College Psychiatrists Recognized by National Association

Two psychiatrists in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine have been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association for their dedication to the profession of psychiatry.

Marisa Giggie, MD, MPAff

Marisa Giggie, MD, an assistant professor in the department who also practices at the College’s Betty Shirley Clinic, received the status of Fellow. J.E. Keeton, MD, an adjunct faculty member in the department, received the status of Distinguished Fellow.

Giggie and Keeton will be formally recognized at the APA’s 166th Annual Meeting in San Francisco in May.

“I am honored and humbled to be given the distinction of Fellow by the APA,” Giggie says. “Serving my patients has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. I look forward to many more years of service to the community.”

The designation of Fellow recognizes early career APA members who have demonstrated a commitment to their profession and to the ongoing work of the association.

The designation of Distinguished Fellow is awarded to psychiatrists who have made significant contributions to the psychiatric profession in such areas as clinical excellence, teaching, scientific and scholarly publications and volunteering in mental health and medical activities of social significance. Distinguished Fellow is the highest membership honor the APA bestows.

Both the designation of Fellow and Distinguished Fellow require review from a member’s state association, as well as approval by the APA’s Memberships Committee and Board of Trustees. The state association for Alabama is the Alabama Psychiatric Physicians Association.

“Dr. Keeton and Dr. Giggie have achieved distinction in special areas of psychiatry and possess depth of knowledge and breadth of skills that are recognized and highly respected,” says APPA President Jacqueline Maus Feldman, MD.

Giggie is fellowship trained and board certified in adult and adolescent psychiatry and in forensic psychiatry. She directs the College’s Behavioral Health Fellowship for Family Physicians and its Rural Public Psychiatry Fellowship. Giggie also works with county jails in Alabama to conduct psychiatric assessments and evaluations of juvenile offenders using telepsychiatry.

Keeton was recently recognized by the APPA for more than 50 years of service to the psychiatric profession. In addition to private practice and teaching medical students and psychiatry residents, he participated in a research program in the 1990s that studied a new, anti-psychotic medication in treating chronic, long-term schizophrenia patients who were not expected to reside outside of a hospital. The patients responded well to the medication, clozaphine, and were able to move to foster homes or home with their families.

Students Elected to Membership in Honor Medical Society

Five University of Alabama School of Medicine students who are receiving their clinical training at the College of Community Health Sciences were elected members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The students, all in their fourth-year of medical school, are: Jonathan Black of Monroeville, Ala.; Nicholas Deep of Birmingham, Ala.; Jessica Grayson of Fayette, Ala.; Kevin Greer of Sylacauga, Ala.; and Chris Rigell of Andersonville, Tenn.

Alpha Omega Alpha is a professional medical organization that recognizes excellence in scholarship as well as outstanding commitment and dedication to caring for others. The top 25 percent of a medical school class is eligible for nomination to the honor society, and up to 16 percent may be elected based on leadership, character, community service and professionalism.

“We are so proud of these students. They really do represent the ‘best of the best’ in our medical school,” says Heather Taylor, MD, the College’s associate director of Medical Student Affairs. “Election into Alpha Omega Alpha is truly a prestigious honor. It not only means you have excelled academically but that a group of your peers is recognizing your contributions to the school and your potential to be a leader in the field of medicine.”

Greer, who is interested in Anesthesiology and who earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from The University of Alabama, says he is honored to have been elected and “very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study medicine at The University of Alabama and participate in clinical rotations on the Tuscaloosa campus. I feel that these experiences have provided a great foundation for residency training and the practice of medicine.”

Rigell says he was both excited and humbled when he learned he had been elected. “My classmates are all very talented and diligent, which makes receiving this distinction truly an honor.” Rigell, who is interested in pursuing Internal Medicine, received his undergraduate degree in molecular and cellular biology from Vanderbilt University.

About 3,000 students, alumni and faculty are elected to Alpha Omega Alpha each year. The society has 120 chapters in medical schools throughout the United States and has elected more than 150,000 members since its founding in 1902.

In its role as a branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, the College provides clinical education to approximately 70third- and fourth-year medical students. The students complete the first two years of basic sciences courses at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, and then complete clinical rotations on the Tuscaloosa campus in the departments of Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Neurology, Psychiatry and Surgery.

Since its founding in 1972, more than 760 medical students have received their third and fourth years of training at the College. The College also operates one of the oldest and most productive Family Medicine residencies in the country.

CCHS Program Prepares Rural Students for Med School

A family doctor in a rural town wears multiple hats, from teacher and counselor to knowledge base and expert adviser. “You’re part of a community.” says Dr. John Brandon, a family practice physician in Gordo since 1981. “People respect your opinion and ask your advice about all kinds of things. And you’re definitely not isolated. We have a saying here: ‘They know where your truck is because they know your truck.’ People can find you pretty easily if they really need you. There’s not necessarily a need for beepers and cellphones in a rural area.”

On Rounds Celebrates Forty Years of the College

Celebrate forty years of the College of Community Health Sciences with this commemorative edition of On Rounds. On Rounds is a semiannual publication of The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences/School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Campus. 

Dean Helps Raise Awareness about Diabetes

Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, was pinned on World Diabetes Day Nov. 13, 2012, to help raise awareness about the disease. He received a round blue pin, the global symbol for diabetes, from Ethan Sales, a University of Alabama pre-medical student majoring in Biology and vice president of the University organization DiET (Diabetes Education Team).

Dean Streiffer is pinned by the Blue Man for World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1.9 million American adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010; in Alabama, one in nine people were diagnosed with the disease.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and a leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputation and new cases of blindness, according to the CDC.

The annual World Diabetes Day was established by the International Diabetes Federation to increase awareness about the disease.

The College of Community Health Sciences Welcomes New Faculty

Harriet Myers, PhD, has rejoined the College of Community Health Sciences as an associate professor with joint appointments in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.  

Myers, a clinical psychologist, will work with residents in the College’s Family Medicine Residency and will have a clinical practice at University Medical Center. The College operates University Medical Center and is also a branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

Myers has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Nursing and received her doctoral degree in Psychology from The University of Alabama. From 1986 to 2000, she was an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and maintained her own private practice in Tuscaloosa.

Her interpersonal approach to therapy helps chronically ill patients and their doctors manage medical conditions and recognize underlying issues that may affect patient outcomes. Myers uses Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in individual and group therapy sessions to help patients facing chronic illness become more aware of their present actions, thoughts and feelings and to use that awareness to impact their illness.

“Mindfulness and cognitive strategies assist patients to be aware of their habitual behaviors, thoughts and intentions as well as to deal with anxiety or other negative emotions. These tools allow patients to find ‘wellness’ even when dealing with a chronic illness,” Myers says. “I am excited to use evidenced-based mindfulness strategies to complement other components of patient medical care.”

Prior to returning to The University of Alabama, Myers served as the associate dean of students at the Ross University School of Medicine in the West Indies and was the founding president of the Chamberlain College of Nursing campus in Miramar, Fla. Myers says she is excited to be back at the College working closely with students and faculty.

“I love to be around people who are curious and learning and am looking forward to participating in that process here,” she says. “The University environment has such a wonderful energy and working with the medical students and residents is going to be an exciting part of this new path.”

Myers brings her own energy to the College through her interest in sailing and outdoor adventure. She, her husband and the dog they rescued from a Venezuelan beach have sailed throughout much of the Caribbean and the east coast of the United States.

Cathie Scarbrough, MD, has also joined the College of Community Health Sciences as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. 

Scarbrough earned her medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis in 2005 and completed her residency at In His Image Family Medicine Residency in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008. She is board-certified in Family Medicine.

Scarborough says she chose the specialty of Family Medicine because she enjoys treating patients of all ages. “I enjoy seeing pediatric and geriatric patients and the ages in between. I like the family connection and the continuity of care found in family practice.”

For the last two years, Scarbrough has had a Family Medicine practice at St. Vincent’s Family Care in Pell City, Ala. Prior to that, she served as a faculty member at St. Vincent’s East residency program in 2008 before going overseas to serve on the faculty of a Family Medicine training program in Central Asia.

“I like working with the next generation of physicians and being involved one-on-one in their learning process,” she says. “It’s enjoyable to watch residents grow professionally and academically during their residency.”

Scarbrough will see patients and instruct residents in the College’s Family Medicine Clinic and will see patients in the Faculty-Staff Clinic two days a week. Both clinics are located in University Medical Center, which is operated by the College.

College Faculty Recognized for Teaching Excellence

Students of The University of Alabama School of Medicine have presented the 2012 Argus Awards to recognize mentors, professors, courses and course directors for their outstanding service to medical education.

Two faculty members of the College of Community Health Sciences received recognition as Best Tuscaloosa Campus Clinical Instructors: Heather Taylor, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics; and Joseph Wallace, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery.

Additionally, students selected the College’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which is chaired by Daniel Avery, MD, as the Best Tuscaloosa Campus Department.

For the training of third- and fourth-year medical students, the College is a branch campus of the School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

“We value our teaching efforts at the College, and it is particularly rewarding for our faculty and one of our departments to be recognized like this since only a subset of medical students receives their clinical training here,” says College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD.

The Argus Society was started in 1996 to recognize faculty members who exhibit excellence in medical education.

University Medical Center Recognized as Health Fair Champion

University Medical Center received the 2012 University of Alabama Health Fair Champion Award in recognition of its efforts to provide health education and resources to the University community.

The University’s HealthCare Insurance Administration, which presented the award, cited University Medical Center’s leadership role in the University’s efforts this fall to provide free flu shots to thousands of University employees and students.

Nurses from University Medical Center and the Student Health Center traveled to buildings and dormitories across campus in September and October to make it easier and more convenient for faculty, staff and students to get flu shots. The nurses also provided flu shots at the University’s Employee Health Fair and the Student Health Fair. Approximately 8,000 inoculations were purchased by the University and given free to employees and students.

Both University Medical Center and the Student Health Center are operated by the College of Community Health Sciences.

For the past 17 years, University Medical Center has partnered with the Healthcare Insurance Administration to promote greater health and awareness through the annual Employee Health Fair.

“As one of our original partners, we truly believe that your hard work and dedication has helped the health fair to continually grow and become a success each year,” says John Kasberg, senior insurance administrator with the Healthcare Insurance Administration. “This year, we are especially grateful for University Medical Center’s campus-wide influenza immunization program.”

Nominations for Rural Health Heroes Awards Being Accepted

The University of Alabama Institute for Rural Health Research is seeking nominations for its 2013 Rural Health Heroes Awards. The awards will honor rural health care providers and others who assist in reducing or preventing obesity and promoting wellness.

Award winners will be honored at the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference, which will be held February 20, 2013, at the University’s Ferguson Center. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Rural Health Research and the University’s College of Community Health Sciences.

Nominations are being accepted in the following three categories: rural community members or organizations, health care providers, or government officials and agencies; students enrolled in Alabama colleges and universities, including undergraduate, graduate, medical students and residents; and faculty and staff of Alabama colleges and universities.

The conference, “The Weight of Our Rural Communities: Partnering to Reduce Obesity,” will feature national keynote speakers. Breakout session topics will focus on nutrition, physical activity and clinical issues related to obesity..

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The registration fee is $100 per person ($25 for students) and includes breakfast and lunch. Continuing Education Units will be offered.

The annual Rural Health Conference is are attended by health care providers, community leaders, researchers, government officials and policymakers who hear from prominent speakers in the field and share information and knowledge about rural health issues.

For more information about the Rural Health Heroes Awards or to nominate an individual or organization, contact Barbara Wright at or (205) 348-0025. The deadline to receive nominations is January 11, 2013. For more information about the conference visit the Rural Health Conference website at or call (205) 348-0025.

Established in 2001, the Institute for Rural Health Research works to bring the highest attainable standard of health to rural communities. The Institute pursues this mission through the combined strength of community involvement, scientific knowledge and informed public policy. The Institute’s research efforts are focused on health issues that impact people who live in rural areas.

The Second Annual Rural Health Heroes Awards will honor those unsung heroes who use their health and healing gifts to assist individuals and communities in reducing or preventing obesity and promoting wellness.  These heroes will be honored at the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference to be held on Wednesday February 20, 2013, at The University of Alabama, Ferguson Center, sponsored by the Institute for Rural Health Research, College of Community Health Sciences.

To Segregate or Not to Segregate: That is the Question

A lawsuit challenging Alabama’s policy of segregating HIV-positive inmates will proceed to trial this month, thanks to an order issued Wednesday by a federal judge. In rejecting the state prison system’s request that the suit be dismissed, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson cleared it for a non-jury trial set to start on Sept. 17 in Montgomery. At the heart of the suit is whether Alabama’s prisons should continue residential segregation of HIV-positive prisoners. “To segregate or not to segregate: that is the question!”