College welcomes new fellows

In July, the College of Community Health Sciences welcomes five new fellows to three of the College’s fellowship programs: Lauren Linken, MD, will join the Obstetrics Fellowship; Shazia Malik, MD, and David Aymond, MD, will join the Hospitalist Fellowship; and Blake Perry, MD, and Jeremy Coleman, MD, will join the Sports Medicine Fellowship.

These fellowships, along with a Behavioral Health Fellowship in Family Medicine and a Rural Public Psychiatry Fellowship, make up the College’s post-residency training programs and provide family medicine residency graduates with training and expertise in a selected sub-specialty.

“While a fellowship is not for everyone, a significant number of family physicians today are seeking additional training in order to gain specialized expertise in a subset of the broad field of family medicine,” says Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College.

The Obstetric Fellowship, a 12-month training program, is aimed at addressing the overwhelming need for obstetric care in rural and remote areas. As the attrition of OB/GYNs in the United States exceeds the number of physicians completing OB/GYN residency programs and entering general OB/GYN practice, programs training family physicians to provide quality obstetrical care will continue to grow in importance.

“Family medicine physicians trained in obstetrical and newborn care is the answer to reducing perinatal morbidity and mortality, not only in Alabama, but throughout the United States,” says Daniel Avery, MD, professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the College.

Linken is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and recently completed a residency in Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

A program of both the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Family Medicine at the College, the Hospitalist Fellowship is designed to assist family physicians in obtaining the skills necessary to provide inpatient care appropriate to the existing and future needs of urban, rural and underserved areas.

This 12-month training program will be joined by Malik, a graduate of the Medical School of the Americas in Nevis, West Indies, who completed a family medicine residency at Western Michigan School of Medicine in Kalamazoo, and Aymond who received his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, La., where he was appointed chief resident in 2013.

Perry, a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine who gained his clinical training at the College, recently completed the Wake Forest Baptist Family Medicine Residency.

Coleman completed his medical degree at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., and his residency in family medicine at Louisiana State University in New Orleans.

Both Perry and Coleman come to the Sports Medicine Fellowship with significant experience in sports medicine that will benefit them as they work through the 12-month training program under the supervision of James Robinson, MD, professor and endowed chair of Sports Medicine at the College.

Robinson also serves as the team physician for The University of Alabama football team.

“Fellowships are an important component of our graduate medical education offerings, and something we hope to expand in future years, for example in geriatrics, and perhaps women’s health,” says Streiffer. “These fellowships will prepare family physicians to better serve a need in their community or practice, to provide leadership in that area or to prepare them for a future academic role.”

Scarbrough selected to prestigious fellowship

Cathie Scarbrough, MD, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family Medicine and assistant director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, was selected to the University of North Carolina Faculty Development Fellowship in Chapel Hill.

This mid-career program for medical educators has a history of developing graduates for careers as leaders in family medicine education. The program is a one-year commitment, including six weeks in the Family Medicine Residency at Chapel Hill, and includes training and experiential projects in medical education, teaching, management and scholarship.

Scarbrough started the program in June, joining the 36th fellowship class, which consists of a diverse group of educators coming from a variety of community, university and military family medicine programs.

Jared Ellis, MD, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family Medicine and associate director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, recently completed the fellowship.

“The opportunity to interact with and learn with leading peers from around the nation has been an incredible opportunity,” Ellis says.

Community and Rural Medicine offers week-long Agricultural Medicine course

In an effort to train health and safety professionals to provide care and prevention services to agricultural producers and their families, as well as those who work in processing of raw agricultural products, the College of Community Health Sciences’ Department of Community and Rural Medicine offered a comprehensive week-long training course on Agricultural Medicine. The course, held May 12-16 at the College, focused on Occupational and Environmental Health for Rural Health Professionals.

The target audience of the course included physicians, nurses and other health and safety professionals, such as extension agents, rehabilitation counselors, emergency medicine personnel, health professions students and others interested in the health and safety of agricultural community. Approximately 30 people were in attendance including students of The University of Alabama Rural Scholars Program, College faculty and staff and others from various backgrounds around the Southeast.

A similar course was first held by the University of Iowa in 1974 in response to an epidemic of occupational disease and traumatic death and injury in the face of diminishing local and federal resources. Over the last 40 years, more than 400 health care and safety professionals have been equipped with the information and skills necessary to provide clinical and preventive services to the agricultural sector.

The University of Alabama was selected to participate in the University of Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH) Building Capacity Grant which provides $8,000 per state to plan and implement an Agricultural Medicine Training Course like the one offered by the University of Iowa. The grant is funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Susan Guin, MSN, CRNP, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine and the coordinator of the training course, reached out to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program to review and revise the course materials supplied by ICASH to reflect the agricultural environment in Alabama and the Southeast.

“For this program to be successful,” Guin said, “the differences in climate, culture, commodity, etc. must be addressed.”

The curriculum included presentations from College faculty and other UA faculty as well as guest lecturers from Auburn University, Tuskegee University, the University of Iowa and Purdue University.

Hammond completes Nurse Leadership Program

Angela Hammond, CRNP, a nurse practitioner in the University Medical Center Faculty-Staff Clinic and an inaugural fellow in the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program, successfully completed the one year program in May 2014. Program components included three leadership retreats as well as distance-based learning activities and a transformative health leadership project.

The Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program is a partnership between Duke University School of Medicine, Duke University School of Nursing and Johnson & Johnson.

The program provides leadership development for advanced practice nurses to enable them to effectively address the health needs of their communities, especially underserved populations. Program Fellows are expected to be change agents within their practice settings and the evolving health care environment.

University Medical Center, operated by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, is the largest multi-specialty clinic in West Alabama. It provides primary care to University faculty and staff and the West Alabama community.

Vickers gives ‘5 Cs’ of being a great physician at Senior Convocation

Graduating medical students received sage advice from Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, the dean of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, at the annual Senior Convocation hosted by the College of Community Health Sciences and held at the Indian Hills Country Club in Tuscaloosa on May 16.

The College provides clinical training for a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham. The 29 students honored at the convocation were among the more than 160 students who graduated from UASOM during a ceremony in Birmingham on May 18.

Vickers delivered the convocation keynote address and presented his “5 Cs” of being an excellent physician: care, competence, character, courage and collaboration.

Having a caring attitude in examining patients will be of the utmost importance, Vickers said to the students. “You have to be all in, all the time.”

He said that while the students have been highly trained at the College of Community Health Sciences, which functions as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for UASOM, they will need to be lifelong learners. “At the end of the day, your patient needs someone who is competent and willing to go that extra mile to make sure the patient is taken care of.”

Vickers said at some point in their careers, students’ characters will be put to the test, and when that happens they’ll need to exercise courage.

“It will take courage on your part to always put your patient first, even when it seems like it may cost you.”

His final “c,” collaboration, often goes hand-in-hand with communication, he said.

“That collaborative spirit and ability to communicate is important for your success and for the outcome of your patient.”

Vickers said the faculty, students’ family and friends and the students themselves should be proud of their hard work and accomplishments.

“If you look at the spectrum of everything you can do in the world, there really is nothing like waking up and knowing you can make a difference every day in someone’s life.”

Awards were also presented:

Awards given by faculty:
Robert F. Gloor Award in Community Medicine— Paige Ivey Partain, MD
Family Medicine Award — Brittney Tenae Anderson, MD
Family/Rural Medicine Preceptor’s Award — Julia Boothe, MD, MPH
William W. Winternitz Award in Internal Medicine — Justin Edward Vines, MD
Neurology Award — Richard Minton Feist, Jr., MD
Pediatrics Recognition Award — Brittany Shea Richardson, MD
Pediatrics Service Award — Sarah Helen Gammons, MD
Peter Bryce Award in Psychiatry — Mary Katherine Leonard Thrower, MD
Finney/Akers Memorial Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology — Justin Edward Vines, MD
William R. Shamblin, MD, Surgery Award — Samuel Edmond Ford, MD
Larry Mayes Research Society Scholar — Brittney Tenae Anderson, MD
Larry Mayes Research Society Members — Daniel Kent Partain, MD; Paige Ivey Partain, MD; Brittany Shea Richardson, MD
Student Research Award — Benjamin Todd Raines, MD
Scholastic Achievement Award — Justin Edward Vines, MD
William R. Willard Award — Brittney Tenae Anderson, MD

Awards given by students:
Faculty Recognition Award (junior year): Heather Taylor, MD
Patrick McCue Award — A. Robert Sheppard, MD
Resident Recognition Award — JD Engelbrecht, MD
James H. Akers Memorial Award — Justin Edward Vines, MD
Most Likely to Make You Laugh During Morning Report — Samuel Lessley Ardis Douglas, MD
Most Likely to Wear a Suit to Clinic — Zachary Luke Farmer, MD
Most Likely to Wear Heels to Clinic — Danielle Sheree Franklin, MD
Most Likely to Leisurely Read JAMA — Daniel Kent Partain, MD
Most Likely to be Seen on Television — William Hampton Gray, MD
Most Likely to be Late for Work on July 1 — Zachary Luke Farmer, MD

Related: Rural Medical Scholars students honored at Convocation
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Rural Medical Scholars students honored at Convocation

Members of the College’s Rural Medical Scholars class of 2013-14 and Rural Community Health Scholars were recognized April 25 at the 18th Annual Rural Health Scholars Convocation. The 18 students also earned certification in Rural Community Health.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program is exclusively for college seniors or graduate students from rural Alabama. It is a five-year track of medical studies that leads to a certificate or master’s degree in Rural Community Health in the first year, and a medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. The first year of the program focuses on rural primary care and community medicine and gives students experiences in rural settings through field trips, service projects, research and shadowing of rural physicians.

The Rural Community Health Scholars Program is for graduate students and trains future health care providers to become community health leaders. The training prepares them to develop and maintain community health centers and other health-care practices and to engage in community affairs that advance community health.

The 11 Rural Medical Scholars honored at the convocation, held at the Hotel Capstone on the UA campus, begin their first year of medical school this summer at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham. They will return to the College, which also functions as a regional campus of the School of Medicine, during their final two years of medical school.

“The mission of the Rural Medical Scholars Program is to produce physicians for rural Alabama who are leaders of health in their communities,” said John Wheat, MD, founder and director of the program.

The convocation keynote address was given by Sandral Hullett, MD, a graduate of the College’s Family Medicine Residency and a national expert in rural health.

“I felt it was important to be a family doctor,” she told the students. “The number one thing is for people to have a doctor who will care for them and listen to them.”

Hullett was also presented with The University of Alabama Rural Medical Scholars Program Distinguished Service Award.

“She has made her mark everywhere she’s been,” Wheat said when presenting the award to Hullett. “She grew to national importance and advised people about what we should do as a country about rural health care.”

After her residency training, Hullett took a position with Green County Hospital in Eutaw, Ala., where she stayed for 23 years, also serving for many of those years as medical director of West Alabama Health Services and as a preceptor for a large number of medical students and residents. She served as a physician and director for the nonprofit Family HealthCare of Alabama, where she supervised 24 primary health care facilities serving 20 rural counties. She later served as CEO and medical director of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital in Birmingham. She is the principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health Transdiciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research.

Hullett has received numerous honors, including induction into the National Institute of Medicine, a unit of the National Academy of Sciences. She was named Rural Doctor of the Year by the National Rural Health Association in 1988, and was elected to Alabama’s Health Care Hall of Fame in 2001.

College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, also spoke to students at the convocation.

“Rural is always a neglected area, and that’s still the case. So our work continues,” he said. “Congratulations. Study hard and keep in touch. We’ll see most of you back here in a couple of years.”

Whitney Hudman, a Rural Medical Scholar from Jemison, Ala., said, “Coming from a modest background, the Rural Medical Scholars Program was made for people like me. It will help me succeed in medical school.”

Ireland retires after 23 years

Robert Ireland, Jr., MD, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine, is retiring from the College of Community Health Sciences on May 30. Ireland has worked at the College for 23 years.

Through the College’s family medicine residency and the College’s role in providing the clinical training to a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Ireland has helped train more than 268 family medicine physicians. He has a passion for treating diabetic patients and was the founder of the College’s Diabetes Self-Management Education Program.

“In my four years of medical school, three years of residency and one year of fellowship, I learned from Dr. Ireland, ‘You have to sell the shoes,’” said Beverly Jordan, a graduate of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and family physician in Enterprise, Ala. “Dr. Ireland wanted us to teach our patients to understand and think the way we think.”

Jordan and other graduates of the College’s residency gathered with Ireland and his family, friends and coworkers at a reception in May to honor him for his many years of dedication and hard work.

At the reception, Jordan said to Ireland, “You’ve worked hard, you’ve done a great job, and you’ve trained generations of physicians for the State of Alabama, and we really do appreciate it.” She says, “Because you taught me how to be a great doctor, I don’t have to sell the shoes – I can finally buy the shoes.”

College’s Project United earns Excellence in Community Engagement Award

A College research project that is bringing rural Alabama communities and University of Alabama researchers together in projects to reduce obesity has received an Excellence in Community Engagement Award.

The project is called UNITED – Using New Interventions Together to Eliminate Disparities – and it is a partnership of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences and College of Communication and Information Sciences, and the Black Belt Community Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health and quality of life of citizens in the 12 Black Belt counties it serves.

UNITED is funded by a three-year, $900,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The Excellence in Community Engagement awards were presented at a luncheon April 18 to UA faculty, staff, students and community partners whose research projects reflect excellence in community engagement. The award program, now in its eighth year, is sponsored by UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens and people can change the world,” said Samory Pruitt, PhD, vice president of the UA Division of Community Affairs, of which the Center for Community-Based Partnerships is a part. “We are indeed engaging communities and changing lives.”

Katy Campbell, PhD, dean of the Faculty Extension at the University of Alberta, Canada, was the awards luncheon keynote speaker. She is an engaged scholar and member of the board of directors of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, and is an expert in learning and instructional design and faculty transformation.

“We are involved in creating knowledge, not only in the hallways of universities but out there,” Campbell said.

Prior to the awards luncheon, there was a presentation of UA research posters emphasizing community-university partnerships and successful civic engagement practices.

The focus of project UNITED is to improve the health of rural Black Belt communities in regard to obesity and related diseases. Through UNITED, research training programs have been created for community residents and UA researchers to build their community-based participatory research capacity. CBPR is research that is conducted as an equal partnership between researchers and community members and allows communities to participate fully in all aspects of the research. To date, four research projects involving various Black Belt communities and UA researchers have been developed.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 32 percent of Alabama’s population is considered obese, above the national average of 27 percent. In some Black Belt counties, obesity rates range between 39 and 47 percent for adults and greater than 20 percent for school-age children. Obesity can lead to myriad of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers.


Rural Health Conference focuses on early childhood development

The key to forming healthy communities and eliminating health disparities in rural areas is to start early—from birth to age 5.

Early childhood development was the focus of the 15th Annual Rural Health Conference, held April 29 at The University of Alabama Bryant Conference Center. Hosted each year by the College of Community Health Sciences and its Institute for Rural Health Research, the conference is attended by health care providers, community leaders, researchers, government officials and policymakers interested in making an impact in rural communities.

This year’s event, “Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Communities: The Early Childhood Experience,” featured keynote speakers Allison de la Torre, MA, executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, and Bernard Guyer, MD, MPH, the Zanvyl Kreiger professor of children’s health, emeritus, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

De la Torre, who works with the ASRA to promote high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten as a top statewide priority and has implemented state-based pre-k policy initiatives, spoke about the need for high-quality pre-K education in Alabama, as well as led a discussion of the definition of “high-quality.”

She said the most important window of a child’s education and brain development is before age 5: children who attended a higher-quality pre-K often have higher achievement test scores later on in life.

“This is critical,” de la Torre said. “This is vital to our state’s economic future. The achievement gap that our teachers and policymakers work so hard to close begins as a school-readiness gap.”

Guyer, who delivered the afternoon keynote address via videoconferencing (due to severe weather), spoke about how to link early child health to healthy communities as a whole. The more adverse events that occur during early childhood, the more likely adverse outcomes (like heart disease and depression) will be present later in life, even into the individual’s 50s, 60s and 70s, Guyer said.

“How do we go about addressing early influences in adult life?” Guyer asked. “We’ve begun to realize that it isn’t just about medicine, that healthy life is created in homes, health care facilities, community facilities in neighborhoods, in day care, in a whole range of different kinds of settings.”

Conference breakout sessions, many of which were led by speakers from the UA colleges of Nursing, Education and Human Environmental Sciences, focused on early child health care, development and education.

Michele Montgomery, PhD, MPH, RN, and Paige Johnson, PhD, MSN, RN, both assistant professors at The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, spoke at the beginning of the conference and also in a breakout session about the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative. Another breakout session was led by Maria Hernandez-Reif, PhD, director of pediatric development research for the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences, who spoke about common milestones in early childhood development.

This year’s William A. Curry Award winner was Keri R. Merschman, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine — Huntsville campus, for her research, “Report to the AAFP: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Tar Wars Education Program.” The award, named after the former dean of the College of Community Health Sciences and founder of the Institute for Rural Health Research, honors a UASOM student who demonstrates an academic interest in rural medicine and is engaged in rural research or scholarly activity.

Medical students attend orientation at College

Thirty-one University of Alabama School of Medicine students who will complete their third and fourth years of medical school at the College attended an orientation session in Tuscaloosa earlier this month.

“Our mission drives who we are and what we do, and our core values are the principles upon which we operate,” College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, told the students. “What drives our medical education is social accountability.”

The College, which also functions as a regional campus of the School of Medicine, provides clinical education that is oriented toward primary care, while also providing exposure to and experience in other specialties.

“We have to have everything, but we have too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians in Alabama,” Streiffer said.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote “the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region through leadership in medical education and primary care; the provision of high quality, accessible health care services; and scholarship.” The College’s core values are: integrity, social accountability, learning, innovation, patient-centeredness, transparency and interprofessional collaboration.

Medical students complete the first two years of basic sciences courses at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham, and then complete the third and fourth years of the medical school curriculum at either Birmingham or one of the school’s regional campuses in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. A third regional campus, in Montgomery, will begin accepting students in August.

During their orientation in Tuscaloosa, the medial students also learned about the College’s clerkships and electronic medical record, and participated in CPR and training in the use of defibrillators. They toured DCH Regional Medical Center and met with Chief Medical Officer Ken Aldridge, MD.

“You’re about to begin an interesting part of your medical training,” Aldridge told them. “It’s a wonderful time for you and I hope you find it rewarding. And I hope all of you set up private practice in Tuscaloosa. We need all the bright young doctors we can get.”