Taylor Receives 2012 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Heather Taylor, MD, a pediatrician and assistant professor in the College of Community Health Sciences, was honored with the prestigious Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty Award at The University of Alabama School of Medicine commencement on May 20.

Heather Taylor, MD

The award, presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, recognizes a faculty member who best demonstrates the foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, respect for patients, their families and health care colleagues, as well as demonstrated clinical excellence. The Gold Foundation sponsors the annual Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards at 94 of the nation’s medical schools.

“This award was created to encourage the tradition of the caring doctor,” says Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences. “As important as scientific knowledge and technical skills are to modern doctoring, the relationship between the practitioner and the patient remains paramount. Dr. Taylor is an outstanding example of a physician who balances the high-touch skills of effective communication, empathy and compassion with clinical excellence.”

The College of Community Health Sciences houses the Tuscaloosa branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine. The main campus is located in Birmingham.

Taylor is the first female from The University of Alabama School of Medicine to receive the award, and only the second faculty member from the Tuscaloosa branch campus to do so.

“I was very surprised,” Taylor says. “I think it means the most to me knowing that it came from students. The Class of 2012 was a very smart, very accomplished and very diverse group of students and they were a fun group to teach. I have tremendous respect for who they are as individuals and I was especially honored to be recognized by them in this way.”

Recipients of the award must also demonstrate such professional behavior as being approachable and accessible to students and always welcoming opportunities for teaching and mentoring opportunities with students.

“It is particularly noteworthy for her to be recognized for this honor as a faculty member at the Tuscaloosa branch campus, as only a subset of University of Alabama School of Medicine students has regular contact with our faculty,” Streiffer says. “Clearly, she is impressive and an outstanding role model for students.” 

For further information please contact Elizabeth Hartley at the College of Community Health Sciences by calling 205-348-9109 or e-mailing her at ehartley@cchs.ua.edu

UA group sees increase in counseling requests a year after tornado

Project Rebound UA is part of the statewide Project Rebound effort, a crisis counselor program activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after natural disasters.

4th Annual Research Day Features Students, Residents, and Faculty

Each year, the College holds an annual Research Day each year to display our collaborative research efforts and inform ourselves and The University of our findings. The 4th annual research day was conducted April 13, 2012.

UA Names Streiffer Dean of College of Community Health Sciences

Dr. Richard H. Streiffer, professor and past chairman of the department of family and community medicine at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans, has been appointed dean of The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, the Tuscaloosa branch campus of the UA School of Medicine. 

Streiffer completed a residency in family medicine at UA’s College of Community Health Sciences and received the Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement from the College. He has more than 25 years of experience in the training of physicians for family and rural practice.

“Dr. Streiffer’s extensive experience in practicing and teaching family and rural medicine will make him a great leader for the College in the 21st century,” said Dr. Judy L. Bonner, UA interim president. “As a distinguished alumnus of our residency program, he will serve as a role model and guide for future physicians.”

Streiffer said he sees his role as dean as leading the College in its mission of training physicians and serving the needs of West Alabama families.

“A place like the College, based in the community with a primary-care mission, has a unique opportunity and, perhaps one would say, a social contract to focus on the needs of the community,” Streiffer said. “I see it as a place where academic physicians and health care professionals can engage with the community to figure out ways systematically to help those communities with their needs, including the physician work force needs, to improve the health of their citizens.”

A native of New Orleans, Streiffer is a graduate of Tulane University and the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. After completing a residency at UA, he spent several years in rural practice in Mississippi and served as a preceptor, or mentor, for students in his office.

He began his teaching career at the University of Mississippi and later served as director of the Mercy Family Medicine Residency in Denver. He also worked as the pre-doctoral education director in family medicine at LSU School of Medicine and as founding director of Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency program. In 1998, he joined the Tulane faculty to start the department of family and community medicine.

Streiffer has maintained an active primary care practice throughout his career, and he holds board certification in family medicine and a Certificate of Added Qualification in Geriatrics. In addition, he has been the project director on several federal training grants with a focus on primary care education and development of a rural physician work force.

He was appointed to the Louisiana Health Works Commission by Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2009, and he has served as the co-chair of the Governor’s Interagency Task Force on the Future of Family Medicine in Louisiana from 2004 to 2012. From his wide perspective on family and rural care, Streiffer sees many opportunities for the students and residents entering the College’s programs.

“I think we are facing today the most optimistic future that family medicine has had since its birth in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” Streiffer said. “The country, the government, at many levels, and big health systems, at many levels, have come to understand that vigorous expansion and support of primary care is absolutely critical if we are going to improve health care outcomes at the same time that we restrain, and, perhaps even lower, what we spend per capita on health care as a country.”

In 2011, Streiffer received the Teaching Scholar Award from Tulane’s School of Medicine and the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional School Teaching, a university-wide award given to faculty members who have a sustained and compelling record of excellence in teaching and learning and an ongoing commitment to educational excellence. Streiffer plans to bring that level of excellence to his leadership at the College.

“The College and my residency experience here have always been a model of education that I have come back to,” Streiffer said.

With the College approaching its 40th anniversary, Streiffer said he looks forward to the challenges of preparing physicians for changes in the U.S. health-care system, particularly in the delivery of more comprehensive and coordinated primary care.

“That’s really what the charge is for the next decade, for the College to look hard at the model of how we train our doctors and anticipate the right type of skill set, the right type of training environment to prepare doctors not only for today but for 20 years from now,” he said.

Streiffer is married to New Orleans native Ann, a nurse practitioner. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

The College of Community Health Sciences was established in 1972 in response to the state’s acute need for more primary care physicians. Many areas of Alabama, particularly small towns and rural communities, suffered from a serious lack of health care. Four decades later, the College has made significant strides in making health care more available and accessible in the state, with one out of every seven practicing family physicians in the state a graduate of the College’s residency.

Approximately 700 medical students have received their third and fourth years of clinical training at the College. Of these graduates, more than half have chosen careers in primary care. The College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency has seen similar success, graduating nearly 400 family physicians into practice, with more than half of those in Alabama and the majority of those in towns with fewer than 25,000 residents and in Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Now entering its fourth decade, the College will continue to focus on primary care, rural health and the state’s unique health care need by training skilled medical practitioners and researchers for the future.

Garner Named to Top Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Post

Originally posted on UA News

Margaret P. Garner, associate professor in The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, has been named director-at-large for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association.

Margaret Garner

Margaret P. Garner

The Academy has over 72,000 members and is the world’s largest professional organization of food and nutrition specialists.   Garner will serve a three-year term that will begin this June.

At UA, Garner is an associate professor of family medicine and assistant dean for health education and outreach in CCHS. She is also the director of the department of health promotion and wellness at the Student Health Center, director of nutrition and education services for the University Medical Center, and an adjunct assistant professor in the department of human nutrition and hospitality management’s coordinated dietetics program.

Garner helped establish and was the first chair of the Alabama Food and Nutrition Exposition, a unique partnership of the Alabama Dietetic Association, Alabama Dietary Managers Association and Alabama School Nutrition Association.

In 2011, she received the academy’s highest honor, the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award. Garner has served in leadership roles in the academy, including as a member of the board of directors and commission on dietetic registration. She was a member and chair of the academy’s legislative and public policy committee, political action committee, coding and coverage committee, council on education and strategic planning task force.

Garner is a past president of the Tuscaloosa District Dietetic Association and the Alabama Dietetic Association. A graduate of Georgia Southern College, Garner received a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and completed a postgraduate fellowship in the area of nutrition and developmental disorders at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine’s Child Development Center in Memphis.

Researchers Win Grant to Study How Congregations Can Reduce AIDS Stigma

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama researchers have received a multiyear grant to examine the role that African-American congregations can play in reducing HIV/AIDS-related stigma in rural Alabama.

Dr. Pamela Foster, deputy director of the UA Institute for Rural Health Research, is principal investigator of the $530,368 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foster is also an assistant professor in the College of Community Health Sciences’ department of community and rural medicine. Dr. Susan Gaskins, a professor in the University’s Capstone College of Nursing, is senior investigator on the project.

From left - Susan Gaskins, Pamela Foster and Myra Vickery

The purpose of the four-year study, funded by the CDC’s Minority AIDS Research Initiative, is to conduct and evaluate an HIV/AIDS anti-stigma related intervention among 10 African-American congregations in rural Alabama. The overall goal of the project, “Faith-Based Anti-Stigma Intervention Toward Healing HIV/AIDS,” or Project FAITHH, is to decrease both individual and community-wide stigma in these congregations.

As part of their research, Foster, Gaskins and Myra Vickery, a graduate research assistant on the project, will conduct daylong HIV/AIDS seminars and a seven-week anti-stigma intervention that has been adopted by a ministerial group in Ghana, Africa. Project activities in the targeted congregations will measure changes in HIV/AIDS knowledge, as well HIV/AIDS-related stigma.

Four ministerial liaisons representing different denominations and organizations will assist Foster and Gaskins in their research: the Rev. Chris Spencer, assistant director of UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships and pastor of St. Matthew-Watson Missionary Baptist Church in Boligee; the Rev. Sam Gordon III, pastor of Macedonia CME Church in Goshen;  the Rev. Willie Smith, pastor of Salem Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Letohatchie; and the Rev. John Meeks, a member and former president of the New Era Baptist Conference.

Other partners include the Alabama/NW Florida Regional Minister of Disciples of Christ and the Alabama Consumer Advisory Board, whose membership includes HIV-positive individuals.

In addition to decreasing stigma and increasing HIV knowledge, Project FAITHH hopes to increase the number of HIV/AIDS prevention activities in which congregation members participate, as well as increase the number of HIV positive people who become members of participating churches.

Finding effective strategies to decrease HIV/AIDS-related stigma is a major challenge in HIV/AIDS prevention research, Foster said. In addition, few strategies have been tested in rural African-American communities in the Deep South, particularly among faith-based leaders and their congregations, where stigma may be higher.

“We know from previous research that HIV positive persons value spirituality in their overall healing process,” Foster said. “However, they have often not become active members of rural congregations because of the stigma. We hope to turn that around with the study.”

Because stigma has also been addressed as a reason for the slow response of African-American church leadership to participate in prevention activities within their congregations and communities, “Strategies to decrease HIV/AIDS-related stigma, particularly among African-American church leaders such as pastors, is believed to be a strategy that could increase HIV/AIDS prevention activities in the African-American community in the rural Deep South,” Foster said.

Foster and Gaskins have conducted research on stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. In particular, they have focused on HIV/AIDS-related stigma in rural African-American communities, stigma of HIV/AIDS in older, rural African-Americans living in the South, disclosure issues among rural African-American men infected with HIV, and faith-based approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention.

The College of Community Health Sciences was established in 1972 in response to the state’s acute need for more primary care physicians. Many areas of Alabama, particularly small towns and rural communities, suffered from a serious lack of health care. Four decades later, the College has made significant strides in making health care more available and accessible in the state.

Approximately 700 medical students have received their third and fourth years of clinical training at the College. Of these graduates, more than half have chosen careers in primary care. The College’s Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency has seen similar success, placing nearly 400 family medicine physicians into practice, with more than half of those in Alabama and the majority of those in towns with fewer than 25,000 residents.

Enhancing Training Through Medical Simulation

Patient simulators are increasingly being used to teach medical procedures to health professionals, allowing them to practice procedures on manikins before they work with patients.

The Quest Center is a patient simulation training facility and a collaborative endeavor of DCH Health System and the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research.

Short for Quality Care Utilizing Education Simulation and Training, the Quest Center opened at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa this past spring. The Quest Center contains several patient simulation training rooms complete with medical equipment and monitors. The Institute provides adult, youth and infant simulators.

DCH currently uses the center to provide additional training for its nursing workforce. The Institute has access to the facility to conduct training sessions for emergency medical services personnel in West Alabama as part of its EMS Program.

The goal of the Quest Center is to enhance patient care, safety and outcomes from the pre-hospital setting through admission, treatment and discharge using simulation technology. “Our goal is to hard wire the simulation lab to everything we do,” says Angela Bridges, MSN, manager of Nursing Education and Development for DCH. “It is indispensible.”

The Quest Center provides a realistic environment for training, replicating a hospital setting and giving health professionals the chance to learn, practice and master techniques for patient care. Life-sized robotic patients mimic common ailments and symptoms and are used to teach the taking of vital signs, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of defibrillators. There are video and audio recordings of the session to evaluate the training and its outcomes.

Future plans call for training in emergency situations, such as advanced cardiac life support and pediatric life support, as well as in intubations and chest tube insertions, Bridges says. “It is better to role play first,” adds Sandi Lee, RN, Nursing Education coordinator for DCH. “Some things you don’t see every day and you can do these first with simulation. Simulation gives a realistic flavor.”

Over the next year, training is also likely to include a nursing orientation for labor and delivery using the simulator mom, Noelle, and the simulator baby, Hal, Bridges says. She also envisions the Quest Center providing emergency and disaster response training.

“We are excited to work with the Institute,” Bridges says. “The result of this collaboration will be improved training and patient care for DCH and the community.”

Bahar Memorial Lecture – Sickle Cell Trait and Disease

Please join us at 12:15 p.m. on December 6, 2011 as Thomas H. Howard, MD, presents “Sickle Cell Trait and Disease: Health Implications of New Developments.” The Bahar Lecture will be held at DCH Regional Medica Center in the Willard Auditorium.

Dr. James Robinson Named Endowed Chair of Sports Medicine

Dr. James Robinson, a family and sports medicine physician and head team physician for The University of Alabama Athletic Department, has been appointed the first Endowed Chair of Sports Medicine for Family Physicians at UA’s College of Community Health Sciences.

Garner to Receive the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award

Margaret Pipkin Garner, assistant dean for health education and outreach in The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, has been named the 2011 recipient of the American Dietetic Association’s highest honor, the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award.