Medical student from Ghana completes rotation at CCHS

Akua Aidoo, a medical student from Ghana, spent three weeks completing a rotation in the College of Community Health Sciences’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

She participated in patient visits in the Betty-Shirley Clinic, which provides mental health care to patients at University Medical Center, which the College operates.

Aidoo is a medical student at the University of Cape Coast in Cape Coast, Ghana. Last year, Aidoo met Dr. Thaddeus Ulzen, chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the College, when he lectured on her campus. She said she loved his style of teaching and was looking for an opportunity to travel for a rotation. So she approached him about completing a rotation at the College.

She said the rotation provided an opportunity for her to learn specifically about child psychiatry. She says this was her first time being exposed to many child psychiatry issues, like ADHD or autism.

While Aidoo has a strong interest in psychiatry and behavioral medicine, she says she is hoping to pursue obstetrics and gynecology after medical school. She also saw patients in the Family Medicine clinics at UMC.

She says she not only enjoyed learning from and working with faculty, residents and other medical students, but also her patients.

“Aside from the other medical students and faculty being nice to me, the patients were really nice to me,” she says.

Aidoo says she is the first at her medical school to complete a rotation at the College, and she says she will encourage others to do the same. She hopes to return to Alabama again.

Medaase,” she says, or “Thank you” in Twi, a dialect spoken in Ghana.

Through the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Partnership, UA students deliver academic and medical services to preschoolers and their families

The initiative offers broad health services through partnerships with UA’s School of Medicine, Family Medicine Residency, Speech and Hearing Center and Capstone College of Nursing.

Future physicians create an English-Spanish tool kit while learning to better communicate with Latino patients

When University of Alabama medical student Roshmi Bhattacharya saw a problem in her community, she created a course to help solve it.

“Roshmi noticed when she was doing her rotation that some of the nurses were treating Latino patients unfairly or inappropriately,” says Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, faculty advisor for the class and deputy director of the UA Institute for Rural Health Research. “One part of the course concentrates on cultural competency and Latino health, and the other part is where students learn Spanish so they can interact better with patients.”

Medical students provide personalized treatment while learning how social and cultural factors influence patient outcomes

When one of Elizabeth Junkin’s patients, a man in his 50s, came to a rural family-medicine clinic with abdominal pain, she suspected appendicitis. She recommended a CT scan that confirmed her diagnosis, then drove to the local hospital in Carrollton, Ala., to check on the man. No surgeons were available, so the emergency surgery he needed could not be performed there. With all ambulances at least a 2-hour drive away, Junkin helped arrange a helicopter flight to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. She met the man there, assisted with his surgery and followed up with him the next day.

Junkin did all this not as a doctor, but as a third-year medical student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. She’s part of an innovative program called the Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum, or TLC², created by

Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars attend orientation

This year’s classes of Rural Medical Scholars and Rural Community Health Scholars were welcomed to the College of Community Health Sciences with a day of orientation on Aug. 16 at Camp Tuscoba in Northport.

The College works to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama through the Rural Medical Scholars Program, which is for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The program 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.

Rural Community Health Scholars are graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program who are interested in health care careers. The program prepares students to assume leadership roles in community health in rural areas. Graduates of the program have entered the fields of public health, health administration, nursing and physical therapy. They have continued their professional training to become nurse practitioners, physician assistants, public health practitioners, physicians, teachers and researchers.

The orientation included program expectations, introductions and allowed students to get to know each other and CCHS faculty, including Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, who opened the orientation with a welcome.

Rural Medical Scholars:
Rebecca England—Demopolis (Marengo County)
Veronica Coleman—Butler (Choctaw County)
Andrew Seth Griffin—Centre (Cherokee County)
Colby James—Empire (Walker County)
Jessica Luker—Camden (Wilcox County)
Dustin Cole Marshall—Cottondale (Tuscaloosa County)
Brionna McMeans—Fort Deposit (Lowndes County
Johnny Pate—Moundville (Tuscaloosa County)
Madison Peoples—Hamilton (Marion County)
Madilyn Tomaso—Barnwell (Baldwin County)

Rural Community Health Scholars:
Sierra Cannon—Haddock, Georgia
Chelsey Clark—Birmingham (Jefferson County)
Raven Eldridge—Montgomery (Montgomery County)
Paris Long—Coosada (Elmore County)
Kendra Mims—McCalla (Jefferson County)
Januar Page—Enterprise (Dale County)
Kristin Pressley—Montgomery (Montgomery County)
Jeremy Watson—Northport (Tuscaloosa County)

Including the incoming class, there are 210 Rural Medical Scholars from 56 counties across Alabama. The 20th class entered medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in August.

Medical students named members of Gold Humanism Honor Society

Four medical students at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences became members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Nathaniel Claborn Sherrer (Class 0f 2017) and Salmaan Zaki Kamal, Koushik Kasanagottu and Elissa Handley Tyson (Class of 2018) are now members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, a signature program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation established to recognize medical students, residents and faculty who practice patient-centered medical care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy.

The students were nominated by their peers who offered their observations of the students characteristics consistent with humanistic values. A selection committee then evaluated the nominees’ academic eligibility, assessments by their program directors and essays indicating each student’s’ willingness and qualifications to serve, if selected. About 10 to 15 percent of each class is selected to membership. More than 22,0000 Gold Humanism Honor Society members train and practice nationally.

One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.


New faculty join CCHS

Dr. Nathan Culmer is assistant professor and director of Academic Technologies and Faculty Development.

Culmer leads the utilization of educational and simulation technology as well as distance technology aspects of telehealth services. He also oversees faculty development and is expanding continuing medical education at the College.

Culmer received his bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, his master’s in human communication studies from California State University, Fullerton, and a doctorate in higher education at the University of Iowa. Before joining the College, he spent four years at Pennsylvania State University with responsibilities in instructional design and organizational development.

Dr. Cecil D. Robinson is associate professor and director of Learning Resources and Evaluation.

Robinson works with undergraduate and graduate medical education and educators and administrators at the University of Alabama School of Medicine to examine, assess and improve educational practices, processes and outcomes at CCHS. He also works to advance interprofessional education among health faculty and professionals at UA.

Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northwestern University and a doctorate in educational psychology with a certificate in cognitive science from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Before joining CCHS, Robinson was an associate professor of educational psychology for the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling at UA’s College of Education. His research focuses on hope and well-being in educational and community settings.

WVUA: First Year UA Medical Students Serve Tuscaloosa Community

Before picking up their books and beginning medical school, first-year Alabama medical students committed a day doing good in the community.

As part of orientation week, incoming med students participated in “fun day,” a day of service in the Tuscaloosa community. This year’s fun day involved working in Jeremiah’s Community Garden, a place dedicated to providing food to anyone who needs it.

Medical Students Connect with Community

Forty first-year medical students picked tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, cleared and raked foliage, cut back overgrown brush and even laid down a wall as part of their orientation to Tuscaloosa and to The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences on Thursday, July 28, 2016.

The students are part of a class of 186 at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. After they complete their two years of education at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, these students will return to the College for their third and fourth years of clinical education. One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine.

As part of their orientation, the students spent the morning working at the newly-established Jeremiah’s Community Garden in Tuscaloosa. The community service was followed by lunch with CCHS faculty and tours of University Medical Center, which is a multispecialty practice operated by the College and a clinical education site for students.

The garden, started four months ago by Holy Spirit Catholic Church, has donated about 3,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to the West Alabama Food Bank and Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center since harvesting began about two months ago, says Roy Lofton, who, with his wife Bettye, has spearheaded the development of the garden.

Allison Montgomery, a second-year medical student who helped lead first-year students in the community service, says she is glad the day allows students to connect to the community, understand its needs and learn about ways to serve.

“You can just lose your focus and get caught up in the stress of applying, taking tests and getting into medical school,” she says. “Now that we’re in and we’re here, we need to refocus on why we’re studying medicine in the first place.”

Dr. Harriet Myers, assistant dean for medical education, told the students at their lunch with faculty that working in the garden was about building understanding.

“We are hopeful that each of you can maintain the broader perspective that is really demanded today in health care,” she said. “If this morning you were able to help get fresh fruits and vegetables to those who needed it—to those who might not be able to get to a supermarket—you are keeping that broad perspective.”

Lofton says the medical students made a great impact in the garden, but there is plenty more work to be done, and volunteers are always welcome.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the young people who came out here today,” he says. “I look forward to welcoming them back any time.”



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.