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Recent News

Each year more than 2 million people are hospitalized after suffering a very serious injury resulting from car crashes, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian incidents, along with people who have been shot or stabbed. According to Ken Ruggiero, Ph.D., national estimates show that 20 to 40 percent of that population develops significant symptoms of PTSD and depression in the first year after their injury.

Ruggiero is the director of MUSC's Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program (TRRP) and a professor in the College of Nursing. Tatiana Davidson, PhD, also on the College of Nursing faculty, is TRRP’s Co-Director. TRRP is designed to catch trauma patients early and screen them for PTSD and depression. The TRRP team focuses on patients still in the hospital who have experienced a traumatic injury to educate them about emotional recovery after traumatic injury and tell them about the program. If the patient agrees, they will receive a follow-up phone screen for PTSD and depression one month after they’ve been discharged. Patients who screen positive are offered formal treatment. Patients use iPads, computers, smartphones, or other electronic devices to connect them with PTSD specialists while recovering in their home. (The program supplies iPads to people who need them.)

Launched in September of 2015, the College of Nursing led program has grown significantly and their innovative, scalable approach to addressing patients’ mental health needs after traumatic injury has been getting increased attention. The TRRP team has made quite an impact in SC.

In its second year, TRRP has approached and educated around 500 patients at an MUSC Health hospital, with 282 of those patients completing a 30-day mental health screen over the phone, which led to 106 recommendations to connect to a mental health provider.

Data from the 30-day telephone screens suggested a high prevalence of PTSD and depression. Although the team did not see meaningful differences by age group, they did see differences in risk for PTSD and depression by race and gender. Women were more likely than men to screen positive for PTSD or depression at the 30-day phone call, and African Americans were more likely than white patients to screen positive. Most patients who screened positive for PTSD and/or depression during the 30-day screen accepted recommendations for assessment and treatment (34 percent of patients declined assessment and treatment services).

Ruggiero, who is also the co-director of the Technology Applications Center for Healthful Lifestyles (TACHL), estimates that in the program's first two years, the team has served more than 1,000 patients who would not have received any mental health services under the old model. "Although we view this as a success, we also view it as only the first step in the process. The next step is to expand the program and explore how to adapt and implement it in other trauma centers across South Carolina," he said.

In July, TRRP secured a three-year award from the Duke Endowment grant to expand the program across the state. With support and partnership from the MUSC Health Center for Telehealth, the program will include three other trauma centers in South Carolina. Its first two partners will be Palmetto Health and Trident Medical Center.

Colleagues at TACHL are currently testing a tablet-based patient portal that can be used at MUSC and our partnering trauma centers that will dramatically increase the efficiency of the program and reduce staff burden.

Olivia Eilers, program coordinator for TRRP, said it’s important for trauma survivors and their loved ones to know what to expect emotionally after an injury. “We see a lot of patients who aren’t prepared for the emotional trauma because the focus is so much on healing physically," she said. "Emotional health is just as important. As a community, we need to keep working to reduce stigma around mental health by providing the right resources and continually letting people know it’s ok to ask for help.”



The MUSC College of Nursing has received the American Association of Colleges (AACN) Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award that recognizes the outstanding work of AACN member schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change. 

The College of Nursing was recognized for its innovative approach to interprofessional education through its Virtual Interprofessional Learning (VIP), an innovative asynchronous platform utilizing Avatars to engage learners in interprofessional (IP) learning opportunities across disciplines, universities, and geographies. In 2014, with the support of a grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. the college created VIP as an online interactive learning experience to increase students’ IP engagement, knowledge of patient quality and safety, and IP communication.

During the Academic Nursing Leadership Conference, only three schools in the U.S. were honored with the Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award in the following categories.

  • Small School/Liberal Arts Schools - St. Mary's College
  • Academic Health Center (AHC) - MUSC College of Nursing
  • Public School without an AHC - Mennonite College of Nursing (Illinois State University)

“We were thrilled to receive this award from the AACN that recognizes our faculty and staff's hard work and dedication to develop and implement an innovative interprofessional program that will educate and engage our future health care professionals," said Gail W. Stuart, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing.

The award, including a monetary prize of $1,000, was presented on Oct. 28 at the AACN leadership conference in Washington, D.C.



The Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing has received a $1.6 million, four-year grant to help educate psychiatric/mental health nursing students through the federal government’s new Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training 

(BHWET) Program. Awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), this grant will help integrate behavioral health assessments and treatment into primary care settings, as well as increase placements and provide interprofessional training in collaborative practice for students, faculty, and preceptors (field placement supervisors).

More than half of mental illness cases are never formally diagnosed, therefore, go untreated. All over the nation, mental health providers are currently overwhelmed in primary care settings and emergency rooms. In South Carolina, there are around 3,200 certified nurse practitioners, but less than 60 of them are psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners in a state of 4 million people.

“Some patients who seek treatment in primary care settings may show symptoms related to mental health or psychiatric illnesses; however, some practitioners may lack the expertise and experience to treat those patients effectively,” said Cathy Durham, DNP, FNP, director of the DNP program. “This grant allows us to focus on developing and expanding the behavioral health workforce by serving the medically underserved areas including rural areas where an emergency room may be their only point of contact.”

This funding will support students who are earning their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and enrolled in the college’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialty track, thus increasing the number of psychiatric/mental health providers servicing the tri-county region, especially in rural and medically underserved populations. The BHWET project will provide stipends to psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner students who complete their field placement and pursue employment in a rural, vulnerable, and/or medically underserved area.




A kickoff event for the Charleston Medical District Greenwat will be held Nov. 20 to help MUSC, the City of Charleston, Roper Hospital, and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center celebrate the launch of Phase I of the Charleston Medical District Greenway.

Prior to the event you will begin to see some major changes to Doughty St. As of Monday, Nov. 6, Earhardt Street extending to the intersection of President and Jonathan Lucas Streets (in front of the Public Safety building) will close forever to vehicular traffic, thus launching a new era of use for this space in the heart of the Charleston Medical District.

At this time, we ask that you please be mindful of changing pedestrian patterns as the road is painted green, as electric signage indicating new travel routes for vehicles is placed near the space (Nov. 3) and trees and furniture are delivered and placed (beginning Nov. 10).

For more information about the long-term planning efforts involving this part of campus and the entire Charleston Medical District, please watch this video



Teresa Stephens, PhD, MSN, RN, associate professor, is hosting a museum exhibit in Johnson City, TN at the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) related to her work with Holocaust survivors. “Deadly Medicine,” a traveling exhibit produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will be at ETSU through Sep. 28. 

Stephens’ ongoing research on resilience led to the exhibit coming to ETSU. Stephens, who recently joined the College in Nursing and is a former ETSU faculty member, studies individuals and populations who have experienced extreme forms of trauma and survived. The aim of her research is to help health care students and professionals, as well as patients and others, learn ways they can be more resilient and better cope with stressful or traumatic situations.

To read more about her exhibition visit Johnson City Press or ETSU.


Forty-seven RN to BSN students graduated on Aug. 15 at the 2017 Pinning Ceremony. In one year, these graduates earned a degree that will allow them to potentially broaden their career opportunities. More than half of the class are nurses at MUSC Health. 

Jaclyn Arold, who graduated with honors, was selected to address her graduating class. A graduate of Trident Technical College where she earned an associates degree in nursing, Arold’s journey included many roles and experiences from unit secretary to student nurse to what she hopes to be charge nurse one day. Arold is a member of the American Nursing Association, and has served as vice president of the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society at Trident Tech. In addition, Steven Bruening, First Honor Graduate, and Charles Garred, Second Honor Graduate, were recognized for their outstanding academic performance.

Jaclyn Arold after presenting her remarks to her graduating class.

The College of Nursing has received more than $5.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and use technology-based solutions to address a couple of today’s health care challenges. Two research projects, led by Professors Ken Ruggiero, PhD, and Frank Treiber, PhD, were federally funded to help mental health providers and the heart health of African-Americans.

More than $3.1 million was awarded to Ruggiero for his grant titled, “Improving quality of care in child mental health service settings,” to support mental health providers with interventions that will ensure that children and families receive the best quality care using mobile technology applications to increase engagement between the provider and child. Studies in child education show that interactive games, touch-screen learning, and demonstration videos enhance engagement, knowledge, motivation, and learning.

According to Ruggiero, nearly nine million children in the U.S. meet criteria for at least one mental health disorder at any point in time. Effective treatments exist for these disorders; however, children and families who seek these services rarely receive them. Mental health providers need more support in the delivery of these interventions to ensure that children and families receive the best quality care.

This project will take an important step toward addressing these challenges by testing a novel, technology-based solution designed to improve the delivery of child mental health interventions in real-world community settings.

Additionally, Treiber, who holds the endowed chair in the Center for Economics, was awarded more than $2.4 million from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study medication adherence by African-Americans with uncontrolled hypertension.

Treiber’s research represents an innovative, qualitative and quantitative approach aimed at testing and further optimizing a mobile health technology blood pressure and medication adherence monitoring program interfaced with a smart phone application for improving medication adherence and blood pressure control among African-Americans with uncontrolled hypertension.

Efforts to improve the effectiveness of patients with hypertension to following prescribed medication recommendations have been met with limited success. This research will test and refine a smart phone medication adherence program which includes automated reminders from an electronic medication tray, tailored text message/voice mail motivational feedback and reinforcement, automated summaries and direct alerts to providers.



Professor Ken Ruggiero, PhD, has been selected to receive the MUSC Foundation’s inaugural Population Health Award. This award recognizes and honors faculty who have made outstanding contributions that impact the health of a population or community through innovative technology, implementation of therapeutics, programs, informatics, or similar contributions. Ruggiero was chosen for this first-time award along with Andesaw Selassie, DrPH. 

Ruggiero is the co-director of the Technology Applications Center for Healthful Lifestyles (TACHL), as well as director of the Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program and has been with the College of Nursing since 2014. His research centers on the development and evaluation of technology-based interventions specifically stepped care approaches for victims of disaster and serious injury.

In partnership with the American Red Cross, Ruggiero is the principal investigator on a research grant from the National Institute of Health to conduct a randomized controlled trial of a stepped-care smartphone-based intervention for disaster survivors. He also is a co-PI on a Duke Endowment grant to adapt and implement the Telehealth Resilience and Recovery Program in three partnering trauma centers across South Carolina. 

The second line of Ruggiero’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of tablet-based resources to improve the quality of care in child mental health treatment. This work aims specifically to improve child engagement and provider fidelity in the delivery of best practices. 

Throughout his career, he has led five NIH grants, four grants from the Veterans Affairs grants, and five from the Department of Homeland Securities. He also has served as a co-investigator on numerous grants funded by the U. S. Department of Defense, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

He received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his masters and doctoral degrees from West Virginia University. Additionally, he completed an internship and National Institute of Mental Health postdoc at MUSC. 

This award, along with other faculty awards, will be presented at Faculty Convocation on August 22.


The Office of Academics at the College of Nursing has been awarded funding for the Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program for 2017-18. Eligible students include PhD and post-MSN DNP students who are currently in their second year of study. Eligible students will receive an email with the application on July 14. 

Additionally, the Office of Academics has been awarded funding for the HRSA Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program for 2017-18. Eligible students include post-BSN DNP and post-BSN MSN students in the A/GNP, FNP, and PNP primary care nurse practitioner tracks. Eligible students will receive an email with the application on July 14. This program provides up to two years of funding to full-time students and one year of funding for the last year of part-time students plan of study.

If you have not received an email on July 14 by 9 a.m. but feel that you are eligible for either award please contact Carolyn Page at

The application process will only be open from 9:00 a.m. Friday, July 14 through 12 p.m. (noon) Monday, July 17. Applications are evaluated for completeness and timestamped, so submit your application as soon as possible.



Professor Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, has been unanimously selected to receive the 2017 Peggy Schachte Research Mentor Award. This award has recognized individuals at MUSC who have excelled in mentoring faculty in obtaining research support from private and public organizations or government agencies. The award targets a faculty mentor or other colleague who encourages and supports the advancement of others as successful, extramurally funded investigators. 
For more than 20 years, Kelechi has excelled as a nurse scientist, nurse educator and a mentor since joining MUSC in 1987. As the David and Margaret Clare Endowed Chair, Kelechi’s primary research focus is venous leg ulcer (VLU) prevention. She’s involved in not one but two studies that can help patients who suffer from leg ulcers and are in many cases underserved, and in most cases, depressed, and in great need of effective, low-cost interventions. 
Her VLU prevention research has resulted in an evidence-based, self-monitoring model using infrared technology to detect elevated skin temperature of the lower leg, a precursor to VLU development. She also is testing a self-management intervention in which a cooling cuff is placed around the lower leg to determine the efficacy of its VLU prevention when the temperature is elevated. She has received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research for this study, as well as for a study of a wound powder applied to various types of wounds that develop at the end of life. 
Kelechi, a certified wound care nurse, practices in a residential care facility, where she provides foot care and geriatric consultation. Her education includes a BSN from Kent State University, an MSN in gerontological nursing from Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. in nursing from MUSC.
This award, along with other faculty awards, will be presented at Faculty Convocation on August 22.  
The Peggy Schachte Research Mentor Award was established in 2012 by an endowment from the College of Medicine in honor of Margaret P. (Peggy) Schachte, MBA, who founded and served as director of the MUSC Office of Research Development from 1993 to 2009, and played a major role in initiating and championing research mentorship activities at MUSC.
Nov 2017