College welcomes new Behavioral Health Fellow

The College of Community Health Sciences welcomes Dr. Danielle Andrews to the Behavioral Health Fellowship.

The Behavioral Health fellowship along with Obstetrics, Sports Medicine, 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.

The Behavioral Health Fellowship for family medicine physicians, one of few in the country, trains family medicine physicians, particularly those planning to practice in rural communities, to better care for patients with psychiatric concerns.

The goal of the fellowship is to provide administrative training and public psychiatric experience for psychiatrists interested in practicing or serving in a community setting.

Andrews received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Clark Atlanta University. She earned a master’s degree in Public Health at Boston University School of Public Health, concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences.  She completed her medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and family medicine training at Phoebe Family Medicine Residency in Albany, Georgia.

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.

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

College merges departments to create Department of Family, Internal and Rural Medicine

The College of Community Health Sciences’ departments of Family Medicine and Internal Medicine have joined, and along with the College’s Rural Health Leaders Pipeline programs, now form the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine, or FIRM. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved the merger at its June 2016 meeting.

Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, said the departments of Family Medicine and Internal Medicine were already collaborating in many ways, including a joint inpatient teaching service created in 2015 and through the College’s geriatrics program. Rather than continuing as two separate departments, consolidation will benefit patients, medical students and residents, says Streiffer.

“Medical practice and training are becoming much more interdisciplinary, interprofessional and collaborative than ever before,” Streiffer says. “Our structure dates back to the origins of the College, for the most part, and has perpetuated ‘silos’ that no longer make sense.”

Plus, the primary aim of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline is to prepare students from rural areas of Alabama to provide health care in rural areas—particularly as family medicine physicians.

“Hence, the creation of FIRM into a single administrative unit gives us the unique opportunity to realign these key programs and disciplines, resources and strategies to be more collaborative and, ultimately, more effective,” Streiffer says.

Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency and chair of FIRM, says the merger will also allow the College to reexamine its use of clinical space in University Medical Center for efficiency.

Being part of a single unit, FIRM will be able to more easily implement clinical guidelines and processes as part of the College’s ongoing effort to become certified as a Patient-Centered Medical Home, as well as continue to increase collaboration in research and education.

Dr. Scott Arnold will serve as vice chair of FIRM and division director for internal medicine. Dr. Catherine Scarbrough, associate residency director, will provide oversight of curricular aspects of residency and fellowship education within the department. Dr. Jane Weida, associate residency director, will serve as director of all FIRM clinics. Dr. John Wheat continues as director of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline.

College adds Emergency Medicine Fellowship

The College of Community Health Sciences is adding to its offering of graduate medical education an Emergency Medicine Fellowship.

The one-year program, which is provided in conjunction with Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, will accept two fellows who will start their rotations in July 2017.

The program will be based primarily at Rush Foundation Hospital, and will include rotations through radiology, anesthesia, orthopedics and trauma, and advanced courses in obstetrics, airway management and advanced life support.

Some of the rotations will take place at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.

Funding for the program is provided by Rush Foundation Hospital, and Dr. Richard Friend, director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which the College operates, says that more funding is being sought to grow the program over time.

Friend, who specializes in emergency medicine, says establishing this fellowship has been a goal since he arrived at the College in 2013.

“Fifty percent of all family physicians do some sort of urgent care or emergency medicine, and I think this will provide another venue for advanced education in areas where family medicine physicians might need some additional training,” he says.

Friend, along with Dr. Tamer Elsayed, assistant director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency and an alumnus of the Residency, and Dr. Walt Willis, the Emergency Room director at Rush Foundation Hospital, will work to develop the curriculum. Elsayed and Willis will direct the fellowship.

The College provides training in sub-specialties of family medicine to suit the needs of communities in Alabama and the region, including obstetrics, sports medicine, hospital medicine, behavioral health, rural public psychiatry and geriatric medicine.

For more information about the fellowships the College offers, visit