Dissertation Defense Announcements

Candidate Name: Margaret A. McDonnell
Title: Improving the Interprofessional Teams’ Knowledge, Confidence, and Self-Efficacy in the Care of Adult Brain Tumor Patients
 April 01, 2021  1:00 PM
Location: Zoom

The purpose of this educational project was to determine whether interprofessional team members who participate in a structured educational session demonstrate an increase in knowledge, confidence and self-efficacy in the care of adult brain tumor (ABT) patients. The aim was to evaluate baseline ABT knowledge of neuroscience registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice providers (APPs) and to identify barriers associated with specialized educational programs.
An evidence-based education program on ABT’s was developed and delivered to neuroscience interprofessional team members in a single institution in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three measurement tools were used for data collection. One tool was used to collect demographic information, one was used for a knowledge pre/post-intervention and one for the participants to rate their confidence level. RNs and APPs functioning in a neurosurgical, neurointensivist or neurohospitalist role were eligible to participate. Travel RNs were excluded.
Seventeen care providers participated in this project. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the demographic characteristics of the participants, belief in supplemental education, and pre/post-intervention knowledge assessment items. McNemar’s test for paired binary data and StataCorp v.16 statistical software (2019) were used. Six participants recalled prior education specific to ABTs and 94% (n=16) believed additional education would be beneficial. A statistically significant increase in correct responses from the pre-posttest was seen in one question pertaining to histological grading classification system (p=.031). The lowest response recorded on the confidence survey was regarding the APP’s level of comfort in discussing treatment plans with patients and caregivers.
The results of the project created a basis for understanding neuroscience team members level of knowledge and confidence. Further study is needed to determine effective educational strategies for the neuroscience team.
Keywords: brain neoplasm, clinical guidelines, specialized training

Candidate Name: Brittany Danielle Hunt
Title: "I'm Gonna Tell You That We're Not a Myth": Native Students' and Non-Native Teachers' Perspectives on Anti-Indigenous Curriculum and Classrooms
 March 23, 2021  11:30 AM
Location: Zoom

Though North Carolina is home to the 9th largest Indigenous population in America, as well as to the largest Tribe East of the Mississippi, North Carolina curriculum and schools often erode Indigenous histories from the classroom. Indigenous people are presented as forever constrained within antiquity, as savage, as docile, as stoic, and at worst – as nonexistent. This study centers Native students who traverse through these systems that perpetuate stereotypes of Indigenous barbarism, passivity, and erasure, with a focus on Native students living in urban areas of North Carolina. Similarly, non-Native teachers were interviewed for this study to discuss their role in this system as well as what they are doing to challenge it. Themes include problematic curriculum, anti-Indigeneity, erasure, White supremacy, and resistance and resilience.

Candidate Name: Leslie Beth Sossoman
Title: Improving Provider Compliance with Outpatient Heart Failure Prescribing
 March 31, 2021  1:00 PM
Location: Virtual Platform

Guidelines recommend prescribing four classifications of medications for individuals with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Individuals on guideline directed medical therapy (GDMT) have been shown to have reduced mortality and morbidity. If all eligible individuals were on GDMT, lives saved could be improved by 60% annually. The largest impact comes from prescribing GDMT with the lowest prescribing rates. Further evidence has confirmed there is a lack of guideline adherence in outpatient prescribing. Use of provider reminders with decision support improves adherence to guidelines.

Study Objectives: Determine the prescribing behaviors of advanced practice providers (APPs) and physicians before and after implementation of a provider reminder tool that offers decision support in outpatient prescribing.

Methods: This scholarly project occurred over two months in the fall of 2020. Eligibility criteria to have reminders placed in the chart included adults with HFrEF with a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) less than 40%, seen by an APP or physician in an outpatient cardiology practice. When patients were seen in the office for their scheduled visit, providers had access to their electronic medical record (EMR) with the reminder tool sent as a provider communication note for all visit types. An additional paper reminder tool was handed to the provider for in-person visits. Following patient visits, prescribed medications were recorded to allow for pre-post comparisons. Analysis included descriptive statistics and McNemar’s test for paired nominal data using StataCorp v.16 statistical software (2019). Subgroup analysis was performed by provider type and visit type.

Results: A convenience sample of 120 consecutive provider-patient encounters was evaluated in a southeastern United States outpatient cardiology practice. Compliance with renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) inhibitors, beta blockers (BB), and hydralazine-isosorbide dinitrate (H-ISDN) were numerically improved, though not statistically significant. Compliance to aldosterone antagonists (MRA) showed significant improvement after the intervention for all patients (35.8% to 41.7%, p=.020), which continued after adjusting for contraindications by medication classification. Post intervention prescribing was improved in all visit types for all medication classes except RAAS inhibitors, beta blockers, and H-ISDN in virtual visit formats. Visit type influenced prescribing of RAAS inhibitors and MRAs. In-person RAAS inhibitor and MRA prescribing had significant improvement after the intervention (78.3% to 95.7%, p = .0455; 39.1% to 56.5%, p =.0455, respectively). Improvement in prescribing was noted for APPs and physicians, except for beta blockers among physicians. Subgroup analysis of provider type did not yield any statistical difference. Uptitration of medications were numerically increased for beta blockers and RASS inhibitors. Uptitration was significantly higher in heart failure providers for RAAS inhibitors as compared to non-heart failure providers (29%; 6.5%, p=.004). The opposite was true for beta blockers, with non-heart failure providers uptitrating more (19.2%), but it was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: This scholarly project demonstrated that an electronically delivered, paper generated provider reminder tool with decision support can clinically impact guideline adherence. With in-person visit type, the tool was statistically impactful. These findings are consistent with the literature. Given the uptake in the frequency of virtual visits following the coronavirus disease pandemic, virtual visit type reduced initiation of RAAS inhibitors and beta blockers, which require vital sign data. Provider type did not impact guideline prescribing. Being a heart failure specialist positively impacted prescribing.

Candidate Name: Andrew Gardner
Title: DACA Recipients Narratives: Pursuing Noncredit Occupational Training
 March 25, 2021  10:00 AM
Location: https://uncc.zoom.us/j/97672158920 (Virtual)

ANDREW GARDNER. DACA Recipients Narratives: Pursuing Noncredit Occupational Training. (Under the direction of DR. MARK D’AMICO)
This adapted in-depth qualitative interview study explored and documented the lived experiences of four DACA recipients that pursued noncredit occupational training opportunities at a community college in North Carolina. The purpose was to understand what experiences led DACA recipients to enroll in noncredit occupational education in the community college setting, insight about their educational experiences in higher education, and how they used the education they gained through noncredit occupational education. Participant interviews styled after Seidman (2019) served as the primary means of data collection. Following Seidman (2019) protocols for an adapted in-depth qualitative interview, participants put their life into context, provided detailed accounts of certain critical life experiences, and reconstructed their experience within the framework of the study. Upon completion of all interviews and transcription, a detailed six phase thematic analysis guided by Braun and Clarke (2006) was completed. Though their experiences varied, four major themes were identified during the analysis process. Themes generated spoke to the personal, professional, and social experiences that shaped their journey and aspirations. The findings provided insight about each participant’s desperate path to pursue higher education and how noncredit occupational training provided them a “hidden” opportunity. Family played the greatest role in motivating and supporting participants during their journey. A high level of determination and perseverance was displayed. Participants combated obstacle after obstacle to enroll in postsecondary education and successfully leveraged it to embark on their professional career. Three conclusions were reached: (1) policies influence DACA students; (2) DACA students receive a lack of guidance; (3) DACA students leverage credentials.

Candidate Name: Margaret Malague MacKay
Title: Improving Reporting Culture through Daily Safety Huddle
 March 26, 2021  9:00 AM
Location: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://uncc.zoom.us/j/94097980142&sa=D&source=calendar&ust=1615410513087000&usg=AOvVaw3B5O_uFtV1Yub7lUgX9tom

The Institute of Medicine’s report “To Err is Human” remains relevant two decades later: medical error is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and 40% of hospitalized children experience medical error. One obstacle to safer care is lack of error reporting. That omission denies the opportunity to learn from those events. Safety Culture describes a work environment conducive to reporting, and its properties are measurable using the Safety of Patients Survey (SOPS 1.0 TM). On a pediatric acute care unit in a children’s hospital in southeastern U. S., SOPS 1.0TM scores and error reporting fell well below agency benchmarks. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to improve error reporting and SOPS 1.0TM scores specific to reporting through a Safety Huddle Intervention. Marshall Ganz’s Change through Public Narrative Framework provided the theoretical design for this project: a story of self, a story of us, a story of now. The SOPS 1.0 TM was implemented before and after the six-week intervention on the project unit and a comparison unit and monthly error reporting was tracked before and after the intervention on those same units. The 5 composites of SOPS 1.0 TM purported to measure reporting culture showed no statistically significant differences after the intervention, or between the project and comparison units. Error reporting increased after the intervention on the project unit (p=0.0121) but not the comparison unit. Of note, this quality improvement project took place during the COVid 19 pandemic, and survey results revealed a preoccupation with staffing as an overriding concern for patient safety.

Candidate Name: James Leonard Carrothers
 April 14, 2021  9:00 AM
Location: Online

Candidate Name: Christina M Danis
 March 12, 2021  11:00 AM
Location: Zoom Meeting

Whether urban, suburban, or rural or from different United States (US) geographic regions, communities expect public officials to guide them to better prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and recurring natural hazard threats. Natural hazard preparedness conditions characterize the compilation of resilience and vulnerability conditions and incorporate prior response decisions into state and local natural hazard planning, policies, and practices. Many different options are available to empower vulnerable regions with the right resiliency tools; what is essential to understand is these communities' capacity to influence natural hazard resiliency planning effectiveness.

My research provides context and insight about how regional natural hazard preparedness conditions may bolster community planning and capital across the urban-rural continuum. This study evaluates contiguous US county-level natural hazard resilience and vulnerability with a measurement tool developed at the University of Missouri entitled the Missouri Transect Project (MTP). It reflects a gap in the peer-reviewed research as the MTP has yet to be field-tested. I examine the MTP via a mixed-method approach. My two quantitative analyses, a categorical regression, and a spatial cluster/outlier statistic inform my qualitative interview questions with the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region Community Preparedness Officers (CPO) about the value of the MTP. I use triangulation to test the degree of external validity of the MTP community preparedness tool.

My research serves as a useful heuristic to understand why natural hazards do not just bring damages but provide pre-disaster planning insight and the ability to examine post-disaster aid as a community-building versus property re-building opportunity.

Candidate Name: C. Regina Simmons
Title: How Intercollegiate Athletics Contributes to Institutional Viability: Small Private College Presidents’ Perspectives.
 March 18, 2021  9:00 AM
Location: Zoom

Small, private colleges provide an essential element to the landscape of higher education, offering intimate class sizes and high touch experiences for traditional college populations. The president of a small, private college must wear many hats, both to the internal campus and external community. Presidents set the tone for leadership and communication, devise strategic plans, and select staff to accomplish those initiatives. With fewer layers of administration, the president of a small, private college also has greater influence on day-to-day operations than their counterparts at larger institutions. Athletics at the small, private college is an important component for enrollment, campus life, and budget. At institutions that do not provide athletic scholarship money, student-athletes account for significant portion of undergraduate populations. NCAA Division III institutions, mostly small, private colleges, incorporate athletics into campus life and position the student before the athlete. The presidents of these institutions are poised to thoroughly understand how athletics influences the small, private college landscape. This research was designed as a multiple case study, examining five presidents of small, private colleges. Each president served as a case, and research was conducted through two semi-structured interviews and document collection. Following individual case analysis, cross-case analysis occurred where three overlapping themes emerged: the president’s influence over managing tension with faculty, winning builds a foundation for success, and agility is necessary to respond to changes. The implications of the research project demonstrated that small, private college presidents must make decisions about athletics in alignment with institutional missions and the strategic plan, allowing a strong connection to the organization’s culture.

Candidate Name: Brian Whelan
Title: The Influences of Brand Personality, Culture & Social Media Activity on Iconic Brands' Preferences
 March 23, 2021  2:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Despite the strong appeal of iconic brands, research on how consumers form attachments and loyalty to them has been limited. To fill this knowledge gap, this research is aimed at identifying factors that can determine consumers’ emotional attachment and ensuing loyalty toward iconic brands, focused on brand personality, cultural disposition, and social media activity as influencing factors. To accomplish this, a survey was implemented on Amazon Mechanical Turn (Mturk) (n=759). Empirical results from multi-level linear regression model indicate that brand personality, cultural disposition and social media activity influence both loyalty and attachment in iconic brands. Detailed findings are presented. Lastly, theoretical and managerial implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.

Candidate Name: Annette Teasdell
 March 08, 2021  10:00 AM
Location: Zoom

Excellence in education is based on a curriculum that is true, relevant, and appropriate, and on educational processes that are humane and democratic. A pervasive problem in U.S. schools is a curriculum that perpetuates cultural hegemony, lacks multiple perspectives, and adheres to scripts to accommodate education policy. “Re-membering” history by producing and studying democratized knowledge can counter master narratives. Applying critical race theory and Afrocentricity, this research explores curriculum development, culturally responsive pedagogy, and student outcomes in the context of urban education. Using case study methodology, content analysis, and historical detection, this qualitative multiple article dissertation explores three curricular omissions that can expand multicultural education discourse. Findings show that culturally responsive pedagogy combined with a curriculum that is accurate, relevant, and appropriate can yield improved student outcomes. This has implications for practitioners and scholars in U.S. schools.