College’s Family Medicine Residency fills 2016 class

The College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency welcomes 14 new residents this year into its Class of 2016. A total of 65 candidates were interviewed for the available 14 residency positions, and the three-year residency was able to fill all the positions through the match process.

Through the National Residency Match Program, residency programs across the country spent the past few months interviewing approximately 31,000 medical students for 24,000 residency positions. On March 15, the NRMP matched medical students’ preferences for residency positions with the preferences of residency directors and announced the results.

Historically, the College’s residency has accepted 12 residents into each incoming class, for a total of 36 residents in the program. Due to the residency’s growth plans, the program increased enrollment to 15 residents last year and 14 residents this year, which combined with the 12 residents who entered the program in 2011 and who will graduate next year brings the program’s total enrollment to 42.

The residency Class of 2016:

  • Tope Afon – Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Chandra Americhetty – Medical University of the Americas, Nevis, West Indies
  • Sirisha Chada – American University of Antigua, St. George, Antigua 
  • Mary Margaret Clapp – University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.
  • Jason Clemons – University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Eric Curley – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Southwestern, Dallas, Tex.
  • Timothy Eckford – Saba University, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
  • Michael Gabriel – The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Penn.
  • Katie Gates – University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Ambreen Mardhani – American University of Antigua, St. George, Antigua
  • Bhavika Patel – American University of Antigua, St. George, Antigua 
  • George Petty – University of South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.
  • Jerry Shen – Temple University, Ambler, Penn.
  • Ross Summerford – University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Ala.
  • James Hwang (second-year resident) – St. Matthew’s University, West Bay, Cayman Islands 

Health care is more than medicine

The University of Alabama sponsored a free screening of the documentary “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare,” which first appeared at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The American health care system can change for the better, but it’s up to leaders to spark a conversation about real change and it’s up to people to take initiative for their own health, according to a panel of speakers Sunday at the Bama Theatre.

Verizon Foundation Grant Expands Access to Diabetes Education Program

A nearly $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation has enabled the College to expand a program that teaches diabetic patients how to better manage their disease.

The College’s Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is now offered at the Sumter County Health Center in York, Ala., and will soon be offered at the Rush Clinic in Livingston, Ala. The program will consist of three classes a month, with each class lasting three hours. The program will be held at the Sumter County Health Center in January, March and May and at the Rush Clinic in February and April.

The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is currently offered at University Medical Center, a multi-specialty health clinic operated by the College and located on The University of Alabama campus. The diabetes education program earned national recognition from the American Diabetes Association in 2012 for providing high-quality education services to patients.

The ADA Education Recognition effort is a voluntary process that assures that approved programs have met the national standards for diabetes self-management education programs. Programs that achieve Education Recognition status have a staff of knowledgeable health professionals who provide state-of-the-art information about diabetes management to participants.

“Our staff works diligently every day to provide the best education possible to our patients,” says Angela Hammond, CRNP, CDE, a nurse practitioner at University Medical Center who teaches in the program and who works with the center’s diabetic patients.

Patients in York and Livingston will be recruited into the program through referrals from area physicians who treat Medicaid patients. Initially, the program will be open only to Medicaid recipients.

Self-management education is an essential component of diabetes treatment, according to the American Diabetes Association. Patients in ADA-recognized and similar programs are taught self-care skills that promote better management of diabetes treatment regimens. With increased knowledge, patients can assume a major part of the responsibility for their diabetes management and possibly prevent some of the acute and chronic complications of diabetes.

The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program will be provided to the Sumter County Health Center and the Rush Clinic via the College’s telehealth equipment. Telehealth is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where information is transferred through interactive audiovisual media for the purposes of consulting and conducting remote medical examinations or providing health education to patients. For rural populations that are geographically isolated, and for rural patients who are physically or financially unable to travel long distances, telehealth can improve access to care. The Sumter County Health Center and the Rush Clinic are both located in rural areas.

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death for Alabamians, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes-related deaths in rural Alabama are as much as 18 percent higher than in the state’s urban areas, and are as much as 44 percent higher than diabetes-related deaths in the United States, the ADA says.

Nationwide, there are 25.8 million people, or 8.5 percent of the U.S. population, who have diabetes, according to the ADA. The association says diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in 2007, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Each day, approximately 5,205 people are diagnosed with diabetes and many will first learn that they have the disease when they are treated for one of its life-threatening complications – heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation, according to the ADA.

Americans spend more than $2.6 trillion on health care each year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and studies show that 45 percent of the entire population (133 million Americans) lives with at least one chronic disease. The National Vital Statistics Reports 2008 data shows that seven out of 10 deaths in the United States are attributed to chronic disease, many of which are preventable. In addition, seventy-five cents of every health care dollar is spent on chronic disease, studies show, and the impact of chronic disease on underserved populations accounts for almost 40 cents of that spent.

“The Verizon Foundation is pleased to partner with The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences to help chronic patients better manage their diabetes,” says Jonathan LeCompte, president of the Georgia/Alabama region for Verizon Wireless. “We firmly believe that utilizing technology and resources like this program will help address a rapidly growing epidemic, and we applaud The University of Alabama for leading the way.”

The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, health care and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit

Residency Recruiting in Peak Season

The recruiting season for the College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency is currently underway for the 2013-2014 academic year.

With 65 candidates interviewed, the residency office has finished its interview season and recently hosted its Second Look Weekend.

The weekend gives residency candidates the opportunity to get to know the College’s faculty and residents as well as learn more about the residency program and the Tuscaloosa community. The candidates were invited to a meet and greet reception, a luncheon and a University of Alabama basketball game.

The Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency prepares physicians to provide high-quality patient care and is designed to lead to board certification in Family Medicine, and to prepare physicians to assume leadership positions in the communities where they will practice.

The program currently has 39 residents enrolled and plans to increase that number to 42 starting in July.

Pediatrics Chair Retires from College

Michael Taylor, MD, retired from the College on January 31, 2013, after almost 22 years of service. Taylor was a professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

For the education and training of medical students, the College is also a branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham.

Taylor held many titles during his time at the College, including assistant dean for Information Technology and adjunct associate professor of Psychology, medical director of The University of Alabama’s ADHD Clinic and founder and medical director of the West Alabama Child Medical Evaluation Center.

College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, says, “We are very appreciative of Mike’s many contributions to CCHS over the years, and we will miss him a great deal.”

Taylor’s clinical passion is the evaluation, support and care of children who have been or may have been abused. Taylor is the only board certified child abuse pediatrician in Alabama and one of only 234 in the United States, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Taylor has accepted a position as professor of Pediatrics and division chief of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Program at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“It has been my great fortune and pleasure to work here at CCHS since 1991, establishing many productive working relationships, friendships and “in the trenches” buddies,” Taylor says.

David Nichols Named Chief Operating Officer

David Nichols has joined the College as its first ever Chief Operating Officer.

In the new position, Nichols will incorporate strategic direction and operational tactics to help the College achieve its mission of education, clinical service, scholarship and community engagement.

Nichols earned his bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management from The University of Alabama and obtained his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Houston.

He spent 13 years in administrative roles at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and served for 14 years as senior executive officer at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, responsible for the operational and financial performance of the Department of Medicine.

Most recently, Nichols worked as a health care and business development consultant increasing revenues, reducing expenses, expanding market share and improving infrastructure for academic medical centers and private medical practices.

“David is imminently qualified for this role and we are very pleased and fortunate to have him join us,” says Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College.

By enhancing and expanding the infrastructure support to the College’s faculty, staff, medical students and residents, Nichols says, “It is my hope that our methods of service delivery, program expansion, customer satisfaction, communication and business orientation become recognized as a model that can be replicated at all sites of service and held out as an example for how such services should be implemented at other organizations.”

Nichols is married with five children and a yellow Labrador retriever named Ruby-May. He enjoys reading, hiking, sports and raising teenagers. “I feel very fortunate to be joining CCHS as its chief operating officer. This is an exciting time to be associated with a health care organization whose mission includes training the future generation of Family Medicine and Primary Care physicians,” Nichols says.

Colleges Hope Screening of Film Will Start Dialog about Health Care

A free community screening of the film, ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, will be held Sunday, March 3, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The event is sponsored by The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, Capstone College of Nursing, School of Social Work, Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration and Office of Health Promotion and Wellness.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion to focus on health care issues and concerns and possible ways to improve the healthcare system. Panelists will include: Bryan Kindred, CEO of DCH Health System; Deborah Tucker, CEO of Whatley Health Services; Charles Morgan, senior executive vice president and general counsel of Phifer Inc.; Linda House Moncrief, benefits and wellness director for the city of Tuscaloosa; and Allen Perkins, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

“This is an opportunity to have an important dialog,” says Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences and a family medicine physician. “Our goal is to begin to change the conversation in the community.”

ESCAPE FIRE is a feature-length documentary that examines the nation’s healthcare system. The movie was an official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. According to the ESCAPE FIRE website, the film looks at “the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. But the current battle over cost and access does not ultimately address the root of the problem: we have a disease-care system, not a healthcare system.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, much of healthcare spending in the United States goes to treating preventable diseases, for example heart disease, diabetes and cancers caused by obesity.

American healthcare costs overall are rising rapidly and could reach $4.2 trillion annually within a decade, roughly 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The average per capita cost of health care in the United States is $8,000, compared to $3,000 in the rest of the developed world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Still, the Institute for Medicine has found that 30 percent of healthcare costs in the United States, approximately $750 billion annually, are wasted and do not improve health.

“This documentary tackles the American healthcare system, a subject that carriers with it decades of debate and misconception,” say film directors Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke. They say much of the recent media attention has focused on the contentious passage of the Affordable Care Act and the debate about its impact “yet Americans are still unclear about what is broken and how best to move forward. ESCAPE FIRE seeks to explore possibilities to create a sustainable system for the future and to dispel misinformation in order to create a clear and comprehensive look at healthcare in America,” they added.

Heineman and Froemke say it is time to create “escape fires” in the nation’s healthcare system.

The University of Alabama sponsors of the ESCAPE FIRE film screening hope the event will be the start of a dialog about potential healthcare escape fires for Alabama.

 “We are all involved in training health professionals for the future,” Streiffer says. “We have the ability to change the conversation in a meaningful way.”

Medical Student Recipient of Rural Health Lecture Award

Daniel Partain, a third-year medical student, is the recipient of The University of Alabama Institute for Rural Health Research’s first annual William A. Curry, MD, Rural Health Lecture Award.

Partain is a student at The University of Alabama School of Medicine. He is completing his clinical training at the College. For the training of medical students, the College is a branch campus of the School of Medicine.

The award honors a third- or fourth-year medical student at the Tuscaloosa campus who demonstrates an academic interest in rural medicine and is engaged in rural research or scholarly activity in a rural setting. The award is designed to encourage medical students to pursue experiences in rural medicine.    

As part of the award, Partain spoke during a breakout session at the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference, The Weight of our Rural Communities: Partnering to Reduce Obesity, which will be held Feb. 20 at the University’s Ferguson Center Student Union. He will also receive a plaque and a $150 honorarium. 

This year’s Rural Health Conference ( focused on obesity and featured speakers in the areas of nutrition, physical activity and clinical aspects of obesity. Partain’s lecture was titled “The Obesity Epidemic in Fayette County, Alabama.”

Partain earned a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin. He is expected to complete his medical degree in 2014.

While a student at the University of Wisconsin, Partain completed a Senior Honors Research Thesis at the Carbone Cancer Center that focused on adults with Melanoma and children with Neuroblastoma. He also worked as a research assistant at the center, assisting with research in tumor microenvironment, immunotherapy and combined therapies with natural botanical products.

Partain is active in community service projects. He works with Hospice of West Alabama and previously provided health care at a student-operated free clinic to indigent patients in Birmingham, Ala. 

William Curry, MD, is a former dean of the College of Community Health Sciences and founder of the annual Rural Health Conference. He currently serves as associate dean of Rural and Primary Care and a professor of Internal Medicine at The University of Alabama School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham.

The annual Rural Health Conference is attended by health care professionals, community leaders, government officials and representatives of faith-based organizations who come together to hear from prominent speakers and share critical information and knowledge about health disparities that impact rural Alabama. 

Preparing to be a Rural Physician

The Rural Medical Scholars program is presenting a workshop for pre-medical students on preparing to be a rural physician. Topics covered will be why we need doctors in rural Alabama and how to finance graduate and medical school.

Reducing Obesity Topic of Rural Health Conference

Partnering with rural communities to reduce obesity is the topic of the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference hosted by the College and its Institute for Rural Health Research.

The conference, “The Weight of our Rural Communities: Partnering to Reduce Obesity,” will be held Wednesday, February 20, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ferguson Center on The University of Alabama campus.

The conference will feature two keynote speakers: Michael Minor, EdD, national director of H.O.P.E. Health and Human Services Partnership of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the nation’s largest African American religious denomination; and Ravi Patel, founder of the Nashville Mobile Market. Breakout sessions focusing on clinical, community and behavioral topics will also be offered.

Minor is an advisor and advocate for local, regional and national faith-based health and wellness initiatives. As a community organizer for 20 years, he has worked extensively on community empowerment and faith-community issues. In 2008, he chaired “Healthy Congregations – Northwest Mississippi,” which grew from a regional initiative to a national one in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Minor has worked with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative! In November 2012, Cooking Light magazine selected Minor as one of 20 national food heroes.

Patel founded the Nashville Mobile Market and currently serves as its executive director. The market is a non-profit social enterprise that strives to encourage healthier eating and decrease chronic conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and high-blood pressure, by providing access to healthy groceries for residents of Nashville’s food deserts. A food desert is a geographic district with limited access to foods needed to maintain a healthy diet. Through a mobile grocery store, the Nashville Mobile Market provides fresh produce, lean meats, dairy products and select non-perishable items. Patel is also co-executive director of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s free student-run clinic.

The conference, as part of its 2nd Annual Rural Health Heroes Awards, will also honor individuals who assist their communities in reducing or preventing obesity and promoting wellness.

An Active Reception will follow the conference and will provide an evening of food, discussion and active education. The reception will begin at 5 p.m. at the University’s Recreation Center.

The annual Rural Health Conference is attended by health-care providers, researchers, community leaders, government officials, policymakers and representatives of faith-based organizations who hear from prominent speakers in the field and share information and knowledge about rural health issues.

The registration fee for the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference is $100 per person and $25 for students and includes breakfast and lunch. Continuing Education Units will be offered. (After February 6, the registration fee is $125 per person and $30 for students.)

For more information and to register online, visit the conference website at or contact the Institute for Rural Health Research at (205) 348-0025.

The Institute for Rural Health Research was established in 2001 and conducts research to improve health in rural Alabama. The goal is to produce research that is useful to communities, health care providers and policymakers as they work to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of health care in rural areas. The Institute also serves as a resource for community organizations, researchers and individuals working to improve the health of rural communities in Alabama.