This Pirate wants to improve quality of
life for people with spine-related disorders.
Jim Eubanks is
passionate about helping people who suffer from the No. 1 cause of disability
worldwide: spine-related disorders.
The rising third-year medical student entered the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in 2014 as a chiropractor. He came from OrthoCarolina in Charlotte, one of the nation’s leading independent academic orthopedics practices. He completed a fellowship there in the treatment of spine-related conditions under the direction of spine section chief Dr. Craig D. Brigham. While there, he also developed clinical guidelines for the care of musculoskeletal issues – or issues involving the muscle-and-bone system that’s responsible for movement.
“Spinal disability affects our workforce and creates a burden on society,” Eubanks said. “It’s an economic problem, but it’s also a quality of life problem.”
The chance to impact someone’s quality of life is what’s pushing Eubanks to become a physician in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R).
He’s particularly interested in how quality of life can be impacted by lifestyle behaviors. “Medicine in general is more focused on bio-psycho-social issues now, and spine care is especially driven by them,” he said.
He’s also passionate about team-based medical care and the role effective collaboration can play in the quality of care a patient receives.
Earlier this year Eubanks’ accomplishments landed him a spot in the Spine 10x25 Coalition, a North American Spine Foundation initiative to decrease spine-related disability in the U.S. by 10 percent by 2025. The only medical student and the youngest person on the team, Eubanks is reaching out to legislators and National Institutes of Health representatives to raise awareness, influence policy and garner more research funding.
He believes the biggest challenge facing rehabilitation specialists is “difficulty nailing down the most effective treatment options from among the 200 or so accepted therapies out there. That reflects the fact that we don’t have a good scientific basis for making these decisions,” he said.
But he’s doing his part to remedy that.
As a participant in Brody’s Research Distinction Track, Eubanks is collaborating with PM&R faculty to study how the terminology a doctor uses to explain spine MRI findings can affect a patient’s treatment decisions and outcomes. The study includes research sites at Brody, Duke University School of Medicine and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, an institution recognized globally for the volume of rehabilitation research it conducts.
Eubanks is a regular contributor to The Human Diagnosis Project (www.humandx.org), a web-based tool – spearheaded by faculty from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – that allows practicing and future physicians around the globe to develop and solve fictitious medical cases. In addition to enhancing the education of doctors-in-training, the project aims to study the processes physicians use to arrive at individual diagnoses and make clinical decisions.
Eubanks draws on his expertise to build cases around musculoskeletal issues for the project. Because participants are grouped according to medical school, his level of impact has consistently earned East Carolina a top-10 ranking among thousands of participants.
What advice do you have for other students?
Remember that our generation is likely going to live longer and have to work longer. Figure out what you are good at and what you enjoy, and go for it, even if it takes you some extra time. Leave the naysayers in the dust.
What has been the most memorable experience at ECU so far?
One of the best experiences I've had is working with several of my classmates to introduce iPads into the Brody anatomy curriculum. We recognized an opportunity to integrate new technology that would enhance learning, and the Brody administration supported us every step of the way.
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
Written by: Amy Ellis
College: Brody School of Medicine
Classification/Year: Rising M3
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Clubs & Organizations: At ECU: American Medical Association - Medical Student Section, Brody Chapter; Student Interest Group in Neurology, Co-leader. Professionally: United States Bone and Joint Initiative; North American Spine Foundation; North American Spine Society; American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, student member; American Academy of Pain Medicine, student member; North Carolina Medical Society, student member; American Chiropractic Association
Hobbies & Interests: Working out, enjoying the outdoors, golf with my dad, and traveling to new places to meet really interesting people
Favorite place to eat: I have good memories getting sushi at Wasabi 88 and Shogun. Anytime there is an opportunity to go out as a medical student, it is a treat!
Favorite Movie: The Departed
Favorite website: HumanDX.org
Dream job: PM&R physician in an academic medical institution involved in patient care and clinical research
Favorite place on campus: Laupus Library
Favorite hangout: Greenville Greenway
Favorite class: Pathology
Favorite band/musician: At the moment, I really like Lindsey Sterling. Goes well with the long hours of studying.
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones
Most Influential Professor: Richard Ray, PhD
The one thing you cannot live without: My wife, Komal Eubanks. She's a DNP Family Nurse Practitioner student in ECU's College of Nursing and vital to my success.
Role Models: My mentor, the late Craig D. Brigham, MD. My medical career is dedicated to him.
Your words to live by: "People will become better when you show them what they are like." -Anton Chekhov
"Figure out what you are good at and enjoy, and go for it; even if it takes you some extra time."
– Jim Eubanks