Recently in College of Health and Human Services Category

Thumbnail image for phikappaph_260pxi.jpgPhi Kappa Phi, the oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society in the nation, honored its IUP chapter as a "Chapter of Excellence" in November.

Now, IUP junior, senior, and graduate students in the top 10 percent of their classes have the chance to join this most excellent chapter.

The honor society recently sent membership invitations to 430 undergraduate students and 557 graduate students, mailing the invitations to the students' home addresses on record with the university.

The IUP chapter will have two initiation ceremonies: March 28 for undergraduate students and April 3 for graduate students. Both ceremonies will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Blue Room, Sutton Hall.

Students may accept the invitation to join by mailing in a form or completing one on the web and should indicate whether they will attend the ceremony -- for undergraduates, the deadline is March 7; for graduate students, March 13.

"We really hope that all invited students respond to this invitation -- it's a wonderful opportunity for students to be part of a national network of scholars," said Professor Dennis Giever, IUP chapter president.

In addition, he notes that "Phi Kappa Phi has more than $700,000 in scholarships and graduate fellowships for its members nationally, and several IUP students have been selected for these awards since IUP's chapter was chartered in 1993."

He asks that faculty encourage invited students to reply. "We know that students get inundated with information and mailings, but this is something that can be of great benefit to them, especially if they have an interest in scholarships or graduate fellowships."

Check your mail. You are already a winner! 

IUP Students Living-In and Saving Lives

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IFA IUP Award 02_260px.jpgOn October 20, 2011, three IUP student members of the Indiana Fire Association helped to rescue and save a man from an apartment fire.

Then, W. Travis Burket, Simeon Logan, and Matthew Reynolds got back onto the fire engine and went home.

The three students--along with fellow firefighters Michael Santos and Benjamin Harley, who were also part of that rescue operation--are live-in members of the Indiana Fire Association.

According to Bill Simmons, IFA president, in the 1970s, there were 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the nation; today, there are 50,000.

"We knew we needed to be innovative if we wanted to keep up our ranks," Simmons said. "So, we approached IUP's Safety Sciences Department to see if their students would want to be part of our program."

Today, 16 of the 70 members of the association are IUP students, and six are part of the live-in program. The bedrooms for the students are at the Indiana Fire Association-West substation, along Indian Springs Road. To be eligible for the program, applicants must be employed full-time in the Indiana or White Township area or be part-time or full-time students at IUP. Students must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average. They can live at the substation for four years.

On December 15, 2011, the team was recognized with a resolution of commendation from the IUP Council of Trustees, along with much applause and pride from members of the Indiana Fire Association in attendance, including Simmons and IFA chief Chuck Kelly.

(Pictured, from left, are Simeon Logan, Travis Burket, and Matthew Reynolds.)

Big Opportunities in the Big Apple for Students

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NYC1270_260px.jpgOn December 8 and 9, 2011, 75 IUP students took a bite out of the Big Apple.

For the sixth year, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Career Development Center organized a networking opportunity in New York City for Business Honors students in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology, students in the Hospitality Management program, and students in Fashion Merchandising.

Students toured businesses where IUP graduates work that are also in the students' chosen career fields. One of the businesses was Jones of New York, where designer Sarah Graby-Boris, a 2003 graduate, met with a group of Fashion Merchandising students and Eun Jin Hwang, associate professor and coordinator of the Fashion Merchandising program.

Students also had the chance to be part of a panel discussion of noteworthy alumni, including the following:

  • Kevin Carrai '86, head of Member and Connectivity Services for Direct Edge, a financial services company
  • Leland Hardy '84, a global marketing advisor for the Hennessee Group. He has served as an advisor to many sports greats, including Venus and Serena Williams and Muhammad Ali.
  • Sarah Hogue '09, a graduate of the Robert E. Cook Honors College and a senior research assistant at Datacorp, a financial services company
  • Stephanie Perry '88, managing director, Deutsche Bank
  • Derek White '82, president of Interative & Media Networks, LodgeNet Interactive, which serves the hospitality industry

Fashion merchandising students in NYC_260px.jpgIn addition to the panel discussion, students also networked at a 150-person reception with many IUP alumni, including Marla Sabo, a 1979 graduate and a Distinguished Alumni Award winner, who has held top positions at Hermes North America and Dior.

"Many of the students that attended this event are ones who want to work in urban areas and, in particular, in New York City," Mary Jo Lyttle, executive director of Alumni Relations, said. "So not only did this event offer them the opportunity to meet with IUP graduates who have been successful in New York City companies, but it also exposed them to life in the city."

There's No Place Like Home (Health Care)

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NursingSimLab111711PF34_260px.jpgOn Friday, December 9, the IUP Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions will introduce Red Yoder, Carl Shapiro, and Tamara Clark.

However, you probably won't see their biographies on the IUP website.

Red, Carl, and Tamara are residents of the new Nursing and Allied Health Professions Simulation Laboratory, located on the ground floor of IUP's Donna D. Putt Hall.

IUP will formally "cut the ribbon" for the new facility at 10:30 a.m. Friday. It will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This new simulation laboratory is designed especially to help prepare nursing students for careers in home health care. One of the areas in the laboratory is Red's "apartment," which includes a telehealth system. Telehealth allows the patient to work with a monitor at home that transmits health information to the home health care agency.

The simulation laboratory also includes training on electronic medical records.

Department chair Elizabeth (Lisa) Palmer was successful in 2010 in securing a $299,890 federal grant to create the new laboratory. She is the project director, and Julia Greenawalt, assistant chair, is co-director.

"Because of a shortage of nurses, there are an increasing number of home health care patients, especially in the rural areas, who are monitored by telehealth systems," Palmer explains. "This simulation equipment enhances undergraduate nursing education with opportunities to practice nursing care using electronic documentation and telehealth services prior to a student's on-site experiential work.

"The new simulated laboratory will advantage IUP students because a telehealth nurse must not only receive data from patients, but learn how to work with patients in the home."

The Putt lab manikins are designed with programs to mimic a rural patient with a common chronic illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, or obesity. 

During the open house, visitors will "meet" Red in his "home" at 11:00 a.m. At noon, visitors can observe a critical care situation with Carl. At 1:00 p.m., Tamara will be examined after having a baby. Then, at 2:00 p.m., Red is in need of additional care.

In addition to the simulations, tours of the new facility are available throughout the day, and visitors can also check their own blood pressure at a kiosk.

The department introduced its first simulation laboratory in 2007. This lab, in Johnson Hall, was renovated and expanded in 2009 and includes nine adult manikins, two adolescent manikins, a pediatric manikin, and other training equipment. (This lab has two hospital rooms that are so accurate in their resemblance to a real hospital setting that the lab was used by a national recording artist as the site for a music video!)

The best thing about these labs is that they are in constant use by students and faculty members. Nursing majors are initiated into use of the lab with medium-fidelity manikins in their sophomore year, and "by their senior year, our nursing students have become very skilled with hands-on care," Palmer said. In addition to the hands-on experience, the entire class has an excellent learning opportunity when it watches the simulation from the observation room.

Our nursing students continue to excel. For example, IUP's pass rate for the NCLEX, the national exam for nurses, is 96.1 percent for first-time test takers, compared to a national average of 87 percent. They also are in high demand by employers in all types of health care.

So, come congratulate them Friday and learn more about how our nation's future nurses are being trained. I think you'll breathe a little easier, thinking about your health care future.

Accreditation Distinguishes IUP Programs

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NAYSC_Early_Childhood_Accreditation_11711D69_260px.jpgThe good news keeps coming in terms of continued accreditations for IUP's departments and programs, and for those affiliated with IUP.

Most recently, the Indiana County Child Day Care Program, which serves as the laboratory for students in IUP's Child Development and Family Relations Program, was re-accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Earlier this month, the dietetics track in the Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition program in the Department of Food and Nutrition was recognized with full, continued accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.

In September, the IUP Counseling Center was notified of its reaccreditation by the International Association of Counseling Services Inc., an organization of American, Canadian, and Australian counseling agencies.

In August, the Computer Science Department's degree program in Computer Science/Languages and Systems Track was recognized with accreditation by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.

In April, the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology was notified of its continued accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

And, IUP as an institution holds accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Truly, the list goes on and on, with some fifty programs on the list compiled by the Division of Academic Affairs.

So, what does this mean to the faculty, students, and parents? That IUP programs are not stagnant, for one thing. Departments must continue to be accountable for standards and outcomes, or they are at risk of losing their accreditation.

Second, that the university's programs are designed to meet standards to help students be competitive when they graduate, as programs with accreditation are expected to measure how well students are learning. 

And finally, accreditation means that a university has passed the test of independent reviewers. It's great to see that IUP and its programs are "A" students.

Accreditation. Don't go to a university without it!

Lack of Motivation? Maybe It's Really Immobilization

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iStock_000005688706XSmall_2.jpgIUP's Nursing and Allied Health programs are known to be VERY challenging.

They take a very limited number of students, and students must have a high grade-point average to be accepted. There are very intensive practicums and internships in addition to classroom study.

Frankly, I'm completely okay with that. If one of these students is, someday, somewhere, going to be at the control of my ventilator or dosing out my meds, I WANT the program to be hard. I don't want these students to be "good enough." I want them to be excellent.

So, that said, there is a shortage of nurses, not just in Pennsylvania, but in the nation. Some of our nursing students have a great potential to be amazing nurses, but they may be struggling in a course. Wash them out? Not so fast, Susan Poorman, Nursing and Allied Health faculty member, says.

Educators need to rethink attitudes about struggling students.

"As educators, we often believe that struggling students are not really motivated. They don't care about learning; they don't come to the teacher for help or attend test reviews. But one thing we have learned from listening to our students' stories is that, often, they are not unconcerned but are immobilized. They just don't know what to do to fix the problem," Dr. Poorman wrote in a recent issue of Nursing Education Perspectives.

"Knowing this, I do not wait for students to come to me. I try to reach out to them. I send them e-mails to make appointments for special study sessions, to help them prepare for upcoming exams. When I am able to empower students to believe that they can attack their academic problems and successfully resolve them, it is a magical and uplifting experience."

Hoping to understand more about students who are academically at risk, Dr. Poorman and colleagues then conducted studies on the experiences of students who struggle academically and the experiences of teachers who work with these students.

They found that, while evaluation is a challenge, it's essential when working with at-risk students.

"I have seen that sometimes, the student's struggle is greater when we, as educators, are not effective evaluators. Unfortunately, teachers are often pressed for time. We devote most of our time to preparing for class, which leaves little time to prepare high-quality assessments of learning."

Promising work for struggling students and, certainly, promising news for the needs of the health care industry.

Dr. Poorman is just one example of IUP's outstanding faculty members, who truly go the extra mile to help students succeed. She is among the inaugural fellows in the National League for Nursing and owns a small educational consulting firm, STAT Nursing Consultants, Inc., which employs five master's and doctorally prepared nurse educators. The group helps students to reduce their anxiety and enhance their thinking skills on tests. She also has served as the advisor to IUP's chapter of the Student Nurses' Association of Pennsylvania.

Borrowed Babies, Revisited

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Home Economics House 1953.jpgI was delighted to receive this photo from Theresa McDevitt, a Libraries faculty member, a few weeks ago. She sent it as a homecoming greeting, but she also knows that in 1995 I wrote a story for IUP Magazine about the Home Management House.

The story was called "Borrowed Babies," and you can read it, thanks to an effort by the Libraries'  Special Collections and Archives Department. Harrison Wick and colleagues have made a decent effort to scan IUP publications of the past and make them accessible through

But, you probably chose to open this post because of its title, so let me explain. From the early 1910s to the 1960s, Home Economics majors at IUP had a semester-long immersion experience in Home Management House, which was located on a street that no long exists near Cogswell Hall. In addition to keeping the house in operation in the spirit of any modern-day domestic engineer, the students also cared for a baby lent to them by a nearby orphanage. Hence, the reference in the photo to Rodger--the baby who resided in Home Management House in fall, 1953 (Rodger says, "It's time for a change. Beat California"). After the story ran in the magazine, we received many letters to the editor from alumnae who had nothing but wonderful things to say about the experience, who wondered what had happened to the babies they cared for, and who wanted to share their memories with others. Still, isn't it difficult to believe?

Fast forward to 2011, and we all know things are quite different today. We no longer have a Home Economics Education major, per se, but instead several majors entailing Family and Child Studies and Family and Consumer Sciences Education, both housed in the Human Development and Environmental Studies Department. All you have to do is take a look at that website to know we focus on modern issues, employ modern techniques, and that we're a long way from Home Management House.

The Golden Rule in the Workplace? Really?

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Jan Wachter teaching graduate safety sciences classOkay, back again, talking about one of my favorite professors and programs.

Jan Watcher, associate professor of Safety Sciences, who is currently researching how management needs to engage workers if they want them to follow safety guidelines, is a busy guy.

In addition to this work, a full load of classes, and advising students, one of his articles was selected for one of the most prestigious national safety journals, Professional Safety. His article is titled "Ethics--the Absurd Yet Preferred Approach to Safety Management."

Any academic article that has the word "absurd" in it captures my attention.

As I've noted in a previous post, Dr. Watcher is a very articulate, well-rounded guy, who puts doing the right thing first. So I guess I'm not surprised by his topic. He is trying to tell management that yes, "the Golden Rule" (you know, we learned it in Sunday school, "Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You" ) can be used as the basis for developing and implementing safety programs in the workplace without negatively affecting the bottom line.

 But Dr. Watcher goes a step further. He puts this responsibility on the safety professional. "Safety professionals need to have the moral courage to embrace ethical, not just regulatory, standards," he says.

Let's face it. Big companies are not always known for caring about the "little guy," and sometimes, Dr. Watcher says, unethical managers try to enlist safety professionals as advocates for cutting corners when it comes to safety. If this happens, he says, safety professionals need to stand their ground and show their bosses how safety programs based on the more ethical basis of doing the right thing is a better and sustaining basis for managing safety programs in the long run.

I really liked this particular idea from the article: Laws and regulations are all about what people CAN'T  do, but ethics are about what people (and companies) SHOULD do.

Or, more simply put, ethics are about doing the right thing.

Dr. Wachter supports a "safety management systems approach" in the workplace: that is, recognizing the unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, and accidents are all symptoms of problems in the organizational management system. Safety should not be a "sunk cost," but an integral function of doing business, just like quality.

But why would management adopt this approach, especially in light of challenging economic times?

"Perhaps the greatest economic reason to support an ethics-based approach to safety management within a capitalistic system is that prosperity generates an environment where continuing improvement and reduced risk are affordable," Dr. Wachter says.

Pretty smart thinking.

But Dr. Watcher is a pretty smart guy. Here's his professional training: a bachelor's degree in biology, master's degree in environmental health, Master of Business Administration, a doctoral degree in hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and a Master of Applied Theology from Wheeling Jesuit University. Before his academic career, he was employed by Fortune 100 companies and the federal government as an environmental safety and health administrator and researcher. His safety science accreditations include certified safety professional, certified industrial hygienist, certified hazardous materials manager, certified quality engineer, and certified reliability engineer.

I really like the idea of a Dr. Jan Wachter training the next generation of safety professionals. I feel a lot safer already!

I keep coming back to the IUP Criminology Department for feature stories and experts.

First of all, these professors are so accessible. They are busy teachers and researchers, but they are willing to talk with me and to talk with the media when reporters have questions about current issues in criminology.

Second, the work they do is just plain interesting. They ask questions that I might never have thought to ask, and these studies almost always have relevance to reporters and writers.

Jennifer RobertsCriminology professor Jennifer Roberts (who recently was promoted to the rank of professor--congratulations, Dr. Roberts!) did research with one of her doctoral students, Laura King, to try and determine if hometown types have an impact on how people think about rape. She surveyed a sample of IUP undergraduate and graduate students for her study.

You'd think that urbanites, who probably have more exposure to news about crimes like sexual assault, would have a different opinion about these crimes than people from small towns, where the crime rate is lower and there are fewer media reports on sexual assault.

Not so, they found. It's not about the hometown, but it is about gender. Men were still more likely to accept rape myths than women.

Dr. Roberts and Ms. King's "Traditional Gender Role and Rape Myth Acceptance: From the Countryside to the Big City" was published in the 2011 Women and Criminal Justice Journal, showing that hometowns have little to do with the acceptance of "rape myths." Rape myths are stereotypical beliefs about rape.

Dr. Roberts and Ms. King explain that rape myths traditionally blame the victim, excuse the perpetrator, and minimize the severity of the attack based on a number of situational and background characteristics.

Okay. Interesting, but it begs the question: Why does this study matter to the media (which means you and me)?

Here's why: Accepting these myths influences how survivors are treated AND contributes to the underreporting of this crime, Dr. Roberts says.

That's the big headline for this story.

But there is some good news in this research to add to the headline. The overall rape myth acceptance within the pool of students she surveyed was lower than in similar studies conducted decades ago.

There is still much more to be done, Dr. Roberts stresses. Unfortunately, the acceptance of rape myth is still prevalent enough to warrant additional attention through things such as educational programs focusing on myths about rape and dating violence.

Safety Protocols Everywhere, and No One Paying Attention?

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Jan Wachter teaching Safety Sciences classI don't really think much about safety in the workplace. Maybe because the most dangerous thing that could happen to me in my third-floor office in Sutton is that I get overly caffeinated (I love coffee and have my own personal Keurig).

But thankfully for people at job sites that have dangerous chemicals and machinery, there are people who do think very strategically about workplace safety.

I really enjoyed a recent meeting with Jan Wachter, associate professor of Safety Sciences. Dr. Wachter has a very diverse past, including study at a theological seminary. He's not your typical safety professional, but he's incredibly knowledgeable and has extensive experience in many different work sites. What intrigued me about his current work was that he was looking at safety from the perspective of the worker, not management.

Dr. Wachter got a $90,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation to study "worker engagement" in the safety process.

WAIT! Don't click away just yet. I promise, it's interesting.

Here's what that means. If workers have an accident, even if it's because of a mistake that they make, it might not really be their fault, Dr. Watcher argues. It might be that they just aren't buying into safety protocols and guidelines.

So the fault, dear reader, is not in their stars, but with management.

Here's what he says: "While human error has been associated with the majority of incidents in the workplace, motivation and worker engagement may be the keys to human-error reduction."

Dr. Wachter hopes that the outcomes of this research, once instituted in the workplace, could reduce lost workdays due to accidents by 20 percent.

The key difference in this study, as opposed to other research on safety in the workplace, is that Dr. Wachter will investigate how well--or how poorly--workers are engaged, or buying into, a shared accountability for identifying at-risk situations and responding to them.

There's more about Dr.Wachter on the Research at IUP website, and I encourage you to stay tuned. I expect some very out-of-the-ordinary results from his research.

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