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Upstate AHEC Advances with Excellence in Occupational and Physical Therapy Education

Greenville, South Carolina – Upstate Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has achieved provider status with both the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Approved Provider Program and ProCert, through the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).

AOTA’s Approved Provider Program (APP) is designed to promote the quality and relevance of continuing education (CE) activities offered to practitioners within the realm of occupational therapy. FSBPT’s ProCert is a comprehensive continuing competence activity certification program, which uses set standards to evaluate and award certification to CE programs offering credit for physical therapy practitioners.

“Our continuing education staff at Upstate AHEC is exceptional in terms of their passion for healthcare education and the quality of programs they provide,” said Nita Donald, Executive Director of Upstate AHEC. “These new levels of distinction for Upstate AHEC programs will help offer a wider array of opportunities for occupational and physical therapists in both the local area and beyond. When choosing Upstate AHEC for their continuing education needs, these professionals can be confident in knowing the programs they attend are held to the highest industry standards.”

Upstate AHEC plans to certify CE programs that are offered both in-person and online for occupational and physical therapy professionals. For more information about Upstate AHEC or upcoming programs, please visit

Deneatrice L. Donald (aka Nita) named the new Executive Director of Upstate AHEC

The Board of Directors of Upstate AHEC is pleased to announce Deneatrice L. Donald (aka Nita) has been named the new Executive Director, effective September 5.
Nita brings a wealth of experience to her new role with over nineteen years of experience in the non-profit and state government sectors.
Nita began her tenure with Upstate AHEC in 2013 and will be transitioning from her current role as the Health Careers Program Coordinator.
The Board of Directors conducted a local search in June which generated several applicants. After an extensive interview process with a number of highly qualified candidates, the Board and staff stood unanimously behind Nita. Her experience, knowledge of the organization, and vision for the future made her the ideal choice to take Upstate AHEC to the next level.




Greenville, South Carolina-Upstate AHEC is pleased to announce it achieved accreditation by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

ANCC Accreditation distinguishes organizations that demonstrate quality and excellence in the curriculum design and delivery of continuing nursing education (CNE).  Accreditation organizations, like Upstate AHEC meet comprehensive, evidence-based criteria to ensure CNE activities are effectively planned, implemented and evaluated.  Nurses in the market served by Upstate AHEC now gain access to the highest caliber of education to meet certification or licensure requirements, which in turn contributes to improved health care outcomes.

“We are proud to be recognized by ANCC for our commitment to continuous improvement and highest quality and integrity of continuing education for nurses, “says Jennifer Walker, Director of Distance Education and Lead Nurse Planner at Upstate AHEC.  “ANCC accreditation gives nurses assurance that by choosing Upstate AHEC, they will receive the best CNE available.”

ANCC accreditation is a voluntary, peer review process intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of continuing nursing education, making it worthy of public confidence. Accrediting organizations, like ANCC, assess providers of continuing nursing education to ensure they meet rigorous global standards established by ANCC.

UPSTATE AHEC is a federally and state funded 501 (c)3 non-profit organization committed to the improvement of healthcare through education.  The mission of Upstate AHEC is to be the leader in health professions through education by linking students to health careers, health professions students to communities, the healthcare workforce to continuing education and our communities to better health.  The core values of Upstate AHEC include service, integrity, dedication and excellence.

THE AMERICAN NURSES CREDENTIALING CENTER (ANCC), is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), provides individuals and organizations throughout the nursing profession with the resources they need to achieve practice excellence. ANCC’s internally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas; recognize healthcare organizations for promoting safe, positive work environments; and accredit  providers and approvers of continuing nursing education. In addition, ANCC provides leading-edge information and education services and products to support its core credentialing programs. Learn more at

Upstate AHEC Selects 2015 Upstate AHEC Outstanding Educator Award Recipient

John Paguntalan, RN, MS, CCRN-A, APRN-BC has been selected as the 2015 Upstate AHEC Outstanding Educator. The Outstanding Educator is selected based on their ability to present content in a practical, useful format that will meet the needs and expectations of program participants, while communicating material enthusiastically.  Educators must also successfully adapt presentations to address multiple learning styles.

Mr. Paguntalan has served as an exceptional professional trainer for Upstate AHEC for 10 + years. Always confident before an audience, John exhibits great enthusiasm for his topic and a passion for teaching others very complex clinical topics and skills. He is a well-respected and recognized educator for continuing education programs at Upstate AHEC.  He consistently received high marks and excellent ratings on his program evaluations.

Mr. Paguntalan has more than 10 years of critical care nursing experience.  He has taught heart rhythms and 12 lead ECG courses for almost 10 years to various audiences including staff nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, EMT’s and allied health staff.  He developed educational modules on a multitude of topics for the graduate nurse residency program, for multi-disciplinary continuing education and critical care competency in a hospital setting.  His diverse experience as a cardiac care nurse, nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist, provide solid foundation in presenting health-related topics including the management of patients with atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.  His current research interest as a PhD candidate at the Medical University of South Carolina is in the role of physical activity in preventing coronary heart disease among high-risk population.  His research, “Integrative review of self-report instruments to measure physical activity among high-risk African American women: A coronary heart disease perspective,” was recently published at the Journal of Black Studies.

John lives in Greenwood, South Carolina and currently practices as a Nurse Practitioner/Nursing Quality Outcomes Specialist, at Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, South Carolina.

Photo: John Paguntalan, RN, MS, CCRN-A, APRN-BC and Continuing Education Consultant, Bennie Pettit, BS, MS

Upstate AHEC Selects Latasha Rivers as Outstanding Educator

Upstate AHEC is pleased to announce The 2016 Upstate AHEC Outstanding Educator Award: Latasha Rene Rivers, MSW, LISW-CP

The purpose of this award is to bring recognition to an outstanding Continuing Education Educator in the Upstate AHEC region.  The Outstanding Educator is selected based on their ability to present content in a practical, useful format that will meet the needs and expectations of program participants, while communicating material enthusiastically.  Educators must also successfully adapt presentations to address multiple learning styles.

Mrs. Rivers has served as an exceptional professional trainer for Upstate AHEC and exhibits great enthusiasm for her topics and a passion for teaching. She is a well-respected and recognized educator for continuing education programs at Upstate AHEC.  She consistently received high marks and excellent ratings on his program evaluations.

Latasha lives in North Charleston, South Carolina and is the owner of Rivers of Life, a consulting company.

Upstate Physician Named SC AHEC Preceptor of the Year

Dr. Lindsey Clarke is a committed teacher and mentor of medical students. Not only is he an outstanding family physician at the Montgomery Center for Family Medicine at Self Regional Hospital in Greenwood, he is an outstanding teacher and professional role model for both third and fourth year students and medical residents at the Montgomery Center.

Dr. Clarke never hesitates to take a student, usually taking more than one student per rotation.  Additionally, Dr. Clarke goes above and beyond to help locate and provide housing for students when housing options are scarce.  Dr. Clarke’s help with housing has been essential to student success in that rural area

Dr. Clarke also serves as the board chair of the Upstate not-for-profit organization Volunteers in Medical Missions.  He has served as board chairman for several years and exhibits passion and commitment for impoverished, hurting people in developing countries of the world as well as embodies a high level of ethical standards and leadership.  His personal characteristics are as exemplary as his clinical knowledge. Under his mentorship, AHEC medical students are getting the best opportunity possible to develop as physicians as well as individuals. Altogether, this is why Dr. Lindsey Clarke is the embodiment of the South Carolina AHEC Preceptor of the Year.

Upstate Health Career Program Students Participate in Simulation Lab

Upstate AHEC Health Careers Academy (HCA) partnered with the University Center of Greenville for a simulation lab activity on March 5. High school students from the region took part in the activity as part of the 2014-2015 Upstate AHEC Health Careers Academy.

Kim Blankenship, RN, Mary Black School of Nursing Sim Lab Manager, facilitated the lab activity, which enabled HCA students to participate in simulation experiences.  The partnership with the University Center gives students an opportunity to work with faculty, staff, health professionals and students to receive relevant up-to-date information, knowledge, and skills that are being disseminated and practiced in post-secondary classrooms and clinical settings.  Simulation affords students the opportunity to be exposed to reality-based scenarios that will be a part of their healthcare practice in the future and gives them a chance to practice physical assessment skills.

Ashleigh Godby, an 11th grade student at Riverside High School, said that the lab experience was “very fascinating, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to get a real look into the hands on aspect of medicine. Even learning the basics gave me an assurance of my interest in medicine. I’d recommend this kind of lab to anyone who has any sort of interested in a career in medicine.”

image1-1Tai Marie Dennis, an 11th grade student at Woodmont High School, also the lab experience, “I enjoyed the lab. It made me want to go into nursing even more.”

Students participated in an overview of vital signs and IV therapy. In the process, they learned about improving communication, cultivating nursing skills, understanding classroom material, developing critical thinking and facilitating teamwork.

For more information about the Health Careers Academy or simulation activity, please contact the Upstate AHEC Health Careers Program Coordinator Nita Donald at

AHEC U Increases Participation, Receives Excellent Reviews

AHEC U, the AHEC web-based distance learning system available to South Carolina healthcare professionals, experienced the largest growth leap in its five-year history during FY 2014-15 with a 35 percent increase in participation. Almost 7,500 AHEC U course certificates were issued to professionals statewide during the past year, representing more than 10,250 participant hours, according to Fay Brown, Upstate AHEC  center director.  The largest growth occurred in the Upstate area with 3509 certificates issued,   followed by Lowcountry, Mid-Carolina and Pee Dee AHECs.

Through evaluations of AHEC U course offerings, 95 percent of professionals indicated their  intent to use the knowledge they had gained to enhance healthcare outcomes, said Jennifer Walker, director of distance learning at Upstate AHEC.

A Basic EKG course participant said, “This great review gives enough detail for experienced practitioners to look more carefully at the EKG they will interpret in practice. This class will help me look at the telemetry screen and actually know what I am seeing.”

“I have a much better grasp of the medications utilized in HIV treatment, and that new knowledge was most important to me,” a participant in an “Antivirus Basics” course said.

A “Lateral Violence for Nurses” participant replied: “I believe this lateral violence program should be an annual mandatory course in all institutions.  I will take everything I have learned and apply it to my work area.”

Recognizing a need for a more convenient and flexible method of continuing professional education in South Carolina, Upstate AHEC in Greenville launched AHEC U in 2010 by to provide distance learning opportunities as an alternative to traditional live training programs.  With an initial offering of 29 on-line courses in 2010, today AHEC U offers nearly 200 web-based courses targeted to a wide variety of healthcare professionals seeking re-certification or continued professional development.

Upstate AHEC Director Brown attributes the large growth during the past year to several factors, including enhanced search engine optimization, increased marketing, and word of mouth promotion among healthcare participants. Professionals employed by AHEC consortium member organizations have access to AHEC U free of charge. To determine if an employer is a consortium member, contact the AHEC Center in your region. Individuals may become members of AHEC U for $49.95 annually, which provides unlimited access to online course completion and credit hours.

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