Residents, fellows honored at graduation

Twenty-one physicians were honored at the 41st annual graduation ceremony of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and Fellowships.

The 14 resident physicians and seven fellows who were honored at the ceremony, held Saturday, June 25, at the Zone-South at Bryant Denny Stadium on the UA campus, will soon begin their own practices in Alabama and other states. Some resident physicians will go on to complete fellowship programs.

The UA College of Community Health Sciences provides graduate medical education through both the three-year Family Medicine Residency and year-long fellowships for family medicine physicians seeking additional training in behavioral health, hospitalist medicine, obstetrics, rural public psychiatry, sports medicine or geriatric medicine.

“We’re very proud of the work this group has done in continuing the mission of the College,” said Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS, as he welcomed graduates and attendees.

Dr. A Robert Sheppard, associate professor of Internal Medicine and the director of the College’s Hospitalist Fellowship, was the guest speaker of the ceremony.

He shared with the graduates that he grew up poor on a farm in south Alabama, and that he initially struggled when he came to UA as a pre-med student. His academic advisers discouraged him from pursuing medicine because of his low grades, he said, and he had trouble with reading comprehension and vocabulary.

But he worked diligently, improved and was eventually accepted to the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

“Don’t ever give up,” he said to the graduates. “And don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.”

Awards were given to many of the graduating residents, including the inaugural William W. Winternitz Award in Geriatrics, which was given to Dr. Michael Gabriel in recognition of his interest in geriatrics and exceptional care of the geriatric population.

Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, a geriatrician and assistant professor in Family Medicine at the College, presented the award, which is named in honor of Dr. William W. Winternitz, a founding faculty member of the College who passed away in October 2015.

“[Dr. Winternitz] had a passion for the field of medicine and especially for academic medicine and the betterment of medical students and residents.” Halli-Tierney said.

Winternitz joined the College in 1977, serving as professor and chair of Internal Medicine and Director of Medical Student Affairs. He remained active at the College after his retirement.

He and his wife, Madeleine Hill, established the William W. Winternitz Geriatric Gift Fund to support the College’s Geriatric Initiative to provide enhanced educational opportunities for medical students and residents, new service-based learning opportunities and increased patient interaction.

“This award is supported by and named for a man truly dedicated to teaching both patients and medical learners,” said Halli-Tierney. “And it is given to the resident who has shown a solid interest in geriatric medicine and has provided exceptional, compassionate care of the geriatric population during his time at CCHS.”


2016 Graduating Fellows:

Dr. Nicole Denise Arthur, Obstetrics Fellow
Dr. Alexis Tanishia Mason, Behavioral Health Fellow
Dr. Byron Oswaldo Mata Gonzalez, Hospitalist Fellow
Dr. Bogdan Strambu, Hospitalist Fellow
Dr. Antoanela Zaharia, Hospitalist Fellow
Dr. Matthew David Andres, Sports Medicine Fellow
Dr. Carl Hunter Russell, Sports Medicine Fellow


2016 Graduating Residents:

Dr. Chandra Rekha Americhetty
Dr. Sirisha Chada
Dr. Mary Margaret Clapp
Dr. Jason Lee Clemons
Dr. Eric James Curley
Dr. Timothy Scott Eckford (chief resident)
Dr. Michael Daniel Gabriel
Dr. Katie Marie Gates (chief resident)
Dr. Maysoon Hamed
Dr. Ambreen Mardhani
Dr. Bhavika Rajanikant Patel (chief resident)
Dr. Jerry Yue Shen
Dr. Ross Alexander Summerford


Residency Award Winners

William R. Willard Award – Dr. Jacquelynn Luker (first-year resident)
Internal Medicine-Intern Award – Dr. Jacquelynn Luker
Internal Medicine-Best Resident – Dr. Katie Gates and Dr. Ross Summerford
Pediatrics Award – Dr. Eric Curley
Psychiatry Award – Dr. Bhavika Patel
Psychiatry/R3 Award – Dr. Jason Clemons
Obstetrics and Gynecology Award – Dr. Michael Gabriel
Research/Scholarship Award – Dr. Mary Margaret Clapp, Dr. Katie Gates, and Dr. Ambreen Mardhani
William W. Winternitz Award in Geriatrics – Dr. Michael Gabriel
Society of Teachers in Family Medicine Teaching Award – Dr. Jason Clemons
Clinical Competency Committee Awards –  Dr. Jason Clemons (third year), Dr. Keri Merschman (second year), Dr. Cheree Melton (first year), and Dr. Ashley Wambolt (first year)
William F. deShazo III Award – Dr. Ross Summerford
360 Award – Dr. Katie Gates


Rural Medical Scholar Graduates Recognized
Dr. Jason Clemons
Dr. Katie Gates
Dr. Ross Summerford
The College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program is designed to recruit students from rural Alabama who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities in the state.

For more coverage of the event, including photo galleries, click here.

Medical students honored, presented awards at convocation

Thirty-one medical students were honored at the College of Community Health Sciences’ Senior Convocation on Friday, May 13, at the Tuscaloosa River Market. The students, now physicians, are beginning their residency training in programs across 11 states.

See the full coverage of Senior Convocation, including photos, a list of graduates and awards, here.

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

In an opening address at convocation, Dr. Craig Hoesley, senior associate dean for medical education at the School of Medicine, said the students are leaving the College and the School of Medicine “even better than it was when they found it.”

The students received awards from faculty, clinical staff and their peers. One of the awards presented was the newly-named William Owings Award in Family Medicine, which was awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Junkin for demonstrating excellence in Family Medicine.

Owings, who recently retired from the College, was recognized at the ceremony by Dr. Drake Lave

nder for his 20 years of service.

“Dr. Owings embodies all that is good in family medicine,” he said. “He was practicing full spectrum family medicine before family medicine even existed.”

On Sunday, May 15, the students joined their 173 classmates for commencement.

At commencement, Dr. John Thomas Killian Jr. received the Hugh J. Dempsey Award, given to the student with the highest overall academic achievement over the four-year course of medical school. Dr. Amber Michelle Beg received the Medical Alumni Association Leadership and Community Service Award.

Awards given at Convocation:

Department and College Awards:
Robert F. Gloor Award in Community Medicine
Drs. Jackson Averett Reynolds and Daniel Seale
Awarded for excellent performance in Community and Rural Medicine

William Owings Award in Family Medicine
Dr. Elizabeth Ann Junkin
Awarded for excellence in Family Medicine

Rural Medical Scholars
Drs. Nicholas Drew Darby, Justin Len Deavers, Andrew Lloyd Jones, Nicholas Allen Rockwell, Daniel Seale, Elijah J. Allen Stiefel

Family/Rural Medicine Preceptor’s Award
Dr. J.D. Shugrue
Awarded annually to a community preceptor in Family Medicine/Community and Rural Medicine who exemplifies excellent teaching and role modeling for students.

William Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine
Dr. Melissa Rae Jordan
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. John Thomas Killian, Jr.
Awarded for outstanding academic and clinical performance during the Neurology Clerkship.

Pediatrics Recognition Award
Dr. Andrew Lloyd Jones
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. John Thomas Killian, Jr.
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. Brittany Taylor Massengill
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
Drs. Daniel Barton Booth, John Thomas Killian, Jr. and Paul Frederick Sauer, Jr.
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. Jonathan Russell Guin
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.

Larry Mayes Research Society Scholars
Drs. Daniel Barton Booth, Pia Marie Abano Cumagun, Katherine Rainey Dean, Wyman Oscar Gilmore III, Jonathan Russell Guin, Andrew Lloyd Jones, Brittany Taylor Massengill, Cyrus Massouleh, Jackson Averett Reynolds, Robert Rhett Rhyne, Nicholas Allen Rockwell, Daniel Seale, Elijah J. Allen Stiefel

Official Fellow Members:
Drs. Nicholas Drew Darby, Justin Len Deavers, Lauren Marie Gibson, Melissa Rae Jordan, Elizabeth Ann Junkin

Official Members: Drs. Emily Cleveland Ager, Cory Daniel Smith

Student Research Award
Dr. Wyman Oscar Gilmore III
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. John Thomas Killian, Jr.
Awarded for superior performance in the clinical curriculum.

William R. Willard Award
Dr. Elizabeth Ann Junkin
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. Joseph Wallace
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during the students’ junior year.

Community Preceptor Recognition Award
Drs. Erica Day-Bevel and Charles Gross
Awarded to a community preceptor for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education.

Patrick McCue Award
Dr. A. Robert Sheppard
Awarded for outstanding contributions to undergraduate medical education during the students’ senior year.

Resident Recognition Award
Drs. Blake DeWitt and Brittney Anderson
Awarded for outstanding contributions to medical education.

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

College Scholarships
Dr. Sandral Hullett Endowed Scholarship
Chaniece Wallace
The Dr. Sandral Hullett 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. Hullett, one of the first African-American Family Medicine residents to graduate from The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency.

Frank Fitts Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Dr. 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.

Robert E. Pieroni, MD, and Family Endowed Scholarship
Drs. Elizabeth Ann Junkin and Jonathan Russell Guin
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.

Reese Phifer, Jr., Memorial Foundation Scholarship in CCHS
Drs. Elizabeth Ann Junkin and Jonathan Russell Guin
The Reese Phifer Jr. Memorial Foundation Endowed Scholarship is awarded annually to promote the education of medical students at the College of Community Health Sciences/University of alabama School of Medicine Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The Foundation was established by Mr. and Mrs. Reese Phifer in 1967 in memory of their son J. Reese Phifer, Jr., a student at The University of Alabama who died in 1964. The foundation established the scholarship fund in 2014. Priority is given to current fourth-year medical students who intend to complete their residency at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, Which the college operates, and who have an interest in spending part of their residency training in Fayette, Alabama.

Larry Mayes Endowed Scholarship
Dr. Amber Michelle 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.

School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony Awards:
Medical Alumni Association Leadership & Community Service Award
Dr. Amber Michelle Beg

Hugh J. Dempsey Memorial Award
Dr. John Thomas Killian, Jr.

Formal Academic Honors
Drs. John Thomas Killian, Jr. and Margaret Pollard Marks – Summa cum laude
Drs. Joshua Thomas Gautney, Matthew Monte May, Paul Frederick Sauer, Jr. – Magna cum laude

Twentieth class of Rural Medical Scholars graduates

The Rural Medical Scholars Program at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences celebrated a milestone at its convocation in May – the 20th anniversary of the program, which is designed for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities.

“We are celebrating our 20 years, and recognizing students who are finishing the program this year and heading to medical school,” Dr. Jim Leeper, a professor of Community and Rural Medicine who works closely with the program, said as he welcomed graduates, their families and guests May 1 at the Hotel Capstone on the UA campus.

Eight Rural Medical Scholars graduated this year. Alumni of the two-decades-old program were also honored with a reception that preceded the convocation.

The Rural Medical Scholars program is exclusively for rural Alabama students and includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, that leads to a master’s degree in Rural Community Health and early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Rural Medical Scholars spend the first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and then return to the College for their final two years of clinical education.

Dr. Kevin Leon, associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at the School of Medicine, provided the convocation address. He spoke to students about the importance of primary care, the area of medicine that many Rural Medical Scholars choose to practice, and the privilege of serving patients, sharing some of his own experiences.

“What sets a primary care physician apart from other physicians are the relationships that are built,” Leon said. “Being present at the beginning of a new life, caring for a person throughout their life, rejoicing with patients, crying with patients and being there at the end of their lives to help them with that transition. What a privilege that is.”

He said primary care physicians also need to be active proponents for health. “Our responsibility to our patients, their families and our society is to go further – as advocates for health care in our communities and the nation.”

Dr. Drake Lavender, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family Medicine and the first graduate of the Rural Medical Scholars Program, also spoke at the convocation. He noted that many Rural Medical Scholar graduates hold leadership positions in state and national medical and teaching organizations. Lavender currently serves as president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians. “I didn’t anticipate that leadership would be part of my responsibilities, but you need to. We need people to come behind us with leadership abilities.”

Also during the convocation, the Rural Medical Scholars Program Distinguished Service Award was presented to Dr. Jim Coleman, director of the Office of Family Health, Education, and Research at the UAB Huntsville regional campus of the School of Medicine. Coleman was founding director of the Rural Medicine Program, a sister program to the Rural Medical Scholars Program that was established at Auburn University and the Huntsville regional campus.

“There is no greater honor than to be recognized by students and your peers and by the program that started it all,” Coleman said in reference to the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

The Rural Medical Scholars Alumni Award for Outstanding Rural Medical Educator, presented for the first time, was awarded to Dr. John Brandon, a long-time family physician in Gordo, Ala., who has served as a preceptor to medical students and family medicine residents.

Graduating members of the 20th class of Rural Medical Scholars:

Anooshah Ata of Scottsboro
Helen Cunningham of Fairhope
Tanner Hallman of Arab
Gloria McWhorter of Pike Road
Carson Perrella of Salem
John Pounders of Leighton
Jayla Robinson of Addison
Harriet Washington of Carrollton

Training by UA Professors Helps Head Start Program Win Recognition

A Head Start program in Hale County that is the beneficiary of a grant to faculty at The University of Alabama has received recognition from a national organization.

At the 12th International PATHS Conference in Chicago, the Hale County Head Start center was recognized as a PATHS Model School. The Hale County Head Start is based in Sawyerville and overseen by Community Service Programs of West Alabama.

UA’s Rural Medical Scholars Program Celebrates 20th Class

The Rural Medical Scholars Program at the College of Community Health Sciences will honor the graduates of its 20th class, as well as alumni of the now two-decade-old program, on Sunday, May 1, at Hotel Capstone on The University of Alabama campus.


Residency fills class of 2019 through match process

Sixteen new residents were welcomed into the College of Community Health Sciences’ Family Medicine Residency class of 2019 on March 18 through the National Resident Matching Program.

Two members of the incoming class—Elizabeth Junkin and Russell Guin—are currently fourth-year medical students at the College, which also functions as the Tuscaloosa Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

More than 2,000 candidates applied for the available slots (an increase from the 1,700 applicants in 2015) and 130 were interviewed. The residency, a three-year program and one of the largest of its kind in the country, was able to fill all the positions through the match process.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and one of the ways it fulfills that mission is by addressing the physician workforce in Alabama and the region with a focus on comprehensive family medicine residency training.

To address the growing need for primary care physicians in Alabama and nationwide, the Family Medicine Residency has been undergoing an expansion in recent years. It recently applied for and received additional residency slots, which brought its total approved and funded slots from 36 to 48.

One in seven family physicians practicing in Alabama has graduated from the Family Medicine Residency, and the 230 graduates practicing in Alabama are in 46 of the state’s 67 counties. Of the 436 graduates practicing outside of Alabama, the majority practice in the South or the Southeast.

The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency Class of 2019:

Blair Lindsey Chance
Indiana University

Joshua Franklin Coy
St. George’s University, Grenada

Ashley Sujane Froese
Lincoln Memorial University

Richard Anthony Giovane
St. George’s University, Grenada

Jonathan Russell Guin
University of Alabama School of Medicine • Tuscaloosa Regional Campus

Elizabeth Ann Junkin
University of Alabama School of Medicine • Tuscaloosa Regional Campus

Jonathan Edward Kroeker
St. George’s University, Grenada

Soojung Samantha Lee
Louisiana State University – New Orleans

Cory Allen Luckie
University of Alabama School of Medicine

John Calvin Lundeen
American University of the Caribbean, Saint Maarten

Jodie Erin McDonald-Beach
William Carey University

Katie Taheerah Muhammad
Meharry Medical College

Taki Mohammad Rida
Medical University of the Americas, Nevis, West Indies

Clifton Shane Scott
St. Matthew’s University, Grand Cayman

Tiffani Yvonne Thomas
Medical University of South Carolina

Hailey Elizabeth Thompson
William Carey University


Rural Medical Scholars Program to Honor Grads as Part of 20th Anniversary

The Rural Medical Scholars Program at the College of Community Health Sciences will honor the graduates of its 20th class, as well as alumni of the now two-decade-old program, on May 1 at Hotel Capstone on The University of Alabama campus.

A reception for program alumni will be held at 3 pm and will be followed by the 20th Annual Rural Scholars Convocation, where both the current class and past classes of the Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars will be recognized.

Approximately 200 rural Alabama students have entered the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program since its founding in 1996, and many graduates have chosen primary care fields. The majority of the program’s graduates practice in Alabama, and more than half of those practice in rural communities.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is the culmination of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline, a series of nationally-recognized programs that recruit rural students to prepare for health and medical careers in rural Alabama and provide them with opportunities for rural training experiences so that ultimately, they will return to their home towns or other rural parts of the state to practice.

“‘Growing our own’ is a tenet of the Rural Medical Scholars Program and other Rural Scholars Programs at The University of Alabama and is based on research that shows that rural students are more likely to choose to live and practice in rural areas,” says Dr. John Wheat, founder and director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

The Pipeline was recognized as the 2013 Outstanding Rural Health Program by the National Rural Health Association.

Medical student named in inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows

A medical student who will receive his clinical education at the College of Community Health Sciences is part of the inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows, a group of graduate students across the state selected to spend a year on a community service project to address chronic health problems.

David Osula, a first-year student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, is developing the Academy of Health Sciences Mentoring Program for inner-city high school students in Birmingham interested in health care careers. Osula will receive his third and fourth years of clinical education at the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus, which is located at the College.

The Academy of Health Sciences is run by Birmingham City Schools and hosted at Carver High School. It allows high school students to job shadow and visit hospitals to learn about health care professions, and to take courses and learn skills to prepare them for a career in health care.

Many School of Medicine students were already working with the Academy, Osula says.

“We are involved in several aspects already, including volunteering to teach a few classes, ACT Tutoring, and now, mentoring.”

Osula saw the existing bond between the high school students and medical students as an opportunity to develop a structured mentoring program. After four years of working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Osula says he has seen the impact mentorships can have on both the mentee and mentor.

With his project, Osula will serve as mentorship coordinator. He will design the program, run a short pilot and implement it in the fall.

The Alabama Schweitzer Chapter was founded in 2015. Many chapters are established across the United States.

The first class of fellows is made up of 16 graduate students from across the state who were selected from applicants in a variety of graduate programs, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, education, social work, law and the arts, according to the chapter’s website. Projects address chronic health issues in the state and their root causes, like poverty, the environment and education.

Osula says his mentoring program will positively impact the students of Carver High school, and they will, in turn, go on to positively impact Alabama health care.

“We, the medical students, are here to supplement their experience and provide new perspective. And soon, we will also be there to provide mentoring, encouragement and advice on how to be successful in their future careers,” he says. “By showing these students our ‘reverence for life’ as Albert Schweitzer so aptly did, we hope they carry on the torch and show a reverence for the lives they encounter in the future.”

College to offer Culinary Medicine elective

Physicians often advise patients to avoid foods high in fat, sugar and sodium. But it can be more effective to help patients come up with a meal plan suitable for everyday life. That is why The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences is partnering with the College of Human and Environmental Sciences to create a Culinary Medicine elective.

Starting in January 2016, the class will teach, through lectures, hands-on cooking classes and a follow-up discussion, medical students, Family Medicine residents and nutrition students how to better educate patients about their diets.

“Patients don’t like to hear ‘don’t eat,’” says Dr. Jennifer Clem, assistant professor in Family Medicine and one of the faculty spearheading the project. “We need to be telling our patients what they can eat. Students aren’t coming out of their medical education with the right thoughts about this issue, and we need to work on that.”

Clem will be teaching with Dr. Linda Knol, associate professor of human nutrition at the College of Human and Environmental Sciences. About 30 will take the class, which will encourage a team-based approach to working with patients. The idea is for the students to learn the basics of cooking so that they can provide patients with helpful information when addressing chronic disease management and obesity. Classes will be held in the College of Human and Environmental Sciences’s teaching kitchen.

The curriculum for the course will pull from five of 20 modules of the curriculum at Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine: Intro to Culinary Medicine, which will include the principles of the Mediterranean diet; weight control and portion control; fats and textures; renal disease, hypertension and sodium; and diabetes and carbohydrates. The students will also learn recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

A group leading the College’s efforts to implement the elective presented information about the course to the College’s Board of Visitors at its fall meeting on Nov. 13. The group was comprised of: Clem; Knol; Dr. John C. Higginbotham, associate dean for Research and director of the College’s Institute for Rural and Health Research; and Dr. Keirsten Smith, a second-year Family Medicine resident. Smith pointed out to the Board that by 2030, obesity will surpass tobacco as the leading cause of cancer.

“Obesity is slowly becoming a norm which will continue to burden our healthcare system if the problem isn’t addressed,” she said.

In June 2015, Higginbotham, Clem, Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, and Dr. Bhavika Patel, chief resident for the College’s Family Medicine Residency, attended a two-day retreat at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine to learn about the curriculum.

“Addressing lifestyle issues in order to improve health is fundamental to what we do in primary care in the nation,” said Dr. Streiffer in a article. “We need ultimately to equip our students with a better set of skills, not just with disease but about wellness. This is a piece of a long-term strategy to change our curriculum and our product.”

Residency celebrates 40 years

The College of Community Health Sciences hosted a reunion weekend Nov. 13-15, 2015, to celebrate 40 years of its Family Medicine Residency, and graduates from the last four decades gathered to reconnect, remember the history of the Residency and learn about its current impact on the state of Alabama and the Southeast.

The Residency, one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the United States, was founded in 1974 and to date has graduated 450 family medicine physicians, the first one in 1975. More than half of those graduates are practicing in 46 of Alabama’s 67 counties, and 48 percent are practicing in a rural area of the state.

One in seven family physicians in Alabama graduated from the Residency, and 77 percent of Residency alumni practice in a primary care physician shortage area.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and part of how it accomplishes that mission is by addressing the physician workforce needs of Alabama and the region with a focus on comprehensive Family Medicine Residency training.

The weekend kicked off with a cocktail party on Nov. 13 at the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art, and a lecture series was held the following morning with continuing medical education credits offered. Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College and a 1980 graduate of the Residency, and Dr. Richard Friend, director of the Residency and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, presented a history of the College and the Residency and talked about recent growth and expansion. The Residency has undergone an expansion in recent years, growing from 36 to 48 approved slots.

Friend said the drive behind the Residency’s growth and expansion is its responsibility to care for the health of the state.

“I think we have an obligation to the region to produce more family medicine doctors,” he said.

Dr. Scott Arnold, associate professor and chair of Internal Medicine, presented an update on internal medicine research. Dr. Kristine Graettinger, assistant professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr. Catherine Skinner, assistant professor of Family Medicine, presented on current topics in women’s health.

The series also included a two-part presentation by Dr. John Sullivan, a 1978 Residency graduate well-known for his work in toxicology, including the development of rattlesnake bite anti-venom serum, as well as development of medication container features to prevent tampering following seven Tylenol-related deaths in Chicago in 1982 that were the result of product tampering.

Sullivan talked about the development of his anti-venom serum.

As a practicing physician in Arizona, he would often see several hundred patients between March and October of each year who had been bitten by rattlesnakes. He had a laboratory in his practice, so worked to develop an anti-venom serum, shepherded it through clinical trials during the 1990s, and by 2000 received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Today, his serum is the standard treatment for rattlesnake bites.

“My goal when I came to residency here was to practice in rural Alabama and really change the world,” Sullivan said. “But I am still one of you. I just changed the world in a different way.”

Later that evening, a Gala was held at the North Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. After a welcome by Streiffer, brief remarks were provided by Dr. Mike McBrearty, the first graduate of the Residency, and Dr. Drake Lavender, a more recent graduate of the program.

Dr. Glen Stream, president of Family Medicine for America’s Health and former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, delivered the keynote address. He outlined the goals of the Health is Primary Campaign, an initiative of Family Medicine for America’s Health. The campaign, launched a year ago, seeks to improve the health of people across the country and to rein in health care costs. Campaign strategies include increasing the number of family medicine physicians in the United States, ensuring that everyone has a medical home and changing the payment system for primary care.

“Family Medicine for America’s Health works to educate the public about the importance of family medicine,” Stream said. “People who have a family medicine physician, who have a source of primary care, are healthier.”

“It’s good to be celebrating the importance of your residency program,” he added.

Streiffer says the weekend was a success because graduates were able to visit with each other and reconnect with the College.
“That was what we really wanted to do—reconnect with our alumni base, and in doing so, help them see how the Residency, to which they all contributed by virtue of having been part of it, has grown and evolved from its early days while still remaining true to its original mission,” he says. “I hope our alumni are proud of the Residency, feel good about our direction, and will keep in touch in touch and help advise us about and inform our future.”