All posts by Adrian Greer

Military/Veterans Meet & Greet

The Office of Military & Veterans Services will host a Military/Veterans Meet & Greet Drop-in on Tuesday, Sept. 30, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom. Representatives from the Augusta Warrior Project, VA Health, SCORE, Student Veterans Association, Veterans Curation Project, Military Science Department, Reese Library, the Counseling Center, Women Veterans of the CSRA, and the VET Center will be on hand to talk to students about their organizations and services. Refreshments will be served. All faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to attend and meet our military and veteran students.

Be a key part of the QEP process through your ideas

Do you have a great idea to enhance student learning and experiential learning? If so, you could have the foundations for the next Quality Enhancement Plan, and you are invited to submit your proposal.

“We are hoping that we have as diverse involvement in this process as we had with the theme submission process” Cathy Tugmon, QEP Project co-leader, said. “Just as with the themes, anyone who is a stakeholder in GRU is invited to submit proposals — this includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”

But you should review the process and understand a little more about Quality Enhancement Plans, before you start. To find out more about experiential learning and the three subthemes, visit

“The committee is here to help you as you prepare to submit a proposal,” Tugmon said. “Our names and email addresses are on the QEP website, please feel free to contact us. The QEP website has resources on experiential learning, leadership, research and scholarship, and community engagement to assist with the proposal process and to spark ideas.”

The team wants the process to be a collaborative discussion which you can join by leaving your feedback on the website.

“Please feel free to use the resources available or add to them as you find new ones,” she said. “I know each and every one of you have some great ideas, that if developed, would impact student learning; this is your opportunity to submit that idea for potential development.”

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 3 at 11:59 p.m.

There are also three subthemes that the QEP Core Team identified, and one or more of them should be incorporated into the planning: leadership, community engagement, and research and scholarship. Also, proposals should have written and oral communication skills included in learning outcomes.

To find out more about QEP, the themes or the subthemes, visit Updated information on theme profiles and proposal guidelines will also be posted.

Two QEP workshops will be held:

  • Oct. 2, 1 to 3 p.m., Washington Hall Towers, Summerville Campus
  • Oct. 27, 11 to 1 p.m., Magnolia/ Dogwood Room at Terrace Dining, Health Sciences Campus

GRHealth is a Proud Partner in National Health IT Week

nhitweek_bannerThis September, GRHealth — as a partner in the advancement of health information technology to help improve health care —is a Proud Partner in National Health IT Week. National Health IT Week is the premier event offering all health care stakeholders an opportunity to unite under one banner, expressing the benefits that health information technology (IT) brings to U.S. health care. “One Voice, One Vision.”

Comprehensive health care reform is not possible without system-wide adoption of health information technology, which improves the quality of health care delivery, increases patient safety, decreases medical errors, and strengthens the interaction between patients and health care providers.

With Meaningful Use now providing the way forward, eligible providers across the country increasingly understand the benefits for themselves and their patients and are adopting Meaningful Use compliant electronic health records.

Initiated in 2006 by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), National Health IT Week has emerged as a landmark occasion for using health IT as part of the overall solution to improve America’s health care as a bipartisan, federally led, market driven initiative.

The Week consists of events in Washington, D.C., and across the country, including National Health IT Week participants —vendors, provider organizations, payers, pharmaceutical/biotech companies, government agencies, industry/professional associations, research foundations, and consumer protection groups— all working together to elevate national attention to the advantages of advancing health IT.

Visit for a full list of partners and updates on the Week’s activities. Working together with our growing coalition of stakeholders, GRHealth is helping to transform health care for all.

New electronic medical records training for residents showing results

As the medical field moves toward electronic medical records, the education process must also reflect that change, and GRU is in the second year of a major overhaul of the program and is excited about the early results.

“We are not only ahead of the mark, but we are one of the few working in the country,” Director of Clinical Transformation Annamalai Ramanathan said. “It is a key piece of being a doctor today, and it is helping even patients get more involved.”

Overall this year, the program has focused on the 141 incoming residents, to prepare them to work, and 153 third-year medical students. The program uses a variety of teaching methods, from online videos and instruction to an in-person training module, according to Ramanathan.

Over the last two years, the school has “flipped the classroom,” according to Dr. David Fallaw, Associate Program Director of Internal Medicine Residency. They have developed a training curriculum that has moved the traditional lecture style training to self-paced eLearning, while preserving the classroom for interactive learning and hands-on practice.

“This allows trainees to study in advance, at their own pace, in a comfortable location, and on their device of choice,” Fallaw said. “Rather than provide a 1,000 page textbook, we have created interactive tutorials, videos, and quick reference study guides that highlight the important features of Cerner PowerChart that are integral in the clinical setting.”

After the residents have completed their online training, they are taken through multiple scenarios in a computer simulation lab that represent a day in the life for those providers.

“For example, for our incoming residents, they worked through aspects of patient evaluation, orders, and documentation for an initial clinic visit, a hospital admission, an in-hospital follow-up, and the day of discharge,” Fallaw said. “In addition, procedure and operative notes were further stressed to proceduralists, and Cerner FirstNet (our Emergency Department interface) was further expounded upon to incoming ED residents.”

So far, the program has had a lot of success. Both residents and medical students have averaged a 90 percent score after completing the training as compared to their 70 percent average on the pre-assessment. Over the next 12 months, the residents and medical students will be evaluated on their attitude/behavior toward EHR and their ability to properly use the EHR system.

“When I was a resident last year, it felt chaotic when I was first learning the system,” Resident Advisor Susan Owensby said. “But the students this year seem much more comfortable with the system.”

Other resident advisors agreed, saying they felt they had seen improvements after the training had been implemented.

Also, other colleges are starting to take notice as well.

“We even recently presented our work to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives group event, and they were asking us a lot of questions and seemed to be very excited about what we were doing,” Ramanathan said. “And that is always exciting when others are looking at your work and using that as a basis for what they want to do.”

Electronic medical records are important because they are so ingrained in the system.

“Given that providers now spend 30 to 40 percent of their day interacting with the EHR either in chart review, documentation, communication, or placing orders, it is becoming ever so important that physicians are proficient with the EHR on day 1,” Fallaw said. “We aspire to provide uniform yet specialty specific, efficient, effective, competency based, best practice EHR training to every individual that requires access to the EHR for patient care.”

Day of Service has great response

The outreach and registration by the GRU community for the Day of Service has been great so far, according to Day of Service Coordinator Karyn Nixon.

“I want to thank everyone for signing up and for making your personal time available,” Nixon said. “It is really amazing how so many are willing to give back so much.”

The Day of Service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 6, across the CSRA.

“Each year, the university and health system come together to give back to our community. This year is no different, and we are excited about the volunteer opportunities available as well as the impact our service hours will have on the organizations we serve,” said Nixon. “And to say thank you to everyone for their hard work, our Day of Service Planning Committee has a special event planned for that afternoon.”

To recognize and appreciate the many volunteers anJazz at g logod organizations, a special celebration, including barbecue, will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. on the Summerville Campus at the Maxwell Alumni House. The celebration also kicks off the “Jazz at the G” series at 6 p.m., which will be held at the D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre, featuring local jazz artists Joel Cruz with KGordon, JAMP Masters, and The Tandem. “Jazz at the G” is free and open to the public. Please invite your friends and family.


Periodontics Department set to take the next step

The Periodontics Department is excited about the future and is ready to take that next step in the world of periodontics research and training.

“We are currently developing a combined periodontics residency-PhD program and have accepted our first dentist into the new advanced-standing program, which combines accelerated clinical training with a post-doctoral fellowship,” Department Chairman Chris Cutler said. “We want to become a national and world leader in periodontics research and training.”

The Periodontics Department, of course, is also responsible for teaching the principles of periodontology to dental students. Periodontology is the study of the diseases that affect the supporting tissues of the teeth, including the gums and bone, and their treatment. For a small number of top students who seek specialty training as periodontists, the three-year residency program in periodontics prepares them to go much deeper into the theories and practice of periodontology.

“The PhD program, in addition, gives trained dentists another three to four years to go beyond the basic treatments to look at the root causes of gum disease and understand the mechanisms involved,” he said. “We want to be on the cutting edge and make breakthroughs in research and create new technology.”

The post-doctoral fellowship program is for those who already have a PhD and want to become independent investigators in an academic institution.

“We have three research facilities in the department, the National Institutes of Health-funded Molecular Immunology laboratory, the Laboratory for Applied Periodontal and Craniofacial Regeneration, and the Center for Clinical and Translational Craniofacial Research. These facilities help develop our programs and our junior faculty,” Cutler said. “We want to engage in research and allow our faculty to be able to get promoted or be granted tenure if they are on tenure track. This helps them to become leaders both here and across the nation.”

The research conducted by the Periodontics Department ties in closely with other departments across campus, as links between gum disease and many other medical conditions are becoming more apparent.

“Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pre-term labor complications, and much more,” Cutler said. “We need to work with researchers in many different areas to look at gum disease and its impacts closely, and hopefully, we can make some headway and make a difference in conditions that fall far outside the normal scope of periodontal practice.”

The insight for the new direction of the department can be attributed to former Dental College Dean Connie Drisko, according to Cutler.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Dean Drisko,” Cutler said. “She recruited me and sold me on the vision that she had for the College of Dental Medicine. This vision is shared by the new Dean, Carol Lefebvre”

“Connie had the vision to see where we wanted to be in the future and where we wanted the school to be,” he said. “And she brought in the people to make it happen, to make the college a national and world leader.”

Also, a memorial service for Connie Drisko will be held in Maxwell Theatre on the Summerville Campus at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.

GRMC adds inclement weather attendance policy

After the bad storms of the past winter and some misunderstandings about the attendance policy, a new provision has been added to clear up any future questions at Georgia Regents Medical Center.

“Due to the fact that we deliver patient care services on a 24-hour basis, we are expected to be here for the patients even in times of bad weather,” GRMC Director of Employee Relations Ashley Nix said. “Under the new policy, those who miss work during extreme weather may receive an occurrence.”

But exceptions can be made for those who are late to work due to inclement weather, according to Nix. Also, following the previous attendance policy, extreme circumstances, such as an employee’s direct involvement in an accident on the way to work, may be excused at the supervisor’s discretion.

“Those who work extra shifts during inclement weather may also be eligible for the working off occurrences incentive, as well,” she said.

Another slight change to the attendance policy is a change to the “partial absence” policy. Under the change, a worker must work at least half the shift to gain “partial absence” status.

To see the full policy, visit

For more information about the policy or questions, you can contact Medical Center Employee Relations at 706-721-7272 or 706-721-7693.

First-generation freshmen ready for challenge

College can be a daunting experience for many students coming out of high school, with changing expectations and a deluge of new responsibilities. But some first-generation college students are ready, and some of those challenges may not be so foreign.

For first-generation freshman Mary Jane Karpel, the hardships that come with being a new freshman may not be so challenging after what she has been through.

“My family ended up homeless, and I had to get a job,” she said after Freshman Convocation on Aug. 15. “My parents are currently staying at a hotel while they are trying to find work.”

She had to get a job and work through high school to help out, so she has already learned a lot about responsibility. But she said she is looking forward to starting this step in her educationand is even more excited about the step after that.

“I’m looking forward to graduating and going on to medical school,” she said. She hopes to stay in the university and attend the Medical College of Georgia after she obtains her undergraduate degree.

She says that her parents are proud of her and a little surprised.

“My parents are excited,” she said. “And they didn’t expect me to go to a university.”

Another first-generation freshman, Nichole Haibach, is excited, but the increases in responsibility are also not foreign.

“Both of my parents were in the military,” she said. “But they are excited for me going to college.”

She already has some big plans as well.

“I want to major in biology,” she said. “I hope to become a veterinarian.”

Overall, she said she has enjoyed the freshman orientation process.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” she said with a smile. “I’ve met a few people already.”

Overall, more than 160 first-generation college students will be attending GRU this fall. This group makes up about 25 percent of GRU’s incoming undergraduate freshman class.

GRU has put a focus on the first-generation students and wants to make sure their needs are met and they know the expectations that are placed on them. Several events and programs have been held during the freshman orientation process just for them.

“My parents couldn’t give me advice,” Dr. Jennifer Trunzo said while talking about her personal experiences as a first-generation freshman during a first-generation session held on Aug. 15 before Freshman Convocation. “So I had to do research on my own.”

These sessions focus on both empathizing with students and letting them know college will be a challenge but help is available to them.

The sessions often focus on where you can go for help if you need it to let them know there are many options and services available. They also discuss study basics, the importance of getting involved on campus, and how to stay involved in your college planning process.

“As first-generation students, you might have to work harder because you can’t go to mom or dad for help with everything,” Trunzo said. “But your professors are there for you. We’re not mean nasty bears, and we truly do care.”

Freshman Convocation welcomes students

It was a memorable start to their college careers as approximately 570 freshmen and their future teachers gathered in the Maxwell Theatre on Aug. 15 to say “hello.”

A bagpiper played as the faculty and administration members came into the theatre to greet the nearly capacity crowd.

“Starting college is exhilarating, and lots of us have been where you are today,” President Ricardo Azziz said. “But remember, success is up to you now; it’s your turn.”

He continued, discussing the merits of the 4 Years 4 U program and how the students will make decisions that can benefit them for years to come.

“The opportunities will come to you, if you look for them,” he said. “It’s a journey, and it will be brilliant!”

The keynote speaker for the event was Deb Barshafsky, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President in the Office of Advancement, but her talk centered around not her work on campus, but her other passion: food.

“Food is a central character in my story,” she said. “Food is identity, culture … it has meaning.”

Barshafsky went on to discuss how food influenced her life and how she viewed the world. She discussed how her mother was of German descent and how she would use food to both assimilate to American culture and, on special occasions, reference the culture she grew up in.

“As an immigrant, my mother was different, and she turned to food to make her the same,” she said. “I turned to food to make myself different. Food is a powerful communicator.”

The freshmen are part of a yearlong academic theme called “Food for Thought” that examines the impact of food on our culture, economy, health, and more.

The students then received their “Class of 2018” pins in a pinning ceremony, where they each went on stage and were given the pin. And then they placed the pins on at the same time, after they were handed out.

After the Freshman Convocation, the President’s Picnic was held and there was also an afternoon slate of events for the freshmen.

Experiential learning is principal theme for next QEP

After reviewing more than 50 theme ideas, the QEP Core Team has selected experiential learning as the principal theme to enhance student learning in a specific, measurable way.

“Most of the suggested ideas submitted either directly or indirectly dealt with experiential learning, and we believe it is a key part of the learning process,” said Cathy Tugmon, Associate Professor of Biology and Project Co-Leader. “It is vital to a student’s success, and we believe there is a lot to gain by focusing on this as our QEP theme.”

The team also wants to include three subthemes throughout the process:

  • Leadership
  • Community engagement
  • Research and scholarship

“Experiential learning can be such a wide-sweeping topic, we felt some further direction was needed,” Tugmon said. “These three subthemes strike at the heart of not only our educational focus, but also the kind of student we want to produce at GRU and our goals as an institution.”

Over the next few weeks, the team will examine each subtheme and how each relates to both experiential learning and GRU’s mission.

In September, the team will open an invitation to staff, faculty, and students to submit a detailed QEP proposal putting this theme as well as one or more of the subthemes into action.

“We are really excited about the themes’ potential, and we believe that much like the topic, it can make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Tugmon. “But we need you to be a part; we need you to think about how we can make a difference and share your ideas with us.”

To find out more about QEP, visit the Updated information on theme profiles and proposal guidelines will also be posted.