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Interview with Perri J. Bomar, September 12, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Perri J. Bomar, September 12, 2007
September 12, 2007
Dr. Perri Bomar discusses her career as a nurse and educator in this interview. Her first post-secondary degree was a nursing diploma from a hospital schol in Canton, OH. Subsequently she earned a BSN, MSN, and Ph.D. Her career took her to various institutions, including ECU, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the University of San Diego, and finally UNCW in 1996. At UNCW she was instrumental in establishing the first master's degree program in Nursing, which began in 1998. Dr. Bomar served as Associate Dean at UNCW from 1996-2005. She directed UNCW's partnership with a clinic in Bolton, NC and conducted ongoing research and publication in areas such as family nursing and hypertension in black women and men. Dr. Bomar reflects on the state of the nursing profession and the role of nursing educators. She also comments on her experiences obtaining federal funds for research, clinical programs, and educational programs.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Bomar, Perri Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 9/12/2007 Series: Voices of UNCW Length: 75 minutes

Riggins: Good afternoon. Today is September 12, 2007. My name is Adina Riggins. I'm behind the camera here interviewing somebody who is visiting us in archives for our University of North Carolina Wilmington Oral History Project called "Voices of UNCW." I have in front of me Dr. Perri Bomar. She will be talking to us about her time at UNCW as well as her career elsewhere and other assorted information in the upcoming interview. Just for the benefit of our transcriptionist and future viewers, could you state your name for the tape please?

Bomar: My name is Dr. Perri Jane Bomar; P-e-r-r-i.

Riggins: Dr. Bomar, I'd like to start off with basic background information for everybody. Please tell us, where were you born and where did you grow up?

Bomar: I was born in Broadway, North Carolina. It's south of Chapel Hill about 35 miles. It's a very small, rural community.

Riggins: I've never heard of it. I'm not from that area.

Bomar: It's off of 421.

Riggins: Oh, okay.

Bomar: Have you heard of Lillington and Dunn? [ph?]

Riggins: Yes.

Bomar: Okay, it's between Lillington and Sanford. You've heard of Sanford? It's between those two, and there is-- Until about a year ago there wasn't even a traffic light. You'd just drive through and there was a little sign in the center of the four-way stop that said "Broadway."

Riggins: Was it a rural community?

Bomar: It's a very-- it's a rural community. In fact I think in maybe five to ten years Sanford will annex it because it's only about four miles from Sanford. So I grew up-- I lived there until I was about five years old, because I went to school in Ohio. I went to school in Ohio, and then I grew up in Canton, Ohio.

Riggins: Right, I remember you had shared that with me years ago when I first met you. My husband's from that part of the country.

Bomar: A lot of people-- that's why a lot of people wonder why I don't have a southern accent; it's because I didn't grow up here.

Riggins: Right, you went and lived with family up there.

Bomar: My parents moved there, and I stayed there until 1983 and then moved to San Diego.

Riggins: What was your education like growing up in Ohio? Did you go to public schools there?

Bomar: I went to the public schools there and then I went to-- I am a graduate of a hospital school; nursing. So, one of the interesting things about-- in high school then they had future nurses, future teachers, engineers, etc., so I joined the future teachers, future- future nurses club, and became interested in nursing. Then I thought "Well, I'm probably not going to be a nurse," so I didn't plan on anything, so after graduating from high school I just worked at the dietician's office, and she said "What did you want to do when you graduate from high school?" I said "I wanted to be a nurse," and so she said "Well, you don't belong here in the kitchen. You should be being a nurse." So I took the exam for LPN, because that was easy, it was one year. So, then I actually flunked that exam.

Riggins: Really?

Bomar: So they said to me at the employment service, they said "Well, your scores are so high in everything else." It had a manual dexterity test, and you had to flip plugs very quickly, so she says "You ought to take a typing test, but I think you really ought to go into a RN program. Your other scores are exceptionally high," and so I took the RN test. I always tell this story because then it gets funny. I took the RN test and I passed it with a breeze, and so I enrolled in the three-year program instead of the one-year LPN programs I enrolled in the [inaudible] program for nurses and completed that at Aultman Hospital in Canton, and then I worked as a Staff Nurse for a number of years and became bored with that and decided to-- I wanted to go back to school to learn more about nursing, and I also wanted to teach, and I also wanted a schedule that would allow me to be home with my children on the weekends and holidays.

Riggins: And hospital nurses don't get that.

Bomar: No. So I started-- I completed my Bachelor's at the University of Akron and as I was getting ready to finish my Bachelor's, my faculty would say-- My faculty said, "Well Perri, what are you going to do when you graduate?" I said "Well, I'm going to teach," and they said "Well, you need to have your Master's to teach."

Riggins: Were you surprised at that? Was BSN prevalent at that point?

Bomar: Well, BSN were prevalent, and people were-- some of the faculty had Bachelor's, but the accrediting bodies were saying that the faculty needed to have Master's degrees; at least a Master's to teach in a university setting. So, I finished my Bachelor's in May and started summer classes towards my Master's.

Riggins: Good thing you like school. Sounds like you liked graduate school.

Bomar: I enjoyed school, so I continued right on to my Master's at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, and when I finished then I was offered a position at the school where I graduated from, the University of Akron and the School of Nursing, and so I taught there in the Bachelor's program and together the faculty-- We started a Master's program in nursing there, the first Master's in nursing program there was focused on family nursing, and so as I was promoted to Assistant and Associate Professor, my Dean said, "Well Perri, if you want to become Associate and Full Professor, you're going to have to have a Doctorate," so I started that. So, I started back to school and I finished my Doctorate and started at EDD and I soon realized that research was very important to nursing and research was just becoming important in nursing programs the nursing profession, so I changed to the PhD program so that I could be current. So, I received my PhD in Nursing at University of-- not nursing, in education at the University of Akron, and taught--

Riggins: So they offered an EDD as well as PhD?

Bomar: No, they had a-- it was the school of education, EDD and PhD. So I finished there thinking that-- well that would be fine. I wanted that-- education administration was fine because I was going to be a Dean one day. That was my goal. So, I taught for a couple years, continuing in the Master's program there at the University of Akron and then with the cold winters in Ohio decided that-- my husband and I decided that we wanted to relocate, so we moved to San Diego.

Riggins: That's a big change.

Bomar: Yes. So, I interviewed at three schools in California, and the University of San Diego was my favorite, so I started-- so I taught there, and taught in the Family Nursing Program and helped them to establish that program. One of the interesting things about there was, it was a small school of only twelve faculty, and each of us had our expertise, and so they didn't have any master prepared faculty-- they were all doctorate prepared, so we worked really well together, and of course as being a young school of nursing, but also one of the important things to be credible with the rest of the university was to have research and publication. So, I got started on my-- really got started on my research career and publication there. A lady came to visit me, and she was looking for new authors, and she said "Well, what would you like to publish?" I said "Well, I don't know." She says, "Well if you publish a dissertation, you can publish a book," and I said "But I don't know what I would do." She says "Well what are you doing lately?" and I says "Well I'm teaching family nursing, and my students always complain that there's no textbook for it," because I was using referenced articles and journal- periodical journal articles-- so she said "Well, there's your idea. There's your idea," and I said-- She says "Well, why don't you create an outline of what you would put in this book if you had a family nursing textbook and a sample chapter," so the sample chapter was one of my lecture notes and my outline, and the next thing I knew she came back and said "The publisher loved it," and pretty soon I would have a contract, and that's how I got started on textbook publication, so that was my first edition for my Family Nursing, and it was a great experience because I incorporated some of my students from the Family Nursing Program and some of the faculty there, and then colleagues I had met from around the country. Around about the same time, the discipline of family nursing was just being birthed basically, and they had an International Family Nursing Conference at the University of Organ Health Sciences, and so I began to meet family nurses from around the country and around the world there, and that's how I was able to get my contributors by the nurses that I met at the Family Nursing Conference.

Riggins: What is family nursing for those listening who are not [inaudible]?

Bomar: Okay, in-- you know, we have maternity nursing, we have pediatric nursing and psychiatric mental health nursing. Well, family nursing is where you're focusing on the family as your client, or when you have an individual within the family that is your patient or your client. You recognize that family is very important to curing that person, to helping take care of them. For example, if you're taking care of a person who has Diabetes and you're going to help them with their diet change and exercise and just understanding their disease, it's a family issue in the sense that for example, particularly if the patient is a man, who does the cooking? Who does the shopping? And so if you don't incorporate the family in the treatment, then you won't be successful, or with children, sometimes the issue with children is really-- it might be a family issue, so you have to incorporate family so in regard to assessing that individual, you would also do a family history as well as individual history. For example, a child that might have a headache; maybe the issue might be a discipline problem. It might not be a physiological problem at all, so family nursing-- and so what I found was that there was a textbook on the theories on family, and nursing had borrowed many of their theories of family from the family scientists, from sociology and from psychology and there's also a field called family science, but there wasn't anything in regard to "How do you promote a healthy family?" and you know, we have a lots on how to- how an individual can be healthy, so I focused on how can you have a healthy family?

Riggins: You're recognizing that it's not just a world of individuals; that you're impacted a lot by the people you live with and that's where you need to start. So it was just beginning, and that's where you found a lot of your contributors? How many editions did you [inaudible]?

Bomar: I finished my third edition in 2004.

Riggins: I remember that.

Bomar: And what's interesting about that is that the-- it's being used more internationally now than it's being used in the US. Countries like Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Canada.

Riggins: Really? Why do you suppose it's not--

Bomar: Well, what's happened in the US is that the concept of family has-- and family nursing-- has been incorporated into other courses. It used to be from about 1983 to about maybe five years ago there were courses called "Family Nursing," and there were Master's programs called "Family Nurse Practitioner Programs," and the family was considered the client and there was a family course, and what's happened is in the undergraduate programs, family has become a unit or one to two lectures within a course, and in the Master's programs what's happened is they've been-- the Family Nurse Practitioner Programs have been focused on-- really it's primary care, and they've been focusing almost as a medical model, not a family, and so they've taken that course out to include maybe a pharmacology class or something like that, whereas internationally like Thailand and Brazil and Canada, family is still very important, and so it's very [inaudible] quite heavily in other countries now, and so in my third edition I incorporated the Canadian perspective of family so in every chapter I have a box that says "The Canadian perspective." For example, if it was nutrition or exercise, or whatever the issue was, or health policy and families, I incorporated that, the Canadian perspective, so I had 23 nurses from Canada work with me on that.

Riggins: If you didn't know already about their healthcare system, it's pretty different even though they're so close by, right?

Bomar: Right, right. And then the other interesting thing is that Japan and Thailand are the only two countries in the world that have a Family Nursing Association, and Japan has over a thousand members, and Bangkok has 350 members. So, that's pretty exciting, but in the US the family nurses are all-- they're part of other organizations, and they just have a meeting every two years, and that's international, so but--

Riggins: It's not as powerful as it was in this country. Was there an organization in this country?

Bomar: There never has been. The University-- Organ Health Sciences actually organized the first national conference, and then the following year it was international, and there were courses that were taught throughout the country, but just that for some reason that particular course has been incorporated into other courses.

Riggins: Is your textbook translated or is it in English?

Bomar: Actually what's interesting, in Bangkok and Japan, those are the two countries that I've traveled to that have used it. The students in, for example in Japan have to have six years of English, and so therefore for their books that they use in their programs, they use both English and Japanese, and I talked to a group of colleagues in Japan when I was at an international conference in June in Bangkok, the International Family Nursing Conference, and I said "What did you all think about translating it into Japanese?" and they're thinking about it, but they actually read it quite well and read it quite well. In fact, I was surprised at the international conference this year, it was the seventh international-- eighth international conference, and I was a [inaudible] speaker and I was surprised how many people knew me. "Oh, Dr. Bomar from the book," and they would come up, "Would you sign my book?" and the doctoral students would want to have pictures taken with me, and some of them are using my model in their research, so that was quite exciting. Yeah, so that sort of got started at University of San Diego, and University of San Diego also-- while I was there they also started a doctoral program, and so that was the next part of my-- what I did there in regard to my research, since my doctorate was in education administration, then I audited the doctoral research courses with the doctoral students there, and taught the-- I didn't teach in the classes. I might teach a lecture so, and I [inaudible] some of the dissertations-- I was on dissertation committees, but I didn't teach full course--

Riggins: You certainly had experience starting up graduate programs throughout your career.

Bomar: Right. That's been quite a-- one of my-- one thing that I've done is really worked a lot in graduate programs. So, then-- we're on education-- Then the next part of my career was I wanted to move back to the East coast, and so I spent a couple of years at East Carolina University teaching predominantly in the Master's program there, and unfortunately they were doing what other schools were doing. They were phasing out of their family nursing, and so in the meantime I also applied for a post doctoral research fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill, so I had about a $350,000 post doctoral scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill, so I spent about three years working with a research mentor on health promotion and [inaudible] to health promotion for African American women with hypertension.

Riggins: That was pretty research intensive.

Bomar: That was pretty research intensive.

Riggins: With people?

Bomar: Well actually, the study that I worked with, my research mentor was working with children, and determining what was their cardiovascular risk, and I was interested in the African American mothers. A research mentor said to me once, she said "You're studying stress on nursing faculty, and stress on nursing students," she says "We all know that nurses are stressed and students are stressed, but what is it that really- burning question that you want that you have not had answered yet?" and I said "Well I just don't understand why there's so much hypertension in African Americans and there's a lot in my family," and she happened to be-- she's Egyptian, and she said "Well,"-- and she was studying the health issues of Egyptian women, and she said "You know, you really should be studying the health of African American women because they have the poorest health status in this country, and lots of people are doing research on all those other topics. You really should be trying to find the answer to that question that you have," and so I actually then-- Actually at the same time-- this was in San Diego-- started this journey of studying about the risk factors in why African American women have hypertension; what are the barriers and what could make a difference. So, my study at UNC Chapel Hill was my research mentor was in regard to what were the factors that contributed to the risk, and I was looking at them from a qualitative study I found that spirituality was a barrier to their health. In many studies we find that spirituality is a facilitator to health, but what I found in two qualitative studies were that the women would say that they had so many other barriers such as taking care of their husbands and children who had issues, and taking care of parents and maybe they were low income, and they just had so many problems and challenges that they didn't-- that they felt they should be able to eat what they wanted to. They didn't have time to exercise, and besides they were leaving it up to God, and what they would do, they would use a term called-- in my qualitative work they'd say "I aint claiming it. I aint' claiming it," meaning that they were not acknowledging that they-- accepting that they had hypertension, and that they were going to leave it up to God to heal them, and so I actually started on this journey to find out how were they just worthy and why was it-- what did this term mean? So I did a quantitative study then to determine what was that, and what they were doing, they would-- in their prayers-- They believed heavily in prayer, and they believed heavily that their-- strongly that their higher being would heal them. So, that's what I've been studying the last, you know, since about 1996 I guess-- what were the barriers, and then to quantify that, and so that study at Chapel Hill we compared Caucasian women and African American women, and these were the mothers of school aged children, and we had over 200 mothers, and what we found was that the African American women were more-- believed more in higher being and healing and that their hypertension was higher, their cholesterol was higher, and that their participation in exercise and health [inaudible] behaviors was less.

Riggins: That's quite a strong thing to face, this belief system. Had they turned that around so that people take ownership and they don't deny their faith, and think about their health in another way.

Bomar: Right, and so on the same hand people-- There's a religion institute, spirituality and religion institute at Duke, and they were finding that religion was very supportive, like in cancer pain and coping with HIV and suffering, but in this particular instance I was finding that it was a barrier, because they weren't taking their medication, they weren't exercising because they were turning it over to God.

Riggins: And is that with hypertension mostly, or do you think this can transfer to Diabetes?

Bomar: I think it can transfer to any chronic illness. In fact, I was very privileged to work with a doctoral student at UNC Chapel Hill, and she was doing her dissertation and they asked me to serve on her committee, and she was studying Diabetes, and what she found was that there were actually three groups of people: one group that believed that God just sort of pretty much left people to their own devices. They believed in God, but God just left them to their own devices. The second group believed that God gave the person the wisdom to take care of themselves and also to use the knowledge from physicians and education and exercise physiologists, and those were the type that would be conforming and taking care of themselves, and then there was the other group that totally relinquished their health and their total being to their higher being, and that's the group that we need to intervene with.

Riggins: [inaudible] whose health is the poorest?

Bomar: Whose health are the poorest. And so that's the group we need to intervene with.

Riggins: Did you include women in your study who were not religious?

Bomar: Well actually, we just asked them what was their religion. We didn't say, "Do you belong to a church? If you do, you can't take part in the study." We just selected-- The children in the study were randomly assigned to the intervention, so we just took the mothers of the children, and so they were mothers of school aged children so we didn't know what their religion was, but most of the schools-- All the schools that I used were rural, so it was rural mothers, and so they didn't have to say "Yes, I'm religious" to be a part of the study. We just found that they tended to believe in a higher being and healing. So, then I repeated this again with Dr. Jeanne Kemppainen and we did this again, the quantitative study. We compared the belief in higher being and healing to a group of people with hypertension in Japan, and we found the same thing; that Japanese were less spiritual and their hypertension was less than our rule [inaudible] component.

Riggins: Wow, I'm sure you've gotten a number of articles out of all this.

Bomar: [inaudible] our presentations, and now that I'm retired I can begin to write, and then what we've done is-- Dr. Kemppainen and I currently have a study to test out an intervention. We have a $5,000 study to test out an educational intervention with a group of people who have hypertension and to test out a spiritual intervention to see if it will make a difference in their blood pressure.

Riggins: You mean, have people who believe in intervention?

Bomar: Well, we will train someone, or she and I will probably do it. It's five sessions for an hour and a half, so probably I'll do half and she'll do half of them.

Riggins: Wow, so you're very active. We'll get to talking about your [inaudible] retirement later, but you're active with research in [inaudible] retirement now. You mentioned that now that you're retired you have some time to do some writing. Is that how it works?

Bomar: Yes.

Riggins: You spent so much time teaching, and you did do quite a bit of writing relating to the study [inaudible]. Well, it sounds like you spent about three years at Chapel Hill? Is that right?

Bomar: Yes, and the main aspect of that was to prepare me to implement-- to be a principal investigator and how to manage a research team and grant writing and publication and things like that, so that's what it was. It was the research-- just to sort of-- so I worked with the researcher-- There were three-- four researchers on the team. There were four research assistants and there were 23 schools, and so I actually went out with the research team and I learned all the aspects of managing a large research study.

Riggins: You didn't teach at this time?

Bomar: I taught-- Actually when I was at East Carolina, this was a 80 percent release time, so I was only at East Carolina one day a week my second year, and then when I came here as Associate Dean in '96, when I came here in '96 then I began-- then I went up to Chapel Hill one day a week, so it was reverse; it was 80 percent here and then 20 percent there.

Riggins: How did that come about that you came here?

Bomar: Well, back to my expertise in graduate curriculum- graduate family nursing curriculum. Dean Adams, her vision and her five year goal for the school nursing was to have a Master's program when she first came here, and so the Associate Dean position was open here, and I wanted to leave East Carolina, and so that was open so I applied for that and she says "Well,"-- they only had a Baccalaureate program here, and she says "Really,"-- where I was in my career, there really wasn't a place for me as a researcher, but I could assist her with mounting a new Master's program and of course part of the role is to be research, you know, for any faculty member I thought. So I accepted the position as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and immediately-- I mean within a month or six weeks after I was here there was a call for applications for a new Master's programs-- for grants for new Master's programs, and I had been reviewing for the Department of Health and Human Services. I had been a grant reviewer for them for about four years, and they called me up and said "We've been looking for you. What are you doing at UNC Wilmington?" I says "Well I'm Associate Dean, and the Dean wants to start a Master's program." She says, "Well we have funds for new programs and they have planning grants. You should write one," and I said "Oh my," and she says "You can write one; you've been reviewing for years," and so she says "Come up and we'll talk about it," so Dean Adams and I guess probably the provost office sent me up to Washington and I spent a couple days there and reviewed grants, and they went through the proposal guidelines with me and so on, and I came back and I just wrote from probably about September, October to November for-- or first of December until we got it off.

Riggins: It's a huge packet.

Bomar: It's a huge packet; 200 pages or something like that. So anyway, it was submitted and it was approved.

Riggins: Wow.

Bomar: A million dollars for the Master's program.

Riggins: For planning.

Bomar: No, it was for planning and implementing. So the first year-- So the first year was only for plans. We had the first year funds for planning and second to you is for implementing.

Riggins: And that was to start the following Fall?

Bomar: Well actually, we had a year to plan. We had a year to plan. The funds were released July 1, so we had July 1 to June 30 to plan, and our first class had to be starting then by the following Fall, so there I was all planning a new Master's program. So, worked to get written the-- what's that, the request to-- request-- There's a document-- At this time the program had not actually been-- You have to have approval through graduate school and Chapel Hill to establish a new Master's program, and so we didn't have a Master's program at all, so we had to go through all that business, and it had to be-- that had to be approved for the time the funds from the feds were on campus.

Riggins: Sounds like the first Master's [inaudible] would have come in '98 or so maybe?

Bomar: Yes.

Riggins: How did that go? Was that smooth?

Bomar: Well, we did a survey of the nurses in the nine counties in the surrounding-- [inaudible] County and there were over 230 nurses interested, and so we had a class of 12, and they all graduated.

Riggins: Was that an MSN?

Bomar: It was a MSN, and then we had to have-- In order for that, the students who graduated to be graduating from an accredited program we had to have an accreditation visit, so in-- [inaudible] that graduated in 2002 I think maybe-- but anyway, we had an accreditation visit the Spring before the students graduated, and the accreditation went very nicely and we had no recommendations.

Riggins: For improvement?

Bomar: No recommendations for improvement. They were really quite pleased with the program.

Riggins: That's probably rare.

Bomar: So I was quite proud of what the faculty had done a great job, and they all passed their-- they had to take a certification exam, and they all passed the certification exam.

Riggins: Okay, going back to getting approval from the UNC system and all that, how did that go? Was that smooth? You don't have to answer.

Bomar: It was not as smooth as it could have been, but it was approved and that's the main thing, you know, that's the main thing. I think what happened was it was because of the timing really the intent to plan should have gone first, but the opportunity was there for the grant and we sent it in and, you know--

Riggins: They can't complain about that. I mean, we got some money.

Bomar: So here we are with a million dollars, but all the paperwork was done. It was just the, you know, it was right there. It hadn't quite been approved but the funds were approved, but then there was a telephone conversation between general administration UNCW and the Washington and they approved it, so they got the verbal approval and written approval, so--

Riggins: I remember when you showed me some pictures from the first graduating class. That might be some of the pictures that you said you have in your office, but I could tell you felt very close to that first class like "Oh, they made it."

Bomar: Yes, in fact two of those students actually wrote chapters with me in my text. One of them wrote alone and one wrote with me. In fact, one of them is now teaching now at UNCW and she's in the Doctoral program, so it's exciting to see what they're doing.

Riggins: Did you teach in that program?

Bomar: Yes I did. I taught Family Nursing and Nursing Research.

Riggins: [inaudible] family nursing course [inaudible]. How is that program going now?

Bomar: It's doing well. Now with decrease emphasis on family they're making a little change, but it's doing well. Also, there's a need for nurse educators, so now they've added a nurse educator track to it with the shortage of nursing, so they've added that, and so I think it's going well with the transition.

Riggins: Is there another graduate program in nursing school at this time or this is the only one at this time?

Bomar: Well, when you receive approval from general administration, you have the Master's program, then you have tracks within it, and so the two tracks now are "nurse practitioner" and "nursing education" and there's a need for gerontology, but finding the faculty is challenging. But I think if we get enough nurse educators out there and-- in addition to the shortage of nurses, there's a shortage of faculty in nursing.

Riggins: So if you got a PhD in Nursing you could do pretty well probably in terms of where you go and salaries are probably pretty good.

Bomar: Yes, and you could pretty much select-- you could be choosy about what you want to select.

Riggins: That's great. I've heard business is that way too; PhD in finance is pretty good. But there's a shortage. I suppose a lot of people in nursing want to be out working in a clinical setting. Why do you suppose there's a shortage in faculty nursing?

Bomar: I think there's a shortage because for a long time for young women nursing and teaching were the fields that you'd go into, and now we have not as many barriers, so now you have young people going into-- young women going into business and into medicine. In fact, there's an interesting joke now about a young man and his-- and one of his parents were traveling-- a child and his parents were traveling, and the father-- the parent with the child was killed, and so when they get to the emergency room, the doctor said to the people "I can't take care of this child. I'm his parent," and of course the issue is, people are saying "Well how can you not take care?" The father just killed. How could you be-- How could you not take care-- Well, the mother is a physician, and so you don't even think of physicians as being-- so that's what's happened is that physicians is that-- nurses-- more women are going into medicine and other fields, and so nursing has not been advertised well, and the different options for nursing has not been as advertised as well. Now we have programs-- like the School of Nursing has a program called "Camp Bones" and they're teaching young, you know, high school students what nursing is about and all the possibilities, so--

Riggins: To interact people to the field, because it seems like a wide open, flexible degree.

Bomar: It is. Nursing is-- there's so many possibilities and you can, you know-- you have to go through the training of, you know, the clinical, training and, you know, the didactic, you know, the cognitive aspect, but then after you pass your-- after you get your Masters and you-- there's so many possibilities, and it's just been so exciting to me just to see how it's changed and so many possibilities.

Riggins: That's a good question for you because you've seen the field change so much, but it sounds like you're still excited about it.

Bomar: Well I am, I am, and for example, I tell people who come here, who come to UNCW, faculty candidates, that if they have a passion for a particular area of research that they can find the population here for the most part, and they can find one that hasn't been overused and because of the health disparities here, there are lots of areas for intervention and for health teaching. So for example, one of the things-- one of the changes since I've been here at UNCW is that as the school grew with the Master's program and the undergraduate program, it became evident that the school needed an Associate Dean for academic affairs and also someone to focus on research, and then also one of the missions of the university was service to the region, and so the School of Nursing's source to the region was community outreach and health, of course. So, with the expertise-- and that was the other thing. The Master's program was-- part of the reason why it was approved was because it was to prepare nurse practitioners for the rural and urban underserved, to meet health disparities, and so our students did a considerable research in regard to the needs of the region, and so one of the needs we saw was that the low income had inadequate access to healthcare, so-- and they just had so many needs in regards to intervention for healthcare, so many of our Master's students, their research projects were related to the health issues in the underserved areas. So of course my research from UNC Chapel Hill for my post-doc just fit perfectly, and so with the community outreach, one of the other aspects that was becoming very prevalent in nursing is what we called "academic nursing centers" which--

Riggins: I don't know what that is.

Bomar: Okay. Having a nurse practitioner program-- nurse practitioners provide about 85 percent of the care that a physician does, okay, so our program was focused on primary care as well as health promotion. So, a nurse could actually have a clinic and provide 85 percent of the care that a patient needs. So, one of our students-- one of our faculty with Dr. Lou Hessenflout [ph?]-- they were doing assessment in the towns of Nevasa and Bolton [ph?] for example-- and so as a part of the student nurse practitioner's project and part of their clinical, they actually did screenings in the community, and at that time we received a $5,000 grant from the County of Columbus, Columbus County Health Commissioners to provide health care, and you can't give a lot of care for $5,000. But anyway--

Riggins: No, [inaudible] start up.

Bomar: But it was a start up, but what we did was, we began to use the concept of community campus partnerships and in community campus partnerships the community tells you what they need. You don't go to them and say "This is what I'm doing for you," so the community said to our students-- to our faculty-- to Dr. Hessenflout "We need healthcare in our community," so with this small grant the students then-- they were student nurse practitioners and their faculty was a nurse practitioner-- they then said "Okay, we will do house screenings maybe one day a month for you for an academic year," and then the community decided who came for those physicals.

Riggins: They selected the patients?

Bomar: They selected the patients, and what they actually decided was one month it would be women, one month it would be men, one month it would be children, one month it would be seniors, and so they-- then the students and I think nursing and social work-- we worked with the social working department and there were nursing and social work students and Master's in Social Work and the nurse practitioner students provided healthcare for a day in the community, and then if someone was ill they referred them to the hospital or to a physician, and then when nurse practitioners practice independently, they don't have to have a physician on site, but they have to have a physician for the other 15 percent to call for someone that needs to be admitted to the hospital or they're not sure of what to prescribe for them. So, we always had a physician who they could call. So, from that-- again, working-- by then part of my role as Associate Dean for research and campus partnership, I was introduced to the Southeast North Carolina Black Mayors Association, and I met the president thinking he was the only community that needed- had a need, and he invited me to lunch one day and I thought I was meeting him for lunch to talk about what were the needs of his community. Well, there were six other mayors there.

Riggins: He didn't tell you that (laughs).

Bomar: He didn't tell me that. So, I ended up meeting six mayors that had-- African American mayors that had communities that all had similar health needs and my students had all surveyed them, so they said "Well what can the School of Nursing do for us?" and so at the same time they were also talking with their legislature which was Congressman McIntyre and so from that interaction with the community, the mayors to the Congressman McIntyre-- and I think he was serving on the [inaudible] the Rural Committee or something there in Washington, and so from that with the support of the university and the mayors we were able to get I think another $700,000 for rural clinics; two clinics. We had one in Nevasa and one in Bolton.

Riggins: That came about pretty quickly after you got the funding.

Bomar: Yes, and that was through the, you know, through the assessment of the students to recognize a need and from the family course. That was what their assignment was; to assess the health needs in the communities, the rural communities. The mayors saying to us "We need healthcare," and that being the university's mission, so that's how I actually got involved in that. We had funding from-- federal funding for the Nevasa- the Masa [ph?] Clinic. The Masa Clinic didn't so-- didn't survive because part of the issue is that you have to have enough patients to support payment of the staff, because the federal funds eventually run out, and have to have enough patients to receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid, and/or enough private patients to pay, and there was not enough.

Riggins: There were people who didn't have Medicaid or Medicare?

Bomar: Well actually, we didn't have enough patients coming to the clinic to meet to have enough volume for it to continue. You have to have enough volume.

Riggins: But Bolton continues to this day.

Bomar: Yes, Bolton continues to this day.

Riggins: I've seen the pictures.

Bomar: Yes, yes.

Riggins: And the ribbon cutting, did Congressman McIntyre attend?

Bomar: Yes.

Riggins: And Dr. DePaolo was there?

Bomar: Dr. DePaolo was there and I was the Project Director for that for building the building, so actually the university took part and oversaw the construction of the building, but the building is owned by the town and the building and the property is owned by the community, but that was part of the partnership that was created. The university had the expertise to oversee construction and the town had the need, and so the building is still in operation. The university no longer manages the healthcare. The School of Nursing no longer manages the healthcare, and I was really quite pleased. After about a year I was-- I got an email from Mark Lenier one day and it said "Perri, you might be interested in this," he said. You know, Blue Cross Blue Shield had a call for grant proposals-- because I was always looking for money for keeping these clinics going, because about 60 percent of the patients didn't have any money at all.

Riggins: They didn't have Medicaid or Medicare.

Bomar: No, so in order to keep that clinic running you had to have funds for that 60 percent that couldn't pay, and that would have to be paid for by grants and donations. So, Mark says "Oh there's a grant. Blue Cross Blue Shield has a call for proposals," and so I'd been sending out proposals, so this was about 4:00 in the afternoon I got this email, and the proposal was due in Raleigh the next day, and so I thought "Oh my gosh. Well I'll look at it anyway," so I looked at it and I thought "Oh well, it's only three pages. I can do this." So I thought "Now how am I going to get this to Raleigh by tomorrow?" So from my experience of writing my book, I knew that the FedEx office was open until 7. So I had from 4 to 7.

Riggins: Oh, to do an overnight.

Bomar: Yeah, yeah.

Riggins: Oh my goodness.

Bomar: Yeah, so I worked on the proposal and sent it in and got there just as they were pulling down the shade.

Riggins: You can get a lot done in three hours.

Bomar: Yes, but she let me in because she knew me. She said "Oh, I'm working on some things and just [inaudible] your paperwork on the side, but I'm locking the door behind you." So we sent it in, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, they got and everything and they said "We're so sorry. We can't fund this." Those proposals were for $25,000 and I asked for $400,000, and they said "But we really are interested in this. It sounds like [inaudible] project, so we're going to consider this separate from other proposals" and so they sent one of their board members down who lived in the county, and they sent him to visit. The center was already constructed and everything and operations, so they sent one of their board members over to visit, and he was really impressed and he gave a report to the board, and so they didn't give me all of that, but they gave me-- they funded $304,000.

Riggins: Just through a separate grant.

Bomar: Yeah.

Riggins: That's amazing.

Bomar: Isn't that amazing?

Riggins: It pays to do grants.

Bomar: Yes, yes. So, they funded it, so I was really excited about that. So that kept on going for another two years, and then I kept looking around noting that 60 percent that we didn't have money for. So there was a program called-- a federal program called "Community Health Centers", "Federally Qualified Community Health Centers." So, there is a mechanism that nurse managed community health centers could be funded, so I joined that organization that was only nurse managed centers. There are about 250 nursing centers in the country that are nurse ran. So, from that they said there are only about two in the country though that had federal support, and so I began to take a look at how we could get that center-- become federally qualified, and what I quickly determined was that we needed to partner with someone. We needed to partner with another federally qualified center. So after networking with the State Office of Community Health Centers I talked to three federally qualified health centers in this area and finally one agreed to partner with us, and to explore partnering with us and so there was a call for new sites just recently last year about this time, and the one agreed to work with us, and so from my work with determining needs in the community and writing other grants I had a pretty good handle on what they call the "needs assessment," a description of the community and the area needs, and so I partnered with a center, Goshen Community Health Center, and they asked, they said "Well, would you write that section?" so I wrote that section, and the interesting thing about Goshen was that any-- every grant that they have written for a community health center has been funded. So, they came down, they met with the board at Bolton and they agreed to submit the proposal, and I wrote that section for them. They wrote all the rest which is quite-- it's about-- it's probably about a 200 page proposal when it's all done, but it was approved and funded, and they received $5 million for the Bolton Center.

Riggins: Was that last year?

Bomar: Just recently. I'm so excited. So they are just starting-- they just-- now it's one of the sites for the Goshen Medical Center now. At least they have funding now for that 60 percent that's uninsured.

Riggins: And that will be sustaining?

Bomar: That will be sustaining because they will, you know, they'll continue to write reports and now they'll have a mammography van. They'll also have a van to go out to the sites where people can't drive in, and they'll also have a mental health counselor. Yes.

Riggins: Congratulations.

Bomar: Yes.

Riggins: That's wonderful.

Bomar: So that was--

Riggins: They're lucky they have you there still at UNCW behind the scenes.

Bomar: So that was my last contribution. I was on the board of directors until Fall of 2007 and that was my last contribution. I wanted to be able to leave them in good hands, and so I'm very happy that now they're in good hands.

Riggins: Congratulations. I'd like to just stop this tape because we're running out of tape, but I'd like to ask you a couple more things if you don't mind, take a little break.

[tape change]

Riggins: This is Adina Riggins, Archivist, and I'm here on Tape 2 with Dr. Perri Bomar on September 12, 2007. We were talking on the last tape about the Bolton Center and we left it with how UNCW now doesn't have any ties with it but Dr. Bomar was certainly instrumental in getting its current status, and now it's just on its own just like a student. You got it started--

Bomar: And now it's ready, independent and now it's on its next stage of growth.

Riggins: They're really doing good things in the community. And you said you were on the board [inaudible] this fall?

Bomar: To Fall of 2006; to the Fall of December 6.

Riggins: Officially off the board now.

Bomar: Correct. In fact we have a faculty member now who's on the board, and actually she still practices there, so it has always been a site for-- Nurse practitioner faculty have to have a practice one day a week, and so we have a faculty member who practices one day a week and then we were instrumental in getting a couple grants to actually take healthcare out to the Native American community-- built themselves a Native American community also, the [inaudible], so take some healthcare to them and then one of the other towns at Sandyfield, so they have health promotion activities that they're taking there, and she's very instrumental in taking part of that.

Riggins: Faculty involvement for sure. What county is that?

Bomar: That's Columbus County.

Riggins: So you expect to be less involved with that in coming times, just you personally?

Bomar: I do, I do, I do. The way that I would be involved now would be maybe an advisory position, and then also perhaps going back to the issue of chronic disease and the influence of spirituality, perhaps our current study on spirituality to take some of the-- to do a study, a group there of participants in regard to determining how the spiritual strategies would effect chronic disease.

Riggins: So [inaudible] retirement mean that you teach one semester, and this is your last year?

Bomar: My last year.

Riggins: But you're very involved with research studies. Do you foresee having some more research papers will in you that you want to get out?

Bomar: Well the interesting thing-- I came up with a different term this summer. I met a colleague from the University of Calgary who recently retired, and she says she has chosen a new term, a different term. She's calling it "preferment" rather than retirement. Preferment. So what she's doing is, the things that she loved from her career-- and so I've had time to reflect on that, and of course I was-- did not teach the spring semester, so I've had eight months to reflect on that and I would like to still be involved in research and in writing some things that I haven't quite completed yet, and so I probably won't be the principal investigator, but would be co-investigator with someone who has interest in the topic that I'm interested in which is spirituality and how it affects the health of others-- how it affects the health of people with chronic disease.

Riggins: How will that work with your affiliation? You'll still be able to say UNCW?

Bomar: Well I haven't gotten to that stage yet, but in regard to research grants, if you-- if someone is on a research grant, they can be written into it, and I also hope to become a [inaudible], so I use Chapel Hill as my model and I have a colleague there who started preferment about three years ago, and she's celebrating her 70th birthday in the spring, and she's the interim director at one of the research centers and then she's co-investigator on two research studies.

Riggins: They always need [inaudible] these days.

Bomar: And so she's so involved, you know, involved in her research and still writing, so--

Riggins: And that says a lot, that your career is calling to you, even after all this time.

Bomar: So between my colleague in Canada and this one I think "Well, I still have-- I still want to see if an intervention like that would work here," and I think it would, so Dr. Kemppainen and-- Jeanne Kemppainen also is very-- she and I have been working together for about three years on this, so we're going to continue to work together.

Riggins: Oh, that's great, yeah. She's someone who was here at UNCW in the early days when [inaudible] came back. Actually some of my colleagues already interviewed her, even though she's not retired or [inaudible] or anything, just because she knew the early days when she was-- she was very [inaudible] as well. What are you teaching during [inaudible] retirement?

Bomar: Nursing research.

Riggins: Are you teaching graduate students?

Bomar: Actually I'm doing undergraduate research.

Riggins: Is that research methods?

Bomar: Just nursing research, research methods.

Riggins: So, some stats?

Bomar: Just the entire research process, [inaudible] research and actually in nursing which is exciting, nursing has gotten to the point where there has been enough research from when I started taking nursing research to now, that we can now take that research and begin to use it in practice, and so now there's evidence based practice, so this course is research and evidence based practice of teaching the new nurses how to read the research and how you use it in your practice. That was the interesting thing. My [inaudible] speech this summer at the International Family Nursing was that there's not been enough evidence based research practice in family nursing. We've done a lot of research, but they haven't taken and compared all the research that's been done and tested it out with the patients. So that's what I'm teaching now, and I had a couple of students that I-- honor students that I worked with on their research projects. In fact, I'm on an honors study this fall, and she's studying spirituality.

Riggins: Oh wow. That's one thing, at UNCW it seems we've been very good about encouraging undergraduate research, and that's only increasing as we've seen, so you've worked with some undergraduates as well.

Bomar: Right.

Riggins: And it sounds like you've enjoyed being at various institutions with your affiliation at Chapel Hill and elsewhere. What is it about UNCW that makes it [inaudible] or memorable to you?

Bomar: What I like about UNCW, first of all I like the-- Coming from San Diego to here was so refreshing. Here you walk across campus and the students say "Hello," and people will open doors for you, and the staff are friendly, so I like that, and I like the beauty of the campus. You can just, if you really just take a walk sometimes you can talk about-- One of the spiritual strategies is just being in the environment, and you can just take a walk here, and there are little places where you can hear the water, you know, stream running and hear the birds chirping and it's a really beautiful campus, so it's really very scholarly also, but, and I like the ability to come here, international speakers, and the arts here, and also there's also something new going on. It's been exciting just to see how technology has just ex-- you know, it just-- always something new, and if anyone's doing it, UNCW is, and to see how it's now-- how it's being incorporated into the School of Nursing and to see how, you know, we have mannequins that are now computers, they're attached to computers and they talk and they can program them, and it's really fascinating to do that, and now that the students can-- are being taught to use PDAs in the clinical practice, we just-- and that they are being taught to be current with what's going on in the healthcare field, because last weekend I happened to be in the hospital for three days, and it was interesting seeing how computers were so involved and how wireless things were, and nurses were using them, PDAs and the patient's band has a barcode in it, so they scan the medications, put it in the computer, then it goes into the mainframe and it's wireless. And then I was on a heart monitor and it was wireless and they could read it out at the desk, my EKG at the desk.

Riggins: Wow.

Bomar: Yeah.

Riggins: A lot of what nurses do now, it seems manage the computer systems; going around their floor.

Bomar: Right, and so what's happening is I see that the-- and that's being all incorporated into our program, so that's exciting.

Riggins: You kind of answered this already with technology, but what else is appealing for a career in nursing at this time? We were about to build a nurses building here--

Bomar: What's interesting about nursing now is that it's not just solely about giving medications and about doctor's orders and things like that. There is so much more in regard to the understanding-- really I still say people we need the family course, but understanding what's going on policy-wise, how policies effect healthcare and how nursing can be involved in varied levels. So, and then various organizations, you know, schools and the workplace-- One of my Master's-- she was my Master's student in San Diego, and she took the health promotion concept and she developed it with teenagers; teaching teenagers about their weight, and she incorporated the family; that you couldn't reduce weight in a teenager by just teaching the teen. You had to have the family involved. And I met her this summer. She now has her Doctorate, and she's now developing intervention programs for Latino families who have obese children and she's doing a research project with that, which works best, and that's exciting. So, all the varied things that people can-- that nurses can do in regard to the health of our country is just awesome.

Riggins: Yes, especially when they get into research or administration.

Bomar: Research or administration, teaching and all the different, you know-- and of course online teaching is something else.

Riggins: Have you done that?

Bomar: I actually-- I'm doing that right now. I'm actually doing that right now. I thought I was going to escape it, but I didn't, but it's interesting.

Riggins: I've heard it takes time.

Bomar: It takes--

Riggins: I've heard it's the kiss of death of the untenured faculty. Untenured people, they don't want to--

Bomar: It's a lot of time because it takes a lot of time to first, learn the entire program, to interface, and then to-- and then in the past when you only met the students once and you gave your lecture and that was it, and then you answered questions, everyone heard it, you gave instructions, everyone heard of it, but you can send everybody email now, but it takes more time to load it up and to-- all the interacting with all the interfaces than it does to actually prepare a lecture and just give it.

Riggins: And do you meet in real time?

Bomar: We do. We do meet every other week in real time.

Riggins: Do you see each other visually?

Bomar: No, actually this is partially-- it's partially online. We meet every other week, and we actually meet for three hours every other week.

Riggins: Oh, I see, actually--

Bomar: Actually meet and interact with them, have a lecture and a dialogue, and any other part they do online.

Riggins: You feel mixed about it?

Bomar: I think part of one's education is interacting with the faculty, and part of it is being on campus and the dialogue with your students and with your colleagues. It's amazing some of the things that you have that students take with you for a long time. I have one I met this summer. She came up to me, "Do you remember me?" and I thought [inaudible], and I did though, but she says "You know, I remember you telling me in class for your research 'Go with your passion'" and I probably said that a number of times, and she remembered that, whereas in an online class you don't get that. It's not the same. Or some of the things you do in regard to role modeling, and so that professionalism or for example maybe getting-- encouraging a student to-- like "That's student's really interested in this." For example, I've worked with-- A couple students have worked with me on research projects. One Dr. Kemppainen and I worked on together. We had a graduate student with us and we mentored her, and she got partial funding from her hospital and she actually presented with us at a symposium in Hawaii, whereas online it's difficult to have that interaction, to establish rapport to determine if you really could work with that student. So, that's the kind of thing you miss online, and just the-- there's something about coming to campus and just coming to the library and just-- you just feel like "Gee, there are lots of books to read."

Riggins: A scholarly [inaudible].

Bomar: Right. So you miss that scholarly interchange and that mentoring.

Riggins: Right, it makes you think well "Online courses will improve and will grow," but I don't know if it will replace the face-to-face of learning entirely [inaudible]. I think it might become a component, more of a significant component [inaudible]. It isn't an option for people who work [inaudible]. What do you see yourself doing in retirement? Do you envision some involvement with your work for sure and research?

Bomar: I still would like to finish up this testing out a spiritual intervention to see how it works in this area, you know, in this part of the country, and maybe some consulting in regard to the international schools that are still interested in family nursing. For example, when I went to the conference in Bangkok in June, I was about ready to say "Okay, I'm hanging-- putting my shingle away for family nursing, I'm done. I'm presenting and I'm done," but people were saying "Are you coming to the conference in two years in Iceland?" and so I said "I don't think so," and then later on someone was saying, they said-- and I suggested a topic and they said "Oh, that would be a good topic for us to present you, including Perri," so I think it probably maybe another three to five years that still some professional involvement in regard to that preferment part of me and to get some of the things in regard to my career finished. Being in administration, one of the challenges of being in administration, I wasn't able to write as much or complete the research that I wanted to do, so now I can do that and so I'd like to be a co-investigator with someone. I'm not going to come with the energy to do a total proposal myself, but to be a co-investigator with someone that has that topic within their study, or to consult with them.

Riggins: That sounds good. Travel for enjoyment?

Bomar: Travel for enjoyment. I've never taken a cruise, so that's definitely-- that I'd like to that one day, and the other thing is spending-- having more time for myself just to reenergize. I've taken a class that incorporates yoga, so to incorporate that and to just have more time to self-enrichment.

Riggins: This research in spirituality is inspiring you perhaps to be spiritual with the yoga.

Bomar: Yes, and that's actually one of the interventions I was thinking about was incorporating a design that would incorporate repeating a holy name and comparing that with yoga, and regular exercise to see which group has the lower blood pressure afterwards.

Riggins: Well I think there's a whole lot of potential there with the religious, spiritual intervention. In the past have you done that with churches? Have you gotten churches involved?

Bomar: Well I have not, and that's the next step, is choosing where the site would be; whether it would be with a group or not. One of the things I did do was I did work on a grant with the New Hanover Community [inaudible] and we had a group of churches that we were teaching them about cancer and we incorporated spirituality and so how to incorporate that in regard to cancer intervention. The hospital found that in their cancer clinical trials, that they had no African Americans involved and part of the issue was that religious barrier that I was talking about, and so helped to design some programs in regard to that, so we did work with churches in regard to that, and I gave a couple presentations to-- actually it was a group of 350 African American men on spirituality and how it affected their health.

Riggins: It affects men too.

Bomar: Yeah. So, I have done some work with churches, but one of the things that I found that I had to do was I had to narrow-- I had to begin to say no to a number of presentations and so on because I had to focus, or my energies were do dispersed.

Riggins: Right, it takes you away from a research goal in order to do presentations. Well, I guess that's part of preferment. Well I thank you for coming in. Have I forgotten anything? Is there something that you'd like to say? I'll ask you for some closing thoughts, but before I do that is there anything else?

Bomar: No, I think-- it's been an exciting, challenging, full 11, 12 years here and there's lots more to do, but I'm really appreciative of Dr. Adams and her vision for the Master's program. It's been exciting to see that happen. I've been excited and appreciative of the support of Dr. Paul Hosier [ph?] ever since I've been here for the School of Nursing and the campus community partnership, and Dr. DePaolo [ph?] and her support of, you know-- She was coming to the ribbon cutting and so on. That was exciting to her there and excited about it.

Riggins: She was pretty new then.

Bomar: Yes, and so excited about the new stage of where the School of Nursing is going. It's going to be exciting in a new building and new possibilities with all the different, you know, the new simulation laboratories for the students. It's and exciting school, an exciting university to be a part of.

Riggins: We're glad you are here, to see, to be a part of this history and the life of the university, and if you plan to stay in Wilmington, I'm sure the university will still be reaching out to you, and even if you don't stay in Wilmington. So, you think you will stay in the area?

Bomar: Well, that's all a part of us-- a part of retirement is sort of assessing who you are and where you're going and that sort of thing, and I'm understanding that there different phases of retirement, and so this phase and stage of retirement, early retirement, I'll probably stay here and complete this preferment stage of working out the things in my career that I haven't quite finished yet, and [inaudible] because my co-researcher is here, so I'll continue to work with her, and I have two grandsons here. One is just getting ready to graduate from UNCW and one just starting in Cape Fear, so he may be coming here, so I intend to be around for a while.

Riggins: We'll see what happens after that. Well, thank you very much for this interview. We'll be sure to get you your copies, and this will be a great addition to your [inaudible].

Bomar: Thank you.

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