UMC hosts NPHC event addressing hospital re-admissions

Nurses and social workers from all around Tuscaloosa learned about different approaches to reducing hospital re-admissions when University Medical Center, which is operated by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, hosted a daylong seminar sponsored by Nutritional/Parental Home Care, Inc. (NPHC) in

The seminar, which was titled “Frequent Flying: Reducing Hospital Re-admissions,” covered different aspects of the issue—from the healthcare perspective presented by speakers such as Robert Sheppard, MD, director of hospitalist services for the College, and Albert White, MD, medical director of hospital epidemiology for DCH Health System, to the financial point of view, with presenter John Kramer, director of finance for DCH Health System. 

Any local nurse or social worker in the area was invited to the seminar. Those in attendance included employees of UMC, Whately Health Services, Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, DHC Regional Medical Center, NPHC, Tuscaloosa County Health Department and MedNet West. 

Rebekah Lollar, RD, marketing associate for NPHC, said that with the variety of speakers, those who attended were able to learn both the causes and the effects of hospital re-admission.

“Participants now better understand what Medicare qualifies as ‘re-admission’ and how it directly affects area hospitals,” she said. “They can now address issues that affect whether or not a patient will go back to the hospital.”

Raytonya Hughes, LPN, quality improvement specialist for the College and coordinator of the event for UMC, says that NPHC often calls on UMC to assist with mutual patients.

“[NPHC in Tuscaloosa was] in need of a facility to house their conference, and our nurses were in need of a convenient and relevant source of continuing education credits,” she said. 

A raffle was also held, and door prizes were given at the end of the day. Proceeds from the event benefitted The DCH Foundation. Lollar said about $2,200 was raised.


Recruiting a rural health workforce is challenging


John Wheat, MD

An inadequate supply and uneven distribution of health care providers currently exists in rural communities. This is due to a number of factors, including a declining interest in primary care, an aging health-care workforce and an increased demand for services as the rural population grows and more people gain insurance coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

John Wheat, MD, director of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program and a professor in the Department of Community and Rural Medicine, explained how the Rural Medical Scholars Program is working to overcome the challenges of recruiting a rural health care workforce during a presentation at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit.

The half-day preconference session was held Aug. 12 in Atlanta and focused on state efforts to build a lasting healthcare system in rural America.

Legislators and legislative staff heard from leading experts, including retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, economist Beth Ann Bovino and political analyst David Gergen on topics such as: innovative strategies to connect rural people with providers, expanding the use of technology, and recruiting and retaining a rural health-care workforce.

The key to recruiting rural doctors, Wheat says, is to work for them the old-fashioned way. The Rural Medical Scholars Program admits students with a rural background and a desire to practice family medicine, includes rural training sites in the medical education curriculum, pairs students with dedicated rural family medicine preceptors, includes rural training in the family medicine residency curriculum and links financial support to rural service.

It is due to these efforts that the Rural Medical Scholars Program has placed 54.5 percent of its students in rural practice, compared to just 7.3 percent of University of Alabama School of Medicine students who do not participate in the program, Wheat says.

The College also functions as a regional campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquarted in Birmingham, for the clinical training of third and fourth year medical students.

Wheat states that it is the state legislature’s role to help public medical schools develop the will to create programs to admit and train students from underserved cultures and to fund these programs.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas about pressing state issues.



South African missionaries visit College

The College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency recently hosted Johan Engelbrecht, DMiss, and his wife, Karin, for an informal presentation on the work they are doing in Namaqualand, a region on the West Coast of South Africa. The presentation was held for faculty, staff, residents and medical students.

South Africa

Engelbrecht’s organization, called Leaders for the Nations, is a global, non-profit organization focused on leadership development in rural communities throughout Africa. LFTN holds training conferences to educate and equip these key leaders to mobilize their communities in the areas of education, aids awareness, farming and everyday living.

The organization has focused its last 28 years on transforming the communities of the Khoi-Sun people, the original people of South Africa who were pushed to the West Coast after the Bantu farmers migrated south.

Seven hours from Cape Town, Namaqualand is a region of small towns and lacking in medical care with only one clinic in the town and a doctor who visits just once a month. For an emergency medical problem, a resident of the region has to travel the dirt roads to find a government-run hospital in the nearest big city.

By building a strategic network and being a support structure and an empowering force to the community, LFTN aims to bring knowledge and skills to assist leaders and increase their sphere of influence. With the local churches in unity, Engelbrecht says, “We can take this marginalized people to another level of freedom as we stand together.”

Leaders for the Nations takes a multi-faceted approach to address the issues of AIDS orphans, single-parent families and child-headed households in South Africa through leadership training, outreach  and medical care.

The organization plans to expand its reach to Namibia and Botswana, neighboring countries of Namaqualand, in the coming years, and hopes to gain the support of the College through  medical assistance and possibly even a visit to South Africa. “I hope that someday you will get to go somewhere where people don’t have opportunities and you are able to give back to them,” said Karin Engelbrecht.

Johan Engelbrecht, founder and president of Leaders for the Nation, attended Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., where he received his doctorate in missiology, and is also a writer and conference speaker and has appeared on international television and radio shows.  

College welcomes first-year medical students with Fun Day

The College welcomed its new first-year medical students to campus with a day of service late last month. The First Year Fun Day, as it is called, was a part of the students’ medical school orientation.
Fun Day cropped

For the medical education of students, the College serves as a regional campus to the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham. The students complete their first two years of medical school in Birmingham, then a portion of students move to Tuscaloosa in their third and forth years of medical school for their clinical training.

“We are working to identify more ways to become involved with the students during those first two years, so as to make them feel more a part of our family and to help them gain a greater appreciation for what we do and how it differs from the Birmingham campus,” said Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College.

The students began the day with a tour of the College before going to the Arc of Tuscaloosa for a community service project. The Arc is a non-profit organization that provides services to Tuscaloosa County adults with intellectual disabilities.

At the Arc, the students built garden boxes, cleared brush in the landscaping and worked with Arc consumers at the facility, while other students participated in the Meals on Wheels program by delivering meals to those in need.

Ryan Delfin, executive director of the Arc, said Arc consumers are people with likes, dislikes, quirks and skills just like everyone else. He said, “I hope that the medical students will take away the fact that individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities should not be treated differently.” Delfin asked that the medical students treat the Arc consumers as they would a friend when encountering them in the community.

Following the service project, several speakers addressed the students in an effort to prepare them for their time with the College. Eddie Sherwood, vice president at BBVA Compass, president of the Arc of Tuscaloosa board as well as vice president of the College’s Board of Visitors, spent his time getting to know the students. “Because many of the students do not know each other, he helped make connections and, overall, was a welcoming presence,” said Brook Hubner, administrative specialist for the College’s Medical Student Affairs.

Samory Pruitt, PhD, vice president of Community Affairs for The University of Alabama, also addressed the students, stressing the importance of community engagement and giving back while learning. “Volunteerism is often as beneficial to the volunteer as to the organization the volunteer is helping,” Pruitt said, encouraging the students to think about how much they learned and gained from their experience at the Arc or with other volunteer organizations.   

With Thad Ulzen, MD, the College’s associate dean of Academic Affairs and professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, the students explored why they want to be doctors. Most cited wanting to serve and help the community as their reasons for attending medical school.

Streiffer spoke to the students about the rigors of the first two years of medical school. He said the freshness, eagerness and openness students feel when first starting medical school is often worn away by the medical school curriculum. He encouraged the students to remain focused on what drew them to medical school to begin with: the opportunity to serve the community.

First Year Fun Day was concluded with a performance by Sounds of Joy, the Arc of Tuscaloosa choir.

Halli-Tierney, 1 of 31 faculty named Clinical Skills Scholars to mentor medical students

First-year medical students at the University of Alabama School of Medicine will begin their education with a new, low-tech study aid by their sides – the newly designated Clinical Skills Scholars, a select group of 31 faculty chosen in a competitive process for their ability to teach students the intangibles of becoming physicians.

The College of Community Health Sciences functions as a regional campus to the University of Alabama School of Medicine for the clinical training of third and fourth year medical students.

Anne Halli-Tierney, MD

Anne Halli-Tierney, MD

Anne Halli-Tierney, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine, was selected to the group from the College. For an assigned group of first and second year medical students, Halli-Tierney will conduct small group teaching sessions on clinical skills and provide supervision and mentorship over the course of the two-year curriculum among other activities. She will also participate in review and development of the clinical skills curriculum as it expands into the third and forth years of medical school as well as faculty development and training sessions designed to standardize clinical skills teaching and evaluation.

Taking a patient’s medical history, performing a physical exam and assessing patients is more complicated today than in years past because both physicians and patients have more demands on their time, said Craig Hoesley, MD, associate dean for undergraduate medical education and a professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine. It’s also more difficult to teach students these skills because of increased demand on a faculty member’s time. 

“We want people to know that we’re really committed to developing clinical skills in our students. It’s an important part of developing into a physician,” Hoesley said. The scholars’ home departments receive financial support from the School of Medicine to dedicate half a day each week to mentoring five to seven students for at least two years. The program is part of a new emphasis on clinical skills throughout the four-year curriculum, Hoesley said.

Stan Massie, MD, School of Medicine director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course and an associate professor of Internal Medicine, is directing the new clinical skills scholars program. Two of the scholars, Marjorie Lee White, MD, and Caroline Harada, MD, were chosen as co-assistant directors.

“Clinical skills are the fundamental skills doctors use to practice medicine, and at their core they involve interacting with patients and exhibiting professional behavior. They require much more than just possessing scientific knowledge — they are skills you can’t merely read about in a book,” Massie said. “You have to learn and cultivate them with repeated practice under the guidance and mentoring of a practicing clinician.”

“In medical school, there is so much knowledge that students are expected to learn that sometimes clinical skills don’t get the attention and reinforcement that they deserve,” Massie said.  He points to research showing many patients complain that doctors don’t listen and lack communication skills. “What students often see in the real world are not always the best practices.”

Implications of poor clinical skills include missed diagnoses and ordering inappropriate tests, which decreases quality and increases costs. It also leads patients to doctor-hop, which reduces continuity of care.

But, Massie says, research shows that medical students’ communication skills deteriorate without formal training, however, other research shows that these same skills can be improved and enhanced by dedicated focus and formal training during medical school.

Clinical skills, Harada said, are “what make doctors doctors. This is the meat and potatoes of what we do, and we need to teach doctors how to talk with patients, how to examine patients and how to make diagnoses using good critical listening.

“Unless you have the skills to apply your medical knowledge, you’re not going to be able to do anything with that knowledge. That’s what the clinical skills course teaches,” said Harada, an assistant professor in Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care at the School of Medicine.

Another component of the clinical skills scholars program will be to study its methods and determine what works best and how to extend them over all four years of medical school, said White, a School of Medicine associate professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine who also directs the medical student simulation program. “We want to make a great program even better,” she said. The scholars themselves will also receive training to sharpen their skills as teachers.

For students, the two-year longitudinal relationship with a mentor is key, Massie said, because it creates more ownership for both teacher and learner in the process and outcome of the student’s training. “Students will be more compelled to learn the skills and do a good job. Mentors are more likely to take a vested interest to ensure that their students succeed.”

See the list of 31 faculty named the 2013 Clinical Skills Scholars here.

Find the original article here.

Pediatrics, Internal Medicine chairs approved

Karen Burgess, MD, and Scott Arnold, MD, accepted the positions of department chair in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, respectively, for the College early this month.


Scott Arnold, MD, and Karen Burgess, MD

Both Burgess and Arnold held these position as interim chairs since the retirement of Michael Taylor, MD, in Pediatrics and Vijaya Sundar, MD, in Internal Medicine earlier this year.

Dean of the College, Richard Streiffer, MD, expressed his gratitude to Burgess and Arnold for their service and contributions saying, “Congratulations on your keenness to accept these appointments and to remain a part of the leadership in these exciting times of strategic advancement of the College.”

Burgess, a pediatrician with more than 10 years of experience, will continue to serve as associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, where she also serves as the clinic director and oversees resident physician education.

Burgess is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a member of the American College of Physician Executives and a member of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators. She has a research interest in pediatric obesity and continues to serve as a principal investigator in pediatric clinical trials.

Arnold, an internist with more than 15 years of experience, will also maintain his role as associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, where he also serves as clinic director.   

Arnold is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a board member of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Argus Awards recognize faculty excellence

For more than 15 years, students at the University of Alabama School of Medicine have recognized mentors, professors, courses and course directors for outstanding service to medical education during the annual Argus Awards Ceremony. Faculty are nominated by course evaluations and students vote to select award winners in each category.argus_peacock_logo

Heather Taylor, MD, assistant director of Medical Student Affairs and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the College, will be among those recognized at the September 6 ceremony in Birmingham. Taylor was awarded Best Clinical Instructor at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus.

For the education of medical students, the College serves as a regional campus of the School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

“I am very thankful to the students for the honor,” Taylor says. “I love teaching and working with the students and it means the world to be honored by them in this way.”

Other College nominees for Best Clinical Instructor include Jim Corder, MD, and Donald Charles Gross, MD, both are clinical adjunct assistant professors in the College’s Department of Surgery.

Although Corder and Gross did not receive the award, the Department of Surgery did receive the award for Best Department at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The runners-up for best department were Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The Argus Society was started in 1996 to recognize faculty members who exhibit excellence in medical education. The society was named after Argus Panoptes, a Greek mythological character whose name means “all-seeing” and is synonymous with observance, vigilance and guardianship.

The Argus Awards Ceremony is one way the student body seeks to remain vigilant in recognizing, appreciating and honoring the best educators and educational experiences at the School of Medicine.

Another founding father of College dies, T. Riley Lumpkin

T. Riley Lumpkin, MD, one of the first faculty members of the College of Community Health Sciences who went on to serve as interim dean of the College, passed away August 14 at his home in Tuscaloosa. He was 87.

T. Riley Lumpkin

T. Riley Lumpkin

Lumpkin was hired by the College’s Founding Dean, William R. Willard, MD, and served as director of the College’s Family Practice Center when it first opened. He later assumed responsibility for the College’s continuing medical education program as Assistant Dean for Continuing Medical Education (CME).

His approach to CME took the shape of a daily noon lecture series for practicing physicians in the Tuscaloosa area taught by College faculty and visiting lecturers. DCH Regional Medical Center soon joined in the support of the program.

Lumpkin served as interim dean of the College after Willard’s retirement in 1979. Willard would later write of Lumpkin that he was “well received in Tuscaloosa, unfailingly cheerful and always popular.”

Lumpkin said in an interview last year, “I was honored and considered it a privilege to be an interim dean of the College.”

A native of Tuskegee, Alabama, and a graduate of The University of Alabama, Lumpkin served in the Korean War and sold surgical equipment to doctors in the Southeast before attending the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He received his medical degree in 1958.

In an interview with The Tuscaloosa News in 2000, Lumpkin said he always wanted to go into family practice. He grew up watching doctors make rounds, helping people with dedication and little reward in return.

Following an internship at Mobile General Hospital, Lumpkin entered general practice in Tuskegee. He practiced in Tuskegee and then in Enterprise, Alabama, for 17 years before coming to the College’s faculty full-time. He retired from the college is 1991.

Lumpkin was a leader in Alabama’s medical field. Lumpkin served as president of the Alabama Medical Association, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, and the Alumni Association of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He was Assistant State Health officer for West Alabama in 1990-91 and a member of the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals and Health facilities from 1979-85.

Lumpkin later served as international governor of the Rotary Club, and in 2005, was one of 23 recipients across the world to receive the Rotary International Polio Plus Award for his dedication to eradicating that disease. In 1994, he was also the recipient of the Ira L. Myers Award for Excellence for his work promoting and protecting public health in Alabama.

In his retirement, Lumpkin was instrumental in the creation of the Good Samaritan Clinic in Tuscaloosa, a non-profit, free health clinic that gives primary care to the impoverished and uninsured. He was a volunteer in the clinic and also helped recruit other physicians and professionals in the medical community to volunteer.

It is estimated that Lumpkin saw more than 60,000 patients during his career.

Lumpkin was “a wonderful teacher and an even better physician,” says John Brandon, MD, medical director of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program and clinical adjunct professor of family medicine and community and rural medicine at the College. “He will be greatly missed by so many folks around our community and our entire state.”

He is survived by his wife, Jean Perry Lumpkin, four children – Leah Hobart, Riley Lumpkin, Jr., Mary Lynn Boone and Cliff Lumpkin – eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Visitation for Lumpkin was held Sunday, August 18, at the family residence and a funeral service was held at Forest Lake Methodist Church on August 19.


Class of 2017 welcomed at White Coat Ceremony

The best advice Heather Taylor, MD, has received about being a compassionate, caring physician came directly from her patients. On August 18 she shared some of those lessons to the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s incoming class of medical students as the keynote speaker at the white coat ceremony, the students’ official introduction to a lifetime of medical education by receiving short white lab coats.   

White Coat Ceremony

Speaking on humanism in medicine, Taylor, an alumna who currently is associate professor of pediatrics, Pediatric Clerkship director and associate director of Medical Student Affairs at the College, which also functions as a regional campus of the School of Medicine for the clinical training of medical students, talked about several patients she has treated at different times in her medical career, including a young girl who passed away from a rare neurological disorder two years after Taylor met her family.

“I became a believer in family-centered rounds and in respecting a patient’s and their family members’ roles in the medical team,” Taylor said. “Her family also taught me it was important to celebrate successes – even small ones – and that every patient, even the ones who cannot respond, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The ceremonial presentation of white coats to medical students, created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993, includes the signing of the oath of commitment to patient care that reminds incoming students of the dedication necessary to complete a medical education and underscores the responsibilities inherent in the practice of medicine.

The School of Medicine’s white coat ceremony marks the end of roughly three weeks of medical school orientation and the new students’ first class, Patient, Doctor and Society. That class focuses on the role that physicians play in society, with emphasis on professionalism, compassion, responsibility, ethics and the doctor/patient relationship.

“I think the White Coat Ceremony is a symbol of our transition to working in medicine, an aspiration we’ve all had for so long,” said Aaron Schaffner, a new first-year medical student from Montgomery. “It’s not a celebration of where we’ve been, but of what we’re going to do.”

This year’s incoming class represents 55 colleges and universities and 33 degrees of study. The admissions committee considered 2,926 applications and conducted more than 1,100 interviews of 430 candidates before selecting the class, according to Nathan Smith, M.D., assistant dean for students and admissions at the School of Medicine.

Macie Champion, a medical student from Trussville, said the first year will be an opportunity for her and fellow classmates to “challenge ourselves and see what we’re made of.”

“I know it will be challenging, but rewarding,” said Meg Gardner, from Mobile. “I’m excited to be starting this process.”

The students filed onto the stage of UAB’s Alys Stephens Center’s Jemison Concert Hall, where their names were read and deans helped them into their white coats, provided by the Medical Alumni Association. The MAA also presented the Martha Myers Role Model Award to two physicians who have made great contributions to patient care and to the medical profession. This year’s recipients were Judith Jehle, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Montgomery, and Kenneth Harman, MD, who accepted his award via video message from Greenland, where he is deployed with the U.S. Coast Guard.

There ceremony closed with the students reciting their class mission statement, written by the students themselves during their first class:

“As we embark upon our journey to physicianship, we pledge to uphold the following tenets to the best of our abilities: We will serve with integrity, lead with humility, and act with compassion; We will treat all patients, colleagues, and mentors with respect and professionalism; We will cultivate in ourselves a drive to excellence through constant learning and critical self-reflection; We will persevere in times of trial, relying on the passion and ideals that led us to medicine. In so doing, we promise to support one another, in upholding these values, as we strive to deliver the highest quality of care to all who seek our help.”

Find the original article here.

Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency

Learn more about the second largest family medicine residency in the nation. TFMR prepares physicians to provide excellent care in family medicine.