The College celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since 1972, CCHS has worked to improve the health of communities in Alabama and the Southeast.
One of seven family medicine physicians practicing in Alabama graduated from our residency – one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the
Dr. Richard Friend
The College of Community Health Sciences was established at The University of Alabama in 1972 in response to the Alabama Legislature’s mandate to solve the critical need for health care in the state’s rural communities. Today, CCHS continues to address the health care needs and the primary care physician workforce shortage, not only in Alabama and the region but also in the nation. Studies show the availability of primary care is associated with better access to health care, better population health and lower costs.
CCHS is home to one of the nation’s oldest and largest family medicine residencies, the UA Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program. More than 500 family medicine physicians have graduated from the three-year program and are working in medical practices, hospitals and universities throughout the United States, with a majority in Alabama and the Southeast. One of every seven practicing family medicine physicians in Alabama is a graduate of the Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency. As of 2022, 89% of our graduates are practicing in the Southeast, with 53% of those practicing in Alabama and the vast majority of those in our rural communities. CCHS also offers post-residency fellowships in behavioral health, emergency medicine, geriatrics, hospital medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics and sports medicine to provide additional and specialized training for our residency graduates.
In our role as a regional campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, CCHS provides the third and fourth years of medical school – the clinical education and training years – to a portion of medical students each year. CCHS has educated more than 900 medical students who have been competitive in obtaining entry into prestigious residencies across the country in family medicine and other specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, neurology and general surgery.
Through a sequence of nationally recognized Rural Pipeline programs, CCHS recruits and educates students from rural Alabama, beginning in high school and continuing through college, who wish to return to their hometowns or similar communities to practice medicine. Since 1996, these programs have placed 79 physicians into practice in rural Alabama. CCHS offers master’s degree programs in Population Health Sciences and Rural Community Health and provides courses and instruction in partnership with the UA Graduate School’s Interdisciplinary PhD program.
CCHS operates University Medical Center, which provides comprehensive, patient-centered primary care in six locations – Tuscaloosa, Northport, Demopolis, Fayette, Carrollton and Livingston – that together form the largest community medical practice in West Alabama with more than 150,000 annual patient visits. UMC also serves as a major site of the College’s clinical teaching programs for medical students and resident physicians. UMC operates Capstone Hospitalist Group, through which physicians and nurse practitioners care for hospitalized patients at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa and Northport Medical Center. CCHS also operates the UA Student Health Center and Pharmacy, the medical home for UA’s more than 38,000 students, and Brewer-Porch Children’s Center, which provides residential and outpatient treatment programs for Alabama children and adolescents with mental health and behavioral challenges.
With a focus on improving the health of Alabama’s rural communities, the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research studies health issues that impact people who live in rural areas to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of health care provided there. In partnership with the UA Center for Convergent Bioscience & Medicine, distinguished CCHS faculty at the center conduct, support and encourage bioscience and medicine transdisciplinary research, including the development of novel therapies for immune-inflammatory diseases. The UA Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, founded by the College’s endowed chair of family medicine, explores and investigates the historical and contemporary aspects of the tobacco issue and the role and influence of tobacco in society. Through these centers and institute, CCHS faculty, graduate students, resident physicians and medical students engage in leading-edge research and scholarship.
In adherence to the CCHS mission and in everything we do: “We are dedicated to improving and promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the Southeast region through leadership in medical and health-related education, primary care and population health; the provision of high quality, accessible health care services; and research and scholarship.”