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New class previews clinical education to Rural Medical Scholars

Rural Medical Scholars can now get a better idea of what to expect during their third year and fourth years of clinical education in medical school, thanks to a new class offered by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

The class, Family Medicine Practice and Procedures: Special Topics, is being offered by the departments of Family Medicine and Community and Rural Medicine to second-year medical students who are Rural Medical Scholars.

Students shadowed faculty and gained clinical experience at University Medical Center, which is operated by the College, and at DCH Regional Medical Center. They also participated in skills workshops. The class was offered in August in two week-long periods.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program 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 as well as 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. One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine.

The co-instructors for the course are Susan Guin, CRNP, assistant professor in Community and Rural Medicine, and Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in Family Medicine. Rural Medical Scholars tend to have limited interaction with Family Medicine faculty, and this is an effort to change that, Guin says. She says the class is intended to be a preview of what their third year clinical education will be like when they return to Tuscaloosa.

“It’s about relationship building and mentoring for the Rural Medical Scholars,” she says. “It begins that support network that is so beneficial during medical school and residency.”

Three Rural Medical Scholars participated in the course: Nic Cobb, Jake Guin and Whitney Hudman.

The skills workshops included learning airway management from Glenn Davis, director of Emergency Medical Services for the College, and suturing techniques from Dr. William Owings, professor in Family Medicine.

Students also shadowed Owings in clinic at UMC. Jake Guin says observing Owings with a patient was an experience that stood out to him.

“Anyone could tell that the patient truly trusted [Owings], and [Owings] truly cared for the well-being of the patient, physically, mentally and emotionally,” he says.

The students shadowed several other faculty in clinic at UMC, including Dr. Richard Friend, director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Catherine Scarbrough, associate director of the Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Tamer Elsayed, assistant director of the Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Alan Blum, professor in Family Medicine; Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, assistant professor in Family Medicine; Dr. Jerry McKnight, professor in Family Medicine; and Dr. Catherine Skinner, assistant professor in Family Medicine. The students also shadowed some Family Medicine resident physicians.

Hudman said she found her learning experiences helpful in preparing her for clinical education.

“In addition to learning by seeing patients, it was good just to be able to see what my future will look like as a third-year student, fourth-year student and a family medicine resident,” she says.

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Workshop preps preceptors for innovative clinical education program

An innovative medical education program that promotes deeper student connections with patients and stronger student-teacher relationships is in its second year at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

As part of the Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum (TLC2), seven third-year medical students will receive their clinical education by following a panel of patients over nine months under the instruction of a preceptor.

The College hosted a workshop for those preceptors, who are from practices across the state, on Saturday, Aug. 22, in order to familiarize them with TLC2.

TLC2 is a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) for third-year medical students offered at the College, which serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham. A cohort of third- and fourth-year students from the School of Medicine receive their clinical education at the College.

Six physicians attended the workshop, some of whom were from Calera, Columbiana, Pell City and Reform.

They listened to experiences of past preceptors, learned tips for teaching students in a clinical setting and received an overview of the nine-month schedule that a LIC follows. They were also educated on their roles as preceptors, learned how to assess and grade their students and were taught tips on providing feedback to students.

Brook Hubner, program director of Medical Education for the College, says the goal was for preceptors to leave with a strong understanding of the benefits of a LIC and TLC2 so that they can feel comfortable teaching over nine months instead of four weeks, which is the typical amount of time preceptors work with students in a traditional clinical education block model.

“We know these preceptors already are outstanding teachers, but being together for this active learning experience helps them develop contacts for support and collaboration,” she says. “They now have a tool kit of resources to use when working with their students, are well-versed in the support structure that the School of Medicine provides and have collaborated on teaching techniques to help students with clinical and critical thinking skills.”

Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and medical director for TLC2, says building a strong network of preceptors is critical for growth of the program.

“It is our desire to spread our network across the state of Alabama as we expand our program to include our entire cohort of students. Other programs around the country and around the world have shown the value of the longitudinal student-preceptor relationship, and we hope to continue to replicate that here at CCHS.”

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University Medical Center-Northport celebrates grand opening

Community members and leaders gathered to celebrate the grand opening of University Medical Center’s new Northport location on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.

A ribbon cutting ceremony, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, was held at University Medical Center-Northport, and an open house for the public followed. The open house included tours of the clinic.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC and UMC-Northport, said that opening the new location was part of the College’s effort to address the state’s shortage of primary care physicians and health care professionals.

“We know primary care and family medicine and the training we undertake are key to a healthcare system that is not only more effective, but more accessible and more prevention-oriented and ultimately results in improved population health, which is the mission of the College—to improve the health of the population,” he said.

He added, “We’ve outgrown our beautiful facility on campus, and we’re delighted to be able to open this facility in Northport and improve [health care] access for this part of the community and for the counties adjacent.”

UA President Stuart Bell spoke, saying that opening UMC-Northport is an offering of one of UA’s greatest resources to the community.

“As I think about what makes a community great and what is important to a community, first and foremost in that is providing excellent health care to our community, and I couldn’t be more proud to be here today and talk about the partnership we have between The University of Alabama and [Northport].”

Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon concluded the remarks with a proclamation: “I proclaim wisdom for the instructors, understanding for the students and the best health care possible for all citizens.”

Though the grand opening celebration was held on Aug. 26, UMC-Northport, which is located at 1325 McFarland Blvd., Suite 102, Northport, AL (in the Fitness One building) has been providing comprehensive, patient-centered care to the area in family medicine and obstetrics since its soft opening on July 1.

The opening of UMC-Northport was a relocation of UMC-Warrior Family Medicine, UMC’s location in Fairfax Park in Tuscaloosa, which closed in late June. Patients and providers from UMC-Warrior Family Medicine moved to UMC-Northport.

Dr. H. Joseph Fritz is clinic director at UMC-Northport, and he practices alongside Drs. Ray Brignac, Jennifer Clem, Catherine Skinner and nurse practitioner Lisa Brashier. Resident physicians Drs. Shawanda Agnew, Carrie Coxwell, Eric Frempong, Brianna Kendrick, Cheree Melton, Aisha Pitts, Efe Sahinoglu and Amy Wambolt, all of whom are part of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, also see patients.

Dr. John Burkhardt, a clinical psychologist, will provide psychotherapy and related care at UMC-Northport starting Sept. 1

UMC and UMC-Northport provide care to the University and West Alabama community. Patients of all ages can receive care for the full spectrum of needs—from preventive care and wellness exams to management of chronic conditions, to treatment for acute illness and accidents.

UMC-Warrior Family Medicine was formed in 2014 after Fritz and his practice, Warrior Family Practice, joined the College. Fritz had been in private practice in Tuscaloosa since 1978.

To make an appointment at UMC, phone the desired clinic directly, or call (205) 348-1770. To make an appointment at UMC-Northport, phone (205) 348-6700. Learn more about UMC and UMC-Northport here.

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Rural Medical Scholars Program holds orientation for 20th class, WVUA reports

The 20th class of the Rural Medical Scholars Program attended orientation Tuesday, August 18, at Camp Tuscoba Retreat Center in Northport. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is dedicated to addressing the shortage of primary care physicians in rural parts of the state, reported WVUA.

“We are in a severe crisis with a shortage of primary care physicians in rural Alabama,” Dr. John Wheat, director of the program, said in the report. “Family physicians are most likely to practice in rural Alabama, so that’s what we’re about—producing physicians for rural Alabama.”

Watch the WVUA report here:

The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences will celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The students of the 20th class of the Rural Medical Scholars Program are:

Anooshah Ata, Scottsboro, Jackson County
Helen Cunningham, Barnwell, Baldwin County
Tanner Hallman, Arab, Marshall County
Carson Perrella, Salem, Lee County
Gloria (Storm) McWhorter, Prattville, Autauga County
Johnson (John) Pounders, Leighton, Colbert County
Jayla Robinson, Addison, Winston County
Harriet Washington, Carrollton, Pickens County

From left: Drs. Ray Brignac, H. Joseph Fritz, Catherine Skinner, Jennifer Clem and nurse practitioner Lisa Brashier

UMC-Northport to celebrate grand opening Aug. 26

University Medical Center’s new Northport location will hold its grand opening on Wednesday, August 26, 2015. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place 5 p.m. at University Medical Center-Northport, located in the Fitness One building at 1325 McFarland Blvd, Suite 102, and it will be followed by an open house for the community.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. The open house, which will include patient information sessions on health-related issues, will allow members of the community to familiarize themselves with the services offered at UMC-Northport.

Both University Medical Center and UMC-Northport are operated by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences. Since its soft opening on July 1, UMC-Northport has provided comprehensive patient-centered care in family medicine and obstetrics.

“We are very excited about the positive impact UMC-Northport has had and will have on our patients, learners and the community,” says Dr. Richard Friend, chair of Family Medicine for the College. “It is important to continue to find ways to improve the health of our patients and the community.”

The opening of UMC-Northport was a relocation of UMC-Warrior Family Medicine, UMC’s location in Fairfax Park in Tuscaloosa, which closed in late June. Patients and providers from UMC-Warrior Family Medicine moved to UMC-Northport.

Dr. H. Joseph Fritz is clinic director at UMC-Northport, and he practices alongside Drs. Ray Brignac, Jennifer Clem, Catherine Skinner and nurse practitioner Lisa Brashier. Resident physicians Drs. Shawanda Agnew, Carrie Coxwell, Eric Frempong, Brianna Kendrick, Cheree Melton, Aisha Pitts, Efe Sahinoglu and Amy Wambolt, all of whom are part of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, also see patients.

UMC and UMC-Northport provide comprehensive, patient-centered care to the University and West Alabama community. Patients of all ages can receive care for the full spectrum of needs—from preventive care and wellness exams to management of chronic conditions, to treatment for acute illness and accidents.

UMC-Warrior Family Medicine was formed in 2014 after Fritz and his practice, Warrior Family Practice, joined the College. Fritz had been in private practice in Tuscaloosa since 1978.

To make an appointment at UMC, phone the clinics directly or call (205) 348-1770. To make an appointment at UMC-Northport, phone (205) 348-6700. Learn more about UMC and UMC-Northport here.

 

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Gardening While You Learn

As childhood obesity continues its upward trend nationally, schools and community organizations are partnering to find solutions. One such solution is the advent of school gardens to get students outside the classroom and into the great outdoors.

A psychologist with The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, however, wanted more than anecdotal evidence of the various programs’ success. Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, is seeking to determine exactly what kind of an impact these projects have on students, both from a health and educational perspective.

College faculty present at AAFP annual meeting

“The landscape of American health care is changing. Payment will be tied to value, and value means quality. If we as family docs don’t talk about what we do in a convincing way, we aren’t going to get anywhere,” Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, said at the opening session of the annual meeting of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians held in June in San Destin, Fla.

CCHS faculty were speakers at many of the session held at the annual meeting.

The opening session was titled the “Principles and Benefits of Practice Transformation and the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model.” In addition to Streiffer, speakers included: Dr. Paul Grundy, global director of Healthcare Transformation for IBM; Dr. Reid Blackwelder, board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians; Dr. Jane Weida, past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and associate residency director for the College; Dr. Robert Moon, medical director of Alabama Medicaid; and Dr. Lloyda Williamson, director of the College’s Telehealth Division and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Grundy explained that the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a house for data, and with data physicians can manage patients and populations and ultimately improve health outcomes. “Data will make clear what is happening. The future of medicine will be based on data.”

“Doctors were the data repositories, but as data became more complicated we specialized to the point that we couldn’t connect,” Grundy continued. “Those with the most exotic data (specialists) were paid more. Now what’s going to be valued is a doctor who manages a population and guides patients through the healthcare system.”

He said the PCMH will make primary care physicians relevant. “We don’t need episodic care for diabetics; they need to be managed and this is what a PCMH can provide. When we reward the most exotic information, the primary care doctor is not important. But when you’re repositioned from doing small things to managing patients that makes you relevant.”

Blackwelder acknowledged that payment reform could create hurdles for physicians. “We want to be paid for value, but it might require more paperwork.”

Still, he said including primary care physicians so prominently in the discussion about health care reform, “and to be asked for our opinion is huge. But we don’t just need to be at the table. We need to be in the kitchen setting the table.”

Weida, who has guided a practice through the PCMH process, outlined the steps to follow to complete the transformation: decide on the PCMH level to attain; get buy-in from your organization; decide when to certify the practice as a PCMH; know what the standards are (patient-centered access, team-based care, population health management, care management and support, coordination and performance measurement and quality improvement); create a core team that meets regularly; create a support team; keep track of everything; keep everyone informed; and be prepared for backlash.

Williamson spoke about and provided a demonstration of the College’s telehealth activities to show the importance of including technology in the PCMH transformation process “since it can help reduce health-care costs.”

CCHS’s Telehealth Division has provided more than 300 patient consultations to clients of the DeKalb Youth Services Center in Rainsville, Ala.; educated 50 patients and family members through its Diabetes Self-Management Education Program; and provided asthma education to 44 students, parents, teachers and bus drivers at the Ruhama Junior High School in Fort Payne, Ala. These services have been provided in rural areas of the state where access to patient care and patient information is often limited.

“With the limited time physicians have during patient visits, and the limited access many patients, especially those in rural areas, have to health care, we need other resources so that patients can have a better understanding of their disease process and they can have better outcomes,” Williamson said. “Using telemedicine as part of the PCMH adds value to the PCMH model.”

Moon gave an update on Regional Care Organizations (RCOs) in Alabama. RCOs provide for the delivery of medical services to Medicaid beneficiaries on a managed-care basis through regional organizations. RCOs in Alabama will begin providing services on Oct. 1, 2016.

Key features of RCOs are that they are regionally based (there are five regions in Alabama), provider-driven and provide at-risk managed care. “Two-thirds of the Medicaid population in Alabama will be covered by an RCO program. RCOs will look for outliers and provide case management,” Moon said.

He noted that Alabama’s Medicaid program currently covers half of all children in the state, half of deliveries and supports scores of nursing homes and children’s hospitals.

Another session at the AAFP annual meeting focused on unnecessary medical tests and procedures. Streiffer said overutilization of tests is not new, that 53% of physicians order unnecessary tests, but that 85% of physicians are interested in best practices showing that many tests are not needed.

Among the most over-utilized tests in family medicine are EKGs, pap smears for patients under the age of 21, bone scans and tests or imaging for back pain. Reducing the number of tests lowers costs and improves the patient experience, Streiffer said.

Dr. Tom Weida, the College’s chief medical officer, provided a module for physicians to use with a patient suffering from back pain: summarize the exam, elicit patient concerns, show empathy, provide clear recommendations (and a patient handout), avoid imaging and explain the possible harm of MRIs, provide a clear and personalized plan for improvement and confirm the agreement the patient and physician have reached.

Dr. James Robinson, who holds the College’s endowed chair for sports medicine, said while the most common injury in the recreational athlete is knee pain, MRIs are given too often and the need for surgery is rare.

“The reason to do an MRI is if you do need to have surgery. If you don’t need surgery, it will get better. MRIs, diagnostically, are used way too much.”

Instead, patients should be treated with rest, ice, possibly a brace and most definitely hamstring stretching, Robinson said.

The AAFP meeting also included several medical student sessions at which Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency spoke. One session focused on “Interview Guidelines for Residency Programs.”

Friend said the residency interview score is often based on the following: commitment to family medicine, ability to work with a program and as part of a team, communication skills including eye contact, professionalism, intellectual ability, work ethic and maturity. He said previous life experiences are important, as is the application’s personal statement. “Spend time with that because it tells us about you; it sets you apart. We want to know why you’re interested in family medicine, that you get it and that it fits you. We want to know that you’re a leader, have discipline, take feedback well and strive for excellence.”

At another session, Friend provided a demonstration for medical students on proper insertion of breathing tubes.

Dr. John Brandon, medical director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program, has been appointed chair of the Alabama Academic Family Medicine Council.

Brandon elected to lead Alabama Academic Family Medicine Council

Dr. John Brandon, medical director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences and a family physician in Gordo, Ala., has been elected chair of the Alabama Academic Family Medicine Council.

The council, which is made up of family medicine academic leadership from across the state, focuses on family medicine in Alabama, from medical student education to recruitment and retention of practicing physicians.

Since Brandon started serving on the council in 1996, it has shifted from its initial focus of advising the dean of the University of Alabama School of Medicine (it was formerly known as the Primary Care Advisory Council), to addressing family medicine in Alabama as a whole, he says.

Brandon says the council, which meets four times a year, is unique because few, if any, states have an organization for academic leadership in family medicine to share information, discuss issues and make recommendations.

“Since the council is independent, it can advise elected officials, state policymakers and the public about issues of concern in preparing family physicians to serve in the state,” Brandon says.

The council is made up of leadership from each medical school in Alabama, including each regional campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham. One of the College’s functions is serving as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine and providing clinical education for a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students. Leadership of family medicine residencies and rural health programs in the state, such as the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program, also make up the council. Leadership from the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians also serve.

“The council’s biggest accomplishment in recent years is the work with the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama to advocate for the state scholarship for rural service,” Brandon says.

Serving on the council with Brandon from the College are: Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College; Dr. Richard Friend, chair of Family Medicine and director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency; Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in Family Medicine and president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians; and Dr. Julia Boothe, adjunct instructor in Family Medicine and chair of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors.

College welcomes 20th class of Rural Medical Scholars

The 20th class of the Rural Medical Scholars Program will start in August, and The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences will celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The incoming class of Rural Medical Scholars will attend orientation on Aug. 18 at Camp Tuscoba Retreat Center in Northport, Ala.

The 20th class of Rural Medical Scholars are:

Anooshah Ata, Scottsboro, Jackson County
Helen Cunningham, Barnwell, Baldwin County
Tanner Hallman, Arab, Marshall County
Carson Perrella, Salem, Lee County
Gloria (Storm) McWhorter, Prattville, Autauga County
Johnson (John) Pounders, Leighton, Colbert County
Jayla Robinson, Addison, Winston County
Harriet Washington, Carrollton, Pickens County

The Scholars were selected in May 2015 after an interview process. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is exclusively 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, as well as 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.

“Orientation for the Rural Scholars is more than introductions and program expectations; it is the starting point to a year of anticipation and preparation to pursue their goals,” says Susan Guin, CRNP, associate director of the Rural Medical Scholars Program. “This year will be a time of developing lasting relationships with their peers and mentors who will be a source of friendship and support as they continue their education and into their careers. Through the years, this support has come in many forms and from many sources, so we invite partners from around the state to join us in welcoming the newest class of Scholars.”

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is part of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline, a sequence of programs that recruit and support rural Alabama students who want to be primary care physicians in rural and underserved communities in the state.

The College will celebrate the two decades of the Rural Medical Scholars Program throughout the academic year with events for alumni, many of whom are practicing in rural Alabama, as the program intends. About 60 percent of Rural Medical Scholars have chosen to practice in rural Alabama, and 90 percent of Scholars in practice are located in Alabama.

Six Rural Community Health Scholars will also attend the orientation on Aug. 18. The Rural Community Health Scholars at the College this year are:

Januar Page Brown, Enterprise, Coffee County
Amellia Cannon, Duncanville, Tuscaloosa County
Dylan Drinkard, Thomasville, Clarke County
Caleb Mason, Guntersville, Marshall County
Johnny Pate, Moundville, Hale County
Kristin Pressley, Harvest, Madison County
Jeremy Watson, Tuscaloosa County

 

Dr. Drake Lavender (right), assistant professor in Family Medicine at the College, has been appointed president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, a position formerly held by Dr. Julia Boothe (left), adjunct instructor in Family Medicine for the College.

Lavender serves as AAFP president

Dr. Drake Lavender, assistant professor in Family Medicine at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, has been appointed president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians. He was sworn into his position at the AAFP’s annual meeting in June 2015 in Sandestin, Fla.

“I’m looking forward to a year full of opportunities and challenges,” Lavender said at the meeting.

More than 900 members and more than 400 students and residents across the state make up the AAFP, and Lavender says he hopes to lead in advocating for them on both a local and national level.

“Our leadership will be working directly with third-party payers, our legislature and stakeholders from around the state to ensure that family physicians remain the backbone of the health care delivery system in Alabama,” he says “Family physicians are the most dedicated and hard working health care providers not only in Alabama but across the country.”

Lavender joined the College in 2013 after being in private practice in Gordo, Ala. He grew up in Eutaw, Ala., and is a graduate of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program, a program for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. He attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine and received his third and fourth years of clinical education at the College, which operates as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine. He was chief resident at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, operated by the College.

He has served as president of the medical staff at Pickens County Medical Center and served on its board of directors. In 2010, he was appointed vice president for Northwest Alabama for the AAFP.

Lavender’s year in this AAFP role will be the second of a three-year leadership appointment. He was named president-elect at the 2014 annual AAFP meeting. In 2016, he will be chair of the AAFP Board, a position now held by Dr. Julia Boothe, an adjunct instructor in Family Medicine at the College who held the role of president before Lavender.

Lavender said an example of how the board has succeeded in its efforts to serve family medicine in Alabama is its recent success in increasing state funding for the state’s two rural medicine programs, the Rural Medical Scholars Program at the College and Auburn University’s Rural Medicine Program.

“These two programs have been very successful in producing primary care physicians that continue to fill the needs of rural Alabama,” he says. “I believe our members recognize that while they continue to spend countless hours taking care of their patients, our leadership will be at the table, continuing to fight to protect the scope of practice that is constantly being encroached on by outside entities.”

He says his wife, Joann, and children, Lane, Ashley and Beth, are to thank for their support as he takes on this role. He also says Dr. Rucker Staggers, his family physician as he grew up in Eutaw, Ala., has served as an inspiration. He treated his asthma, and Lavender says he relied on him for emergency visits and house calls.

“As a child I didn’t realize I wanted to be a family physician, I just knew I wanted to be like Dr. Staggers. Without his influence, I may not have decided on medicine as a career and would not have this wonderful opportunity.”
He adds, “I am very honored to have been chosen as president of this member-driven academy,” he says. “I look forward to working closely with my fellow family physicians as we continue to face a changing health care environment. I will work hard to represent our specialty on a state and national level, while continuing to be an advocate for our patients. I am looking forward to a wonderful year.”