Keri Merschman honored with Excellence in Rural Health award

Each year the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences honors one University of Alabama MS III or MS IV who demonstrates academic interest in rural medicine and is engaged in rural research and/or scholarly activity. This award is designed to encourage medical students to pursue activities in rural medicine. 

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Medical students present at Larry Mayes Research Society Faculty & Student Dinner

Twice a year, medical students at the College of Community Health Sciences get the chance to present their research and scholarly activity to CCHS faculty at the Larry Mayes Research Society Faculty & Student Dinner.

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Above: Chelsea Cernosek presents on sickle cell trait and wound healing / Below: Jamie Powell presents on DVD intervention to improve knowledge and reduce secondhand and thirdhand tobacco smoke exposure.

The most recent dinner was held Thursday, April 10, at Cypress Inn, and Jamie Powell and Chelsea Cernosek, both third-year medical students, presented.

Powell presented her research on using a DVD as intervention for parents and caregivers of children hospitalized for  respiratory illnesses to improve knowledge and reduce secondhand and thirdhand tobacco smoke exposure.  

Thirdhand tobacco smoke exposure is the residual smoke that remains on clothes, hands and hair after smoking. 

“This is a very low-cost type of intervention,” Powell said. She also said participants in her study demonstrated retention of knowledge and some reported a decrease in smoking.

Cernosek presented her scholarly activity on sickle cell trait and wound healing and the use of epinephrine in breast reduction procedures.

Heather Taylor, MD, assistant director of Medical Student Affairs, says these events give students a chance to practice formally presenting their research before giving oral presentations at conferences. Cernosek, for example, will present her research again in June at an international plastic surgery conference. 

“So this was a valuable opportunity for her to practice and see what kinds of questions she needs to prepare for,” Taylor says.

The overall goal of the dinner is to support and encourage student scholarly activity, says Taylor. The objective of the Larry Mayes Research Society is to expose medical students to research being conducted at The University of Alabama and encourage them to engage in research with the College and the University. 

“It gives the students and faculty a chance to hear about the projects our students have been working on and often stimulates ideas for future projects,” Taylor says.

Opening the event and introducing the speakers were Larry Mayes Research Society president and vice president Stevie Bennett and Jody Watson, respectively, third-year medical students who were elected to their positions earlier this year. 

This year, the society experienced a reorganization of structure, including regular student meetings to discuss and present research.

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University Medical Center launches Wellness Walls for Art program

Something old can become something new.

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Wellness Walls for Art coordinator and Tuscaloosa artist Deborah Hughes says she is committed to keeping the walls of University Medical Center filled with art work.

More than two decades ago, artists affiliated with The University Women’s Club at UA began volunteering their time to keep the walls of the former Capstone Medical Center’s patient waiting areas filled with bright and vibrant paintings.

Today, this activity has a name, Wellness Walls for Art, and a coordinator, Tuscaloosa artist Deborah Hughes. Hughes says she is committed to keeping the walls of University Medical Center, which replaced Capstone Medical Center in 2004, filled with art work.

“I am excited that the Wellness Walls for Art program presents an opportunity to identify a rich array of art, bring it into focus and spotlight it in a public and accessible space,” she says.

University Medical Center is located on the UA campus and provides comprehensive patient-centered care to the UA community and West Alabama community in the areas of: primary care, including family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics; psychiatry and behavioral medicine; women’s health, including obstetrics and gynecology; and sports medicine. On-site laboratory and x-ray services, nutrition counseling and mental health counseling for individuals and families are also provided.

Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, which operates University Medical Center, says the art displays not only enhance the environment for patients but also for the College’s employees. He says art can play an important role in medicine and healing.

“In addition to helping patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, art used as therapy has successfully helped people with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, high blood pressure and other health conditions,” he says.

As part of Wellness Walls for Art, a new collection will be displayed every three months. A painting show currently on exhibit at University Medical Center features the work of Hughes and members of The Tuscaloosa and University Painters group – Karen Jacobs, Lorrie Lane, Pam Copeland, Emily Mitchell, Diana Franco and Ann Stickney.

In May, a new show will spotlight the theme “The Many Faces of Art in Adult Continuing Education” and will feature the work of residents of UA’s Capstone Village retirement community, UA’s OLLI program (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and Shelton State Community College’s Lifelong Learning Program.

A reception to officially recognize the Wellness Walls for Art program, which includes a viewing of the May show, will be held May 7 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at University Medical Center. The reception is open to the public.

The Tuscaloosa and University Painters group formed about 20 years ago and included individuals from the University and the Tuscaloosa community who met once a week to paint together and to hang their artwork at the former Capstone Medical Center and University Medical Center. In 2012, TAUP members decided the group would have to discontinue the hangings due to a lack of volunteers. Hughes offered to continue coordinating and hanging exhibits.

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UA students showcase interprofessional health care skills

More than 30 graduate students from across four disciplines at The University of Alabama capped the first year of a program that UA faculty and health care professionals call the future of medicine.

Graduate and medical students from nursing, medicine, nutrition and social work capped the first year of the university’s interprofessional health care framework with a live-simulation of initial treatment for faculty members and officials of the Tuscaloosa VA.

Graduate and medical students from nursing, medicine, nutrition and social work capped the first year of the university’s interprofessional health care framework with a live-simulation of initial treatment for faculty members and officials of the Tuscaloosa VA.

Graduate students from the Colleges of Nursing, Community Health Sciences, Human Environmental Sciences and the School of Social Work split into four groups for two different sessions of live simulations that featured graduate students from the UA Department of Theatre and Dance serving as military veteran patients with multiple chronic conditions.

The students participated in an open discussion about the experience on April 7 at the UA Capstone College of Nursing.

Each group was given a case study before meeting with the patient. Each group’s goal was to successfully diagnose the patient and set up future referrals with social workers, dieticians or other medical specialists.

The simulator, located in the Capstone College of Nursing, features a control room in which faculty can observe and interact with students.

This focus on interprofessional education comes as a response to the difficulty of treating military veterans who live in largely rural areas, many of whom suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis, cancer or cognitive ailments. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 66 percent of the country’s total health-care spending is associated with care for more than one in four Americans with multiple chronic conditions.

“This really is the future for us,” said Martin Schnier, chief of staff of at the Tuscaloosa VA. “It’s not a solo process anymore, and these students have to learn to work with one another. To watch them, observe them … it’s great to give them feedback on how they did and how they can improve that. That’s really important from our perspective at the VA.”

The interprofessional education activity is supported by two federally funded training grants. One grant is from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Rural Health, which funds a joint UA-Tuscaloosa VA program that trains students to better care for rural veterans.

The other grant is from the Department of Health and Human Services to the College of Nursing, in collaboration with the Colleges of Community Health Sciences, Human Environmental Sciences and the School of Social Work. This grant implements a collaborative, team-based approach to working with patients who have multiple chronic conditions.

Through participating in the simulation event and the extended grant activities, students involved will be better able to participate in collaborative care teams when they graduate and enter practice. “Our simulation is about teamwork and the process,” said Alice March, PhD, RN, an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

Justin Vines, a fourth-year medical student at the College of Community Health Sciences, said a challenge for the groups was to figure how to structure their time with the patients to get information they needed. “The biggest challenge was the order in which the group members would talk. Who goes first?” he said.

Fellow fourth-year medical student Arnelya Cade said that even though the students were in different areas of study, “there were certain things we all seemed to pick up on. There’s an overlap, but there are still extra things that we will add individually. The boundaries get blurred but I don’t think there need to be clear cut boundaries. As long as we’re doing what’s best for the patient, then we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Scott Bowen, a social work graduate student and intern at the Tuscaloosa VA, added that “We’re learning not only about our discipline, but our team members. We’re meeting the patient’s medical needs, their physical and emotional needs – it’s very holistic. We have to realize we’re team members, and we each bring a strength to the process.”

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Clem talks spring break safety with WVUA

Just as  spring breakers were heading out of town, WVUA spoke with Jennifer Clem, MD, assistant professor for the College of Community Health Sciences Department of Family Medicine, about ways college students can stay safe while enjoying the sun. 

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Arnold advises on colorectal cancer screenings

According to the Center for Disease Control, 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, WVUA reported recently. 

Scott Arnold, MD, associate professor and chair for the College of Community Health Sciences Department of Internal Medicine, told WVUA that while patients should routinely be screened for the disease starting at age 50, he has seen patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer as early as age 30. Those who have an immediate family history of colorectal cancer should take extra precautions, he says. 

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Blum says to keep focus on dangers of tobacco when discussing e-cigarettes

As several U.S. senators propose a bill banning marketing electronic cigarettes to children based on standards set by the Federal Trade Commission, Alan Blum, MD, professor of Family Medicine and the Gerald Leon Wallace Endowed Chair for the College of Community Health Sciences, says the focus of these efforts should be kept on the dangers of tobacco, according to a recent WVUA report.

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Yerby discusses options as healthcare deadline passes, WVUA reports

The Affordable Care Act deadline for open enrollment has passed, but those who did not signed up may still have some options, says Lea Yerby, PhD, assistant professor for the College of Community Health Sciences’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine, in a recent WVUA report

“You could be on your own private plan through a private insurance company,” Yerby said in the report.  “Also you would still be eligible if you had a major life change.”

Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program is open all year, Yerby says.

Yerby added that late fees may apply, but there are some exceptions.

See the full story below. 

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Fourth-year medical school students celebrate Match Day

UAB’s fourth-year medical students found out where they will do their residency training, and in what medical field, at the 2014 Match Day activities.

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College’s Family Medicine Residency fills 2017 class

Fifteen new residents were welcomed into the College of Community Health Sciences’s Family Medicine Residency class of 2017 on March 21 through the National Residency Match Program. One new resident was welcomed into the class of 2016.

More than 1,900 candidates applied for the available slots in 2013—a 30 percent increase from 2012—and 110 were interviewed. The residency, which is a three-year program and one of the largest of its kind in the country, was able to fill all the positions through the match process.

Two of the residents to join the class of 2017 are fourth-year medical students at the College (which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham): Brittney Anderson and Justin Vines.

“We are very excited to announce our intern class,” says residency director Richard Friend, MD. “This is a talented group of physicians that will work hard and do well.”

The residency has been undergoing an expansion in recent years. To address the growing demand for primary care physicians in Alabama and nationwide, the Family Medicine Residency recently applied for and received eight additional residency slots, bringing its total approved and funded slots from 36 to 44.

One in eight family physicians practicing in Alabama has graduated from the Family Medicine Residency, and the 224 graduates practicing in Alabama are in 48 of the state’s 67 counties. Of the 423 graduates practicing outside of Alabama, the majority practice in the South or southeast.

The Family Medicine Residency Class of 2017:

Shawanda Agnew
University of Mississippi

Brittney Anderson
University of Alabama School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Regional Campus

Joe Brewer
Lincoln Memorial University

Carrie Coxwell
University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham

Keirsten Davio
American University of the Caribbean

Blake DeWitt
Texas Tech University

Eric Frempong
American University of the Caribbean

Keri Merschman
University of Alabama School of Medicine, Huntsville

Remona Peterson
Texila American University, Guyana

Michelle Pike
American University of the Caribbean

Aisha Pitts
Southern Illinois University

Brooke Robinson
Meharry Medical College

Stephen Smith
American University of the Caribbean

Justin Vines
University of Alabama School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Regional Campus

Courtney Weaver
University of Mississippi

Maysoon Hamed
University of Cairo (Class of 2016/PGY-2)

 

 

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