College welcomes Bentley as assistant professor

Dr. Brett Bentley

Dr. Brett Bentley joined the College as an assistant professor of Sports Medicine in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine.

The Tampa, Fla., native completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played baseball all four years and was a four-time member of the Academic All-SEC Team.

Bentley worked for a year at an inner-city ministry in Atlanta, Desire Street Ministries, before returning to the University of Florida for medical school. After medical school, he completed a family medicine residency at the University of South Carolina. In June, he completed a sports medicine fellowship at the College.

College faculty selected as fellow for Academic Leadership Development Program

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the College, was selected as a fellow for the 2017-2018 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.

The fellowship program is an opportunity for faculty to prepare for advanced academic leadership roles within the SEC and beyond. The program brings together faculty fellows from each SEC campus to provide higher-education specific leadership and management training.

“I feel fortunate to have been selected for this program, which will allow me to interface with academic leaders from across the SEC and to learn the ins and outs of effective leadership in higher education,” said Boxmeyer.

The 2017-2018 program will take place at two different SEC campuses in the fall and spring, and will consist of three-day workshops focused on developing academic management skills. Through this program, Boxmeyer will also participate in The University of Alabama’s 2017-2018 class of Leadership University. She said she looks forward to bringing back new knowledge and skills to the College.

UMC Travel Health Services open in Faculty-Staff Clinic

A new addition to University Medical Center, Travel Health Services provides care for UA faculty, staff and their families as they prepare for international travel. Health care providers in the UMC Faculty-Staff Clinic provide individuals a comprehensive, preparatory experience that includes a consultation, advice for planning, travel-related vaccinations and medications needed in advance of departure.


“Nowhere is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure more important than when traveling abroad.”

—Dr. Tom Weida, UMC Chief Medical Officer


Advice on a wide range of topics is offered, from the more obvious vaccination requirements of individual countries, to conditions of food and water safety, and the activities you have planned—with each considered down to the exact region of the country slated for visit.

As UMC furthers its mission of promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama, it is the hope that travel health services will be expanded beyond the UA campus in the near future.

[FIND OUT MORE] about how to book appointments and associated costs, and to access required patient forms.

College, city partner to provide para-medicine program

The College and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Services have partnered to provide a first of its kind in Alabama program that seeks to reduce costly hospital emergency room transports of people with low-emergency conditions.

The program is aimed at “low acuity” patients who might call 911 for back or stomach pain, fever, weakness or bleeding, for example, which might be treatable at the scene.

Under the program, nurse practitioners and social workers, and possibly psychologists, will ride with fire department first responders on low-acuity calls and offer treatment at a patient’s location, eliminating the need for an ambulance ride and a hospital emergency room visit. While care can be delivered at the scene, low-acuity patients will have the option of being transported to the hospital if they wish.

The nurse practitioners will have back-up from physicians, and the social workers can ensure that patients have the resources they need and can connect patients with primary care physicians. The psychologists can offer assistance on managing the nearly 30 percent of low-acuity calls related to mental health.

“This is a way to change how health care is delivered,” said Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Chief Alan Martin.

The para-medicine program is modeled after a similar Arizona program, although that program doesn’t have a university as a partner. Based on preliminary results from the Arizona program, the medical cost savings for the Tuscaloosa program could be $6 for every $1 that’s invested, said Dr. Richard Friend, chair of the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine and co-director of the program along with Dr. John C. Higginbotham, chair of the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health.

The para-medicine program is funded with a legislative allocation through Alabama’s Medicaid program and will use College nurse practitioners and social workers to provide care. The funding is expected to be available Oct. 1.

In fiscal year 2015, in Tuscaloosa there were 11,122 calls to 911, of which 23 percent, or 2,558, were low-emergency calls. At a cost of approximately $645 per call for an ambulance ride, treating callers at the scene would save $1.65 million.

“Trying to stop use of the emergency room for routine care is the goal,” Friend said.

College welcomes back residency graduates as fellows

Dr. Blake DeWitt

Three recent graduates of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency are returning to the College of Community Health Sciences as fellows. Drs. Carrie Coxwell and Blake DeWitt join the College’s Obstetrics fellowship, and Dr. Keirsten Smith joins the Sports Medicine fellowship.

The college operates the UA Family Medicine Residency, which is the third largest family medicine residency in the country and one of the oldest.

The Obstetrics and Sports Medicine fellowships, along with Behavioral Health, Emergency Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Hospital Medicine, and Rural Public Psychiatry comprise the seven fellowships offered by the College. Each fellowship is a year-long program designed to offer additional, specialized training to physicians.

Dr. Carrie Coxwell

The College’s Obstetrics Fellowship for family medicine physicians, one of the first in the country, aims to address the need for obstetric and gynecological care in rural areas. As the attrition of obstetricians in the United States exceeds the number of obstetricians completing residencies and entering practice, programs that train family medicine physicians to provide quality obstetrical care will continue to grow in importance.

The College’s OB fellows are supervised by board-certified OB/GYNs and train for 12 months to complete the requirements for certification. During the year, fellows master high-risk, operative obstetrics and office OB/GYN procedures, including ultrasound, colposcopy, cryotherapy and endometrial biopsies. Coxwell and DeWitt also join University Medical Center, which the College operates, as members of the family medicine practice and will care for patients and teach medical students and residents.

Coxwell is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and DeWitt is a graduate of Texas Tech University Science Center. Both Coxwell and Dewitt completed their residency training at the College.

Dr. Keirsten Smith

The College’s Sports Medicine Fellowship offers education, training and certification to family medicine physicians, who are often called to serve as team physicians for high school sports programs in their communities.

During the year-long Sports Medicine Fellowship, Smith will work under the supervision of Dr. James Robinson, who holds the College’s Endowed Chair in Sports Medicine, and will receive training in sports medicine care. Sports Medicine fellows work with The University of Alabama athletic team physicians, coaches, trainers and athletes, and with local high school athletes. Fellows see patients at the College’s Dr. Bill deShazo Sports Medicine Center, located within University Medical Center, which is operated by the College.

Smith earned her medical degree from American University of the Caribbean in Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles and completed her residency at the College of Community Health Sciences.

Looney joins College as director of nursing

Wyndy Looney joined the College as director of Nursing for University Medical Center, which the College operates. Her responsibilities include serving as chief nursing officer, improving workflow, standardizing processes and procedures and implementing quality improvement activities.

Before joining the College, Looney was manager of Nursing Operations and Analytics at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations of the health system’s Patient Care Services division.

She has practice nursing in Alabama for 27 years.

Looney earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of North Alabama, graduating with academic honors. She is certified in Nursing Professional Development through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Her nursing experience in various clinical and community settings includes pediatrics, newborn care, labor and delivery, perioperative care, school health, nursing education and nursing operations. She has also held positions in nursing management and administration.

While at DCH Health System, which operates DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Looney received the “Great Catch” Award for identifying and reducing a safety risk for hospitalized patients. She currently serves on The University of Alabama’s College of Nursing Partnership Advisory Council and the Bridger Lectureship.

In 2014, Looney was appointed by Alabama’s state health officer to serve a two-year term on a regional Perinatal Advisory Committee. In a previous administrative role, Looney successfully piloted a regional chronic care coordination program for Alabama Medicaid recipients. As part of the pilot, she developed and implemented a Newborn Transition Program, partnering with local hospitals and pediatricians to ensure that newborns received appropriate follow-up care after being discharged from the hospital.

New Emergency Medicine Fellows Kick-Off First Rotations of Year-Long Fellowship

Dr. Michelle Pike

The newest addition to graduate medical education at the College of Community Health Sciences kicked off in July with the appointments of Dr. Michelle Pike and Dr. Owen Ulmer to its Emergency Medicine Fellowship. Both family medicine physicians have begun rotations, based primarily at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, MS. Each has come with a unique background and broad set of skills to provide support to a rural community facing a critical shortage in emergency medicine professionals and to which they each have personal ties.

Pike is a native of rural Missouri. While completing her undergraduate degree at Truman State University, Pike paralleled training to earn a NREMT Paramedic license. She additionally worked on an Advanced Life Support Unit as a paramedic on critical care and emergency patient transports before entering medical school, and has logged more than one thousand hours of combined medical shadowing and ambulance experience through Missouri’s PRIMO/ACES Medical Mentoring Program. Pike attended medical school at the American University of the Caribbean, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilies. Subsequently, she completed her residency training at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, operated by CCHS, graduating as a Board-Certified Family Medicine Resident Physician in June 2017. Her research has been published in the West London Medical Journal. Pike has served as an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) instructor for medical and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students throughout her medical studies. As an AmeriCorps member, she has worked with rural health care programs to further health education for her community.

Dr. Owen Ulmer

Ulmer is a family medicine physician, originally from Columbia, MD, who returned to his military parents’ native Mississippi to attend medical school and to practice. Ulmer received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Delta State University, and his graduate degree in Biomedical Sciences through the University of Mississippi Medical Center. A recent graduate of William Carey University, Ulmer served as chief resident and was a member of several committees both within his program and at the national level. Ulmer is a member of the United States Navy Reserve and provides community services through his local free clinic. Throughout his career, he has maintained an overarching interest in general medicine within both outpatient and emergency health care.

Pike and Ulmer are the first fellows to take part in the new Emergency Medicine Fellowship, which the College is providing in conjunction with Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, MS. The fellowship is part of the College’s efforts to provide needed health care professionals for many Alabama communities—particularly to those rural communities with limited access to major medical facilities and services.

Find out more about the Emergency Medicine Fellowship