Health Sciences Newsletter

Health Science Newsletter: Summer 2019

Looking for last year’s newsletter? Visit the archive to view the Spring 2018 Health Sciences Newsletter.


Student Interns at Boston Children’s Hospital

by Erin McCoskey

Erin McCoskeyDuring the summer of 2018, I interned at Boston Children’s Hospital in the orthopedic department. The hospital is known for being No. 1 in the nation for pediatrics and is also where Dr. Lyle Micheli founded dance medicine. I shadowed, assisted and learned from some of America’s finest orthopedic doctors at both the main Boston Children’s campus and the dance-medicine-specific Micheli Center. I had the opportunity to learn from some of America’s finest orthopedic doctors.

The orthopedic department serves primarily dancers, gymnasts and ice skaters but also accepts the typical team sports patients. Many of the injuries I saw in the orthopedic department were due to tendinopathy and tendinitis, which were caused by overuse. Even the dancers and gymnasts tended to be excruciatingly tight in their hamstrings and Achilles tendons, so their bodies reacted by using incorrect muscles, resulting in injury. Among the most severe of injuries I saw were a tibial stress fracture in a 5-year-old, many L5 stress fractures (spondylolysis), concussions and infrapatellar tendon tears.

Along with clinical experience, I observed steroid injections at the Micheli Center. Despite the initial pain and discomfort the patients felt, they were quickly relieved of their pain after the injections, which was amazing. A psoas injection even saved a dancer from needing a hip replacement.

During my internship, I served as a research assistant by collecting data and taking measurements for a study on the Bridge-Enhanced ACL Repair (BEAR) method of ACL reconstruction. This research study is designed to construct a method for ACL surgery that consists of using a scaffold dipping in the patient’s own blood tissue during the surgery to lower the risk of re-tear and the body rejecting the reconstruction. I observed the new way of repairing the ACL in the operating room, assisted the doctors with the write-ups for the research study and took patient data for the study.

Being a sports medicine physician entails a great deal more than simply diagnosis and rehabilitation. Typically, athletes do not like to ask for help, and they definitely do not want to stop performing the sports that they love. Sports medicine physicians have to be the bearer of bad news to young people who love their sports and sometimes are hoping for a career in that particular craft. As an ex-dance athlete who sustained her own career-ending injury, I truly felt the pain that these patients were going through. The idea that I could do something to help young people continue their athletic careers even after being injured inspires me to earn an M.D. in Sports Medicine.


Students Serve Abroad in Ghana in 2018

by Mark Persinger

Ghana 2018 Study AbroadDuring the summer of 2018, Friends University health science students Laramie Edens, Abbey Fischer, Pearce Harris, Makayla Hollis, Jocelyn Logan, Autumn Lubbers, Elizabeth McKee, Mark Persinger, Amanda Smith and Jacob Stewart traveled abroad to Ghana. They spent two weeks volunteering at a hospital operated by Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and researching neglected tropical diseases. The students were accompanied by health science professors Dr. Prince Agbedanu and Dr. John Simmons. This trip was Friends University health science program’s first opportunity to serve abroad in Ghana. This was a unique experience because Dr. Agbedanu is from Ghana, and the university at which the students served is the same school in which Dr. Agbedanu completed his undergraduate education.

Before traveling abroad, the students completed a semester-long course about public health, language skills and cultural issues. Upon successful completion of this course, the students could participate in the experience abroad.

Ghana Study Abroad 2018 Dental ClinicWhile serving at the hospital, students completed a daily rotation of the different departments. These departments included pharmacy, records, X-ray, health insurance claims, maternity ward, public health, ER, infectious disease unit, inpatient wards, dental clinic and OR. During these rotations (which took place in the mornings), the students performed daily tasks and learned alongside current medical students and practicing physicians. In the afternoons, they traveled to the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR) where they researched neglected tropical diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever and others. They kept daily journal logs about their experiences.

For the summer of 2019, the health science service abroad will take place in Stoke-on-Trent, England. They will plan to return to Ghana in the summer of 2020.


Student Gains Medical Insights

by Daniel Yeremin

Oftentimes, society does not recognize the lasting impact — positive or negative — that medical care can have on a culture. If we take health care for granted, we inhibit its improvement and development. For a long time, I did not value medicine for what it is worth. My experience in a third world country during August of 2017 taught me to appreciate the resources we have in America; I also saw the needs that we have within our own health care system.

I was hesitant to attend a mission trip that would overlap with my first week of college since I did not want to feel behind in school. Nevertheless, I took the medical training class just in case I decided to participate in the trip. A few months later, I found myself on a plane headed toward Panama. The seven-hour drive from Panama City turned into 11 after first getting lost and then getting the van stuck in the mud. The clinic took place in Puerto Armuelles at an open-air school with a few classrooms.

My job involved calculating prescriptions for eyeglasses, nonstop walking and less than five minutes for lunch. I, however, enjoyed my job, getting to see the priceless reactions the locals had when they could finally see clearly. One woman started to cry as she gently spoke, “Azul!” only now able to see that the scrubs we were wearing had color. I saw living proof of what you can do when you invest in others.

The biggest pitfall of American medicine, perhaps, is the shortage of caregivers who care. We need medical providers who go out of their way to treat and inform patients, not clinicians trying to maximize patient output and profits. Many doctors get to spend only a few minutes with each patient. That is where students can help. While students do not yet have degrees, their impacts can be profound. Going on mission trips or volunteering at nursing homes, doctor’s offices or hospitals can change both the students and those around them as they share a message of hope.


Faculty in the Spotlight: Dr. Joseph Myers

Q: How long have you been working at Friends University?

A: I have worked at Friends University since August 2009. Before working here, my family moved into the house that previously existed at 515 S. Glenn, the same location as the new residence hall Falcon Glenn. When I was 10, my family and I moved out of the house and to the country. I was around Friends for seven years of my childhood. In 2007, my father taught three classes at Friends.

Dr Joseph MeyersQ: Do you still keep in contact with your old neighbors?

A: Some, yes. A few of them have moved away, and some have passed away. Those that are still around I have said “hello” to in the past.

Q: What do you do at Friends?

A: I tutor math, which is my favorite thing to do. I teach classes as well. Initially, I was hired to be an area coordinator for the math, science, business and technology departments for freshman- and sophomore-level adult students. After four years of working at Friends, I stopped doing this and became director of ADA services (disability services). Following this, I joined faculty senate. In recent years, I have been a co-chair for faculty senate. Starting in 2014, I developed the business analytics concentration in the Graduate School, taught its four courses, created the cyber security master’s program and initially designed nine of its courses. Jonathan Lanning and Justin Eichorn were hired to lead the program.

Q: I have noticed you take quite a few pictures around campus. What sparked this interest in photography?

A: My interest was piqued at the age of 4 when my big brother won the city coloring contest receiving a Kodak camera, and I wanted one too. I purchased my first camera from my oldest sister when I was 8. When I was 14, I spent all my money on a better camera, and when I was 15, I won a photography competition earning 1st place for my submission in the Rand McNally millennium photo contest. I used the reward money from that competition to buy a new camera and film. From age 14 until I finished my undergraduate degree, I would take pictures every day, but I took a six-month break in photography when finishing my master’s degree.

Q: What are some of the places you’ve taken pictures for?

A: I have taken pictures for the news, including some of the pro-life protests when I was a press photographer. When I came to Friends University, I did not intend to be the photography guy, but Friends University didn’t have anyone who took pictures at events for students.

Q: What caused your photography interest to take off when you were a child?

A: At age 8, my neighbor who was a student at Friends University took a picture of me outside playing on my bike while giving my brother a ride. This photo, which she enlarged and gave to me, has left a lasting impression on me and helped me decide that I would take pictures of people for free to give back to the community. I try to go to as many sports and student events as I can fit into my teaching and faculty schedule. That student at Friends planted the seed in my life that bloomed into this mission that I have now at Friends. Sadly, I do not recall who that student was, but I am thankful to her for causing that turning point in my life through her random act of kindness.

Q: Considering the level of mathematical simulations involved in your publications, how do you involve undergraduate students in a typical research project with you?

A: It is definitely not impossible for students to do research, either with me or on their own, at their level. Since I am a teacher, my job is to encourage students to have and develop their ideas and to realize that even what one has just learned can be applied immediately. My favorite story about the power of ideas is from an old Kansas Reader, explaining how ice-cream cones were invented. The story is titled “It’s Ideas that Count.” That is really true! Research is simply critical thinking and healthy curiosity melted together and enriched by education into a beautiful combination, like a new S’mores Frappuccino at Starbucks.

My personal life in research began when I was a teenager in college learning about regression. I could see from the drawing on the whiteboard that there is a fundamental flaw lurking under the surface of least squares designs. Rather than trying to hide the flaw from us, the teacher actually hoped we would notice it! The distance to the line is not minimized but rather the separation between Y-coordinates, which, depending on the slope, can be infinitely different from the actual separation between the point and the regression line. Regular regression is founded on the assumption that the distance to the regression line is approximately the same as the distance between the Y-coordinates of the line and the data points. However, this is circular reasoning because one doesn’t know if this assumption is true unless he/she knows the regression line already which he/she hasn’t yet calculated, which can lead to devastating numerical instability and even inaccuracy! Disappointed by this issue and remembering the constraint that the line passes through the mean, a simple Calculus I equation suddenly crystallized in my mind, which became my first successfully-solved mathematical research problem. Later in college, I discovered that this more stable and numerically accurate method is actually a real research area called orthogonal regression, and I am so thankful for my teacher who encouraged everyone to be critical thinkers.

All students are welcome to work with me on research problems of their own interests in the endless fruitful fields of applied mathematical sciences. I recently advised students in two research projects — big-data modeling of current expected credit loss (CECL) for banking and predictive analytics of events for criminal justice.

Q: What skills do you believe future researchers need to understand?

First, it is critical to understand that everything offered by a liberal arts education is vital — English, art, all of it. Research is the product of all these factors, and as a mathematician knows, if one factor is zero, the product is also zero. Then, competency in computer programming and mastery of math in real-world applications are two skills that empower today’s critical thinkers and problem solvers.

One of my passions is helping students realize how easy it is to both discover and publish worthwhile scholarly materials in this amazing age of the internet, and it is my dream for my students to become so successful that one day they will be teaching me.


Friends Student Attends Medical School Open House

by Amanda Smith

In the fall of 2018, I visited the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita and Kansas City. During one of my visits, a representative spoke about admissions, financial aid, the ACE curriculum and other pertinent information. I learned that since I am a Kansas resident, I would automatically receive an interview with a GPA above a 3.20 and an MCAT score greater than 500. Kansas residents that receive interviews have a 50 percent chance of matriculation. This news will help me remain calm during the application and interview process next year. The admissions representative also discussed the possible ways to combat expensive tuition, including through the military, the rural health program and the specific program (for prospective students in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine and others). Recently, the University of Kansas School of Medicine implemented a new education system called the ACE curriculum, which teaches physicians how to apply their knowledge. Visiting these two schools has made me excited to graduate college and begin my new chapter in medicine.


Friends Student Participates in Scholars in Rural Health Program

Friends University’s very own Mark Persinger, a junior majoring in health science, was accepted into the Scholars in Rural Health program through the University of Kansas School of Medicine. The Scholars in Rural Health program is designed to identify and encourage undergraduate students from rural Kansas who are interested in building successful careers as physicians in rural areas. The program exposes students to the variety of health care services in rural Kansas. Students apply after their sophomore undergraduate year. During their junior and senior undergraduate years, scholars learn at the side of an assigned mentor in the region of his or her home community, for a total of 200 shadowing hours accumulated during the four semesters and one summer. Mark is paired with Dr. Boller, a family physician in Liberal, Kan. Scholars also complete three patient care reports, attend an initial orientation in Salina and participate in a meeting at the end of each spring semester in Wichita. The program provides Scholars assured admission to the University of Kansas School of Medicine upon successful completion of program requirements and graduation from their undergraduate institutions.


Undergraduates Conduct Research

by Mark Persinger

During the fall of 2018, several health science students participated in undergraduate research studies with Dr. Prince Agbedanu. Christa Titus studied the most efficient caffeine dosing technique by measuring the movement of planarian worms that followed the administration of various doses of caffeine solution in her experiment “Investigating the Most Efficient Caffeine Dosing Technique.” Joshua Schafer, Troy Puga and Pearce Harris studied the consequences of excess CO2 on plants and how that affects the plant pH in their experiment “Investigating the Effect of Increased CO2 on pH of Bryophyllum pinnatum.” The experiment was replicated in two species of lettuce with the same outcome.