A cohort of first-year medical students from the University of Alabama School of Medicine spent July 26 at the College of Community Health Sciences, where they will complete their third and fourth years of medical school. The students met CCHS faculty members and participated in team building at a local bowling alley. CCHS also functions as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus.
Family medicine physicians trained in obstetrics can have a profound impact on infant mortality rates in rural areas, according to research conducted by College of Community Health Sciences physicians and faculty.
Their research shows obstetrics services provided by family medicine physicians in rural Pickens County, Alabama, resulted in an improved infant mortality rate for the county, and that the availability of local prenatal care was also associated with a lower infant mortality rate.
The results were published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, July-August 2018 issue. Drs. Jessica Powell, Catherine Skinner, Drake Lavender, Daniel Avery and James Leeper authored the article and conducted the research.
The results are especially impactful for Alabama, a largely rural state. Despite a declining national infant mortality rate, the state’s rate has shown less improvement. In 2013, Alabama ranked 49th in the nation for infant mortality. The College, meanwhile, continues to work to reverse those numbers, particularly through its Obstetrics Fellowship, which trains family medicine physicians in obstetrics care.
According to the journal article, Pickens County had no obstetrics services, including prenatal care, from 1986 to 1991, and the infant mortality rate was 17.9. The rate is defined as the number of deaths among infants less than one year of age per 1,000 live births.
From 1993 to 2002, full obstetrics services, including prenatal care and delivery, were available in the county and the infant mortality rate dropped by 60 percent, resulting in a rate lower than both the state and national rates during that period.
Unfortunately, Pickens County lost local labor delivery services in 2002 when the Pickens County Medical Center closed its labor and delivery unit, and from 2005 to 2013 only prenatal care was available – provided by one family medicine physician trained through an obstetrics fellowship. While the infant mortality rate increased during this period, the rate was less than the period when no obstetrics care – prenatal or delivery services – was available locally.
Sixteen physicians were honored June 30 at the 43rd annual graduation ceremony of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and Fellowships.
The College of Community Health Sciences provides graduate and post-graduate medical education through both the three-year University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency and year-long fellowships for family medicine physicians seeking additional training in behavioral health, emergency medicine, geriatrics, hospitalist medicine, obstetrics and sports medicine.
“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to interact with these residents for the past 36 months,” said residency Director Dr. Richard Friend, who welcomed graduates and their family and friends to the ceremony held at the Zone-South at Bryant Denny Stadium on the UA campus. “As residency director, the best part of my job is that I get to see them come in, help shape them and then this – graduation.”
The graduating residents and fellows will soon begin their own practices in Alabama and other states or will go on to complete fellowship programs.
To date, the UA Family Medicine Residency has graduated 488 family medicine physicians, and just over half practice in 48 of the state’s 67 counties, the majority in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Dr. Catherin Scarbrough was guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. She served previously as associate director of the UA Family Medicine Residency and was an associate professor of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine at the College.
“I know how you feel – relief at finishing, excitement at starting something new and anxiety,” she said. “Health care is changing before our eyes and you are on the front line of primary care. You are good enough, you are going to make it and you are going to thrive.”
Graduating residents made brief comments as they received their certificates. “I am very lucky to be part of this class,” said Dr. Swati Patel. Added Dr. Raymond Hunt: “I’m excited to finish residency but not to leave Tuscaloosa. It’s like home.”
“You guys are ready,” Friend said in closing. “I know you will go out into the world and do great things.”
2018 Graduating Residents
- Dakota Jones
- Ansley Baccus
- Andrea Fair
- Raymond Hunt
- Stephen Kelton
- Brianna Kendrick
- Natalie Kuijpers
- Jacquelynn Luker
- Amritpaul Manhas
- Brittany McArthur
- Cheree Melton
- Swati Patel
- Efe Sahinoglu
- Lisa Tsugios
- Amy Wambolt
- Ashley Wambolt
2018 Graduating Fellows
- Michelle Pike-Hough – Emergency Medicine Fellow
- Owen Ulmer – Emergency Medicine Fellow
- Douglas Cowser – Hospitalist Fellow
- Ravi Mangal – Hospitalist Fellow
- Carrie Coxwell – Obstetrics Fellow
- Blake DeWitt – Obstetrics Fellow
- Keirsten Smith – Sports Medicine Fellow
Residency Award Winners
- William R. Willard Award – Dr. Ben Lee
- Internal Medicine-Intern Award – Dr. Meghan Bonds
- Internal Medicine-Best Resident – Dr. Amritpaul Manhas
- Pediatrics Award – Dr. Brianna Kendrick
- Psychiatry Award – Dr. Jacquelynn Luker
- Psychiatry/R3 Award – Dr. Ashley Wambolt
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Award – Dr. Raymond Hunt
- William F. deShazo III Sports Medicine Award – Dr. Brianna Kendrick
- Global Health Award – Dr. Natalie Kuijpers
- Research/Scholarship Award – Drs. Dakota Jones, Jacquelynn Luker, Brittany McArthur, Cheree Melton, Amy Walmbolt and Ashley Wambolt
- William W. Winternitz Award in Geriatrics – Drs. Jacquelynn Luker and Brittany McArthur
- Society of Teachers in Family Medicine Teaching Award – Dr. Amritpaul Manhas
- Clinical Competency Committee Awards – Dr. Rachel Rackard (PGY-1), Dr. Russ Guin (PGY-2) and Dr. Natalie Kuijpers (PGY-3)
- William Owings Award for Excellence in Family Medicine – Dr. Jacquelynn Luker
- 360 Award – Dr. Jacquelynn Luker
Chief Residents Recognized
- Stephen Kelton
- Brianna Kendrick
- Natalie Kuijpers
Rural Medical Scholar Graduates Recognized
- Dakota Jones
- Jacquelynn Luker
The College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program recruits students from rural Alabama who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities in the state.
Dr. Carrie Coxwell joins the College of Community Health Sciences August 1 as an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine. Coxwell will also practice family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at University Medical Center locations in Tuscaloosa, Northport and Demopolis. UMC, West Alabama’s largest multi-specialty practice, is operated by the College.
Coxwell is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and completed her residency training at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which is operated by the College. She also completed an obstetrics fellowship at the College. The College’s Obstetrics Fellowship for Family Medicine Physicians, one of the first in the country, trains family medicine physicians to provide quality obstetrical care and seeks to address the need for obstetric and gynecological care in rural areas.
A College of Community Health Sciences program to help combat childhood obesity was awarded funding this month from BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama.
The funding will be used to provide ongoing training for the College’s family medicine residents in addressing pediatric overweight and obesity using a patient-sensitive and family-centered approach. Guest speakers who specialize in pediatric overweight and obesity will be brought in to train residents on how to diagnose pediatric weight issues.
The College considers the diagnoses of childhood overweight and obesity critical health issues, and its efforts to address these concerns are conducted through the proposed Think, Eat, Move! Interdisciplinary Clinic housed within University Medical Center (UMC), which is operated by the College.
“Our intent is to provide nutrition education in our clinics for children and adolescent patients and their parents and caregivers, so they do not enter adulthood with chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes,” says Suzanne Henson, a registered dietitian who directs UMC’s Department of Nutrition Services. Henson is also an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine.
During a one-year period in 2017, UMC’s family medicine clinic documented the body mass index for age in 64 percent of encounters for patients ages 2 to 18 years and found that 42 percent of the patients were overweight or obese. Ten percent of the documented BMIs for Age were between the 85th and 94th percentile (overweight), and 32 percent were at or above the 95th percentile (obese).
BMI-for-Age, as plotted on pediatric growth charts, is a screening method to determine if children and adolescent-aged patients have healthy weights, or if they are overweight or obese.
Previous funding for pediatric weight management efforts at UMC sponsored a physician specializing in pediatric weight management for a general session to train the College’s physicians, residents and medical students. Funding also enabled the Department of Nutrition Services to establish a program that brings a produce stand inside UMC, allowing UMC health providers to show patients different ways to incorporate produce into their diets.
Five University of Alabama School of Medicine students completing their clinical education at the College of Community Health Sciences are among the 2018 inductees into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. The students are: Clair Davis, Christopher Johnson, Allison Lazenby, Barrie Schmitt and David Osula.
The College also serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus of the School of Medicine.
The Gold Humanism Honor Society is a signature program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and was established to recognize medical students, residents and faculty who practice patient-centered care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy.
The five Tuscaloosa Campus students were nominated by their peers. A selection committee then evaluated the nominees’ academic eligibility and assessments by their program directors. About 10 percent to 15 percent of each medical school class is selected for membership. More than 22,000 Gold Humanism Honor Society members train and practice nationally.
Dr. Tiffani Thomas, a resident in The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, attended the Health Meets Food conference this month in New Orleans. She was one of 240 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, registered dietitians, chefs and nutrition specialists who attended the four-day event, which has grown into one of the nation’s leading conferences dedicated to teaching medical professionals about the important connection between good health and healthy eating. The conference offered sessions about how to guide patients to make informed food choices that support better health. The conference is hosted by the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at the Tulane University School of Medicine. The center is the nation’s first dedicated teaching kitchen to be implemented at a medical school and provides hands-on training for medical students through culinary medicine classes and continuing education for the health care and food service industries.
Five University of Alabama School of Medicine students completing their clinical education at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus are recipients of the new BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama Primary Care Scholarships.
The students are: Tanner Hallman, Savannah Johnson, Joshua Price, Grace Spears and Hannah Zahedi.
Students selected for the scholarship have indicated their intent to pursue primary care residency training after medical school and then to practice in a medically underserved Alabama county. The hope is they will remain in those counties after their commitment.
Most Alabama counties don’t have enough primary care physicians to meet the needs of their residents. Sixty-two of Alabama’s 67 counties are considered as having a primary care shortage based on the federal definition of Health Professional Shortage Areas.
BlueCross provided $3.6 million to the School of Medicine for the Primary Care Scholarships to train a total of 60 primary care physicians over five years. After residency, the physicians agree to practice for three years in a county with a primary care shortage. The scholarship pays the tuition of 12 third- and fourth-year medical students each year.
“The support provided by BlueCross in helping students interested in primary care careers, by lowering their medical school debt with these scholarships, is very important to the state and underserved communities, as well as to these future physicians,” says Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, which also serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The College’s mission is to improve the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region by increasing the primary care physician workforce.
Crowther selected for SEC academic leadership program
Dr. Martha Crowther, a professor of Community Medicine and Population Health at the College of Community Health Sciences, was selected as a fellow for 2018-19 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.
The fellowship program is an opportunity for faculty to prepare for advanced academic leadership roles within the SEC and beyond. The program brings together faculty fellows from each SEC campus to provide higher-education specific leadership and management training.
The 2018-19 program will take place at two different SEC campuses – Tennessee and Kentucky – and will consist of workshops focused on developing academic management skills. Through this program, Crowther will also participate in UA’s 2018-19 class of Leadership University.
Weida appointed to women’s health steering committee
Dr. Jane Weida, an associate professor of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine at the College of Community Health Sciences, was appointed to a state committee focused on women’s health.
Weida was appointed to a two-year term on the Office of Women’s Health Steering Committee. The office is part of the Alabama Department of Public Health and was created in 2002 to educate the public and be an advocate for women’s health, with an emphasis on preventive health and healthy lifestyles. Committee members assist the state health officer in identifying, coordinating and establishing priorities for programs, services and resource the state should provide for women’s health issues and concerns.
Weida is also director of Clinical Affairs for the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine, and associate director of the College’s family medicine residency.
University Medical Center, the community medical practice run by the College of Community Health Sciences, observed Mental Health Awareness during the month of May. In addition to fact sheets distributed to patients in its clinics, and digital signage placed throughout the building and across campus, each week in May featured a special WVUA Health Matters segment related specifically to mental health and presented by various physicians and clinical staff of the CCHS Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department.
UMC also hosted faculty and staff oriented events to build awareness during May. For example, Bob McKinney, a clinical social worker at UMC, spent time in the clinics, working with faculty, staff, and learners—individually and in small groups— to offer guidance about ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily activities.
In addition, Dr. Nancy Rubin led two, 30-minute sessions focused on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as Tapping. This form of psychological acupressure uses the same energy meridians as practiced in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years. Instead of using needles, fingertips are used to tap on those meridians to decrease stress and increase a sense of calm.
Faculty and staff were also encouraged to wear Mental Health Awareness Month t-shirts each Friday in May, and around their community daily, to help break the stigma of mental illness.
The observation of Mental Health Awareness Month is in line with the College’s mission to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama. This mission extends past the month of May throughout the year. Recently, the College partnered with Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue to implement the new ACTION program, the first-of-its-kind program in Alabama that aims to meet the less critical medical needs of the community and reduce costly hospital emergency room transports of individuals with low-emergency conditions. As it relates to mental health needs, program vehicles transport mental health and social workers to support our community in times of emergency when the ailment is not physical. This new program enables the College and UMC to continue to develop patient-centered community health outreach in service of the Tuscaloosa area.
The University of Alabama
College of Community Health Sciences
850 Peter Bryce Boulevard
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487