Graduating medical students recognized at Senior Convocation

Thirty-two medical students were honored at the College’s Senior Convocation May 15 at the Cypress inn Pavilion in Tuscaloosa. The students have since begun their residency training in programs across 13 different states.

The College provides clinical education and experiences for a portion of third- and fourth-year medical students enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham. The College’s students were among the more than 182 students who graduated from the School of Medicine during a ceremony in Birmingham on May 17.

“We have an outstanding group of students here,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, as he welcomed medical students and their families.

“They’ve set the bar high,” added Dr. Heather Taylor, director of Medical Education for the College and an associate professor of Pediatrics. “I am confident in the future of medicine if this is what it looks like.”

During the School of Medicine graduation ceremony in Birmingham, three medical students from the College, which also functions as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus, were presented with prestigious awards. Dr. Jacqueline Parks received The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and given to a graduating student in recognition of his or her value of humanism in the delivery of care to patients and their families. Dr. Jamie Powell received the Paul A. Palmisano Award, which is presented for excellence in Pediatrics. And Dr. David Dorn, Jr., received the William Boyd Medal award, presented by the Alabama Association of Pathologists and the UAB Department of Pathology for exceptional performance in Pathology.


Awards given by faculty:

Robert F. Gloor Award in Community Medicine
Drs. Eun Choe and Jacquelynn Parks
Awarded for excellent performance in Community and Rural Medicine.

Family Medicine Award
Dr. Caroline Price
Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine.

William W. Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine
Dr. Bradley Wilson Peden
Awarded for outstanding achievement in Internal Medicine during the third and fourth years.

Neurology Award
Dr. Richard Martindale
Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship.

Pediatrics Recognition Award
Dr. Jamie Powell
Awarded for outstanding interest, ability and the reflection of pleasure in helping parents and their children reach their full personal, social and educational potential.

Peter Bryce Award in Psychiatry
Dr. Michales Graham, Jr.
Awarded for excellence exhibited by a medical student both academically and clinically during his/her Psychiatry Clerkship.

Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Duncan Harmon
Awarded to student(s) achieving outstanding academic and clinical success in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award
Drs. Chelsea Wallace and Nathan Wilbanks
Awarded to a student or students with the highest scholastic achievement during their third-year Surgery Clerkship.

Pathology Service Award
Drs. David Dorn, Jr., and Melanie Wooten
This award recognizes a student for service to the Task Force for Forensic Pathology and Crime Laboratory at The University of Alabama.

Interprofessional Excellence Award
Dr. Jacquelynn Parks
This award recognizes the medical student who has best demonstrated excellence in communication skills, respect for staff and patients, and a commitment to working as an effective member of the health care team.

Student Research Award
Dr. Melanie Wooten
Recognition of the pursuit of one or more research projects leading to a presentation or publication during the clinical years of medical training.

Scholastic Achievement Award
Dr. Chelsea Wallace
Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum.

William R. Willard Award
Dr. Caroline Price
Established by the Bank of Moundville, this award is presented for outstanding contributions to the goals and mission of the College of Community Health Sciences as voted by the College faculty.

Larry Mayes Research Society Members
The Larry Mayes Research Society exposes University of Alabama School of Medicine students on the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus to research going on within the larger University of Alabama campus, encourages engagement in research within the College of Community Health Sciences and The University of Alabama, and provides opportunities to present their research at a bi-annual Larry Mayes Research Society faculty dinner

Dr. Stevie Bennett, scholar

Dr. Jody Joynt, scholar

Dr. Chase Mitchell, fellow

Dr. Shwega Patel, scholar

Dr. Jamie Powell, scholar

Dr. Caroline Price, scholar

Dr. Susanna Raley, scholar

Dr. Neeraj Sriram, scholar


College Scholarships:

Dr. Sandral Hullet Endowed Scholarship

Dr. Arnelya Cade
The Dr. Sandral Hullet Endowed Scholarship was established in 1992 from gifts given by the Capstone Health Services Foundation and proceeds from the 1991 Fiesta Bowl to honor Dr. Hullet, one of the first African-American Family Medicine residents to graduate from The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency.

Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Daniel Seale
The Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship was created by Cynthia Ford Fitts (now Thomas) to address the needs of medical students who bear a high debt load upon graduation from medical school. The scholarship was named in honor of her late husband, Frank Fitts Jr., great grandson of J.H. Fitts, who established The University of Alabama’s first endowed scholarship in 1903.

Franklin G. Edwards V Memorial Scholarship
Dr. Henry Ennis
The Franklin G. Edwards V Memorial Scholarship was created in 2013 by friends and family of Franklin G. Edwards V to support a medical student who might one day find a cure for leukemia.

Larry Mayes Endowed Scholarship

Amber Beg
Larry Mayes was an outstanding member of the class of 1986 who died while on an elective rotation in Africa during his senior year. Larry’s family and friends have created a scholarship fund in his memory to promote a broader understanding of international health care and of the health needs of underserved areas of this country. The award is presented to a rising senior to complete an international elective or an elective in an underserved area of this country.


Awards given by students:

Faculty Recognition Award (Junior Year)
Dr. Joseph Wallace
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during the students’ junior year.

Community Preceptor Recognition Award
Dr. Julia Boothe
Awarded to a community preceptor for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medial education.

Patrick McCue Award (Senior Year)
Dr. A. Robert Sheppard
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medial education during the students’ senior year.

Resident Recognition Award
Drs. Katie Gates and Jason Clemons
Awarded for outstanding contributions to medical education

James H. Akers Memorial Award
Dr. Melanie Wooten
Awarded to a graduating senior for dedication to the art and science of medicine.

Taking the Challenge: Eating Healthy and Delicious in Rural Alabama

It may be challenging for a family of four living in rural Alabama to eat healthy meals and snacks for an entire week for less than $150, which is the average amount they would receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. But Chef Leah Sarris not only says it’s possible, she’s proved it.

Sarris, program director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, was a keynote speaker at the 16th Annual Rural Health Conference, hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences’s Institute for Rural Health Research. The conference, “Making the Healthcare System Work for You: Individuals, Clinicians and Communities,” was held April 17, 2015, at the Ferguson Student Center on The University of Alabama campus.

The day before giving her talk, Sarris, who is also the first full-time chef to be employed by a medical school, visited a Piggly Wiggly grocery story in rural Greensboro, Ala., to shop for items on her menu with her team of students—culinary nutrition intern Christine Blank and fourth-year medical student John Martin.

She showed a video of her shopping trip at the conference the next day, where she and her team gave a cooking demonstration of two of her menu items: vegetarian chili and roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and sauteed greens.

Dr. John C. Higginbotham, director of the Institute for Rural Health Research, says Sarris’s background aligned well with the Individual Track that the conference offered, because individuals can eat healthy and delicious foods to help prevent and control common health conditions.

“Rural areas often do not have access to nutritional foods in the types and varieties to which more urban areas have access,” Higginbotham says. “Many individuals point out that the resources available through programs like SNAP are insufficient to produce healthy meals. While all rural areas are different, the challenge for Chef Sarris was to travel to a rural area, with the funds that would be available to a family of four on the SNAP program for a week, and to create delicious, healthy meals from those resources.”

Sarris offered pointers for shopping for and preparing healthy meals while sticking to a tight budget. Planning is key, she says.

“I cannot tell you enough how important the planning piece is,” she says. “You need to have a plan. Write out the menu for the week and plan to cross utilize ingredients.”

For instance, Sarris used sweet potatoes three ways throughout the week: First as a side for roasted chicken, another way in a vegetarian chili and a third way in tacos with black beans and greens. And after roasting her whole chicken for dinner one night, she saved the carcass to make chicken stock for a soup the next day.

Sarris also says that the majority of a shopping trip should take place in the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the center.

“That’s where most of the fresh, healthier, less processed foods are going to be,” she says.

It’s also important to allow for flexibility. For example, Sarris had tacos on her menu, but she waited until her shopping trip to choose the protein so that she could see what was on sale or looked good. She chose pork chops that were available for a good price.

Throughout the shopping trip, Sarris offered tips for making healthy decisions. She advises shoppers to stay away from processed meats, like bologna and hot dogs, which are high in sodium. She also recommends Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter as an affordable option that is lower in hydrogenated fat than more processed peanut butters. And she said popcorn is a healthy, whole-grain snack alternative to chips or pretzels.

Sarris and her team came in under budget at $127. This means she could have bought a little extra, she says, especially if they were not buying pantry staples like rice or spices.

For many families living in rural Alabama, it is not as easy to come under budget because they may not have the knowledge or skills to do so.

“There does need to be change in the food systems,” Sarris says. “This isn’t something people know automatically. This is something we have to teach them.”

Here is Sarris’s weeklong menu for a family of four:


  1. Oatmeal with Nuts (two days)
  2. Cereal with fruit
  3. Eggs and toast (two days)
  4. Cottage cheese (originally plain yogurt, which was not available) and fruit
  5. Toast and peanut butter


  1. Vegetarian Chili
  2. Tacos with Corn Relish
  3. Red Beans and Rice
  4. Fish, Rice Pilaf and Vegetables
  5. Tuna Casserole
  6. Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes with Sauteed Greens
  7. Chicken and Rice Soup


  1. Salad with Bean and Rice Patties
  2. Tuna Casserole (leftover)
  3. Chili Nachos
  4. Chicken Salad
  5. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Greens
  6. Peanut Butter and Jelly
  7. Chicken and Rice Soup (leftover)

Watch Sarris’s shopping trip:

Medical students recognize clerkship coordinator at convocation

Medical students honored at the College of Community Health Sciences’s annual Senior Convocation decided to recognize a staff member who they felt made an impact on their education.

Ashley Justice, clerkship coordinator and administrative secretary for the Department of Internal Medicine, was recognized by the graduating medical students for her dedication and commitment to medical student education. She was presented with a plaque at convocation, which was held May 15, 2015, at Cypress Inn Pavilion.

“My classmates and I wanted to present an award to a clerkship coordinator because those ladies put in a lot of work behind the scenes,” says Susanna Raley, one of the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus graduates of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. “We voted for Ashley Justice because of her dedication and commitment to medical education.”

 The College provides clinical education for a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

 Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, says this was the first time medical students have honored a staff member on their own accord.

“They know a lot happens behind the scenes, so they chose to acknowledge a clerkship coordinator who was particularly helpful,” he says.

Brook Hubner, senior registrar and program director of Medical Education, says that the fact the students independently decided to recognize Justice speaks volumes to her contributions.

“She is a valuable resource for students and her faculty and takes initiative to move beyond core administrative duties in a way that enhances medical education on her clerkship and on our campus,” she says.

Justice says receiving the award surprised her. She says she values her position as clerkship coordinator because it allows her to bond with the medical students on a unique level.

“I enjoy developing a working friendship with them, and I find them very inspiring,” Justice says. “This was the greatest honor I have ever received, and I still get emotional thinking about it. I truly enjoy my job, and I don’t believe I am doing anything out of the ordinary, so receiving an award for doing something I love is such an honor. I will never, ever forget that moment.”

Rural Medical Scholars honored at convocation

Members of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Class of 2014-15 were recognized April 17 at the Rural Health Scholars Convocation, held at the Hotel Capstone on The University of Alabama campus.

The seven members of the class will begin their first year of medical school this summer at the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham. They will return to the College, which provides clinical education and experiences for a portion of School of Medicine students, during their final two years of medical school.

The College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program is exclusively for university seniors or graduate students from rural Alabama. It is a five-year track of medical studies that leads to a certificate or master’s degree in Rural Community Health in the first year, and a medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in the fifth year.

Dr. Deanah Maxwell, a former Rural Medical Scholar who now practices family medicine in Brewton, Ala., provided the keynote address.

“It is here that I acquired the skills to become Dr. Maxwell,” she said. “The clinical education I received here has allowed me to make a positive impact on my patients.”

After completing the Rural Medical Scholars program and medical school, Maxwell did her residency training at the College’s Family Medicine Residency. She then went to practice in rural Alabama. “I came full circle” she said.

“As you embark on this next phase of your life,” she told members of the Rural Medical Scholars class, “it’s easy to focus on studies and rotations. But find something you love outside of medicine. Reach out to others. Ask for help when you need it. When you have those days where you feel a sense of joy, share that with your family. Great doctors and great people recognize the importance of human connections.”

During the convocation, Dr. Michael McBrearty, who practices family medicine in Fairhope, Ala., and who was the first graduate of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, was presented with the Rural Medical Scholars Program Distinguished Service Award. McBrearty, who graduated from the residency in 1975, was introduced by his son, Dr. Sean McBrearty.

“My dad has had a great impact on my life. He’s the reason I went into family medicine,” McBrearty said. “I hope I always have the passion for practicing family medicine that you do.”

Michael McBrearty said he was humbled to receive the award. “The folks who have received this award before me are leaders and really put this program on the map,” he said. “They gave up their established practices to come here and make this program what it is. The work of this program is nationally known and a model of how things should go.”

Allison Montgomery, a Rural Medical Scholar from Talladega, Ala., spoke briefly at the convocation. She plans a career as a physician in rural Alabama, which has a shortage of primary care and family medicine physicians.

“We’ve had such a fantastic year,” she said. “We’ve learned so much about medicine. We’re invigorated, ready to go and looking forward to the future.”



All About Baby Growth Spurts

Dr. Brian Gannon, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the College of Community Health Sciences, says there are ways to tell if your baby is going through a burst of growth and offers tips for making it through.

Reducing allergy symptoms without medication

It is possible to reduce allergy symptoms without medication, says Dr. Richard Friend, associate professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the College of Community Health Sciences.

Friend, who is also the director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, shared advice with The University of Alabama in a recent installment of UA Matters. Some of his tips include washing clothes and showering after outdoor activities, especially yard work, changing air conditioner filters more frequently, and wiping down pets before allowing them inside the house as pollen clings to fur.

Friend also shared his tips with FOX 6 News, and said while there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments that can help with allergy symptoms, it is possible to prevent them in the first place.

“Trying to avoid the allergens that create the immune response is really the best preventive measure,” he said in the report.

Read all of Friend’s tips here.

Watch the full FOX 6 News report here: