May is Mental Health Awareness Month at University Medical Center

University Medical Center, the community medical practice run by the College of Community Health Sciences, observed Mental Health Awareness during the month of May. In addition to fact sheets distributed to patients in its clinics, and digital signage placed throughout the building and across campus, each week in May featured a special WVUA Health Matters segment related specifically to mental health and presented by various physicians and clinical staff of the CCHS Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department.


UMC also hosted faculty and staff oriented events to build awareness during May. For example, Bob McKinney, a clinical social worker at UMC, spent time in the clinics, working with faculty, staff, and learners—individually and in small groups— to offer guidance about ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily activities.


In addition, Dr. Nancy Rubin led two, 30-minute sessions focused on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as Tapping. This form of psychological acupressure uses the same energy meridians as practiced in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years. Instead of using needles, fingertips are used to tap on those meridians to decrease stress and increase a sense of calm.


Faculty and staff were also encouraged to wear Mental Health Awareness Month t-shirts each Friday in May, and around their community daily, to help break the stigma of mental illness.


The observation of Mental Health Awareness Month is in line with the College’s mission to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama. This mission extends past the month of May throughout the year. Recently, the College partnered with Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue to implement the new ACTION program, the first-of-its-kind program in Alabama that aims to meet the less critical medical needs of the community and reduce costly hospital emergency room transports of individuals with low-emergency conditions. As it relates to mental health needs, program vehicles transport mental health and social workers to support our community in times of emergency when the ailment is not physical. This new program enables the College and UMC to continue to develop patient-centered community health outreach in service of the Tuscaloosa area.

Accolades for Drs. Drake Lavender, Ed Geno & Cecil Robinson

Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine, was re-elected to a three-year term on the Council on Medical Education for the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. He was also elected chair of the council for 2018-19. In addition to his faculty position, Lavender also serves as medical director of the College’s Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum, a medical student education program.


Dr. Ed Geno, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine, and Dr. Cecil Robinson, associate professor and director of Learning Resources and Evaluation for the College, completed the 2018 Emerging Leaders Class of the Society of Teachers in Family Medicine. The competitive STFM fellowship provides training and support to new faculty and those transitioning to leadership roles. Geno works with the College’s family medicine residents in minor surgery and hospital medicine. He has practiced obstetrics as well as minor procedures and clinic and hospital medicine. Robinson works with undergraduate and graduate medical educators and administrators at the College to examine, assess and improve educational practices, processes and outcomes. He also works to advance interprofessional education among health faculty and professionals at UA.





Boxmeyer completes leadership program

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, assistant dean for Academic Affairs Medical for the College of Community Health Sciences, completed Leadership U, a University of Alabama program that prepares faculty and staff in leadership positions to assume increasing levels of responsibility within their organizations and to be forward-thinking – anticipating future challenges and envisioning opportunities for success.

During the program, participants met with UA leaders to learn more about the University, its goals and mission and the leadership styles of UA’s top administrators. Participants took part in professional development workshops to assess their personal strengths as leaders and to help them hone interpersonal skills. Faculty participants also were part of the Southeastern Conference’s Academic Development Leadership Program and visited LSU and Auburn for workshops.

“A consistent theme that we learned about leadership is the importance of focusing on the mission of your organization and how each department and employee contributes to this mission. It made me proud of CCHS’s commitment to improving health in Alabama and to training leaders in medical education and primary care,” Boxmeyer says. “It also deepened my appreciation for our excellent faculty, staff and students in CCHS who work hard to contribute to this mission every day.”

Leadership U, which began in 2010, is offered by the UA Office for Academic Affairs and administered by UA Associate Provost Jennifer Greer.

Participating in the program with Boxmeyer, professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and a practicing clinical psychologist, were: Sommer Coleman, senior project manager for Construction Administration; Jessie Gardner, assistant athletics director for Student-Athlete Enhancement; Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben, senior associate dean in the Culverhouse College of Business; Dr. Laura Hopson, director of the BSW program in the School of Social Work; Alyson Jarnagin, director of student services and registrar in the College of Communication and Information Sciences; Melinda King, executive director of the Career Center; Dr. Roger Sidje, associate dean for multicultural affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences; Debbie Vaughn, associate vice president for the Office of Development; and Monica Watts, associate vice president for Communications.


Medical students honored, receive awards at banquet

Medical students honored, receive awards at banquet

Twenty-six medical students were honored at the College of Community Health Sciences Senior Banquet on Friday, May 18, at the Tuscaloosa River Market. The students, now physicians, will soon begin their residency training in programs across 11 states.

The students completed the third and fourth years of medical school – their clinical education – at the College, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine. All students spend their first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, and then receive their clinical education at either Birmingham or one of the regional campuses in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville or Montgomery.

In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS and associate dean of the School of Medicine, said to the students: “When you get your medical degree, you will enter the top 5 percent of the world in educational achievement. With that comes a responsibility to make a difference in the world.”

A new scholarship presented for the first time was the Dr. William Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship. The scholarship was created to encourage medical students to pursue the practice of geriatrics, and it is awarded to a student who shows “exceptional interest in geriatrics and/or service learning and represents the best in academic medicine as recognized by faculty, residents and medical students.”

“Today’s healthcare system is ill-equipped to provide care for the elderly,” said Madeleine Hill, wife of the late Winterntiz, as she presented the scholarship to Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu. “In response, the Winternitz Geriatrics Scholarship recognizes students interested in the older generation.”

The students also received awards from faculty, clinical staff and their peers.

On Saturday, May 19, the students joined their 162 classmates for commencement in Birmingham. At commencement, Dr. Salmaan Kamal received the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu received the Medical Alumni Association Leadership and Community Service Award. Both completed their clinical training at the College.

Awards given at the Banquet:

Department and College Awards:

Robert F. Gloor Award in Community Medicine

Dr. Luke Iannuzzi

Awarded for excellent performance in Community and Rural Medicine

William Owings Award in Family Medicine

Dr. Paul Strickland

Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine

Recognition of Rural Medical Scholars

Drs. Nic Cobb, Whitney Hudman, Bhavika Patel, Paul Strickland and Dana Watson

Family/Rural Medicine Preceptor Award

Dr. Scott Boyken

Awarded annually to a community preceptor in Family Medicine/Community and Rural Medicine who exemplifies excellent teaching and role modeling for students.

William W. Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine

Dr. Salmaan Kamal

Awarded for outstanding achievement in Internal Medicine during the third and fourth years. This student possesses an exceptional wealth of knowledge, is able to integrate the pathology of disease with the physiology of clinical skills, and practices with empathy, compassion, and a desire to improve the patients with whom he or she comes in contact.

Neurology Award

Dr. Christopher Ray

Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship.

Pediatrics Recognition Award

Dr. Jordan Busing

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. Christopher Ray

Awarded for excellence exhibited by a medical student both academically and clinically during his/her Psychiatry Clerkship. This award is presented in honor of Dr. Peter Bryce, who was appointed the first superintendent of Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa. He and his wife, Ellen Clarkson Bryce, were cornerstones for Tuscaloosa society and tenacious advocates for people who experience mental illness.

Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Laura Crocker

Awarded to a student achieving outstanding academic and clinical success in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This award is presented in honor of former medical students James H. Akers and Teresa K. Finney.

William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award

Dr. Garrett Taylor

Awarded to a student or students with the highest scholastic achievement during their third-year Surgery Clerkship. Dr. William R. Shamblin, a Tuscaloosa native and former Chair of the Department of Surgery, spent years educating medical students and Family Medicine residents. This award continues in his honor.

Interprofessional Excellence Award

Dr. Lissa Handley

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.

Proassurance Patient Communication Award

Dr. Luke Iannuzzi

Awarded to a student who best demonstrates appropriate bedside manner, goes above and beyond in helping patients understand their diagnosis and treatment, and is a passionate patient advocate.

William A. Curry Award

Dr. Paul Strickland

The William A. Curry Award honors one University of Alabama School of Medicine-Tuscaloosa Regional Campus medical student in his or her third or fourth year of study for outstanding scholarly work in the areas of rural medicine and research.

Recognition of Larry Mayes Research Society Scholars

Drs. Sarah Bode and Benjamin Walters

Official Fellow Members:

Drs. Sarah Bode and Benjamin Walters

Student Research Award

Dr. Paul Strickland

Recognition of the pursuit of one or more research projects leading to presentation or publication during the clinical years of medical training.

Scholastic Achievement Award

Dr. Christopher Ray

Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum.

United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Award

Dr. Salmaan Kamal

Established by the US Public Health Service, this award recognizes a UAB student who has made a significant contribution to public health through leadership of projects in health promotion and disease prevention during his or her time in medical school.


William R. Willard Award

Dr. Salmaan Kamal

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.

Faculty, Resident and Student Awards as determined by the graduating class:

Faculty Recognition Award

Dr. Heather Taylor

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during the students’ junior year.

Community Preceptor Hero Award

Dr. Larry Skelton

Awarded to a community preceptor for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education.

Patrick McCue Award

Brook Hubner

Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during the students’ senior year.

Resident Recognition Award

Dr. Russell Guin

Awarded for outstanding contributions to medical education.

James H. Akers Memorial Award

Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu

Awarded to a graduating senior for dedication to the art and science of medicine.


College Scholarships:

Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship

Dr. Paul Strickland

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.

Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship

Dr. Luke Iannuzi

The Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship was established by Dr. and Mrs. Robert Pieroni to support medical students intending to enter primary care.

William Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship

Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu

The William Winternitz, Sr. Geriatric Scholarship was established in 2016 by Ms. Madeleine M. Hill, in honor of her late husband. The recipient of this award has shown an exceptional interest in geriatrics and/or service learning and represents the best in academic medicine as recognized by faculty, residents and medical students.

School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony Awards:

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Dr. Salmaan Kamal

Medical Alumni Association Leadership and Community Service Award

Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu