New CCHS Faculty

Dr. Joy Bradley joined the College as an assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health. She will also work with the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research. Bradley originally joined the College as a post-doctoral fellow in 2017. She received a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia. She received her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Albany State University in Albany, Georgia.

Dr. Randi Henderson-Mitchell joined the College as an assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health. She will also work with the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research. Henderson-Mitchell previously served as a research data analyst for the Institute, and before that was a graduate research assistant with the Institute. She received her PhD and an MBA from The University of Alabama. She earned a master’s degree in Health Education from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Dr. Robert Osburne joined the College as an adjunct clinical faculty member in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine. He cares for patients at University Medical Center, which is operated by the College, and his clinical practice focus areas are diabetes and thyroid diseases. Osburne is a board-certified endocrinologist with 35 years of clinical endocrinology practice experience. He practiced previously at Simon Williamson Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, until his retirement in 2017. He has been associated with community hospital internal medicine residency training programs for 30 years, including at Baptist Medical Center Princeton in Birmingham and Atlanta Medical Center.

Dr. Salah Uddin joined the College as a neurology hospitalist. Uddin will care for University Medical Center patients at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa and will be part of the teaching team that works with the College’s residents and medical student. The College operates UMC. Uddin graduated from the University of Dhaka Medical College in Bangladesh. He completed a neurology residency at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, and a post-doctoral fellowship at Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester in New York. Prior to joining the College, Uddin was director of Neurology and Stroke at Shelby Baptist Hospital in Alabaster, Alabama.

UA recognizes CCHS researchers

College faculty and staff were among those recently recognized by The University of Alabama for receiving their first externally funded research awards during the past academic year.

Those recognized were: Dr. Nathan Culmer, director of Academic Technologies and Faculty Development; Glenn Davis, NRP, director of the EMS Division; Dr. Louanne Friend, assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health; Travis Parker, NRP, EMS Division program specialist; and Dr. Raheem Paxton, associate professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health.

They were among a total of 80 faculty and staff recognized during the Celebrate Research First Awardee Luncheon last month at the Hotel Capstone on the UA campus. The event was initiated to promote, enhance and generate excitement for research activities and opportunities on campus.

“Through their efforts to secure support for their research and scholarly activity, these researchers are helping the University stay on the forefront of innovation,” said Dr. John C. Higginbotham, UA’s interim vice president for research and the College’s associate dean for Research.

Mission Moment: Event highlights College’s research and scholarly activity

Research and scholarly efforts of CCHS faculty, staff, residents, medical students and graduate students were highlighted during the College’s 10th Annual Research and Scholarly Activity Day.

Twenty-seven poster presentations were displayed at the Nov. 8 event, held at CCHS. Judges were: Dr. Abbey Gregg, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health; Dr. Pamela Foster, professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health; Dr. Louanne Friend, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health; and Dr. Michele Montgomery, assistant dean and associate professor in UA’s Capstone College of Nursing.


Winners were named in two categories:

Medical Student and Resident Division

First Place:  Dr. Richard Giovane, Dr. Louanne Friend, Mathew Leatherwood, Hui Wang, for Predicting the Need to Order Blood Cultures Using Neuroshell©: A Retrospective Chart Review.

Second Place:  Dr. Russ Guin, Dr. Louanne Friend, Suzanne Henson, RD, for Hiding in Plain Sight: An Innovative Hypertension Identification and Treatment.

Third Place:  Dr. Cory Luckie, Dr. Jared Ellis, Dr. Cecil Robinson, for Interprofessional ACLS Simulation Retraining to Promote Resident Confidence.

Faculty Division

First Place:  Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, Andrea Hayes, Steven Simmons, for Sustained use of Power PATH, an Aligned Parent and Child Social Emotional Learning Program at Pickens County Early Learning Center.

Second Place:  Dr. Qinglin Hu, Hui Wang, Dr. Gregg Bell, for The Socio-Economic Context of Opioid Abuse in Alabama: A County-Level Analysis.

Third Place:  Dr. Randi-Henderson-Mitchell, Dr. John C. Higginbotham, Dr. Lea Yerby, Dr. Jason Parton, Dr. Daniel Avery, Dr. Marilyn Whitman, Dr. Shawn Mitchell, for The Rotavirus Vaccine Series Completion and Health Care Utilization in a Medicaid Population.

Third Place:  Dr. Lea Yerby, Dr. Joy Bradley, for How Communities Change Us: Professional Identity Formation Analysis Utilizing Reflections from a Third-Year Rural and Community Medicine Rotation.


Of the posters, 14 were presented in the Medical Student and Resident Division, and 13 in the Faculty Division.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Hypertension

A study by three College researchers that focuses on better identifying pre-hypertensive patients was presented during a poster session at the 10th Annual Ochsner Evidence Based Nursing Conference in New Orleans in October.

The study, Hiding in Plain Sight (HIPS): An Innovative Hypertension Identification and Treatment Program, is designed to identify patients with elevated blood pressure who might not yet be diagnosed with hypertension.

The study involved embedding a template into University Medical Center’s electronic medical record that gives physicians and other health-care providers a flag to patients who might be undiagnosed with hypertension. UMC is operated by the College.

A lifestyle curriculum for patients was developed as part of the study, and this information is now being transferred into an app to provide improved access for UMC patients. In addition, the embedded template provides physicians access to a decision-making tree for referral to lifestyle education and pharmacotherapy.

The study was piloted at UMC’s Northport location and could soon be expanded to UMC in Tuscaloosa. Funding for the study was awarded by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Dr. Louanne Friend, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health, is the principle investigator of the study. Co-principle investigators are: Suzanne Henson, RD, assistant professor in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine and practicing dietitian at UMC; and Amy Sherwood, director of Health Information Technology for the College.

The conference was hosted by the Center for Evidence Based Practicing and Nursing Research, which is part of Ochsner Health System.

Students learn about interprofessional practice and social determinants of health

Knowledge of how to practice with different health care providers is essential for future practitioners, but so, too, is an understanding of the impact social factors can have on health.

For that reason, a co-enrolled course for University of Alabama medical and nursing students, Introduction to Interprofessional Health Care Teams and Critical Care Procedures, now incorporates information about social determinants of health.

The course was created by Dr. Louanne Friend, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health, and Dr. Richard Friend, professor of family medicine and interim dean of CCHS, and a family medicine physician.

The course, an elective that began in spring semester 2015, introduces students to interprofessional practice – when practitioners from different health professions collaboratively learn about, from and with each other to improve patients’ health outcomes. The course focuses on roles and responsibilities, communication, teamwork, and values and ethics for interprofessional practice.

To date, 59 medical and 108 nursing students have completed the course, and outcomes have shown increased student camaraderie, confidence to practice collaboratively and knowledge of healthy work environments.

Louanne Friend said while faculty are excited about the number of students taking and completing the course and the positive feedback, they agreed that a key component to health outcomes – prevention and primary care – was needed within the course content.

To introduce students to the impact that social factors, such as poverty, lack of access to health care and inadequate education, can have on health, Dr. Allyson Gold, a professor at the UA School of Law, recently delivered a guest lecture titled “Rx for Justice: Using the Medical-Legal Partnership to Improve Patient Health Outcomes.”

Gold identified the relationship between legal issues and negative health outcomes, and how the Medical Legal Partnership Model of Health can improve patient health. Under this model, lawyers are integrated into health-care settings to assist patients with unmet social needs, including lack of health insurance, public benefits, housing and utilities and income support.

Future plans for the course including opening the class to students from Social Work and Clinical Psychology and creating opportunities for students to participate in clinic and inpatient services.

Friend said the ultimate goal is to train students from different disciplines to collaborate to address health disparities among low-income populations.

New Faculty

Andrea Wright, MLIS, joined the College as associate professor and clinical/technical services librarian in the Health Sciences Library. Wright is responsible for supporting evidence-based practice in the clinical environment, providing access to the latest research to support patient care. She also collaborates in research and publishing efforts at the College, provides instructional support in research and evidence-based medicine and manages online access to library resources. Wright earned her master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from The University of Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of North Alabama. She spent nine years offering research support and evidence-based medicine education as a technology and information services librarian at the University of South Alabama Biomedical Library before serving for a year as a digital projects librarian at The University of Alabama. In 2014, Wright received a Georgia/National Library of Medicine Biomedical Informatics Fellowship. Her interests include research and data management, technology and informatics services in libraries, reducing health disparities and evidence-based health care.

Dr. Elizabeth Western joined the College as a part-time adjunct faculty member in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine. She is primarily responsible for teaching and curriculum development for the College’s Rural Medical Scholars Program, which 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 and early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Western received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Middle Tennessee State University, and a master’s degree and PhD in Organic Chemistry from The University of Alabama. She received her MD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine and completed her residency training at the UA Family Medicine Residency, which is operated by the College. She was in private practice in Tuscaloosa for the past six years and currently is a hospitalist for the Tuscaloosa Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Michelle Pike joined the College as a part-time adjunct faculty member in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine. In that role, Pike will assist with The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership, led by the College and which works to place UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, nutrition, psychology and health education – and potentially others – in Pickens County for internships and learning experiences. Through the partnership, the rural, underserved county is provided with additional health care resources, and UA students receive real world training in their respective areas of study. Pike is also Emergency Services Medical Director at Pickens County Medical Center. She completed her undergraduate degree at Truman State University in Missouri, during which she also earned a paramedic license. She worked on an Advanced Life Support Unit as a paramedic on critical care and emergency patient transports before entering medical school. Pike completed medical school at the American University of the Caribbean, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilies, and her residency training at the UA Family Medicine Residency, which is operated by the College. She completed an Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the College, which is provided in conjunction with Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.

Medical student selected for AMA leadership institute

Allison Montgomery, a University of Alabama School of Medicine student completing her clinical education years at the College, was selected as one of 10 students nationwide for the inaugural class of the AMA Leadership Development Institute.

Montgomery is a fourth-year medical student and a Rural Medical Scholar at the College, which also functions as the School of Medicine’s Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. The Rural Medical Scholars Program, operated by the College, is exclusively for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities and includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, that leads to a master’s degree and early admission to the School of Medicine.

The AMA Leadership Development Institute offers medical students in their final year of school an opportunity to gain individualized insight into the skills needed to foster their careers and the future of medicine. Through quarterly group web conferences and a retreat at AMA offices, participants interact with professionals who are leaders in their fields and who offer advice on topics beyond the classroom and clinic, such as communications techniques and networking strategies.

Throughout the year-long program, participants are paired with a nearby mentor in their field, who is an experience and practicing physician and leader. Through monthly meetings and conversations, participants receive career consultation and guidance while expanding their professional networks.

Montgomery is pursuing a career in obstetrics and gynecology and has an interest in rural and international health care initiatives and gynecologic oncology research.

As a medical student, she serves as president of her class, and as a student representative on the Group on Regional Medical Campuses Steering Committee.

“I hope that this program will give me concrete advice on how to seek out valuable opportunities and how to be successful in creating change as a physician leader throughout my career,” Montgomery said.

Interprofessional Research Breakfast – October 18

Several College faculty members presented their research during an Interprofessional Research Breakfast for University of Alabama faculty and staff hosted October 18 by the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research.

Among the work highlighted was the ACTION Program and the All of Us Research Project.

ACTION: Short for Appropriate Care and Treatment in Our Neighborhoods, the program seeks to reduce unnecessary use of ambulances and hospital emergency departments for routine medical needs by providing onsite care for non-emergency 911 calls.

Dr. Abbey Gregg, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health, is researching savings to the health care system and patients who use ACTION, and if patients are satisfied with care received through the program. “We’re interested in how much money can be saved, and how people feel about their care,” she said.

ACTION is a partnership of the College and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Services. The program places a nurse practitioner and mental health professionals on low-emergency 911 calls. Onsite care is provided to patients who don’t require ambulance transport to an emergency room, and patients with unmet social needs that impact health also receive follow-up service.

Gregg said ACTION has assisted with 911 calls received by people suffering from depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and general aches and pains. Now in its second year, she said data shows the program saves $2,603.77 per patient in avoided treatment charges.

Going forward, Gregg said ACTION will seek to be proactive by reducing hospital readmissions, providing case management services for frequent 911 callers and establishing a “social work hub” in the community.

All of Us: Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that considers individual differences in lifestyle, socioeconomic status and biology – with the potential to show how each of us can receive the best possible care based on our unique makeup.

“It’s like prescription eyeglasses, insulin pumps and hearing aids, which are developed based on an individual’s specific needs,” said Dr. John C. Higginbotham, the College’s associate dean for Research. Higginbotham also serves as chair of the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine and director of IRHR and is also serving as UA’s interim vice president for Research.

Health care is often targeted to the average patient, not the individual, so, the National Institutes of Health launched the All of Us Project to advance research into precision medicine. The project seeks to enroll one million individuals living in the US and gather their health information and other data over time.

The College, through its University Medical Center, is part of the Southern All of Us Network and is working with partners in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to recruit participants; Higginbotham is a co-principle investigator. Together, the Southern All of Us is working to recruit 100,000 participants from the three states over the next five years. The College’s goal is to recruit  7,500 patients during that time.

All of Us is making a concerted effort to produce a research cohort that is diverse – demographically, geographically, medically and those traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research. Higginbotham said traditionally, there hasn’t been enough research to draw on for clinical evidence, especially in diverse populations.






Spotlight Shines on College’s Geriatrician

Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine and practicing geriatrician at University Medical Center, was featured by the American Geriatric Society in its October Educator Spotlight.

In the article that appears in the society’s online publication, Halli-Tierney, who also directs the College’s Geriatrics Fellowship, talked about her role with the College and the impact of her work with learners and patients.

Years in role: Seven years (assistant professor) and two years (fellowship director)

Best part of job: Getting to interact with learners from all levels of education and all disciplines (teaching undergraduate, medical school, residency, post residency students and community learners, as well as students from social work, pharmacy, psychology, nutrition and law).

Currently working on: Lots of things! Working on my first active fellowship year with two awesome fellows, actively researching resident and patient knowledge of advance directives in our clinic, developing a community-based longitudinal mental health database for older adults and working on development and deployment of interprofessional case series for geriatric/interprofessional education, among other things. I’m fairly hyper.

What I would like to collaborate on: Love to collaborate on novel interprofessional educational models mainly geared toward older adults/end of life care, or on anything that would increase geriatrics awareness in medical students and undergraduate populations.

One thing I have learned from my patients: (Well-timed) humor, candor and humility can be healing, both for the patient and for the practitioner.

One thing I have learned from my learners: You should never assume that you know everything about a topic, even if you think that you’re an expert on it. Someone will always be able to trip you up with a well thought out question (even if it is about jellyfish).

One thing you want your learners to know: That learning happens best with emotion and humanity attached to it. Clinical pearls stick much better if you can put a face or a name to the first time you saw a disease process and learned about the human side of the textbook pathology.

Favorite geriatric pearl of wisdom:  Occam’s razor doesn’t work.

Favorite geriatric syndrome:  Oh, that’s tough! Probably polypharmacy. Watching that be treated in my grandfather is what inspired me to become a geriatrician, and there is nothing more satisfying than ripping apart a 40-med list and having a patient thrive because of it. I’m a nerd.

What’s saving your life right now? Overly obsessive to-do lists, a husband with a great sense of patience and humor and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Dr. Giggie part of expert panel on prescription opioid epidemic

Dr. Marissa Giggie, associate professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, participated in a community outreach panel October 18 about the causes and effects of, and solutions to, prescription opioid abuse in Alabama. The state has the highest rate of opioid prescribing in the nation.

The panel presentation and discussion, “Leading the Nation in Opioid Prescriptions: What are the consequences for Alabama?” was hosted by the Department of Criminal Justice at The University of Alabama.

In addition to Giggie, panelists included researchers, attorneys, members of law enforcement and policy experts.

Alabama leads the nation in opioid prescriptions, with an average of 1.2 prescriptions per person compared to the national average of 0.71 prescriptions per person, according to 2015 data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That data also shows that there were 736 reported drug overdose deaths in Alabama in 2015, of which 38 percent were caused by opioids.