Health Sciences at Belmont University


Frist, Gates lead conversation at Belmont on ‘Mother & Child Project’


Pictured (l-r) are Scott Hamilton, Melinda Gates and former Senator Bill Frist

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., founder of Hope Through Healing Hands, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, led a community conversation Monday in Belmont’s Maddox Grand Atrium on “The Mother & Child Project: Simple Steps to Saving Lives in the Developing World.” This was the first public event held by the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, a joint partnership of Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH), a Nashville-based global health organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

More than 250 individuals representing the faith community, global health NGO and higher-education sectors throughout greater Nashville attended the discussion, hosted by Belmont University. In addition to opening the event, Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns and Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH) Executive Director Dr. Jenny Eaton Dyer also announced that this fall they would award the first Frist Global Health Fellowship to enable a Belmont graduate student to be immersed for a semester in a global health experience.

U.S. Olympic figure skating champion Scott Hamilton, who with his wife Tracie is an active global health advocate, moderated the event, posing questions to Frist and Gates about their experiences.

“As I began to talk with women around the world, it became very clear to me the spacing and timing of pregnancies we take for granted in the U.S. is a matter of life and death for them,” said Gates. “So I got very involved in contraceptives, because it truly starts the cycle of life, where they can feed their children, get their children in school, and honestly, not die themselves.”

Sen. Frist agreed, saying, “Contraception is a pro-life cause.” He went on to explain that, “…if you delay first pregnancy to 18 years old, you can increase survival in countries where one in 39 women die in childbirth, and cut the chance of children dying by 30 percent, enabling them to stay in school and become productive members of families.”

“Second, if you can push out the interval between pregnancies to three year period, the child is twice as likely to survive the newborn stage.”

Today, more than 200 million women in developing countries want the ability to plan if and when they become pregnant, but lack access to information about planning their families. Increasing access to a range of contraceptive options, and providing women with the ability to time and space their births, is critical to improving the health of mothers and children.

At the event, Gates reflected on her upbringing in Dallas, Texas, where she attended Catholic parochial school from grades K-12, and confirmed she remains a practicing member of the Catholic Church. While Gates recognizes the tension between her work and the Church’s position on contraceptives, she has found common ground on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, even though organizations embrace different tools to achieve it.

Sen. Frist expressed his support for Gates’s efforts, explaining that the Faith-based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide has a critical role to play in engaging members of the faith community to help disseminate this simple message.

He likened this initiative to a similar movement of Americans in 2002 that shared a vision with houses of worship across all faiths, which lead to the support and eventual funding of PEPFAR, the largest health initiative in history that turned the tide on the HIV/AIDS.

“The millions of people dying of HIV/AIDS worldwide led to a major U.S. tax-payer led movement to save lives, resulting in more than what is now 12.9 million individuals currently on anti-retroviral medicine,” he said, noting the Coalition’s efforts could save over 287,000 women’s lives each year.

The Faith Based Coalition on Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide’s mission is to galvanize support among faith leaders across the U.S. on the issues of maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries. The coalition will place a particular emphasis on the benefits of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, including access to a range of contraceptive options, in alignment with its members’ unifying values and religious beliefs.

Several faith leaders already involved in this issue also participated in the program by echoing their support of this new initiative. “The best way to see change in Africa is to change the lives of African mothers,” said Steve Taylor, recording artist and filmmaker.

Jena Lee Nardella, co-founder with Jars of Clay of Blood:Water Mission, shared their experience in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. “We were inspired not by the statistics, but by the compelling stories. As a Church, let’s not forget to tell the story, but make it personal.”

Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, added, “The Evangelical church is often accused of loving the child and not the mother; but in doing so, we lose God’s mosaic. We believe in ‘Imago Dei,’ the dignity of every human being.”

“It all comes down to the mother and child nexus and the healthy timing and spacing of births,” Sen. Frist concluded.


PT Faculty Member is first in Tennessee to gain specialty certification

GreenwaltSmallSuzanne Greenwalt, an instructor in the School of Physical Therapy, recently received certification as a Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Specialist from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).  ABPTS is the national governing body for certification of clinical specialists in physical therapy.  Less than 200 physical therapists are certified in this particular specialty and Professor Greenwalt is the first PT in the state of Tennessee to gain this credential.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Dr. Renee Brown, the Chair of Belmont’s School of Physical Therapy, “and it’s great for our program.  The knowledge and experience she has gained will enhance her teaching and benefit our students.  We congratulate her.”

Cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy provides treatment for individuals who suffer from cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, such as heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis, to increase endurance and improve functional independence.  To gain certification, Professor Greenwalt was required to provide 2000 hours of direct care of patients with conditions involving the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems in both acute and rehabilitation settings.

This is Professor Greenwalt’s second specialty certification in physical therapy.  Previously, she was certified as a Geriatrics Specialist.


Nursing students honored for Vanderbilt Medical Center internships


Pictured from left are undergraduate nursing students Gabrielle Pappas, Sarah Steele, and Jennifer Bognar along with Dr. Leslie Folds, Associate Professor of Nursing

For the past seven weeks 18 Belmont senior-level nursing students participated in a summer internship program called Vanderbilt Experience: Student Nurse Internship Program (VESNIP) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) along with students from four other regional nursing programs.  Three Belmont nursing students were awarded the highest honors at the culminating awards ceremony held Wednesday, June 25th, in the Waddington Conference Room at Monroe-Carroll Children’s Hospital.  A total of seven awards were given; three went to Belmont students.  VUMC credo behaviors identify those individuals that aspire to excellence and expert performance.   Jennifer Bognar received the Credo Award for Psychiatric/Mental Health Track, Gabrielle Pappas received the Credo Award for the Perioperative Track, and Sarah Steele received the Credo Award for the Women’s Health Track.   Dr.  Leslie A. Folds, who coordinates this program for Belmont School of Nursing, states that, “It is clear that our students continue to incorporate the mission, vision, and values of Belmont University in their interactions with patients, families, and the entire healthcare team.  Our students consistently pursue excellence.”

This is the tenth year of the VESNIP program.  The program began as a partnership between Belmont School of Nursing and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.   It has now expanded to a total of 62 students and includes five Tennessee and Kentucky nursing schools.  The VESNIP positions are very competitive and are considered elite opportunities for students from around the region.  Claire Zetak, Belmont nursing student, in the Critical Care Track, stated that, “Overall the VESNIP experience allowed me to see myself as a nurse.  Through multiple opportunities to practice nursing skills and employ critical thinking, my knowledge base as a nurse has begun to strengthen and grow outside of the school setting.  I feel comfortable working in a hospital setting now, and I have a clearer view of my roles and responsibilities as a future nurse.”   Betsy Sanders, Belmont nursing student, who participated in the Perioperative Track, also commented, “Nursing students fortunate enough to participate in VESNIP experience a level of nursing not attainable by simply fulfilling clinical requirements.   I am leaving this seven week program with enhanced nursing skills, a better understanding of the all-encompassing responsibilities of being a nurse, and a true appreciation for the multidisciplinary teamwork necessary in providing patients with safe, efficacious, and patient-centered healthcare.”


OT Professor is presenter at Swiss Conference

PlummerSmallerDr. Teresa Plummer, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, was a presenter this spring at the Interdisciplinary Seating and Mobility Conference in Nottwil, Switzerland. The conference was held at the Switzerland Paraplegic Center, a 150 bed facility dedicated to spinal cord injury rehab and research. Dr. Plummer’s presentation was on the Relationship of Vision, Posture and Mobility.


Mission to Cambodia: A bittersweet day

JessieCammuseSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
from Jessica Cammuse, Nursing student

Cambodia2014-41It's our last day in Cambodia and it is bittersweet! I have enjoyed my time here but am also ready to get home.  Today started out going to church.  Church is fun but definitely longer than in the states.  Last Sunday we invited the family from our service project to church and they came.  This Sunday, they came back!  It was a happy moment when we all saw them this morning. God new what he was doing when he gave us that family this trip. I hope they continue to go to church even after we leave. After church we had a free afternoon.  For me, it was a relaxing afternoon and for others it was a shopping spree! Tonight we took an hour boat ride along the river.  As soon as we arrived to the boat it started storming.  Can't say that I didn't enjoy the rain because it made it feel amazing outside! It was extremely hot but the rain cooled it off.  We had finally escaped the heat for a little bit. Even though it stormed, it was a fun time to be with everyone one last night! I will miss Cambodia and all the loving, beautiful people. I will also miss our wonderful group that we have made into a family. It was a great experience and feel so blessed to have been able to come to this beautiful country.



Mission to Cambodia: A country that has changed me

ErinPettepherSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
from Erin Pettepher, Nursing student

Cambodia. A small country in Southeast Asia. A country that has changed me.

The first time I came to Cambodia, I knew that I was being offered a life-altering trip. I was traveling alone for the first time, well, really I guess just without my parents. I was investing in a new culture. I was seeing devastating poverty with my own two eyes. I was learning what true joy looks like. And greatest of all, I was trying to share the same love with others that Jesus has for me.

Click on photos to enlarge

Click on photos to enlarge

Little did I know that two years later I would be attending a wedding as a bridesmaid for one of my very best friends. A friendship that blossomed over a friendly smile and a broken conversation due to poor translation.

My best friend's name is Chhay, and today I had the honor to stand beside him and his beautiful wife, Dany, to celebrate God's faithfulness as they joined their lives together. Today was filled with great happiness and celebration.


Mission to Cambodia: Travel Day

JordynWestfallSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
from Jordyn Westfall, Nursing student

Click on photos to enlarge

Click on photos to enlarge

Friday was a traveling day for us. We had a relaxing breakfast by the pool at our hotel in Battambang, then hopped on the bus for the five hour drive back to Phnom Penh. On the way we were able to stop and get Cambodian potato chips, which we all loved.

Once in Phnom Penh we had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Anise (the air conditioned room won us over).Camb2014y

We took advantage of our free time after dinner and a few people got massages and pedicures while others relaxed and unpacked. We are all happy to be back at Golden Gate Hotel for a few more days.


Mission to Cambodia: at Angkor Watt

LibbyFranckSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
from Libby Franck, Nursing student

Cambodia2014-34Today, we all woke up at 4 am in order to go see the sunrise at Angkor Watt, the famous temple. We all arrived just as the sun was coming up and were greeted with an incredible sunrise, something really worth getting up for. After the sunrise was over we ventured into the actual temple to look around at all of the beautiful architecture and layout of Angkor Watt. I was really amazed at the size of the temple and of the thought that must have gone into the layout prior to laying the first stone. Cambodia2014-35After Angkor Watt, we went to a different series of temples, all similar yet very different than Angkor. I felt endlessly impressed and taken aback to the beauty and effort that was put forth while building these temples. I only wish that they had been preserved better by the people.


Mission to Cambodia: A Big Day

PatrickHaltomSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
Patrick Haltom, Nursing student

Some days are bigger than others. Yesterday was a big day.

Some of the group on their Bamboo Train platform.  Click on photos to enlarge.

Some of the group on their Bamboo Train platform. Click on photos to enlarge.

We began the day working with a rural community outside of Battambang, preforming skits on hand washing and the dangers of smoking. Afterwards, we toured Handa and World Mate hospital and clinic facilities where we sang hymns with some of the staff and patients. Some of us even had the opportunity to give blood, a service much needed in Cambodia. As we left the doors of the hospital, our schedule did not slow down. We then went directly to the Bamboo Train, a tourist attraction in Battambang, and this is where I want to spend most of my time writing.

Last year on the trip, I met a young man named "P." I'm not sure how to spell his name, but I know that it is pronounced like the letter. P and I got pretty close in the short time we spent together at his village, which is a 15 minute stop on the train for tourists to buy handmade Cambodian goods and snacks. Last year P gave me a tour of his home and of the brick-making factory where his family worked. This year I was so excited to return and see P, hoping that he would remember me out of all of the white, American tourists he sees yearly.


Mission to Cambodia: Second Wednesday

KathrynNicholsSmallMission to Cambodia 2014
from Kathryn Nichols, Nursing student

On Wednesday we took a van to a village 2 hours outside of Bottambong. We drive an hour on a paved road and an hour on an incredibly bumpy dirt road. When we finally got to the village all of the people were very excited to see us. The people there knew little about basic hygiene so we taught them about hand washing and why it is important. We also did blood pressures and prayed with some of the adults that were feeling sick. It was an exciting experience being in a Cambodian village. We got a chance to really love on all of the people there. We played duck, duck, goose and a couple other games with the children and they loved it. In the afternoon we went to a bible study and midweek service with a local Church of Christ. It still amazes me how happy and welcoming everyone is here. They are always smiling and excited to see you.