Educating a physician workforce, particularly family medicine doctors, is key to our mission of meeting the primary health-care needs and improving the health of Alabama and the Southeast, including rural and underserved communities.
This has been our mission for 45 years and we have never wavered.
As one of the nation’s oldest and largest family medicine residencies, The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program has widespread impact across the state and the region. Established four-plus decades ago by a small group of prominent and forward-thinking physicians and educators, our residency has produced well-trained and highly skilled family medicine physicians for Alabama and other states in the Southeast region.
We are expanding and enhancing our partnerships with rural communities, particularly those in the Alabama Black Belt, where we work to assist struggling hospitals, develop sustainable health-care models and deploy innovative technologies to benefit rural patients.
The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program is a well-established three-year program for doctors seeking to specialize in the practice of family medicine. The residency is one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the United States, annually educating and training 48 resident physicians – and it also offers seven fellowship programs for family medicine physicians who want additional specialized training. The first resident graduated in 1975. To date, 524 residents have graduated from the residency; 1 in 7 family medicine physicians practicing in Alabama are graduates of the residency and many others have entered practice in the Southeast and other parts of the U.S., including in rural and medically underserved communities.
The residency is the biggest supplier of family medicine physicians in the state of Alabama. The residency teaches them how to be the best family physicians and then keeps them close to home. That’s pretty darn good if you keep half of the people you train in your home state.
The Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency Program spans over four decades and is now one of the premier family medicine residencies in the country. Read more about the rich history of the residency here.
I hoped we could motivate students to provide human and personalized comprehensive medical care as primary care physicians and engage in significant public service.
The people made the program. These were top-notch, good people who were eager to teach. The quality of the attending physicians was fantastic. Most of the ones who were there when I started the residency had been in private practice for 25 years. They had been in the trenches. They knew what was needed to start practicing.
I had tremendous experiences while at CCHS, which shaped my career. It truly emphasizes primary care, with a push for rural medicine, especially in Alabama as well as the Southeast in general.
I considered several in-state family medicine residency programs. The Tuscaloosa residency had the most rigorous call schedule. I felt while training for my future, and to be prepared to care for the patients in my practice, that I needed the three years to be an intense training experience. Family physicians who are well trained can meet the needs of so many patients.
I saw how my attendings interact with their patients. They knew them medically and as people and what was going on behind the scenes. That really stood out to me.
I’m really excited about the direction the program is headed in terms of providing holistic and quality care for patients in underserved populations … to change the curriculum to be more rurally focused, and to really look at that model of care makes me really proud to be a part of it.
There’s always a need for more family doctors, from primary care to rural physicians. The aging population, which includes aging physicians and practices, is really going to put a stress on health-care delivery in the next decade, so we have to turn out as many competent, well-trained rural family physicians as possible.
University Medical Center opened in 1975. At the time, it was called the Family Practice Center. It was later renamed Capstone Medical Center and, finally, University Medical Center. UMC has always been operated by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences. It is an important part of the College because it provides much-needed primary health care for the people of West Alabama, and it forms the base of a clinical teaching program, where resident physicians and medical students are trained under the supervision of College faculty physicians. Read more about University Medical Center over the years here.
Music, art, sculpture and dance might not at first be thought of as integral to the practice of medicine, but the humanities can help connect students with teachers, colleagues with peers, and patients with physicians. Read more about the history of the Art of Medicine program here.
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Dr. Richard Friend
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Leslie Zganjar, MPA
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