Campbell University hosts annual medical symposium, C.U.R.R.E. 2024 

On a recent Friday evening, more than 130 posters, replete with information, filled a large room on the second floor of the Campbell University Oscar N. Harris Student Union.  

Medical residents, most presenters, and about 25 students stood near each poster, all set up on easels, talking about their painstaking research. Abstracts, introductions, deductions and conclusions.  

The information, all in finite detail, was based on the experiences of patients who visited Campbell partner hospitals and medical facilities throughout eastern North Carolina. 

Welcome to C.U.R.R.E. 2024 

The annual event, now in its seventh year, the Campbell University Regional Research and Educational Symposium is intended to promote collegiality and create an environment of scholarly inquiry among all Campbell-sponsored GME programs and university-affiliated graduate medical education sites, the Campbell Medical School says.  

It, too, is an academic competition.  

Hospital systems represented at the symposium were Cape Fear Valley Health, UNC Health Southeastern, Harnett Health, Sampson Regional Medical Center and Conway Medical Center in South Carolina, as well as the North Carolina Osteopathic Medical Association (NCOMA), a co-sponsor of the event, with Campbell. 

“We have four generations under one roof,” said Dr. Robin King-Thiele, associate dean for Postgraduate Affairs Graduate Medical Education at the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. 

“We have faculty, we have residents, we have medical students and we have early-acceptance students, all integrated in this event, all learning a little bit about each other, reigniting their excitement for medicine.”  

Focusing not only on patients but also on medical scenarios and advances in medicine. A chance to talk, to network and, most important, to learn. 

The research, broken into categories, is judged, including by participants, and prizes are awarded after a presentation culminating the event, held Feb. 2. 

“One of the things that are required for our residents is that they participate in scholarly activities,” says Dr. Marta Bringhurst, NCOMA president. “This allows anybody who is being trained in the state or even outside of the state, if they want to travel, to come to this meeting, to present their research,  

“This lets them grow as academics, clinicians and researchers, and gives them another opportunity to present to their peers and to folks who maybe learn from their institution, and to demonstrate their success.” 

Categories for the competition included, for example, Efficient Use of Medical Imaging/Testing, Timeliness of Care, Patient Experience and Safety of Care, among others. 

One research project, “A Not So Clear-Cut Finger Injury,” came after a 23-year-old football player had pain and swelling in his right hand. He dislocated a finger on that hand 10 days before, and it ultimately required surgery. 

“The PIP joint is a commonly injured joint, especially for athletes,” said lead author Dr. Rajinder Persaud, a fellow at the Campbell Medical School.  

Oftentimes, Persaud says, athletes or trainers address the injury on the sidelines. But, as the research suggests, complications can occur. 

“A lot of these injuries are kind of overlooked.” 

Attendees voted for the three case projects they deemed best, and the respective authors presented their research at night’s end.  

A project by doctors at Sampson Regional Medical Center, “Upstaging of Cutaneous Malignancy During Mohs Surgery,” garnered the most votes.  

Dr. Alexandra Taylor, a transitional year resident and lead author, said a catalyst for the project was an instance in which an insurance company refused to reimburse for the treatment, including Mohs surgery, of squamous cell carcinoma on a patient’s lip, “one of the highest risk areas for malignancy and recurrence. And it’s also one of the most cosmetically and functionally sensitive locations. It can be wildly frustrating to get the patient the care that they need.” 

The team, looking at upstaging, conducted the largest such study to date, involving 2,043 patients. Taking an osteopathic approach, effectively treating the “whole” patient, Taylor said that without Mohs, physicians would inevitably miss cases.  

“Under Pressure,” by doctors from Conway Medical Center, earned second place. The project, about pressure ulcers on the skin of patients, led to the creation of a focused “skin team” at the hospital. “Improving Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis in a Diverse, Rural Community Emergency Department: A Quality Improvement Project,” by a group from UNC Health Southeastern, finished third.  

“Please learn from one another,” Dr. Brian Kessler, CUSOM dean and chief academic officer said as the event began. 

The annual symposium also helps bring new excitement to the practice of osteopathic medicine. 

“Obviously, as the N.C. Osteopathic Medical Association, it’s important for us to help nurture the students and the residents, and help them get to this experience,” says NCOMA Executive Director Betsy Hilt. “And, hopefully, they stay in our state to practice, and especially in some of the more rural areas.” 

In 2023, the American Osteopathic Association says, the total number of osteopathic physicians in the U.S. reached almost 149,000 — a 30% increase over the past five years.  

Over the past three decades, the total number of DOs and osteopathic medical students has more than quadrupled to reach 186,871 in 2023, representing more than 11% of all physicians and 25% of all medical students in the U.S., says the AOA. 

“As much as we have been small in the past, we’re not small anymore,” Bringhurst says. 

John Trump
Health Sciences writer