CCHS welcomes new third-year medical students

May 3, 2024

University of Alabama at Birmingham Marinex E. Heersink School of Medicine students, who will complete their clinical education at the College of Community Health Sciences, attended an orientation at CCHS on April 24.

CCHS serves as a regional campus of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, providing the third and fourth years of medical school to a cohort of the school’s students.

The 33 students who attended the orientation will start their clinical education at CCHS in June. They include both Primary Care Track students and Rural Medical Scholars. The Primary Care Track is a medical education track that provides a strong foundation in clinical medicine through a longitudinal integrated model. The Rural Medical Scholars Program is exclusively for rural Alabama students who are interested in practicing medicine in rural communities.

Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS, welcomed the students. “You all are here because you have an interest in primary care,” he said. “You do not necessarily have to go into primary care, but we want to help nurture your skills so that, hopefully, you will go into primary care.”

Primary care physicians are essential because they help patients stay well and prevent chronic health conditions from getting worse. Primary care includes the specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and surgery.

During the orientation, the medical students received Basic Life Support training, participated in a suturing workshop and toured DCH Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Grier Stewart, CCHS assistant dean for undergraduate medical education, said he was excited about this year’s class and looks “forward to seeing how they are going to develop during these next two years.”

Dr. Dale Dickinson, CCHS director of the Office of Medical Student Affairs, added: “We have an exciting and engaging group of learners who are ready to start participating in our curriculum. I’m very excited to see how they are going to grow during these next two years of medical school.”

Friend said the students will receive valuable experience at CCHS that will prepare them for residency programs. After graduating medical school, students are required to complete a residency in a medical specialty.

“Residency programs look for people who have done a longitudinal curriculum, which you will get to do. This has proven to be a better way of learning where you’ll be ahead of your peers,” Friend said.

The CCHS Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship moves beyond the traditional block structure of a third-year clinical clerkship, allowing students to follow a panel of patients over time and through different specialties and health-care settings. For example, students can care for a pregnant patient, deliver her baby, and care for the newborn. This differs from the traditional third-year model, where every four to eight weeks students rotate through a different specialty, often in a hospital setting.

CCHS operates The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency, one of the oldest and largest such residencies in the country. The College also offers post-residency fellowships for additional training in behavioral health, emergency medicine, geriatrics, hospital medicine, neurology, obstetrics, pediatrics, rural public psychiatry and sports medicine

Learn more about CCHS medical student education.