade-long service, and I am grateful that his new position enables all academic areas of the University to benefit from his experience and approach. Securing his replacement required a thorough national search of top candidates, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the appointment of Dr. David Gregory. His familiarity with Nashville’s healthcare community and his extensive credentials as a practicing pharmacist and educator make him a perfect and seamless fit for our program. Moreover, his commitment to developing compassionate caregivers who will excel at pharmacy practice gives me immense confidence in the future of Belmont Pharmacy.”

Gregory added, “I am honored to be joining the team at Belmont to continue to advance the profession of pharmacy in an ever changing healthcare marketplace. Belmont’s focus on faith and service aligns well with my personal mission to develop pharmacists that are highly knowledgeable and have a transcendent cause in the care of their patients.”

As the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Pharmacy, Gregory will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the approximately 300 students and 29 faculty who make up the college.

In his current role as an associate dean at Ole Miss, Gregory’s responsibilities include leadership of approximately 800 students in both the pre-professional and professional degree programs of the School of Pharmacy along with strategic and visionary planning in the ongoing development of policies, programs, curriculum and clinical practice that align with the educational mission of the School. He oversees daily operations regarding key infrastructure components related to human resources, purchasing, financial management and student support services, and he creates an academic environment of excellence that fosters student growth both professionally and personally while increasing the visibility, advancement and recognition of the School of Pharmacy.

Gregory earned a bachelor’s of science and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Mississippi. Prior to joining Ole Miss in 2013, Gregory spent a significant portion of his career in Nashville with positions of increasing responsibility with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. From 2008-2013, he served as VUMC’s director of pharmacy for education, drug policy, research and clinical pharmacy services within the Department of Pharmaceutical Services. During his time in Nashville, Dr. Gregory also contributed time to the Belmont College of Pharmacy External Advisory Committee.

In addition to his professional duties, he also currently serves as an accreditation surveyor for the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and is a member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Workforce and Education Council. He received the 2009 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2011 Belmont University College of Pharmacy Professional Stewardship Award and the 1997 Vanderbilt Hospital Pharmacist of the Year Award, among other accolades.

About the Belmont College of Pharmacy
Situated in the health care capital of the world, Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy is dedicated to rigorous and purposeful teaching, scholarship, service and leadership. The College develops pharmacists prepared to meet the demands of an evolving and contemporary practice as 95 percent of spring 2017 graduates recently passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination. With five areas of specialized concentration including pharmacotherapy, information management, pharmacy management, pharmacy missions/public health and a PharmD/MBA program, students have the opportunity to tailor their education to their unique passions. Faculty dedicated to student success, state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, simulation rooms, drug information center and a student-run, working pharmacy combine to create a collaborative educational space where students can learn skills while further developing their pharmacy interests.

College of Pharmacy Healthcare Informatics Students Create Artificial Intelligence Software for Amazon Alexa

Belmont University College of Pharmacy third-year students Dominic Paolella, David Luong, Abdul Mohammed Jonathan Ashton and Aziz Afzali recently undertook the challenge of developing a new and exciting telepharmacy access point for patients on the mend, understanding the importance of patients recovering in their own homes. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that patient recovery is more successful when they transition from dedicated healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities into their own homes. But many patients require help to facilitate the change.

Amazon Alexa is a new artificially intelligent platform for accessing information and interacting with objects in the home including lights, music and medical devices. As part of the Introduction to Healthcare Informatics III and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) classes in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum at Belmont University, each student developed a voice activated application, or “skill” for the Alexa platform. The skills can be downloaded and activated on demand, answering drug information questions with accurate medical information.

While enrolled in the College of Pharmacy, students discuss diseases states and the appropriate medication regimens for each. They are also trained to apply and communicate that knowledge to other healthcare providers and their patients. “As student pharmacists, we are trained to be experts in medication and disease state management.” said Paolella. “The Alexa platform offered us an opportunity to extend our patient care mission.”

Alexa’s artificial intelligence allows counseling to be taken out of the pharmacy and into the patient’s living room. This is especially beneficial when a home care nurse is not available. “In these cases, it would be convenient to have a small, inexpensive device at home which could be a conduit for patients to access answers to their healthcare questions at home and on-demand,” said Ashton.

Belmont’s sponsor of the Amazon Alexa Developer Initiative is Assistant Professor of Healthcare Informatics and Analytics Dr. Anthony Blash. To prepare student pharmacists in the healthcare informatics concentration to become future leaders in healthcare informatics, Blash has created a four-course sequence and one month intensive experiential rotations. “Through our partnership with Amazon, we are exploring new ways to provide telepharmacy services in innovative and inexpensive ways to large segments of the population,” Blash said.

Student pharmacists’ skills include:

  • Paolella, who was the first to receive Amazon certification with his skill “Lisinopril”
  • Luong, who created a skill called “Cephalexin”
  • Mohammed, who created a skill called “Fluconazole”
  • Ashton, who developed a skill called “DrugInfo3”
  • Afzail, who developed “Asthma Device Helper”

DrugInfo3 allows the user to ask about generic names of antibiotics to gather pertinent information for more than 35 antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and isoniazid. Asthma Device Helper provides step-by-step patient counseling on proper use of many common asthma inhalers.

“For me, the project was a proof of concept. While our project was limited to drug information, the technology could be applied to many aspects of care. There are lots of possibilities for future development with this artificial intelligence platform, and a lot of opportunities to help our patients in new and exciting ways.” said Mohammed.

For Afzali, the opportunity to focus on informatics has sparked an interest in post-graduation experiences devoted to the topic.“The Informatics Concentration allows me to combine my interests in information technology and pharmacy for the safety of patients worldwide,” he said. “I hope to continue to pursue my passion in a post-graduate informatics residency and career in Healthcare Informatics upon graduation.”

While none of these skills should replace a consultation with licensed healthcare professionals, the free skills can be accessed via the Amazon Skills store or through the Alexa app, available for Amazon Fire, Apple and Android devices. To download these skills onto Alexa, choose “Skills” from the Alexa app menu and search for the skill by name.

School of Nursing Celebrates 45 Years

Dean Taylor and two other faculty members pose with the School of Nursing photo frame at the School's 45th anniversary celebration.

Alumni return to campus for 45th anniversary celebration on Saturday, November 11

Belmont’s School of Nursing (SON) recently celebrated its 45th year with a continuing educating presentation featuring Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Belmont alumna and current director of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department and luncheon for faculty, staff and alumni. The event, organized by Associate Dean for Nursing Dr. Martha Buckner, welcomed alumni from every decade of the School’s history as participants reconnected with peers and faculty and looked through memorabilia. The event also included several former faculty members and administrative leaders including former Dean and Emeritus Professor Dr. Debra Wollaber, former Associate Dean Dr. Chris Algren and former Undergraduate Director Ms. Kathy Jordan.

Memorabilia from past yearsThe School also announced a few updates to the program with the celebration of its 45th year including the implementation of a new concept-based curriculum specially designed by SON faculty to promote critical thinking, compassionate care and essential skills needed in the workplace of the future. This curriculum change points to the School’s consistent commitment to remaining relevant and competitive in an ever-evolving world.

“With keen attention to emerging science and program quality, and gratitude for strong administrative support, our degree offerings have steadily advanced to meet dynamic healthcare marketplace needs,” Taylor said. “From initial Associate and Baccalaureate degrees, to the addition of the Master’s of Science in Nursing track and more recent addition of the Doctor of Nursing Practice and joint Doctor of Nursing Practice-Master of Business Administration options, Belmont nursing has consistently been recognized for innovation and excellence.”

Looking to the future, Taylor said the School of Nursing will continue to accommodate best practices driven by new technologies. “Future graduates will be equipped with advanced processing and communication skills needed to manage these technologies, and while cutting edge technical skills will remain an expected baseline for Belmont nurses, future graduates will still be known for high ethical standards and care that is marked with a compassionate, human touch,” she said.

The room was full for the luncheon!

Despite the countless accolades the School boasts–including high licensure and certification exam pass rates, impressive job placement rates, school-wide mission trips, consistent accreditation and more–it’s the people who make up the School of Nursing that Taylor points to as the greatest achievement. “The foundation for every milestone lives in the extraordinary expertise and commitment of our faculty, staff and students and their willingness to engage in new thinking and new models of teaching and learning,” she said. “Belmont nurses will continue to honor our longstanding tradition of excellence. We will make increasingly important contributions to the evidence base for nursing and to the policies and practices that promote the health and wellbeing of families and communities around the world.”

Dr. Voight Published in Journal of Sports Physical Therapy

 Professor of physical therapy Michael Voight recently published two articles in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. The first, titled “The Relationship Between Segmental Rolling Ability and Lumbar Multifidus Activation Time,” was a graduate student research project completed by Nicole Clark, Sherry Pierce, Ryan Cook, Clint Henley and Lindsey Schiller, who graduated in 2017. Voight, Ashley Campbell and Pat Sells served as the faculty research advisers.

The second manuscript, titled “Introduction to the Movement System as the Foundation for the Physical Therapist Practice Education and Research,” written by Voight and Lisa Saladin, vice president of the American Physical Therapy Association, focuses on the transition of the field of physical therapy toward a movement-based approach.

The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy is a fully indexed medical journal with over 30,000 subscribers worldwide.

Belmont Physical Therapy Students, Faculty Volunteer for Garrett’s Hero Run

Participants from the Fun Run pose with Garrett

Belmont University hosted Garrett’s Hero Run on October 14, the Global Physical Therapy Day of Service, as part of the American Physical Therapy Association’s National Physical Therapy Month. This day provided a perfect opportunity for Belmont’s School of Physical Therapy to join with PTs in the community for a service event that supports a fellow physical therapist and Belmont alumna.

Amber Sapp, a physical therapist and 2005 graduate of Belmont’s program, has an 11-year-old son, Garrett, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare but fatal neuromuscular disorder with no cure. Every year, Amber and her husband, Randy, organize a 5K event as a fundraiser for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization devoted solely to ending Duchenne. The race, Garrett’s Hero Run, encourages participants to dress in their favorite super hero costume to support Garrett. Currently, he is participating in clinical trials to help researchers find a cure so other children don’t have to face the same battles.

At the beginning of each fall semester, Dr. Christi Williams, assistant professor in the School of Physical Therapy, fellow 2005 alumna and former classmate of Sapp’s, shares Garrett’s story with her students.  “I feel strongly that there is something special here at Belmont and we refer to it as the ‘Belmont PT Family,’” she said. “This ‘family’ serves to support you when you need it most.”

At Belmont, the physical therapy program strives to transform the lives of others by serving patients in the clinic and giving back to the community–as evidenced by students’ involvement in countless community service events. “Making a difference in the lives of others is what physical therapy is all about,” Williams said. “Amber is making a difference in the lives of many families and young boys by raising money to support research through PPMD. Her story provides encouragement and inspiration to all future PTs, and since Amber is a part of the Belmont PT family, her mission continues to be supported by her former classmates, fellow alumni and the current DPT students.”

The 2017 Garrett’s Hero Run raised more than $25,000 for PPMD to support research efforts towards a disease cure. Belmont DPT volunteers assisted in these efforts by volunteering on race day, helping with fundraising and providing auction items for the silent auction.

Sapp said, “When I was in Physical Therapy school at Belmont, my classmates became my family. When my son, Garrett, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy seven years ago, one of the first calls I made was to a fellow alumni. These are the types relationships that are built at Belmont. These relationships are what get you through the ‘stuff of life’. Your classmates are the people who went through the fire with you and held your hand the whole way. These are the people I still want by my side.”

Belmont Occupational Therapy Doctorate Students Volunteer for Nashville Buddy Walk

Participants at the Buddy WalkBelmont’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate students recently attended the Nashville Buddy Walk at the Hermitage. While there, the group helped with activities, passed out t-shirts and made Thanksgiving Day thank-you cards with the kids for their parents and caregivers. This event is sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee.

Participants enjoyed themselves throughout the day as they participated in activities with their siblings, parents and the Belmont student volunteers.

Dr. Beth Hallmark Recognized as March of Dimes Nurse Educator of the Year

Dr. Beth Hallmark, assistant professor and director of simulation in the College of Health Sciences and Nursing, was recently recognized as the March of Dimes Nurse Educator of the Year. The announcement was made at the organization’s annual Nurse of the Year Awards Luncheon held on Wednesday, November 1 at Belmont.

Held to honor nursing excellence and pay tribute to the tireless efforts of nurses throughout the community, the Nurse of the Year Awards recognizes nurses who are nominated by their colleagues, supervisors or the families they have served. The ceremony celebrates the nursing profession and recognizes the most outstanding nurses in several categories including Nurse Educator of the Year.

“I am humbled to have received this award,” Hallmark said. “The mission of the simulation program at Belmont is ‘to improve patient safety and health outcomes by providing high quality, evidence based, experiential education in a safe innovative environment.’  It is a team effort, and I am proud to be a part of this work. I am blessed to work with a wonderful group of interprofessional faculty and staff that support the work we do each day.”