Mini Medical School Continues

The College of Community Health Sciences continues its Mini Medical School program this fall with eight faculty providing lectures.

Lectures for the fall semester began September 11 and continue each Tuesday, at noon, through October.

The Mini Medical School program, a lecture series for The University of Alabama’s OLLI program, has been put on by faculty and resident physicians at the College since 2016. The program provides an opportunity for adults and community learners to explore trends in medicine and health, and the lectures offer important information about issues and advances in medicine and research.

OLLI, short for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is a member-led program catering to those aged 50 years and older and offers educational courses, as well as field trips, socials, special events and travel.

Dr. Catherine Ikard, assistant professor of neurology, gave the first lecture of the semester on Peripheral Neuropathy. On September 18 Dr. Raheem Paxton, associate professor of community medicine and population health presented on sedentary behavior and health outcomes. Dr. Jane Weida, associate professor of family medicine, provided a lecture on lung disease on September 25.

Upcoming lectures include immunizations, Crohn’s Disease, men’s health, dementia and delirium and diet and nutrition.

 

CCHS Service Learning – Health Screenings

Medical students assist with health screenings of Tuscaloosa school children as part of the pediatrics clinical rotation at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

Each year through the pre-K Partnership, UA School of Medicine students completing their third and fourth years of medical education at CCHS assist in providing basic exams, blood tests and hearing screenings at Tuscaloosa City Schools from September through the first week of November.

All screenings are attended by Dr. Heather Taylor, associate professor of pediatrics for CCHS who directs the rotation, or a nurse practitioner from the UA Capstone College of Nursing. They check any abnormal health findings and make recommendations for follow-up care.

The Tuscaloosa City Schools District then sends letters to parents with information about their children’s health and referrals to physicians, dentists and social workers, as needed.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to collaborate with multiple different organizations in a project that hopefully improves the health of the children we serve,” said Taylor, who also cares for patients at University Medical Center.

CCHS, which operates UMC, also functions as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus.

This year, screenings will be conducted at 11 schools and more than 500 pre-K children are expected to participate, Taylor said. Parents opt in to the different components of each screening, which offers physical exams, blood pressure checks, dental, vision and hearing screenings, as well as lab screenings for glucose, cholesterol and anemia.

The pre-K Partnership is a collaborative effort of CCHS, UA Office of Service Learning, Tuscaloosa City Schools System, Tuscaloosa’s Mayor’s Office, UA Capstone College of Nursing and Shelton State’s Nursing Program.

 

 

 

Scholarship Conference – Latinos and Cardiometabolic Disease

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo, an associate scientist at the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Faculty Scholar at the UAB Center for the Study of Community Health, provided the September 25 Scholarship Conference lecture hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences.

Her lecture focused on innovative research on Latinos and cardiometabolic diseases – obesity, cardiovascular disease and Type-2 diabetes ­– and implications for medical practice and was provided during The University of Alabama’s Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month.

Hidalgo, who is also an assistant professor of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discussed the differences between precision medicine and precision health along with genomics and epidemiology.

“When you think of genomics, you think of precision medicine— the right treatment, the right person, at the right time,” said Hidalgo. “Precision health is the right intervention for the right population at the right time. So we are thinking bigger scale.”

Hidalgo, the principal investigator of Epigenomics of Cardiometabolic Disease in Mexican Americans, is particularly interested in the heterogeneity of populations and the implications of that heterogeneity for genomic findings.

“There are a lot of nuances in Mexican Americans, Native Mexicans, that differ from the cultural, social and other nuances that say, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans and Central Americans and Chileans and so forth have,” said Hidalgo. “We differ in terms of our diet, we differ in terms of our social practices and all of that has implications for health outcomes.”

Hidalgo, herself Mexican American, found that genomic studies have increased diversity but are still leaving many populations, such as Hispanic/Latino, Native American and Middle Eastern, underrepresented.

Rare genetic variations, those that occur in less than five percent of the world’s population, but comprise the bulk of variants, tend to be population specific. If they do play a key part in disease, the lack of diversity in studies creates a skewed version of the entire health picture.

Type-2 diabetes research is an example of this skewed image. There are more than 100 gene variations that contribute to risk of Type-2 diabetes, however the majority of work today has been done only on populations of European ancestry. Hidalgo is focusing her research to better understand the genetic and environmental contributors to cardiometabolic diseases in a cohort of Mexican Americans.

Through her research, Hidalgo has found that shared genetic ancestry may play a role in increased risk for Type-2 diabetes, specifically in Mexican Americans. The correlation between Type-2 diabetes and genetics is still being explored and researched to further understand the role between genetics and medicine.

“Just having genetic information in and of itself is not important,” noted Hidalgo. “It’s what you do with that genetic information.”

Polio: Forgotten but not gone

Polio, a viral infection that attacks the nervous system and primarily impacts legs and lungs, was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th Century. New York City reported, and quarantined, 6,000 cases in 1916. Between the 1940s and early 1950s, polio crippled 35,000 people each year in the US.

A vaccine for polio, whose symptoms mimic a cold with headache and chills, was first introduced by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1955. Among the 1.8 million children who participated in the polio vaccine clinical trial was Dr. Alan Blum, the Gerald Leon Wallace MD Endowed Chair in Family Medicine at the College of Community Health Sciences.

“I was in the second grade. We were all excited,” said Blum, who provided a recent lecture at the College about polio and post-polio syndrome. “Everyone wanted to get the vaccine.”

There were some problems with the vaccine, Blum said, adding that Dr. Albert Sabin later developed an oral polio vaccine that provided lifelong immunity. Its use since then has eradicated polio in the US, but now doctors are seeing patients with post-polio syndrome, a condition that affects polio survivors years later, Blum said.

He said there are 1.6 million polio survivors and it is estimated that 300,000 have post-polio syndrome. Many polio survivors experience gradual new weakening in muscles previously affected by the polio infection. Common symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness, fatigue and a gradual decrease in the size of muscles.

While post-polio syndrome is rarely life-threatening, symptoms can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function independently. Respiratory muscle weakness can result in trouble with proper breathing. Weaknesses in swallowing muscles can result in aspiration of food and liquids into the lungs and lead to pneumonia.

The last case of polio in the US was 1979 and the country has been considered polio free since 1994. But cases of polio have recently reappeared, including in a Minnesota Amish community. That’s why vaccination and “herd immunity” are important, Blum said.

“We are at risk because others are not taking the vaccine,” he said.

Residency Alumna Receives Prestigious School of Medicine Award, College faculty & Departments Honored with Argus Awards, and Publications

Residency Alumna Receives Prestigious School of Medicine Award

Dr. Beverly Jordan, an alumna of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which is operated by the College of Community Health Sciences, received the Martha Myers Role Model Award from the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

Jordan, who practices family and sports medicine in Enterprise, Alabama, was recognized for her contributions to medicine and patient care.

Jordan earned an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training from UA. She received her medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine as part of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program. In addition to her residency training, Jordan also completed a sports medicine fellowship under the instruction of Drs. James Andrews and Larry Lemak at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham.

She joined Professional Medical Associates in Enterprise and also accepted Clinical Assistant Professorship status at the School of Medicine so that she could continue to work with medical students and residents. She serves as the team physician for Enterprise High School and on the Medical Center Enterprise board of directors.

Jordan has continued to serve in leadership roles in the medical profession. In 2009, she was elected president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians and currently serves on its board. She was elected vice speaker of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in 2012 and went on to serve as speaker of the House of Delegates and College of Counselors until 2016. She served on Alabama’s delegation to the American Medical Association from 2013 until this year. She currently serves on the Alabama Joint Committee for Collaborative Practice and the Alabama State Committee of Public Health.

In 2014, Jordan received the University of Alabama School of Medicine Young Alumnus of the Year Award, and in 2015 received The University of Alabama Jack Davis Professional Achievement Award.


College faculty, departments honored with Argus Awards

Students from the University of Alabama School of Medicine have named faculty and clinical departments on the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus winners of the 2018 Argus Awards.

The College of Community Health Sciences, which operates The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and University Medical Center, also serves as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus and provides clinical education for a portion of third- and fourth-year medical students.

Drs. Charles Gross, Catherine Ikard and Heather Taylor received best Clinical Educator Awards. Their respective departments – Surgery, Neurology and Pediatrics – received Best Clinical Department Awards.

The Argus Awards give medical student the chance to honor their mentors, professors, courses and course directors for outstanding service to medical education.


Publications

Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, assistant professor of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine for the College of Community Health Sciences and a practicing geriatrician at University Medical Center, published a book chapter, “Ethical issues in palliative and end-of-life care,” with co-authors Amy Albright, Deanna Dragan, Megal Lippe and Rebecca Allen in Palliative and End of Life Care: Disease, Social and Cultural Context, edited by Rebecca Allen, Brian Carpenter and Morgan Eichorst.

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, a professor of Community Medicine and Population Health for the College of Community Health Sciences, authored “Preparation and Planning for Future Care in the Deep South: Adapting a Validated Tool for Cultural Sensitivity, with Rebecca Allen, JoAnn Oliver, Morgan Eichorst, Lisa Mieskowski and Silvia Sorensen, to be published in The Gerontologist.

First-year medical students honored at annual White Coat Ceremony

The University of Alabama School of Medicine on August 12 welcomed 186 students in the entering class of 2018 and presented them with their first white coats at the annual White Coat Ceremony.Rachel Rainey, Paris Malensek, Kara Kishler, Jane Hampton, Adriana Green

A portion of those students will complete their third- and fourth-years of medical school at the College of Community Health Sciences, which, in its role as a medical educator, also serves as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus.

The presentation of white coats included the signing of the oath of commitment to patient care, reminding the incoming students of the dedication necessary to complete a medical education and of compassion necessary to practice medicine.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the journey toward becoming a physician,” Dr. Selwyn Vickers, senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, told the new

students. “It is the day when you achieve your first white coat, which symbolizes your entrance into the medical profession.”

This year’s incoming class represents students from 56 colleges and universities. The admissions committee review more than 4,630 applications to select the 186 individuals for the entering class of 2018.

 

 

TEACH Table

CCHS’s TEACH Table at the Gordo High School versus Aliceville High School Football Game

The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership, led by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, brought its TEACH Table to the Gordo High School versus Aliceville High School football game August 31. The TEACH Table is an outreach effort that seeks to engage with the community about various health topics, including nutrition, heart health, exercise and sleep. Informational handouts are provided and, if needed, community members can be referred to one of the primary care clinics in Pickens County or to the Pickens County Medical Center.

Rural Medical Scholars Orientation

Ten University of Alabama students studying to become physicians and planning to practice in rural Alabama attended an orientation session August 21 hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences.

The students are participating in the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program, a five-year medical education program that leads to early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine and a medical degree.

The orientation at Moundville Archeological Park in Moundville, Alabama, included an overview of program expectations and faculty and staff introductions. Students also had a chance to meet more College faculty at a meet-and-greet later in the day.

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, and leads to a master’s degree in Rural Community Health and early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is part of the College’s efforts to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama, particularly in rural areas.

Also attending the orientation were seven students who are Rural Community Health Scholars, graduate students not enrolled in the Rural Medical Scholars Program but who are interested in health-care careers. The Rural Community Health Scholars Program prepares students for 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.

Bertha Hidalgo

Preview: Scholarship Conference – Latinos and Cardiometabolic Disease

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo, an associate scientist at the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Faculty Scholar at the UAB Center for the Study of Community Health, will provide the September 25 Scholarship Conference lecture hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences.

Her lecture will focus on innovative research on Latinos and cardiometabolic diseases – obesity, cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes – and implications for medical practice.

The lecture by Hidalgo, who is also an assistant professor of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, comes during The University of Alabama’s Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month.

Hidalgo has degrees from Stanford University, the University of Southern California and UAB. Her research interests include cardiometabolic diseases, genetic epidemiology, health disparities and Latino Health.

She has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections Program to investigate whether genetic and epigenetic differences exist between subgroups of Latinos for cardiometabolic diseases. She recently became principal investigator of Epigenomics of Cardiometabolic Disease in Mexican Americans, a K01 award focused on better understanding of the genetic and environmental contributors to cardiometabolic diseases in a cohort of Mexican Americans.

Hidalgo is an active member of several epidemiology and public health professional societies, including chair of the Minority Affairs Committee for the American College of Epidemiology.

Resident recognized with School of Medicine award

Dr. Russ Guin, a resident with The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, received the 2018 Argus Award for Best Resident Educator from the UA School of Medicine.

 

Argus Awards are presented annually to faculty, programs and departments of the School of Medicine. Medical students nominate and vote for professors, courses and course directors who they believe represent the highest standards in excellent education and clinical training.

 

The UA Family Medicine Residency, a three-year program that trains physicians in the specialty of family medicine, is operated by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences. The College also functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus of the School of Medicine in providing clinical education to a portion of third- and fourth-year School of Medicine students.

 

Guin is currently in his third year with the residency.

 

Last year, the Best Resident Educator Award was presented to Dr. Blake DeWitt, who graduated from the UA Family Medicine Residency last year.

 

An awards ceremony will be held Sept. 7 at the UAB Alumni House in Birmingham to honor all 2018 Argus Award winners.